At some point or another, we’ve all found ourselves walking the streets of a foreign city desperately searching for the luminous green cross sign of a pharmacy. What follows next is an unfortunate game of charades, where we’re forced to mime out our condition to a poor, unsuspecting local pharmacist. Blisters from traipsing around in the wrong shoes all day, sunburn because we forgot to top up our lotion, an upset stomach from dodgy food – there are plenty of battle wounds traveling can leave you with!
Whilst catching the flu may be unavoidable, there are plenty of health problems that we can easily mitigate against whilst we travel and for the most part, it’s remembering to treat our bodies with the love and care we do back home! Having recently returned from road-tripping around Eastern Europe, these are the invaluable lessons I learnt about health on the go (wherever in the world you may be).
Get Enough Sleep!
Now, we all know that we should be getting seven-eight hours of sleep a night, so I won’t list all of sleep’s amazing benefits! What I will do, is remind you of its importance, even when you’re having a whale of a time traveling. I know it’s tempting to party or stay out late with new friends every night and of course, when you’re staying in hostels, sometimes it can be easier said than done – but try as hard as you can to get enough sleep.
After several weeks of cities, I made sure I spent a couple of extra nights in Busteni, Romania, a beautiful small town immersed in nature – the perfect spot for a bit of rest and recuperation. If you don’t schedule in frequent pit-stops, you’ll be headed straight for flu-town!
Eat Local and Fresh Food
When you’re traveling, you want your body to be in top notch condition, you’re constantly on the go and you don’t want to be running on empty. That’s why it’s crucial to eat nutritiously throughout your time away. Even if you’re traveling on a budget, don’t scrimp and save when it comes to food, don’t just live off carbs, fill your body with proteins and fresh veggies!
The best way to achieve this is to stay away from sugary snacks and fast food and to focus your diet on local cuisine. The Eastern Europeans are proud of their local food for a reason – it’s delicious! For my time in Krakow, I switched entirely to Polish cuisine and it’s the best decision I made.
Local cuisine reflects the needs of its inhabitants, so if you find yourself traveling during winter, you’re going to want to take the Pole’s advice and stock up on heavy, warming dishes! It’s a win, win situation, not only are you filling your body with goodness, you also get to eat yummy food in the process.
Again, we all know the benefits of exercise and for most of us, it’s something that’s part of our everyday routine at home. But, as with lots of other things, it’s easy to forget about whilst you’re traveling! Whilst negating to exercise if you’re on vacation for a couple of weeks won’t hurt in the long run, if you are traveling for a longer period of time, a lack of exercise could leave you feeling sluggish and out of sorts.
The best thing to do is to establish an on-the-go exercise routine that you can easily fit into your daily schedule. If you like swimming, explore the local pools. If you’re a runner, take the chance to see your surroundings on a morning jog – throughout my time in the Polish seaside town of Gdańsk, I’d wake myself up by running along the coast or river!
If you’re a yogi, save a selection of your favorite exercise videos on your phone, so you can do them in your accommodation! If you’re feeling especially brave, you could also look up local classes – whilst in Prague, I did a yoga class or two and not only did I leave feeling stretched and rejuvenated, I also met some fantastic locals, who were more than happy to tell me their secret coffee spots!
Look After Your Mental Wellbeing
In the midst of the intrigue and the excitement, it’s easy to forget that being away from your familiar environment can be stressful and at times challenging. If you’re city based, it’s super easy to get sucked into a fast-paced lifestyle without even realizing your head needs a bit of down time.
To rejuvenate your mind and soul, be sure to schedule some ‘nature time’ and dedicate specific trips to getting a bit of fresh air. Not sure where to start? Just look at the map and find the closest national park or nature reserve. A truly regenerating treatment to me was hiking in the Tatra mountains near Zakopane, the perfect place to blow out the cobwebs, but wherever you are, there is always a corner of nature waiting to nourish your mind and body!
Carry a First Aid Kit at All Times
Ok, I know this one sounds simple, but you’d be amazed at how many people forget to pack a kit with all of their first aid essentials. Notice the word their – well, it’s important that you don’t just take a basic kit with you, but that you take a kit specifically customized for your needs.
It’s hard to forget about medicines that we take about daily, but easy to forget the ailments that crop up time and time again! Do you need an inhaler every now and then? Do you suffer from allergies? Do you have a special cream for eczema? When it doubt, take it with you. The last thing you want to do is waste a day or two searching for a medicine, that they might not stock in Eastern Europe!