How to keep healthy while traveling can be a challenge. I mean, who wants to watch what they eat and drink when they’re on holiday?
But equally, it’s no fun returning from a fabulous vacation to find that the scales have gone off the deep end, because you couldn’t resist the temptations of the breakfast buffet or hotel bar.
Even worse, is the prospect that you could ruin your entire trip by the whole family coming down with ‘Delhi Belly’ because you didn’t realize that you couldn’t drink the local water! Constipation while traveling is another common problem and mainly brought on by poor diet, dehydration and lack of exercise.
So how can we stay healthy when we travel? Staying healthy on vacation is easy with just a few healthy travel tips.
Our how to stay healthy article gives you a few top tips for staying healthy when travelling, including how to eat healthier on the road, how to stay in shape while traveling and general things to do to stay healthy when you travel.
Stay healthy, stay happy!
Eating Healthy on the Road
Eating healthy while traveling can be one of the biggest challenges. When you are eating out all the time, it can take a lot of self-restraint to opt for the healthy option on the menu. Fast food restaurants are all too often frequented as well when you are looking for food when travelling in unfamiliar destinations.
Of course eating local food, eating out in restaurants and even just having someone else cook for you for a change are all pleasures of being on vacation. But there are definitely ways to find healthy meals on the road.
Try to keep up your intake of fruit and vegetables. Don’t throw out the 5-a-day rule just because you are on the road – eat healthy, stay healthy!
Start the day with a healthy breakfast
I don’t know about you but I have such a weakness for hotel breakfast buffets. It’s all too tempting to pile up your plate with breakfast pancakes, sausages, eggs, bacon – the works. But if you just try to start the day right, it can make a big difference.
While my kids can’t be persuaded to anything but pancakes with maple syrup in a hotel, I try to practise some form of self-restraint and (occasionally) opt for the fresh fruit platter, granola and yoghurt instead. Or go for an a la carte option, where you aren’t tempted to keep going back for more tempting treats.
Do a Grocery Shop
Try to make time to visit a grocery store or supermarket to stock up on fruit and vegetables and other healthy food to go. This will make eating healthy in a hotel room easier too so you are not tempted to raid all the chocolate bars and chips in the mini bar.
If you are on a road trip, pack a cool box for the car so you can keep food fresh as you travel. This way you can have a healthy lunch on the road, instead of calling in to a roadside café or fast food takeaway.
My daughter has one of these Fridge to Go bags for her school lunch box and it’s great to carry food for travelling too.
Pack Healthy Travel Snacks
When you’re constantly on the move, it can be all too easy to grab a bag of potato chips as you board a train, or succumb to a chocolate muffin in the airport departure lounge.
Pack a selection of healthy non perishable snacks, so that you’re not tempted by all the junk food on offer. Some of our favourite snacks to carry while traveling include:
- Granola bars
- Trail mix
- Dried fruit
- Chopped fruit
- Cheese portions
- Yoghurt pouches
- Rice cakes
At least this way I feel like they are getting some form of goodness in them to go alongside all the fish & chips, pizza and chicken nuggets they inevitably choose off the children’s menu.
Safe Food for International Travel tips
If you are travelling to a developing country where the water is not safe to drink, you need to take precautions when eating fruit and vegetables, and make sure it is peeled or washed in filtered water.
Any food that has been washed in unsanitary water has the potential to be carrying harmful bacteria and parasites.
Take precautions when eating street food. I’m not going to tell you not to eat street food as it is one of the pleasures of traveling, but there are ways to avoid getting sick – such as ensuring food is properly cooked through and checking that the street vendors are practicing basic hygiene practices.
For more international travel and health tips, you can download the World Health Organisation’s guide here.
Drink Lots of Water
Bring along a refillable water bottle for everyone. This is not only good for the environment but also good for staying healthy while travelling. Fill up your water bottles before you board the plane – and carry them with you while sightseeing.
We all know the health benefits of drinking water, and these are even more important when you are traveling and likely to be tired, on the move… and probably drinking too much alcohol in the hotel bar at night.
A common question is “ why do I get constipated when I travel?” well, a lot of this is down to dehydration. People especially suffer constipation after flying thanks to the drying effects of the aircraft.
Drink more water people!
Drinking Local Water when Travelling
Make sure you follow local travel health advice about drinking the local water. While drinking water is one of the best ways to stay healthy, you need to make sure the water is clean to drink.
This is not the case in many developing countries. And remember, if the water isn’t safe to drink – that means no putting ice in your drinks.
Constantly buying plastic bottles of water is hugely detrimental to the environment so I really encourage you to invest in a water filter bottle. This way you can continue to drink lots of water, help the environment and stay healthy when traveling.
We love the LifeStraw Go Drinking Bottle, which purifies water of 99.99% of all waterborne bacteria (such as salmonella) and parasites (such as giardia). My 5-year old son caught both of these nasty intruders when we were in Thailand, and trust me it was not pleasant.
I am the last person in a position to lecture anyone about drinking alcohol on holiday. However, know this: alcohol is dehydrating and full of calories. Drinking on a plane is especially dehydrating, as is drinking in a hot and humid climate.
So see above: Drink lots of water.
Choose your poison carefully – that sunset pina colada? Full of sugar! If you can’t give up your holiday cocktail, opt for those made with fresh fruit rather than syrups.
Carry Hand Sanitiser & Wet Wipes
So many nasty illnesses are picked up from poor hand hygiene, so another of my top tips to stay healthy when traveling is to pack some hand sanitizer and wet wipes.
We all know how small kids can’t resist picking unsightly things up out of the dirt in the road, or running their hands along dirty railings as they walk.
If you’re out and about all day sightseeing in crowded areas and taking public transport, having a quick and easy way to keep everyone’s hands clean throughout the day – and particularly before you eat – is super handy.
A small bottle of hand sanitizer can go a long way at helping prevent illness.
Likewise, a pack of wet wipes in your bag is handy for quickly wiping down a less-than-hygienic table in a street market or on a plane.
Working out while travelling
Figuring out how to stay fit traveling can be a challenge. No matter how dedicated you are to your workout routine at home, it is so easy to let everything go out the window when you are on holiday.
First things first – add your workout gear to your packing list. Or at least throw in a pair of training shoes. At least start your trip with the right intention!
There are lots of ways you can exercise while traveling. You can hit the hotel gym, go for a run around the local neighbourhood, join a local fitness class, or make it fun and go for a hike, yoga on the beach, paddle boarding, kayaking, cycling…
My favourite way of staying fit while travelling is just walking everywhere. Exploring a city on foot is one of my favourite ways to get to know a new destination – it’s a far better way to get a feel for a place than through the window of a taxi or bus anyway.
If you have a FitBit or fitness app on your smartwatch then try to keep up with your daily exercise goals when you travel too.
Travel Fitness Apps
If you prefer a more rigid travel routine, downloading a fitness app to your phone can be a good option. I am a big fan of the Kayla Itsines Sweat app, but it does take up a good 30-40 minutes per day of working out.
For easier, quicker workouts while traveling I prefer the 7 Minute Workout. It’s a great way to stay in shape while you travel, without giving up too much time.
This high intensity workout takes you through 12 exercises (jumping jacks, abdominal crunches, press ups, plank, squats, lunges etc). Training at high intensity with very little rest in between each exercise (apparently!) makes this workout the equivalent of a 30+-minute traditional resistance-training session.
The best bit about this workout is it only takes seven minutes, making it the best travel workout if you don’t want to feel like you’re working out all the time on vacation.
It’s not really a sustainable long-term fitness app, but it does give you a good option of how to workout while traveling.
Try it for yourself – Download the 7 Minute Workout here.
Research Travel Advice for your Destination
A bit of research before you go is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick while travelling overseas.
Questions to ask before you go include:
- Is the water safe to drink in my destination?
- Is it safe to eat the street food?
- Can I eat salads and raw vegetables?
- Do we need vaccinations?
- Do we need malaria tablets?
- Where is the nearest hospital to our accommodation?
- What is the most recommended hospital to go to?
You can get country-specific travelers health advice from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website.
You may also like our articles about Car Safety when Traveling Overseas.
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