TRAVEL HACK: HOW TO AVOID GETTING SICK WHILE TRAVELLING
Travelling can be very taxing on my health, especially when I travel abroad. I need to factor in long haul flights, airport layovers, different cultures and climates, food I might not necessarily be used to, different beds and pillows, exposure to germs, the cold and flu, jetlag and hotel rooms with air conditioning. I also don’t like to waste a second when I travel so I usually get up early to photograph sunrise and spend all day outdoors exploring different landscapes and cities. I then like to be in a good spot to photograph sunset, and if the sky is clear I’ll adventure out again at night to shoot the stars – sometimes in sub par temperatures. After heading back to my hotel, I am often up for hours writing blog posts, editing photos, responding to emails and preparing content for Instagram.
As you can see I’ve got quite a lot going on when I travel and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I can get exhausted and unwell quite quickly. Over time and with experience, I have learned how my body works and what I need to do to protect myself from getting sick. With that in mind, I thought I would share 11 tips I personally use on how to avoid getting sick while travelling. If you have any other tips for travel health, I would love you to share them and leave a comment below.
MANAGE COMMITMENTS I am so guilty of overcommitting before and after a holiday so this is something I am working on. Effectively working three jobs is very demanding on my time, as is travelling and ensuring I spent quality time with my other half, friends and family. Now I try to avoid committing to plans the day before I leave and the day after I return from a trip. Bonus Tip: It always takes longer than you think to pack, so leave enough time. The same goes for unpacking and washing clothes when you return home.
PACK VITAMINS If you have a low immunity, I highly recommend packing vitamins and supplements for your travels. They help boost your immunity, keep it strong against germs and bacteria. I take two daily gut relief powders at breakfast and dinner. However one needs to be kept in a fridge so I leave this one at home, and I bring the other one with me when I travel.
WASH YOUR HANDS When I travel, I wash my hands more than what is necessary. I also keep a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer with me at all times and use it on planes and when I am doing fun, outdoor activities.
KEEP GOOD HABITS I stay fit and healthy on my travels by keeping up the good habits I practice at home. Obviously I need to be flexible with exercise and food, especially abroad however I always fit in some form of exercise a day, whether it be walking, cycling or hiking, and I always choose the healthy option when I eat.
CHOOSE HEALTHY SNACKS When I travel overseas, it can be difficult for me to find healthy snacks – especially when wheat, yeast and gluten are not my friends. I see bread everywhere on my travels and will only buy it as a last resort. So I’ll do my research and find a supermarket where I can stock up on nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables, and cheese if I have a fridge in my hotel room. Choosing to eat healthy snacks also means you won’t pile on any holiday weight.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER Drinking water is the more obvious way I avoid getting sick while I travel. I always carry a large bottle of water in my backpack and sip on it throughout the day – especially in hot and humid climates, such as Vietnam. I recently went on a five hour bicycle tour in Hoi An and drank two litres of water. I was sweating a lot but I didn’t need to use the bathroom once during the tour, which meanst I could have drunk more water to effectively replace all the water I was losing through sweat. So remember, drinking water flushes our bodies of toxins, helps our digestion and keeps us hydrated – keep drinking it! And depending where you travel to, you might have to drink bottled water only, do your research before you go.
GET LOTS OF SLEEP When I travel, I can usually run on five to six hours of sleep at night. The adrenalin of being somewhere new and creating exciting content keeps me wide awake. But it does inevitably come crashing down after a couple of nights and often results in a cold or flu. There is nothing worse than waking up feeling congested and groggy (aka the sleep hangover), especially when I have a full day of exploring ahead of me, or a long haul flight. Now I am going to let you in on a little secret of mine. A few months ago I came across Breathe Right, which is a nasal strip I wear at night in bed when I am feeling run down, or when I have the cold or flu. It works by opening up my airways at night; ensuring congestion doesn’t get in the way of a good nights sleep. Instead of waking up and starting my day in a haze, I feel refreshed and healthy, which is perfect for me as I am always on the go, travelling and working. But even if you’re not travelling, you can still use the nasal strips.
BRING YOUR PILLOW Speaking of sleep, I always bring a small pillow when I travel. Whilst most international airlines provide pillows and blankets, I highly recommend bringing your own to avoid cuddling up to one where someone else might have used as a tissue, or even worse, if it hasn’t been properly dry cleaned. If you don’t want to bring a small pillow with you, which is fair enough, I recommend using only pillows or blankets that are sealed in plastic, ensuring its been washed. You could also wrap the pillow in one of your own freshly washed t-shirts or jumpers.
PACK A TRAVEL KIT It’s really important to pack the right medicinal amenities when I travel, so I like to do a bit of research about a destination before I go. The staples in my Travel Kit usually exist of band aids, sunscreen, tablets for constipation and diahhorea (sorry!), ear plugs, Breathe Right nasal strips, headache tablets, small tube of antiseptic cream. I know, this is not the sexiest list of items to take on a holiday but I wouldn’t travel without them.
TAKE IT EASY I am so guilty of seeing and doing as much as possible on my trips, and in many ways I have to because I am looking out for potential angles to write for my blog posts. However I can overdo it and end up feeling utterly exhausted when I get back to my hotel, to the point where I literally cannot do anything other than collapse on my bed and sleep. I recommend taking it easy. Only do things where you can take your time and realistically enjoy. Simply ticking things off a long list if not the way to travel, so slow down and take it all in.
This post is in collaboration with Breathe Right. Content and concept are my own.