When it comes to travel, like in all good things in life, there are unexpected risks.
Before embarking on an around the world trip, Kellett Burns, a Trippy member asked:
How do you stay fit and healthy on the road?
It’s clear that staying fit and healthy is essential for a successful trip. But once in awhile those pesky ‘bugs’ may sneak up on you. What can you do to fortify your body and mind?
The answers given by the Trippy community are helpful and applicable not just for Kellett, but for all travelers. They’re for anyone who is preparing to take a trip, whether for two weeks or two years.
1. Healthy food choices
Consider this: When you travel and stay in places where you can’t cook, you’ll have to eat out every day. Most restaurant foods are generally greasy, saltier, and have ‘unknown’ ingredients.
What conjures in your mind when you think of airport food? I picture fried onion rings, greasy hamburgers, and lemon pound cake slices. These are tasty treats but are threats to my stomach.
Krista Gray from San Francisco recommended:
Healthy food choices. Whenever possible, I eat the local fare & as many fruits & vegetables as possible. No drive-thrus for me!
To avoid problems of stomach trouble, overeating, or feeling bloated, take Scott M’s advice:
Determine where you’ll be at specific meal times, and make sure there are healthy dining options available – again, use the internet, check menus, and decide ahead of time. Lack of planning leads to unhealthy meal choices which of course leads to a less fit state of being. I even go so far as to research dining options in various airports to determine whether I can dine during a layover or whether I need to bring my own lunch/dinner with me.
- Opt for healthy cooking methods – steamed , broiled or grilled
- Box your food if you can’t finish, curb overeating
- Share your meals with your traveling companion. You’ll get to try different types of food and eat less
- Limit sugary drinks and alcohol when dining
For trips lasting three nights or more, I prefer staying in fully furnished apartments. Apartments with kitchens allow me to prepare most of my meals using local ingredients. Cooking my own food is a way to stay fit and healthy.
Michele C thinks so too:
Also, rent apartments instead of hotels so you can make some of your own meals. Eating out is a wonderful part of travel but it’s also the best way to start getting overweight. Try to stay balanced and limit your restaurant meals.
2. Carry snacks and eat frequently
Trippy member Stacey Danheiser wrote:
Pack or buy healthy “emergency” snacks – trail mix with no added sugar or salt, Lara or KIND bars, individual packets of nut butters, etc. I always load up on in-season fruits at the local market/ fruit stand when traveling.
Sunny Fitzgerald has a similar plan. He said:
When you’re traveling, things don’t always go on schedule or work out the way you plan. You can avoid stomach pains, headaches, and angry attitudes by always keeping some high protein snacks with you.
I agree with both Stacey and Sunny. You can be creative with your snacks. While on our long-term travels, we packed bananas, bread, and nuts when we ran out of protein bars. In remote place in Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay there were hardly any snacks that resembled those found in the U.S.
The key is to eat frequently.
3. Walk everywhere
Two months before traveling to London, Paris, Venice and Rome we made it a family activity to walk three miles, three times a week. The kids were 11 and 7 at that time. These walks helped prepare them to walk the stretch on The Champs-Élysées in Paris and the alleyways in Venice.
The truth of the matter is, it’s difficult to walk for miles like the Europeans if driving is your default method of transportation. I could imagine my then 7-year-old son whining about the walk but he did not. I guess the training paid off. It also gave an active boy a way to exercise and explore a new city without being cooped up in a tour bus or mini-van.
Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer from Colorado, Sylvain Mathon from Montreal, and Paige Totaro from Alexandria recommended walking as the best option to see a place and to stay fit. Paige Totaro wrote:
I agree with many commenters that walking is the first and best option, and you usually do a lot more of it than you would at home without even realizing it.
4. Exercise apps
These days, app stores are loaded with exercise apps. Here are some of the exercise apps used by Trippy members:
- 7-minute workout challenge – This is what Taylor Geiger from New Orleans said: An app which I really love to use is the 7-minute workout app which challenges all your main muscles groups in an effective circuit training format.
- FitStar Personal Trainer – H.J. Barraza said, I personally love fitstar.com you can take it to go and maintain a healthy routine. I promise it will maintain you fit without adding extra weight to your luggage.
- 7 Minute Workout – Free Daily Fitness Routines – Charles Neville said: I use the 7 Minute Workout app (available for Android/iOS). If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough exercise, do it twice 🙂
5. Exercise videos and portable exercise gear
Taylor Geiger, a personal trainer, and travel nut from New Orleans said:
My 2 favorite pieces of equipment take on the road are:
1) TRX because you can hang it from your doorframe or from a tree or anywhere really & it is a hardcore functional workout!
2) Gliding discs
Arpit Bhutani recommended a chest expander.
Krista Gray from San Francisco used:
Streaming Bar Method classes. A total body workout that’s easy to do anywhere with a wifi connection. 🙂
Michelle C said:
For the times when weather, safety, or other conditions don’t permit you to be outdoors, we have benefited from different work out video programs. We did many different ones while volunteering in Peace Corps and have reviewed the programs that can be done just about anywhere (minimal/no equipment required).
Michele McGraw-Dennis from Australia recommended Thera-bands. She said
Therabands – they take up almost no space in your luggage and compliment any cardio exercise you do(swimming, running, walking, hiking) with good resistance training. You can use them even in the smallest spaces. Tons of thereaband exercises on the internet and youtube. I did a round the world trip twenty years ago and took my theraband and used it all the time but even if you never use it it isn’t a problem because they are so small.
Sunny Fitzgerald from Santa Monica wrote:
If at least one of you will be bringing a mobile phone, tablet, or laptop, there are so many options for workouts you can take with you. I have the Insanity workouts on a flash drive, Piyo workouts on DVD, and screenshots of quick workouts you can do without weights (such as squats and circuits).
6. Stay hydrated and drink clean water
Staying hydrated is a must when traveling. The first thing we do when we arrive at a destination is to stock up on bottled water.
Sunny Fitzgerald said:
One of the biggest causes of illness on the road is dehydration. Of course, in some countries you will need to fill the water only from larger jogs of filtered, safe drinking water. But this will also save you some money (and save the planet), as the cost and waste of smaller plastic bottles of water adds up.
Gina Czupka from Minneapolis:
Especially in countries where the tap water’s not safe to drink, we’re always carrying water with us, and thus our consumption skyrockets. It’s a positive side-effect.
Don’t get dehydrated.
7. Activities that get you moving
It is important to have fun and stay positive when traveling. Travel is not about how many items you can check off your bucket list. Take time to do the things you like.
Amanda Kingsmith from Canada wrote:
Try new activities that will get you moving, and do as much swimming and hiking as you can!
Michele C agreed:
I agree with many of the other answers here about using the opportunity to explore as motivation to stay active – walk, hike, run, bike, etc. to see as much of each new place as possible.
Iain Bryson from Seattle said:
Getting around by foot or by bicycle is natural. Even riding a scooter is more of a workout than driving in a car. And there will be lots of very compelling opportunities to swim or climb or otherwise get your movement without it being ‘exercise’.
8. Yoga and meditation
Traveling can be stressful especially when you have to wait at the airport because of long lines or flight delays. I find crowded spaces to be overwhelming. Yoga and meditation or prayer can be a quick stress reliever.
Jahn Schlosser from Barcelona practices yoga daily when she travels:
I love my daily yoga session to keep staying healthy. I always use the same that I keep on my telephone (Primary Series – Express 28 min.). But the crew from Yoga Today is my favorite source of inspiration for new workouts…
Terry Lipford from Sarasota wrote:
Stretching every morning, combined with sit-ups and push-ups, will allow you to start the day refreshed, muscles ready, and since we always do this step prior to breakfast, we generate some appetite!
Sot Mattsson from Brisbane said:
Head to YouTube for theraband training exercises and also good yoga and floor Pilates sessions!
Iain Bryson from Seattle wrote:
The most commonly available group exercise I found in SE Asia was Yoga. Most towns had a yoga studio or two, or an expat teaching out of some hostel or other. A yoga practice is a good, portable, way to stay in shape.
9. Essential oils and a first aid kit
The top three essential oils I pack in my carry-on are lavender, peppermint, and frankincense. I use lavender for minor cuts and burns and to calm nerves. In fact, I packed 20 small bottles of essential oils when we traveled in South America, enough essential oils for every malady. We usually used essential oils as alternatives to pills, anti-itch creams, and other medicines.
10. Get enough sleep
Don’t forget to get enough sleep. Krista Gray said:
An ample amount of sleep – this makes *all the difference* in terms of how I travel.
Getting sick while traveling is not only inconvenient to you but to the whole family too. It can disrupt your travel plans and make everyone miserable. It happened to me.
High in the mountains of Peru, I found myself getting stomach trouble after eating a meal at a decent looking restaurant. I already had a meal at the same restaurant in Cusco without any issues two days before.
We were on the road for five months already. I had adjusted to the high altitude, traversing across Tupiza, Uyuni, Potosi and La Paz in Bolivia and Lake Titicaca in Peru – all at over 10,000 feet elevation (except Tupiza). Altitude sickness was no longer a problem but one meal in Cusco triggered a stomach ache.
Could that have been avoided?
Have a tip to share?
Your tip may help another traveler avoid the inconveniences of getting sick while traveling. To answer or to ask a question please go to trippy.com and sign up as a user. It is free to join the community.
See you there.
Article by Claudia Looi