We’ve all been on that type of vacation. You know the one: you spend night after night drinking away your savings. You gorge yourself on exotic cuisine all day. You return a little bit heavier and a lot more lethargic than when you left. But for those who are health conscious, or for whom travel is a regular fixture in life, keeping healthy habits abroad is imperative.
Here are a few simple changes that will help support your decision to travel healthier.
Rent a Furnished Apartment
On most trips longer than a weekend, an apartment is a better option than a hotel, if for only one reason: the kitchen. Having a kitchen gives you better control over your diet, and the freedom to eat at your standards. If you find a kitchen equipped with a blender, all the better!
You’ll be downing star fruit and rose apple smoothies, making your own probiotics, and starting each day feeling sharp and on point. You’ll stay energized, too, and have a better cultural experience shopping locally. As an added bonus, buying ingredients instead of eating out all the time will save you cash. But before you go on a spree at those open air markets…
Know Your Produce Situation
Sometimes eating out at the expat owned, yoga friendly, super mindful cafe is more hazardous than the greasy local diners. If you notice that most local joints fry or boil the heck out of their veggies, this could mean that produce is not consumable raw. Just like you need to get a reading on the local tap water, you need to know if the fruits and veggies are safe.
Do you need to “cook it, peel it, or forget about it” where you are going, or is the produce there reasonably nontoxic? Do a quick Tripadvisor search, or ask around when you arrive.
Plan a Portable Exercise Routine
Who needs free weights when you can do pushups? Who needs a gym when you can run on the beach? And you can do a solo yoga sesh almost anywhere that has carpet, grass or sand. Plan a routine that only includes your body and practice it for a few days before you hit the road.
That way when you arrive, it already feels familiar and you don’t have to think too much about it. Depending on where you’re going, activities like jogging and outdoor yoga might get you some strange looks. Get comfortable with the idea, or just do a routine at home.
With a short term apartment rental, you’ll have plenty of space and privacy for exercise. Also, remember that travel is overstimulating, and you’ll be exhausted by the end of the day. So plan to exercise first thing in the morning when you’re fresh.
Find a Pharmacy First
Don’t wait for the need to arise! You don’t have to spend a whole day searching, just keep your eyes out as you’re going about your business. Make a note when you see a pharmacy or a medical clinic, especially if it’s close to your apartment.
You don’t want to wait until you’re having an explosive reaction to Mindful Cafe’s raw veggie salad to run out and find someplace that sells activated charcoal. Know in advance, and you’ll thank yourself if the need arises.
In addition to medicine, the pharmacy is usually the place to find a variety of hygiene and beauty ingredients, like hydrogen peroxide to make your own mouthwash.
Translate Your Medical Documents
If you’re leaving from the US, you will most likely find better medical care wherever you are going. But good doctors can’t do their best if they have to field a language barrier, too.
Don’t assume they’ll speak English. Instead, have your medical records translated and carry a copy with you. This is especially important if you have any chronic conditions.
Medical documents are very specific in their use of language, so only hire professional medical translators to handle this job. Like the pharmacy, you probably won’t end up needing them. But you’ll thank yourself later if the need arises.
Do Your Sightseeing on Foot or by Bicycle
Last of all, travel can itself be exercise. Skip the cabs and walk to the palace or the museum! Take the subway to an unknown neighborhood and explore. A day on your feet means you’re burning calories and keeping your body in motion without having to set aside time to do so.
Many tourist destinations make it easy to rent bicycles as well, so opt for these when possible. A bike ride through Beijing is an experience unto itself! You can’t hear the sound of the monkeys over the tuk-tuk engine when you’re on your way to the Angkor Wat sunrise.
So bicycle through the jungle instead. It might take you an extra twenty minutes of predawn pedaling, but your body and mind will be happier, and you’ll have a more magical experience.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your travel experience is enriching and healthy. While your coworkers are nursing a holiday hangover, you’ll come back in even better shape than you were before you left.