When we travel, we’re bound to come across scenarios that challenge us—it’s all part of the experience. Things won’t always go according to plan, and we’ll find ourselves surrendering to situations we never anticipated. If you’re a health and wellness lover, you’ve probably had to skip your daily green smoothie in favour of something grossly guilt-inducing. But the beauty of travel is that, although it may not always be the healthiest thing for your stomach, it’s almost always a good thing for your soul. Finding a balance between staying healthy and being flexible enough to let go will serve you well on your journeys. But while mishaps are inevitable, there are some simple ways to stay healthy, safe and (relatively) serene on your travels.
1. First Aid Kit/Other Helpful Items
Plan ahead and prepare your remedy pack. Include emergency pharmaceuticals for belly ailments if you’re travelling somewhere exotic, probiotics and vitamins, a good cream for rashes and bites repellent, if you’re prone to insect bites, and natural antiseptics like lavender and tea tree oil will come in handy (as well as any other favourite home remedies). Sunscreen and women’s sanitary items (especially tampons) can be expensive or even unavailable in some countries so stock up before you leave if you can. Even if you’re heading somewhere familiar, remember that common ailments may prevail—so take your chosen remedies for things like cold and flu, headaches, allergies, dehydration etc. Wet wipes, earplugs and plasters are always useful, and remember your power adaptor, a day carry bag and sunglasses.
2. Healthy Habits
What are some of the healthy habits you enjoy at home that you instantly abandon when you’re travelling? Although travel can be a great excuse to skip the gym or morning meditation, these are often the things that make us feel really good, and so we can be left feeling lacklustre without them. Before you leave, consider what nourishing habits you want to continue on your travels and what areas you’re comfortable being more flexible in. Perhaps you can enjoy an extra glass of wine and sleep-in, but stay committed to your evening jog. Think about the things that keep you vital and happy at home, and make sure you include them everywhere you go (without beating yourself up if you occasionally fall off the wagon).
3. What To (And Not To) Eat
Being mindful about what you eat is one of the most important considerations when you’re jet setting to an unfamiliar place, and this is one of the areas where you can’t afford to be too flexible. Give your stomach time to adjust to a new diet, being extra careful at first. When it comes to street food, there are some places in the world where you may need to avoid it completely (like in India, for example). In more touristy places you might be able to get away with the occasional street treat—but follow the crowds, check that oil and surfaces are clean, stay away from meat, make sure things have been cooked properly and be aware of clean-looking items that may have been washed in dubious water. In some places, you can’t be too careful when it comes to avoiding water—that includes opening your mouth in the shower, brushing your teeth with bottled water and only eating fruit with a skin (and peeling it).
4. Solo Travel
If you’re travelling solo, you’ll need to adopt an even more mindful attitude than when you have a companion. Keep your wits about you. Awful things can happen anywhere in the world. If you’re somewhere unfamiliar, avoid venturing out alone at night (especially for women). Be organised—know where you’re going and how you’re getting there. Read up on what is culturally acceptable in terms of dress and behaviour, and always trust your instincts.
5. Jetlag Solutions
Although there are many pharmaceutical options for improving jetlag, the simplest solution is often sunshine and stretching. Get outside and get your body moving. You can try these simple stretches anywhere you go:
Hip Flexor Stretch
Sitting on a chair or the floor, bring your right anklebone to your left thigh and gently press your right knee away from you—feeling a stretch into your right hip. Take a few deep breaths and switch sides.
From all fours, walk your hands as far forward as you can whilst keeping your hips stacked above your knees. Rest your forehead or your chin to the floor and enjoy the stretch in your shoulders and front of your chest.
Bring your right ear to your right shoulder and use your right hand to press down on your left ear—encouraging a stretch along the left side of your neck. Stay for a few breaths, then switch sides.
Despite all of your best intentions, sometimes you’ll simply need to surrender—and although it might be the last thing you feel like doing when you’ve just been ripped off or lost your luggage, the value of a long, deep belly breath cannot be underestimated. You can take it anywhere you go, and it will serve you well.
Words by Jessica Humphries for The Wise Traveller.