You might not realize it, but traveling can take a toll on your health. Travel disrupts routines, and can often lead to unhealthy habits. For many people travel consists of sitting for long periods of time, eating unhealthy food, and missing out on much needed rest. Travel doesn’t have to be unhealthy, though. With a little planning and effort it’s easy to stay healthy when you travel this summer. Here are a few things to keep in mind!
Ways travel can be unhealthy
It can be difficult to find healthy food options while traveling. You may find that you eat out at restaurants for most meals, skip meals, or opt for convenient fast food. It’s difficult – or sometimes not an option – to cook healthy meals on the road, or to find restaurants offering healthy food choices.
Many people drink excessive amounts of coffee, energy drinks, sodas, or other caffeinated concoctions to stay awake and alert while driving. Caffeine has a negative effect on your body, and can disrupt your sleep. Caffeine often comes paired with sugar, too.
Lack of sleep is another common issue with travel. Early start times, late nights, jet lag, changing time zones, and difficulty sleeping away from home can all affect your quantity and quality of sleep. Sleep is crucial to good health.
Whether you’re driving across the state or flying across the country, travel often means lots of sitting. To make matters worse, you might not find time or opportunity to exercise while traveling.
Eating unhealthy foods, a lack of sleep, and time spent in rest stop bathrooms and airport terminals, can literally make you sick. Of course, international travel can also cause sickness.
Ways to stay healthy when you travel
Identifying how travel can be unhealthy is a great first step in staying healthy while you travel. Simply being aware of the health pitfalls of travel makes it possible to consciously make healthy decisions.
Research healthy restaurants along the way, or in the cities you will visit before you start traveling.
Pack healthy snacks so you won’t be at the mercy of gas station food displays. If possible, take a cooler of fruits and veggies.
Consider making a trip to the grocery store and cooking healthy meals instead of eating at restaurants three times a day. Even if you don’t have access to kitchen facilities, you can make healthy picnic choices at a grocery store — and you can often find unusual foods you don’t have at home.
Watch for local produce stands. Delicious fresh fruits and vegetables are often available along the road
Small amounts of caffeine can help you stay focused and alert, but don’t overdo it.
Instead of relying on caffeine to stay awake on your road trip, take breaks whenever necessary, and get plenty of sleep the night before a long drive.
Make sure to carry plenty of water and stay hydrated. Caffeine can dehydrate you!
You can’t always get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night while you travel, but you should try to get as much rest as you can.
For example, if you know you’re going to have a late night, take a short nap during the day. If you need to wake up early, go to bed early to get as much sleep as possible.
If possible, try to work in a buffer day during or after travel to catch up on sleep.
Take breaks on roads trips to get out and walk around for 10+ minutes.
Get up and stretch your legs on long flights, or in airports while waiting for your plane.
Take advantage of hotel exercise rooms, or do some calisthenics in your room.
Go for walks or plan activities that will allow you to be active.
Get plenty of rest and eat healthy foods.
Wash your hands often.
When traveling to countries with poor water quality, drink bottled water, or bring a way to purify drinking water. Also, order drinks without ice.
Use insect repellent in countries with known vector-borne illness.