For most people, vacations are often a chance to escape the daily confines of your diet, work routine, household chores, and every other thing you don’t want to do. But skimping on your health while you vaca-it-up drinking margaritas, sun tanning, and eating cannolis like daily vitamins can result in some pretty nasty side effects. If you’re one of the guilt-free travelers and damn proud of it, I applaud you (and I’m secretly jealous of your super powers). However, for people like me who are sick for days from too many scones, get jet lag, dehydration, swelling of the legs, and headaches when I don’t keep my health up, here are a few of my tricks to keeping your mind and body in mint condition for all of life’s greatest adventures.
Stay hydrated. The human body is made up of about 55% to 60% of water so think about whether you’d like to be a dried out raisin or a juicy grape. I’ll be a grape any day of the week.
Get your fruit and veggies. One of my favorite things is going to the local farmer’s market. You get to experience a piece of the local culture and try some of the native fruits and vegetables. You’d be surprised by the variety of produce you’ve never tried before.
Limit your amount of dining out. I limit myself to one dining out meal per day while traveling. At home it is once or twice a week. I’ll pack my favorite snacks in my suitcase like dried fruit, trail mix, and power bars and then buy some groceries right when I check in. You’d be surprised how easy it is to have make shift meals without a kitchen….oooo, I sense another article idea for this one.
Know your limits, and stick to them. Don’t eat foods that make you sick. Don’t stay out in the sun if you have heat sensitivity. Don’t get drunk if you wake up over a toilet. Stay mindful of your body and what it’s telling it doesn’t like. Your vacation brain may say yes, but if you’re body says no, take a guess at which will win that argument.
Take your vitamins. Cannolis aren’t actually vitamins so if you’re eating them like they are, STOP! As tasty as pastries are, nothing replaces vitamins like the real deal. Do your body a favor and pack these babies to keep your immune system up for fighting foreign germs.
Aim for balanced meals. You know the drill. Get those proteins, grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy all onto your plate. You’ll be glad you did when see that piece of cheesecake as large as a small child but you’re already full of good foods. Yay for health!
Shield the sun! Wear sunscreen, cover your skin, put on a hat, rock those stunna shades, do whatever you have to so the sun doesn’t turn you into a wrinkly lobster. There’s nothing like a bad sunburn on the first day of your vacation to leave you in pain the rest of your trip. Oh, and there’s that thing called SKIN CANCER! Anyone can get it and the sun doesn’t discriminate. Lather up.
Shield the bugs! Bugs may appear harmless but if one of those little suckers bite or sting you, a new virus might have just infected your body. Don’t be fooled by my paranoia, it actually happens. Best thing to do is bring or buy bug spray, keep your skin covered (even though mosquitos can bite through clothing), and RESEARCH the hell out of the country before going. If the host country “suggests” vaccinations for foreigners, just get them. You don’t want to end up with malaria as a souvenir.
Wash your hands. I’m personally not a fan of hand sanitizer but if washrooms aren’t readily available, bring the sanitizer or anti-bacterial wipes. A new place means new germs your body isn’t immune to. This leaves you vulnerable to…you guessed it, SICKNESS!
Walk as much as you can. Walking is a great form of exercise and very easy to do on vacation. Walk along the beach or around the city center. Have a stuffed belly? Walk it off to improve digestion. Burn those extra calories from all the delicious food you get to eat.
Get some sleep. It’s tempting to stay up late and wake up early to get as much packed into your vacation as possible, but little sleep results in lower productivity levels. If you really want to be charged up for the next day’s adventure, get a little shut-eye and don’t be afraid to nap. The city will still be there when you wake up.
Stretch your muscles. On and off the flight, it’s important to stretch your muscles to release toxins that have built up. Edema can be a serious problem where your tissues fill with fluid and cause swelling. I get swelling from my knees down when I sit too long so I try to remember to stretch every few hours. Doing a few exercises to get the blood flowing will also help. You don’t want to end like me with swollen feet and shoes that don’t fit. Try lying on the ground with your feet up against the wall at a 90-degree angle to reduce lower body puffiness.
Limit the alcohol. Easiest one in this whole post… limit your alcoholic drinks while on vacation. Not only will you be in a safer state of mind, but there’s no recovering from a hang over, suffering the several days of dehydration, and you will save tons of money for other adventures.
And finally, check for diseases and illnesses that are present in your vacation spot. You can use this handy-dandy drop down menu from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to be fully educated about potential health dangers. Don’t bring anything back with you except your cherished adventures and a smile.
Now that you have all my best tips to staying healthy on the move, book your next vacation to test them out. Happy travels!