One thing I always struggle with while I’m traveling is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy back at home when there’s a Wholefoods down the street and Planet Fitness on the way home from work, but moving around from place to place and living in unfamiliar cities throws a wrench at those #summerbod goals.
As many of my international friends like to remind & tease me about, America is one of the most obese countries in the world. Sooo it should be pretty easy to be healthy in other countries, right?
Tell that to the mounds of Swiss chocolate I ate before Christmas 2014…
To help me maintain some sort of balance and wellbeing in my on-the-go lifestyle, I developed 5 golden healthy living rules to stick to.
#1 Drink water with every meal – When I’m on the move and outside my normal routine, it’s hard to maintain a healthy level of water intake. Dehydration causes all kinds of problems for the body, including headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. A lack of water affects your skin, digestive system, and liver.
I remember to get the agua my body needs by always drinking a full glass of water at every single meal. That way, I can count on having water throughout the full day without having to constantly remind myself to drink water. I also carry a reusable water bottle with me, that way I always have water on hand.
#2 Keep my diet balanced
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first one to suggest a gelati stop in Italy or In n Out in Los Angeles. But the essential thing to keep in mind is BALANCE!
If I’m craving one of those enormous pretzels and a beer in Germany, maybe I’ll lay off heavy carbs at dinner. Or if I’m planning to drink 3 bottles of wine and eat my body weight in cheese in front of the Eiffel Tower (this has happened), it’s probably a good idea to stick to a plant-based meal for lunch. I love to explore and enjoy the amazing cultural food this giant world has to offer, without going overboard.
#3 Do activities that double as exercise
Depending on what you consider exercise, this could sound like a difficult one. I’ve got terrible knees (due to a few surgeries) and when I walk 2-3 miles over the course of a day I consider this health goal reached. I think the key is to make make your exercise something you enjoy – going for a run, biking, swimming, yoga, playing frisbee in a park – for me, choosing to walk or rent a bike instead of using public transportation is sufficient for staying active.
Riding rented bikes through Killarney National Park in Ireland was not only an awesome tourist experience but also the most kick a$$ work out my legs ever had the misfortune to endure in my entire life.
#4 Sleep & nap on the reg
I’ve got tons of things going on in my head throughout the day – from observations, adrenaline, the ups and down of traveling, to day dreaming about the meal I’m planning for tomorrow. At the end of the day I’m generally feeling exhausted, both mentally and physically.
*personal anecdote time*
When I went on my first trip abroad, alone, I studied abroad in London. After a 2 week-long deep dedication to the belief “YOLO” (you only London once… please excuse my basic-ness – it was 2012) I had developed a nasty cold and minor eye infection. Pleasant, I know. It was enough to stop me in my tracks and take a day or two off from constant sight-seeing, participating in the exciting nightlife, and excessive alcohol consumption in pubs.
Lack of sleep affects memory, immune system, stress level, and skin, so I’ve learned to make sleep a priority in my travels. That way I maintain overall wellbeing, even when I’m constantly being distracted by a world of possibilities.
#5 Stay prepared
There are 2 subtopics to this one…
Immune system: Emergen-C is one thing I never travel without. It’s a quick and easy way to give your system a boost of vitamins, and the travel packets are really easy to keep on hand in your day pack.
I also love EZC Pack for when I’m starting to feel some innocent but potentially vicious sniffles. They are all natural and easier on your body than excessive antibiotics.
Sun Protection: Sunscreen is essential, regardless if you’re on a beach or not. The easiest way for me to wear myself down is a sunburn, which sucks my energy and dehydrates my body. To integrate sun protection into my travel routine, I use a tinted moisturizer that has SPF in it. I prefer sunscreen sticks (similar look to a deodorant stick), but if you’re bringing a bottle, make sure it’s travel size!
Also, I protect my eyes from sun damage by wearing a hat and/or sunglasses. But please, if you’re not going to glue them to your ears, leave the designer shades at home. I found out the hard way that Ray Bans look way better on my face than at the bottom of the Adriatic Sea 😐
While you’re gaining life experience and enriching your soul through travel, don’t let your health slip. It’s something I am constantly working on, failing at, and evolving with. Maintaining that focus on wellness, even when I’m busy exploring an unfamiliar environment full of distractions, is a huge factor in creating a healthy and sustainable travel lifestyle.
*DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed health or diet coach, these are simply things that work for me!*
Do you have any suggestions for health minded travelers? Comment below – I’d love some more tips!