It is very easy to find yourself leading an unhealthy lifestyle when you are traveling long-term. Eating a balanced diet can quickly become a chore with the wide availability of easy and cheap street food. The temptation to overindulge in exotic cuisines can become overwhelming. You may find your alcohol intake increasing and lack of sleep becoming a normal part of life due to partying with fellow travelers and sleeping in uncomfortable dorm beds at hostels. The result is a decrease in energy levels along with the unfortunate expansion of your waistline. I managed to gain five kilos (eleven pounds) during my travels in China last year due to excessive noodle consumption and the absence of exercise. I am currently making changes to my lifestyle to do something about it.
Here are some guidelines to taking care of your body while traveling:
Our bodies need water and sleep to function. Dehydration and sleep deprivation can cause a range of crippling symptoms including nausea, constipation, and headaches, things you definitely don’t want to deal with when you are constantly on the move. Both can also make you crave food when you are not hungry, leading to unwanted weight gain! Keeping yourself hydrated and well rested will give you the energy you need for exploring new destinations, especially if there is physical activity involved. Don’t burn yourself out by neglecting to take care of your basic needs.
While some places are out of reach without transportation, renting a bicycle or walking to your destination when they are within a reasonable distance is a great way to get in an unnoticed workout while you are getting from place to place. Avoid taking the easy way out with public transportation and walk whenever you can. The best way to see many locations are on foot anyway!
It is so convenient to just pick up those greasy $1 noodles or fried food from street stalls. While delicious and cheap, these options aren’t usually the most healthy or nutritious. Luckily, many hostels include very basic kitchen amenities that will allow you to cook meals for yourself.
While oftentimes eating healthily is more expensive than eating fast food, many countries, especially in Southeast Asia, have wide selections of cheap fruits and vegetables that allow you to load up on nutrients and consume less calories. Buy local produce and meats to whip up fresh meals for yourself and your travel buddies. During the day, snack on raw fruits and veggies (after washing them thoroughly). Your body and waistline will thank you.
You will find yourself in some beautiful places throughout the course of your travels. Take advantage of mother nature and get involved in some physical outdoors activities. Hiking, spelunking, swimming and diving are all ways to kill two birds with one stone and stay fit while enjoying the great outdoors. Take it up a notch and go for a scenic jog on the beach or take that that challenging hiking trip. You will not only maintain an active lifestyle but feel like you have achieved something as well!
You don’t need a well equipped gym to work out effectively. Compact exercise equipment such as a jump rope or a resistance rope are perfect for travelers since they are light and can fit into a small compartment into your backpack. You can get a full body cardio workout with a jump rope, burning the equivalent of a candy bar in 15-20 minutes, and tone up and build muscle with the resistance rope.