Staying healthy while traveling can be a challenge. Any of us who have had some kind of illness or injury befall us while out adventuring can attest to it being an unpleasant experience. Ultimately - in travel and in daily life - our health is our responsibility, and we are wise to be mindful in balancing risks and precautions. Come along as we explore health principles that will serve us well, on the road and even at home.
The following will keep our health (which is the foundation of travel health) habits on track for a life of freedom and enjoyment, in our daily life and while out traveling:
- regular exercise that keeps us fit for our favorite activities
- a healthy, nutrient dense diet and drinking plenty of water
- maintaining good work/life balance, including getting plenty of high-quality sleep on a nightly basis
- visiting our healthcare provider regularly, including pre-departure to share our travel plans with them
We will encounter a variety of scenarios in the natural and built environment when traveling, and with awareness and planning, can stay healthy the vast majority of the the time.
Staying Healthy Before Traveling
It’s best to start on your travel health journey long before you actual journey begins! Getting needed vaccinations, visiting your primary care physician (and sometimes a travel medicine specialist), and consulting websites like those at the end of this article can ease decision making before your trip, including what health items (like a first aid kit) are wise to take with us.
Before your trip, be sure to take extra good care of yourself. The long flights, disruptions in eating and sleeping schedule, and general rigors of the road can take their toll on you and your traveling companions, so it’s definitely wise to start out strong.
As you pack and get ready to board your flight, be sure to have a variety of clothes (airplane temps tend toward cold, but can vary), a travel pillow and whatever else you will need to be comfortable for a restful flight. Get up and move around frequently to avoid the aches and pains that come from sitting too long. Consider flying with a mouth and nose mask, similar to those used in medical settings, to keep germs out of your respiratory system.
Enjoying the local cuisine is a major part of the travel experience - just make sure you drink bottled beverages, eat at reputable restaurants, and that you have some medicine on hand just in case.
Staying Healthy While Traveling
After you arrive, keep your luggage and close at hand and use the health items (like hand sanitizer) you brought with you regularly. Remain aware of your surroundings, whether on the trail or on the street. Both the natural and built environments have their health hazards that need to be accounted for:
- Natural environment
- Inclement weather, especially wet and cold
- Strains and sprains on rough terrain
- Biting insects
- Built environment
- Unfamiliar traffic rules and difficult-to-read signage - use caution!
- Stomach bugs from food and drink
- Security issues
Your Global Basecamps operators are well-versed in both the natural and built environments of our destination countries, and are professionals at maintaining your safety in both the more common (stomach bugs) and the more serious (traffic hazards). While the final word on safety is ultimately one’s own responsibility, and we are here to take the very best care of you while on our tours.
When in the developing world, it is common for passersby to offer to carry your luggage, usually in exchange for a small tip. This is best avoided, as we keep control of our own luggage.
Solo travel apart from Global Basecamps or another operator entails a higher level of personal responsibility for your health and well being. Keep these guidelines in mind:
- know first aid and keep your kit well stocked
- learn simple phrases in the local languages that would be needed in case of an emergency
- having your phone communications set and ready to go, including the local emergency phone number
- know where the nearest hospital and how to get there
Staying Healthy After Traveling
After traveling, getting back to our life rhythms is important as we return to the healthy way of life were seeking to live before we traveled, from overcoming jet lag to making sure we didn’t bring any stowaway illnesses back with us - they can take a few days to show up sometimes.
Staying healthy while traveling is a challenge, but one that many travelers accept and succeed at, even in tough and exotic parts of the world. Global Basecamps’ trips to Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific require preparation - not just to care for your health, but to authentic travel experiences that make a positive impact and will change your life!
Learn more on staying healthy while traveling at these great sites:
IAMAT | Travel Health Journal
CDC | Pack Smart