If you hadn’t already figured it out, I absolutely love travelling. Trying new food, exploring different cultures, making memories to last a lifetime — in my eyes, there’s nothing better. However, spending months on the road can have some downsides. Of course, the struggles that come with travelling are completely outweighed by the countless positives. But one struggle that can make or break your trip is the difficulty of protecting your health on the road. Fortunately I have a few tips for preventing illness whilst travelling, so make sure you use them to get the most out of your adventure.
- Have Some Shots
No, not the fun kind — vaccinations. This is hopefully something that you’d do anyway, although surprisingly many travellers opt out of getting them. But this is a seriously risky move. Vaccinations don’t prevent minor bugs or viruses that can be shaken off after a few days. Instead they protect you against a whole bunch of life-threatening nasty diseases, including rabies, measles, hepatitis and so many more.
I sympathise if you’re reluctant to get a vaccine, I really do. I absolutely hate getting them and they can cost a fortune. Plus, I was left bed-ridden for a few days after my rabies vaccine (don’t worry, this is very, very rare!), so the thought of getting travel vaccines makes me feel sick to my stomach. But even after my rubbish experience, I would never go without one.
Think of it this way. Worst case scenario, you have a bad reaction like I did, and you have to pay up to £200 for the pleasure. This is still far better than coming down with a serious disease at the beginning of your adventure and spending the rest of your trip (and the rest of your budget) in hospital. Of course, it isn’t just the money or trip that you have to worry about. The most serious diseases like rabies are life-threatening. So for the sake of the trip, your wallet and your health, you must get the appropriate vaccines. Use this handy tool to check which vaccinations you need for which country.
2. Pack Some Multivitamins
After years of my Mum nagging me to take my vitamins, I have to admit that she’s right. Multivitamins should be taken whether you’re at home or abroad, but they’re even more important when you’re backpacking. Because when travelling, especially in a different country, your body goes through a lot of changes. Taking multivitamins is the perfect way to prepare yourself for whatever your adventure might throw at you.
When looking for the perfect multivitamin, there are a few things that you need to consider. Firstly, make sure it has vitamin B12. When you travel, you’ll find that you use a lot more energy than you usually do, thanks to all the walking and exploring you’ll be doing. Taking vitamin B12 is one of the best ways to keep your energy up, as it helps your body convert food into glucose. And make sure your multivitamin has a good dose of vitamin C too. This vitamin helps you stay healthy by protecting your immune system, which is especially important when travelling to a new country and mingling with lots of new germs. And if you’re still not convinced in the power of the multi-vitamin, they also help your body fight off jet-lag! Is there nothing they can’t do?
3. Balance Your Diet
When backpacking, it’s inevitable that your diet will change in one way or another. The first time I went travelling, I couldn’t manage more than a meal a day (which is very, very unlike me). I’d never been anywhere as hot as Vietnam, and I had no idea how much my appetite would be affected. It isn’t just the weather that can mess with your diet though — travel bugs, low budgets and the often impossible task of cooking in a hostel kitchen all play a role too.
But as difficult as it can be, getting enough calories and maintaining a balanced diet is crucial for your health. As much as you want to be out exploring the world rather than stuck in the hostel cooking with appliances that should’ve been chucked out 10 years ago, you aren’t helping yourself by surviving off of snacks and instant noodles. Although I’ve just sung the praises of multivitamins, they still can’t give you everything you need. Make sure to eat plenty of fresh fruit and veggies to get a healthy dose of vitamins. If you want to keep a close eye on your vitamin intake, consider downloading a vitamin tracker to keep an eye out for any deficiencies.
If, like me, you’re struggling with eating enough thanks to the heat, try having multiple small meals throughout the day. This is a great way to keep your energy levels up, and you won’t feel too full either. But don’t fret if your diet isn’t perfect when you’re travelling — no one’s is. Just try your best to look after yourself, so you can have the best time ever.
4. Keep in Touch
It isn’t just your physical health that you need to protect when backpacking. Travelling can take a toll on anyone’s mental health. Because despite all the highs of travelling, there can be a few lows too. When something goes wrong or you just have a bad day, all you want to do is get back to the comfort of your own home, have a cup of tea and have a moan. But this is pretty much impossible if you’re on the other side of the country, let alone the other side of the world.
So make sure to protect your mental health whilst travelling by keeping in touch with loved ones. This is important for anyone, but especially if you’re a solo traveller. Life on the road can get pretty lonely. Even if you find a good group of friends whilst travelling, they don’t know you like the people back home do. Sometimes, all you need is a catch up and a sense of familiarity to boost your mood. It’s completely normal to become lonely and down when travelling, but remember that there are ways to pick yourself back up again.
5. Take Time Off
There’s no getting around it, travelling is exhausting. When I’ve returned from trips away and I’ve told people how tired I am, they usually scoff. After all, all I did was go on holiday, so how can I be tired? Whilst travelling can effectively be a long holiday, this doesn’t mean that it’s not absolutely knackering. Because even if you’re having the time of your life, you’ll still become fatigued if you push yourself too much. And if you’ve been working whilst travelling, you’re likely to feel even more shattered.
So make sure to look after your body by giving it a break every now and then. I know that there’s so many things you want to see and so many places you want to go, and I understand that you need to make the most of your big adventure. But when you push yourself too hard, you simply won’t enjoy it. You don’t want to arrive at the landmark that you’ve been dying to see ever since you got off the plane, only to find yourself wishing you could crawl back into your hostel bed. If you don’t take a rest day every so often, you’re going to slow yourself down in the long run, and you just won’t have a good time.
And remember, that resting doesn’t need to be boring! If you’re spending the day in the hostel, try finding some new travel companions. Or if you want to get out of the hostel for your rest day, head to the beach, park or a local café. This might even end up being your favourite day of the entire trip.
How Do You Look After Yourself On The Road?
I hope you find these 5 healthy travel tips handy. Do you have any of your own that you can share? Let me know in the comments below!