Travelling can reinvigorate our mind, body, and soul, but it can also do the opposite. Many travels, especially when venturing off the beaten path, can be stressful. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel intimidated when you’re miles away from life’s comforts at home. Here are a few important health tips that will keep you safe, healthy, and happy through all of your travels.
1. Plan well and travel light.
Do your research. This can apply to all aspects of your trip, and a little bit of preparation goes a long way. Know what you will need before you leave for your trip and make sure you’ve planned for all minimum necessities packed light so that the rest of the trip can allow for stress free exploration. Travel unburdens your soul, but make sure not to burden your body. You probably won’t need to bring the amount of stuff you think you’ll need. Shed the pounds of luggage that’ll cramp your muscles and body. Your back and shoulders will be so happy and your mind so relaxed.
2. Pay attention to personal hygiene and immunity.
Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you eat, after you use the bathroom, before you jump on the hotel bed, and wherever the situation calls for it.
Wipe down the germ zones. Numerous studies have shown that germs have favorite places such as airplanes (mainly armrests and tray tables) and hotel rooms (mainly telephones and remote controls, toilets and sinks). Carry a pack of baby wipes and wipe away those germs.
Take your vitamins. They provide an extra line of defense, especially at a time when we may not be eating a perfectly balanced, nutritious diet.
Pack a basic first aid kit that includes gloves, scissors, bandages, gauze and safety pins, antiseptics and something for allergies and insect bites. If you’re travelling by plane, purchase a plane-safe first aid kit.
It is important that you pay attention to hygiene, but try not to get paranoid and miss the fun. There is a balance of good and bad when travelling, so don’t let obsession creep into your everyday experience.
3. Eat healthy while travelling.
Many health-related issues can be fixed (or at least lessened) just by eating well. This can take some discipline while you’re out travelling, but if you want to enjoy your travel with full energy and without getting sick, plan on getting proper nutrition as often as possible. Make sure you pack or look for healthy travel snacks! It may not always be possible, but try to ensure that you make eating well a necessity, rather than a luxury. Eat fruits and vegetables, which are full of nutrients and help lower the risk of illness. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat, salt, and sugar.
4. Stay hydrated.
Water helps you to stay hydrated, flushes out your system, and will help you arrive at your destination feeling cleaner and clearer from the inside out. Take your own reusable travel bottle instead of purchasing disposable plastic bottles.
5. Get good sleep.
Whether you can carve out six, eight or ten hours for it, sleep is critical for our mental and physical health. It’s impossible to underestimate how important it is to get enough sleep while travelling. Your mind, body and spirit will thank you for a good night’s sleep and a short afternoon nap.
A smile conveys more than words and is understood in every language. No matter how well you plan for your trip, there are likely to be a few hiccups along the way. How you handle the unplanned moments will set the tone for your trip. Instead of getting frustrated over cancelled flights, remembering that things can go out of our control, keep the smile on your face and work with the airline to find an alternative plan.
7. Get out and stay active.
Travelling gives you the opportunity to participate in the local scene, and walking can be a great way to take in a new town. See if there is a local bike or walking tour so that you can learn about local history as you go. And if your travel involves physical activity (scuba, skiing, snowshoeing, parasailing), even better! Whether you are surrounded by snow, rain, or are basking in the sun, ensure you incorporate some good ol’ fresh air into your holiday plans. Here are some ideas that will take care of your fitness while you are traveling and what is more fun is that you won’t even require any workout equipments.
Go for hikes. Along with the obvious benefits to your musculature and stamina, there is something soothing to the mind and soul that comes from communing with nature. As Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “Nature loves you ten times more than a mother loves her newborn.” After a scenic hike up to a breathtaking view, the relaxation that you enjoy is rejuvenating and healing.
Go for walks. Cleanse your heart, your skin, your lungs, and your emotions with as much fresh air and light as you can. It may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how easy it is to keep your metabolism moving and your mind in a state of Zen just by walking. The sun literally gives us life and much needed Vitamin D! Going out of your way to be surrounded by as much natural light as possible on your travels will rejuvenate your soul and energize your cells.
Play outdoors. If you’re not off climbing mountains and exploring vast cities on foot, make sure you build a little time into your day to break a sweat. Moderate exercise boosts our mood, our immunity, and makes us feel a little better about those extra calories we may consume.
Enjoy travel yoga. When it comes to keeping your mind, body and spirit finely tuned, there’s perhaps nothing that deals with all three quite as well as yoga. There are many ways yoga can ease your travel. Yoga can help you deal with long journey-related circulation problems, improve the quality of your sleep, and even help your soul bond with other travellers as you practice together. Most importantly, it will help you live in the present moment and enjoy your travel even more. Try this Rejuvenating Yoga Routine to recover from travel fatigue and hangover.
If the weather permits none of these, try to take a meal outside, or at least open your windows to lift spirits and freshen the indoors.
8. Be open and welcoming.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” - Saint Augustine
Another soul-healing thing that makes travel so incredible is its ability to open our minds and hearts. Learning about other cultures and experiencing them first-hand removes prejudices and expands our horizons and view of the world. Take in the local wisdom and expand your knowledge.
9. Take some me time and go into solitude.
The whole world is here for you to enjoy, but when enjoying, don't forget your Self. - Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Alone time is soothing for the soul. Clear your mind, go at your own pace, and even exercise without fear of judgement through some planned alone time, even if you’re travelling with family or friends. For many travellers, solo travel is a life-changing experience.
Meditate. Stress has many mental and emotional side effects, as well as physically taking a toll on one’s muscles, nerves, joints and even vital organs. Chill out! Take a deep breath and give your body and mind the support it needs. Many travellers across the world find it helpful to meditate to channel some peace into their tired muscles and joints. Find some tips here on how you can include meditation in your tour itinerary.
Write travel journals. Writing reflective journals is a type of therapy that focuses on your internal experiences, thoughts and feelings, and gives you mental and emotional clarity, validates your experiences and helps you come to a deeper understanding of yourself. Take some time to write. Write about your adventures, your feelings and your hardships. Write to loved ones back home, or to travel buddies you met along the way. Start your own travel blog and share your experiences and travel tips.
“Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.”- Frank Borman. There’s something about the thrilling travels and adventures, the open sky and road, that lends itself to the edification of the soul and self-discovery. With a little ingenuity and planning, we can not only feel great on our vacations, but feel better all the time, more rested, and more in tune with ourselves.
Travel safe and enjoy your travel this celebratory season!
By Sejal Shah, E-YRT 500 Yoga Teacher, Art of Living Teacher, Mind-Body Wellness Writer, Yogi, Meditator, Homeopath