Eat healthily, sleep well, breathe deeply, move harmoniously – Jean-Pierre Barral
Importance of Health
When I first went travelling, I got drunk most nights, ate unhealthy fried food, and compromised my sleep in the process – it was a vicious cycle.
The unpredictability of travel was causing great strain on my health. Routine was well and truly thrown out of the window. I didn’t know when or what I was going to eat. I didn’t know where I was going to sleep. Would I find fruit? Or would I be caught hitchhiking at another service station with just another hot dog on offer?
I slowly realised the importance of health and I decided I wanted to feel better so made some big changes in my life. I realised that health underpinned everything. Without it, I was nothing. Therefore, maintaining it became a number one priority.
Backpacker lifestyle is a hard lifestyle to sustainably maintain. If you are travelling and find it hard to maintain your health then I hope you can get some useful tips out of this article.
How To Stay Healthy On The Road
1 – Food
The food we put in our body determines our output. In my experience it is difficult to build a routine around food while travelling. For example, you might be hitchhiking and have no option but to eat a hot dog at a service station, but here are some tips on food.
•Cook for yourself – Not only can you be sure what you are putting into your body, but if you are CouchSurfing, cooking food is fun and brings people together. It is also a great way to cut costs, especially if you are travelling with others.
•Go Raw – If you’re looking for nutrients on the road, and want to make sure you’re putting good stuff in your body, you can never go wrong by going raw and eating fruit and vegetables. There’s no cooking necessary and it may surprise you that fruit and vegetables are pretty cheap, especially if you find a local market. If I’m hitchhiking, my favourite things to buy are apples, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, grapes, nuts, bananas.
•Multivitamins as Backup – It’s inevitable that there will be situations when you don’t have access to food. Rather than being malnourished, it’s useful to carry some decent multivitamins with you so that you don’t compromise your immune system.
2 – Water
Our bodies are made up of 70% water, and it really is what gives us life. Hydration is key on the road, especially in the heat when you’re moving about. Recommendations from the Institute of Medicine suggest that 2.5l of water for women and 3.5l of water for men is appropriate. I usually buy a 2l plastic bottle from a supermarket and carry this for my trip. Not only is it a good reference point for how much water you’ve taken in, but you can fill it up in streams and lakes, providing you have some water purification tablets (also very cheap).
3 – Mentality – Your mind-set and mentality is a critical part of health. It is inevitable that you’ll deal with a lot of ups and downs on the road. Accept that it’s not going to be all adventure and happiness. It’s easy to feel stressed and worn out when negative thoughts pop up, but here’s a few ideas to calm the mind:
•Meditation – You don’t need any special equipment for meditation, and it can be a very useful exercise for calming the mind. Start small, and try sitting quietly for 5 minutes each day. If you need more guidance, then there’s also plenty of free tutorials here.
•Yoga– Not only is yoga is a great way to eliminate stress and worry, but it doesn’t have to cost a penny. There’s loads of free guided tutorials online, and if you don’t have a yoga mat, what about using your camping mat, or simply finding a nice spot of grass.
•Chase the Sun – Yes, you heard that correctly. Vitamin D from the sun is a natural stress reliever, and has been proven to fight depression. A lot of my travel friends chase the sun by heading to the southern hemisphere in Winter, and then returning again in Summer.
•Sleep – Sleep is critical and impacts all over areas of your life. If you are constantly compromising 2 hours of sleep each night then, you take a 1/3 of your life away. The main thing for good sleep is consistency. To create a healthy consistent sleep pattern, you need to be strict with yourself. If you’re going out partying all the time, your sleep will be sporadic, and eventually you will come up against yourself (no one is super human).
4 – Free Gym Trials – If you get your motivation from exercising around other people then why not take advantage of gyms. If you find yourself travelling between major cities, then why not take advantage of free gym trials. Most gyms usually offer a 2-day trail period. What is there to lose? There’s no harm in ringing up or popping in to check.
For a long time, I was so busy having a good time that I didn’t really think about my health while I was travelling.
After a while of feeling down, sluggish and lethargic, I realised that health and taking conscious care of my body is one of the most important things I could do while I was travelling.
From the way we feel to the things we put in our body, health underpins everything we do in life.
Without our health, we can’t do anything.
Whether you’re hitting the road long term or just a short trip, what steps will you take to manage your health?
I would love to hear how you manage to maintain your health on the road. Feel free to share all your comments and tips below.
Thanks for reading!
All the best,
Daniel Beaumont, February 2016
About the Author
Hello everyone, I’m Dan – a 28-year-old social entrepreneur and writer from the north of England, living in Bucharest, Romania. I’m currently writing my first book about my 4-year journey around the world seeking wisdom and life-lessons from everyday people I met hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.
I discovered that travel, if approached with the right mindset, can be life-changing, and a trip combining travel, purpose and introspection is a great way to learn, challenge oneself and change for the better. Now my mission in life is to share what I’ve learned to inspire others to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and use travel, entrepreneurship and technology as a means to make the world a better place.
I’m also the founder of Podstel – a vision to help humanity belong and grow by creating a worldwide network of ‘homes’ that bring locals and travellers together to share their stories, passions and skills. The first two Podstels are open and thriving in Bucharest, so if you’re passing through, be sure to come and say hi, or stay the night with us.
If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it with your friends and join the discussion below by posting your thoughts and questions.
If you want to read more articles like this then please subscribe to my mailing list here to receive content directly to your inbox.