5 Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling

I travel a lot. At least every few weeks I pack my bags to head off to another city that doesn't have my gym, my kitchen, or a Whole Foods within a five minute walking distance. 

It's incredibly fortunate that I'm able to do so, but that means I'm also no stranger to the struggle of staying healthy while traveling. Last September, when I spent about two weeks in Asia (first in Shanghai for a 6 day technology conference and then for 4 days in Ubud on the island of Bali in Indonesia) I came down with a wild sinus, ear and respiratory infection only a few days into my trip. 

It taught me two super valuable lessons: (1) always pack cough drops and Ibuprofen and (2) staying healthy, both in terms of general wellness and how we take care of our bodies, is even more important when we're far from home.

Here are my top 5 tips for staying health while traveling!

1. Pay attention to your meals.

Definitely try the local food where you're traveling. Indulge in local cuisines and seasonal fare. But aim for at least one fresh, plant-based meal (with or without lean protein) per day. Most places you'll travel will have an assortment of local fresh fruits and vegetables that might not be available back home. In Bali, for example, the unique tropical fruits and interesting methods of preparation are themselves incredibly healthy. Scour a local market, giving yourself a chance to explore a local haunt, in addition to eating healthy. If you're staying in a space with a kitchenette or full kitchen, try cooking for yourself instead of eating out a couple of times during your trip.

2. Keep your routines.

Do you normally sleep 8 hours per night? Do you have a morning skincare routine? Do you keep a meditation or yoga practice? Keep at those routines (at least for the most part). Not only will you maintain the practices that keep you healthy and feeling well when you're home, they will also serve to relax you in a foreign place.  

Cloudy Balinese rice fields in October.

Cloudy Balinese rice fields in October.

3. Find a 'do anywhere' workout routine.

When I'm home, I try to keep to a consistent routine of running, spin and dance classes, and weightlifting to keep in shape and yoga to stay flexible and balanced. It's difficult to take all that with me when I travel; often, I try to stay at hotels that have at least a small fitness center. Usually, these will have, at the minimum, a treadmill or other piece of cardio equipment and a rack of dumbbells at different weights. When that isn't a possibility, going running or hiking (where weather permits) is a great way to see a new place through a different perspective.

But, in many cases, especially when traveling for work, that might not be possible. In that case, find a go-and-do-anywhere routine that requires no equipment. Here are a couple examples: one and two. There are countless others in fitness sites and even if you scroll through your Pinterest feed.

4. Walk everywhere.

I'm of the opinion that the best way to explore a city is to walk it. When I was in London in fall of 2015 for a(nother) technology conference, I did just that. As an organizer, I had to be at the venue before 8am each morning and most evenings stayed out with colleagues until the wee hours of the next morning. To get a small work-out in and explore the neighborhood I was staying in, I would walk from my Airbnb in Shoreditch to the venue in the Financial District every morning. I found unique coffee shops and beautiful side streets (for Instragram, obvi).

Similarly, when Gustav and I were in Italy this time last year (side note: go to Rome off-season, it's the best), we walked the city and found hidden gems for pasta, gifts to send to his nieces in Sweden, and incredible espresso and breakfast pastries. I fell in love with the cobblestone pathways we got to explore on our way to landmarks.

Walking not only keeps you active on a trip, it also lets you see parts of a city you likely wouldn't otherwise.

5. hydrate: Pack and carry a reusable water bottle.

Personally, I often fail at getting my recommended water intake when I'm at home - I'm even worse when I travel. I like to take an empty bottle with me to the airport, fill it up after security (most airports I've traveled to have had stations to refill water bottles), and keep it on me at all times. It's especially important to hydrate when flying, even more so on long flights like between the US and Asia, and if you're traveling to countries with unsafe drinking water, you want to be aware of any potential solutions for when you're out and about.

With those tips in mind, go forth and wander!