“We must have adventures to know where we truly belong.”
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
I think it’s safe to say that most of us have a collection of travel quotes that we look to from time to time. It’s probably in the form of a Pinterest board titled Wanderlust. Or a forearm tattoo in a hipster font. Some of us might even have it sticky noted along the edges of our bathroom mirror. You love traveling and you can’t help but think about it everyday. But guess what? You can’t travel if you are DEAD. So let’s take care of ourselves, huh?
I’ll leave it up to your mother to tell you the basics- when to eat, how many jackets to bring and how important it is to use protection. She is a wise lady, I’d listen to her if I were you. But I’m here to give you a few of MY best tips on staying healthy while exploring and adventuring the globe. They are tried and true and will keep you alive!
- Know your limits. You are going to have a gazillion opportunities to try new and thrilling things. Skydiving, mountain biking, rock climbing and scuba diving just to name a few. You should absolutely push yourself to face your fears, but don’t be ignorant of your abilities. If you have never base jumped, don’t agree to go with the cute german guy from your hostel. If you have never driven a motorcycle, practice around town before going up a mountain with one-way streets. With that said, you only live once so don’t be TOO careful!
- Exercise. Staying in shape will benefit you greatly. For one, you will able to hike those beautiful mountains like a mad man and also you will make your body happy. Secondly, exercise releases endorphins, which can help fight depression and make you feel like a million bucks! I’m not saying wake up at the crack of dawn and run for 20 miles. You could simply just choose to walk to the market rather than get a cab. Or maybe spend a few extra minutes splashing around in the sea, rather than tanning on the beach.
- Fuel your body. Food is key to survival. So most importantly, make sure you are eating on a regular basis. Beyond on that, I highly recommend focusing on eating healthy food that will give you the energy you will so desperately need. Be sure to indulge in regional favorites, but steer clear of the cookies and sodas that are oh so convenient for long bus rides. Don’t become obsessive over your diet, but be mindful of what you are filling your belly with. You’d be surprised how easy it is to come by fresh, REAL food in most countries. Also, if you eat a certain way at home, traveling is not the time to experiment with other diets. If you have been vegan for 10 years, take it easy on the meat (at first) to avoid a week long visit to the toilet…
- Don’t drink alcohol… KIDDING, but maybe don’t choose to relive your college days of binge drinking. Alcohol not only dehydrates you, but it also has a tendency to convince you to do stupid things. Moderation is key. And hey if you go crazy one night, that’s okay, just make sure to give it a rest for a bit while your body recuperates. Another tip for success is to stick to one type of alcohol. If you start your night with beer, don’t start downing mixed drinks at the bar. “Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear. ” – the most useful thing I learned in college.
- Hydrate. This pertains to the above mentioned tip. If you are drinking alcohol you need to also be drinking water. Spewing your brains out isn’t cute and that hottie who works at the front desk of your hostel isn’t going to think it’s cute either. They might even lock you out. So drink that good ol’ H2O throughout the night to avoid the repercussions and the looming hangover. But that’s not the only time you need to drink water. It can be hard to remember to hydrate, especially if you are somewhere cold or where drinking water isn’t free. But you’ve got to do it!
- Relax. Don’t be afraid to call in sick if you are feeling a little under the weather. The longer you travel the more likely you are to catch some sort of bug or illness. Knock on wood. So, if you find yourself feeling a little less than ideal, how about taking a day off? Yes, jet skiing sounds fun but you NEED to take care of yourself. The quicker you nip it in the bud, to quicker you can get out there and play again! Expert tip: Most countries with public healthcare have very educated pharmacists at the pharmacies, so walk in and let them know your symptoms. They will very likely be able to “diagnose” you and give you the proper medication.
- Buy travel insurance. The worst possible thing is to be in a foreign country with a serious illness or injury but with no way to afford medical treatment. If you get your leg bit off by a shark, you will be thanking me for this advice… GET TRAVELERS INSURANCE. It will hardly make a dent in the overall cost of your trip but will save you big bucks if, god forbid, something does go wrong. Travel insurance will help you cover any medical expenses, just make sure to purchase the right plan if you are going to do extreme sports. Knowing you are covered will give you peace of mind and will allow you to be a little bit more adventurous!
- Take a day off. Much like when you are physically sick, you need to give your mind a break every so often. Traveling can be stressful, lonely and scary. It’s important to take a day here and there to get grounded and back in touch with yourself. Sleep in, meditate, read a book, Skype your friends, try that new restaurant. It’s okay to mentally check out for a day, you’ve always got tomorrow!
- Maintain contact back home. This is especially important for long term travelers. Do your best to check in with your friends and family from home. Not only will it give them peace knowing you are still alive, but it’s refreshing to hear from a familiar person every once in awhile. Yes you will be making tons of new friends abroad, but they don’t know you at your core. I also think that communication is important because travel will inevitably change you and you’ll want your friends and family to be along for that process- it will lessen the blow when you get home. Even if it is just an email or brief phone call once a week, you’ve got to do it!
- Create routine. It’s human nature to crave routine, or at least stability. This doesn’t mean that you need to stick to a schedule everyday. That’s almost impossible to do while traveling and it takes away from the magic of it. But even if you just write in your journal every night or drink a cup of tea each morning, routine can make a huge difference. In a place where everything is new and unknown, your mind will at least know that it can rely on something being the same everyday.
- Breathe. Look around. And smile. If you don’t listen to anything else I have written in this post, listen to this. It’s easy to get caught up in the activities and the picture taking and the blogging and the instagraming that comes along with travel, but be sure to give yourself a chance to take it all in. Let the rivers speak to you and the mountains inspire you. The world is a seriously raw, wild and beautiful place and you’ve got to give it a chance to move you. Take a few minutes to appreciate your surroundings and let the experience of this new country sink into your mind. And then, smile. Because you’ve found something that no one can ever take away from you.
Traveling the world can be one of the most exhilarating choices you make. You will explore unknown lands, meet unique people and create memories that will last a lifetime. But you can’t do any of this if you are dead. Or sick. Or injured. So take care of yourself people!!