Aussie travellers are known for their adventurous spirit. We like to get off the beaten track and get out there. Expedia’s travellers aren’t wasting precious holidays, we’re spending more time in countries close to home such as Sri Lanka and Laos. If you’re on the road for a few weeks, the last thing you want is to get sick. Here are a few of my favourite tips that have helped me enjoy a healthy holiday over the years.
Before you jet overseas, make sure you plan your journey for optimum health. Research your destination extensively and find out if there are any concerns or warnings prior to your departure. Do you need to worry about malaria or contaminated water etc.? Meet with your doctor six weeks before departure to discuss any advice and vaccinations you can get. Make sure you’ve stocked your medical kit with prescriptions, insect repellent, probiotics, motion sickness tablets, vitamins and sunscreen. And always find good medical insurance coverage – one that will support your needs while you’re away.
Choose foods rich in nutrients to give you the energy and stamina you’ll need to see all your favourite sites and places. Avoid the temptation of greasy fast food when you’re in a hurry to catch your next tour. The secret is to plan and prepare in advance, for example if you’re on a day tour that stops at greasy takeaway shops for meals, be proactive and pack healthy snacks the night before. Do your research before you leave home by making a list of all the wholefood markets and healthy restaurants in the area. When you get the chance to cook meals for yourself, take it. Cooking makes healthy choices easier, along with saving you a heap of money.
Then wash them again. Without sounding too obsessive, get in the habit of washing your hands all the time – before a meal, after a meal and any time you think about it. In busy cities where you’re touching railings, chairs and public transport, it’s super easy to pick up more germs than when at home. Carry a packet of wipes and a tube of anti-bacterial gel for those rare moments when no soap or sink is available.
When in doubt about the soil or water the local plants have been grown in, it’s wise to choose fresh fruits and vegetables that you can peel yourself. Try bananas, papayas, avocados, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers etc. Avoid lettuce or anything with a skin you would normally eat such as tomatoes or capsicum. If you’re desperate or have a craving, make sure you wash the skin in purified water before eating it.
There is such a thing as being too hygienic. We all need a little bacteria in our system to help build up a resistance. Chances are the first time you travel overseas your body will go into a little shock and need to do some readjusting. If you don’t go overboard with cleanliness, your body will build up a resistance so the next time you travel you’ll find you don’t become so affected by disease and infection. Dare to get out of the bubble and get your hands a little dirty.
Keep your body moving and choose to walk or ride a bike to destinations. This will keep your heart beating, circulation pumping and energy rising. As they say “energy creates energy” and it can be all too easy to become inactive when we’re relaxing on a holiday. Staying active will keep you motivated and healthy, so you can savour every moment of your journey.
A bad sunburn can literally ruin your holiday, not to mention cause severe heatstroke. Yes, I know while you’re in some faraway exotic land it’s tempting to lay by the pool sipping cocktails, but be wise and wear a hat and loads of sunscreen. It sounds like common sense, but many of us forget to slip, slop and slap. Make applying sunscreen and putting on a hat part of your morning ritual and always carry a spare tube of sunscreen in your bag to reapply several times throughout the day.
Food poisoning or an upset stomach, which happens as a result of eating food or water contaminated by E. coli, is one of the most common concerns when travelling abroad. The best preventive measures are regular hand washing and selective eating. Eat only well-cooked foods that are still hot, drink bottled water with seals intact and when in underdeveloped countries, avoid fresh salads and vegetables. Choose restaurants that are busy. That’s usually a sure fire sign to tell if a restaurant’s food is tasty and clean. Save a little money and book a room with a kitchen so you can spend a few nights cooking your own healthy meals. If you are struck down with a food-borne illness, keep your body well hydrated to help flush out the bacteria quickly. When fighting bad bacteria, you need to make sure that you have enough “good” bacteria fighting on the inside. This is why it’s a good idea to pack probiotics or acidophilus pills, which balance and replenish good bacteria. If you haven’t packed any of these, try eating natural or probiotic yoghurt.
If you take the time to put your health as the number one priority for your next holiday, you’ll less likely to run into little problems on your travels. Remember the saying that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” – this also goes for planning a wonderful holiday. With a little bit of knowledge, preparation and positive attitude, you can make your next holiday an experience of a lifetime.