As a keen traveller, Craig and I are both aware that our favourite pastime can also be problematic when it comes to managing our health. As wonderful as travelling and seeing the world is, it’s also fairly demanding, and a bout of ill health during a trip can leave you feeling disappointed and dejected. If you want to try and avoid the feeling of lost time on your trips as a result of any health concerns, then deciding to live by the “golden rules” of health as a traveller is a wise choice. The rules outlined below can ensure that your mind and body are always able to enjoy every second of your time exploring the world. Here are our go-to rules to travel by:
#1: I pack all medications first
Going through your medications to ensure you have everything you need is an important part of the packing process, but this rule insists that it’s what you should do first. The reason for this is simple: if you’re taking prescribed medications, then you’re going to need to have access to them while away, or you’re not going to be able to enjoy your trip as you should. By ensuring that your medication is the first thing you pack, you can be absolutely confident of continued health throughout the duration of your time abroad.
If you are going abroad for a couple of weeks or longer, it’s important to remember that you may need to request a special prescription from your doctor. Repeat prescriptions are usually a month long, and if yours is set to run out while you’re away, you’ll need a longer-dated prescription to ensure you can take a sufficient amount of medication away with you. You’ll likely need to arrange for a long-date prescription in advance, so make sure there’s a note in your diary reminding you to do this at least a couple of weeks prior to departure.
#2: If I’m not supposed to drink the water, I stick with bottled
There are numerous countries across the globe where it is recommended that travellers don’t drink tap water. Our most recent destination, Mexico is one where we had to skip on the tap water. Despite this, and all the warnings, thousands of people go ahead and drink the water anyway— and then find themselves having to cope with the consequences. Given that these consequences can be incredibly unpleasant, this is definitely a rule you’re going to want to obey.
If you’re visiting a country where it’s advised you don’t drink the water, it’s important to make the time to adequately prepare for this. Your first stop upon arrival should be a local store for bottled water, and you’re going to want to ensure you keep this topped up during your stay. Sure, going to the grocery store when you’re on holiday isn’t the most thrilling of tasks, but it’s one you’re going to want to stick to to ensure your health during your time away!
#3: I take Jet lag seriously
Jet lag is a well-known phenomenon, and one that any seasoned traveller will be uncomfortably familiar with. Despite this, jet lag is often dismissed, seen as part of the experience, or just something to be powered through while abroad. The truth is that jet lag can’t be ignored. If you’re exhausted during your trip, you may make poor decisions, which could lead to a number of consequences that are worrying to both your health and your enjoyment of your trip. As a result, jet lag is something that you have to ensure you’re prepared to handle as well as possible.
You can begin the process of coping with jet lag before you even leave your home. Slowly but surely, you’re going to want to go to bed earlier or later than you normally would, at a time more aligned with the timezone you’re going to be travelling to. Here’s an online sleep planner I swear by when travelling outside of our timezone!
[bctt tweet=”Try these tips to skip the jet lag!” username=”theglobediary”]
For example, let’s say you live in Edmonton, and you’re going to be travelling to Paris—a time difference of seven hours. You’d usually go to bed at 11pm, which would be an unpleasant 6am in Paris. However, a few weeks before your trip, you’re going to want to gradually go to bed earlier and earlier. If you can get to the point where you’re comfortable going to bed at 7pm, that’s 2am in Paris, which is a reasonable time to be heading to bed while on holiday.
Obviously, the above doesn’t come easily, especially if you’re a night owl. It’s important to ensure that your bed is a comfortable, relaxing space if you’re going to attempt this. Consider using essential oils to help you sleep, and even embrace a change of bedding; buy a couple of new pillows that support your neck, check out Nectar mattress features and consider a purchase if your existing mattress isn’t particularly comfortable, and fresh, soft sheets are going to be far more welcoming than basic linens. While this may sound like a lot of hassle, it’s a technique that is well worth perfecting if you’re intending to travel copiously in future.
On the flip side, if you’re travelling to a country in a later timezone (such as Hawaii), you’re going to want to start going to bed earlier than usual. The same necessity for a comfortable space is going to apply, and it might also be useful to plan a few activities during the evenings to help keep you awake until your preferred sleep time!
#4: I only buy over-the-counter medicine if I understand it
Just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean that you’re going to be guaranteed perfect health. You’ll get headaches, feel unwell, or experience a flare in a chronic condition. While preparing your medication is important, the simple fact is that you can’t take medication for every possible ailment in your luggage (although we can try). This leaves you with two options: Manage without medication or visit a doctor and buy medication locally.
If you’re going to buy medicine from a local pharmacy, then it’s vital to know exactly what you are buying. Just because a medication is bought over-the-counter doesn’t mean that it is safe to use, especially if you are taking other prescribed medication. Ideally, speak to a local pharmacist for their advice. If this is a problem due to a language barrier, then your best bet is to contact your local doctor for their approval. Only when you are 100 percent certain that you understand what you are buying, how to use it, and whether it’s safe for you to use should you take over-the-counter medication while on holiday.
#5: I always buy travel insurance
For the most part, insurance is generally viewed as a positive, and in some cases is a legal requirement. Yet when it comes to travel insurance, many of us abandon our usual thinking on insurance and decide to go without. It’s easy to see why this is the case; travelling is expensive, and travel insurance seems like yet another cost that you can ill-afford to bear. However, travel insurance is also a form of health insurance, and ensuring that you have good coverage is definitely vital when health is involved.
If you fall ill or are injured in a foreign country, you’re going to want to ensure that you have some form of financial assistance. You may need to pay for treatment, or perhaps even fly back home early. These measures can be incredibly expensive, which may lead to your compromising on health-related decisions due to fear of financial repercussions. It’s far preferable to ensure that you’re covered so, if your health fails while away, you know you’re going to be able to obtain the treatment that you need without having an extra financial worry to consider.
#6: I always give myself rest days
Of course you’re going to want to explore while you’re away; few of us like the idea of heading off on vacation and seeing nothing but the inside of our hotel room. However, if you’re travelling for any duration of time (anything beyond a weekend city break), then it’s important to plot a rest day or two.
Rest days should be restful, but they don’t have to be complicated. They should just allow for plenty of sleep and little physical exertion. While there’s undoubtedly a number of tourist sites you want to see and explore, it’s far better for your body — and your mind — to ensure that you rest during your trip. The last thing you want is to feel groggy, tired, or stiff from too many days pushing yourself too hard. So one golden rule we happily abide by: plan a few days where the only thing on the agenda is letting yourself recover from previous exertion. That’s why you’ll always see a spa day scheduled in nearly all of our travel diaries!
If you follow the rules above, you can be certain that your future holidays will be as healthy as possible. Let us know if there is anything else you would add to our list of golden rules below!
Prepping for our next trip,