Travelling for any length of time is usually a major change in routines for any traveller. From the day you leave jet-lag is often the first of many changes to your body clock, diet, exercise and overall well being. It’s easy to slip in to bad habits as every day feels like a Sunday and every night feels like a Friday!
Thankfully there are a whole bunch of good habits you can take advantage of too that will keep you fit and healthy. Or at the very least healthier than you might be! Here’s our top 10 tips for staying healthy, keeping fit and having fun at the same time!
1. Book yourself on trekking tours
Some people are put off by the thought of spending 2 or 3 days trekking through jungle or up the sides of mountainous valleys. Don’t be! Nearly all tourist treks cater for a range of difficulty levels. The pace is usually fairly relaxed with regular stops along the way. Most treks tours are well set up too with lots of chances for amazing photos, refreshments and food included. They’re also a great way to meet new people. The exercise will give you a great work out and also help you sweat out the toxins from all those nights on the booze. Some of our greatest travel experiences have been while trekking. Especially around Chiang Mai in Thailand, Sapa in Vietnam and the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia.
2. Eat Vegetarian food a couple of times a week
It’s easy to go crazy when it comes to meals while backpacking. The food is often very cheap and nearly always contains meat. But it’s well worth taking a couple of nights off a week to find something vegetarian. It’s often pretty easy to ask the restaurant to provide a meal without meat if they have nothing on the menu. There’s usually a vegetarian traveller amongst the backpackers in your hostel so find out what they eat. Having a meat free night means your food will be easier to digest, contain less protein and give your body a break from fatty meats.
3. Have alcohol free nights
Easier said than done I know. Especially when in Asia where the drinks are so cheap. It’s easy to meet new backpackers and head out for a few cheap beers or “buckets” of spirits. Remember it’s just as easy to enjoy soft drinks and fruit juices once or twice a week. You’ll be surprised how much healthier you feel that evening and how you can still have fun without the booze. Plus you’ll feel a lot more healthier the next morning and enjoy whatever excursion, trek, walk or other tourist attraction you’re visiting!
4. Got a Lonely Planet guide? Do the suggested walking tours!
In the Lonely Planet Guidebooks there are some great “walking tours“. It’s a great way to have a walking itinerary done for you! The trails range from 45 minutes to 2 hours and are filled with interesting sights to see. You’ll find exercise surprisingly easy when you’re entertained as you walk. If you’re somewhere that your guide doesn’t have a trail for just grab a map from your hostel. There’s usually an obvious route you can walk that will take you round in a circuit. Make sure you always have a bottle of water with you. Keeping hydrated is always important when you’re exercising and walking a tourist trail is no different.
5. Find accommodation close to the sights you’re visiting.
Location can be important when it comes to keeping fit on your travels. If your accommodation is too far from the sights you want to see you’ll find yourself using other means of transport to get around. While a tuk tuk or taxi can be fun, a walk from your hostel or hotel is much better for you! Accommodation closer to the sights will cost you more of course but if you add up the extra cost of all those cab rides you’ll probably find they balance out. And if you live closer to the action it’s much easier to change plans, get changed to suit the weather, etc. You also get a better atmosphere in the heart of a busy city or town.
6. Carry your bag on both shoulders
This might seem obvious or even pointless but you’d be surprised what a difference it makes. Whether it’s a full backpack or just a day pack it’s worth remembering that carrying a bag on one shoulder will not do your shoulder, back or neck any good! Evenly balance the weight of your bag on both shoulders and you’ll find you have a lot less aches and pains at the end of the day. You’ll also find walking easier.
7. Make sure you have good walking shoes
Another obvious point but you’d be surprised how many people don’t come prepared. If you’re going to be walking then make sure you find a pair of comfortable, well fitted shoes. Merrel make a fantastic range of walking shoes that are very comfortable, waterproof and aid walking properly. Havianas or Teevas, as nice as they are, will not do your back much good. North Face also do a good range of walking shoes. It’s well worth investing in your health.
8. Go to the gym before you leave home!
You can hit the ground running (quite literally!) by joining a gym before you go. Most municipal swimming pools have gyms you can use on a pay-as-you-go basis. It’s worth building up the muscles in your shoulders, neck and arms if you’re going to be carrying that heavy backpack around with you. A little effort before you go can be the difference between enjoying your travels and causing yourself an injury that might shorten your trip. It’s also much easier to go to the gym regularly if you have a goal. What better goal than to be fit and healthy for your big travel adventure!
9. Sleep well
Make sure you get a good night’s sleep. if you’re staying in a busy hostel or dorm room this might not be so easy. You can’t escape the noise sometimes but you can plan for it! Always take ear plugs and an eye mask with you and have them ready under your pillow for bedtime. You may not be able to choose who you share with or what time they come into your dorm room but you can at least block out any light or sound they may make. A good night’s sleep sets you up well for the next day.
10. And finally… relax!!
You’re on holiday! If you’re backpacking around then expect things to go wrong from time to time. Don’t let it stress you out. Backpacking is all about the adventure, good and bad. Just make sure you have good travel health insurance in case of any emergencies. Live stress free, sleep well, eat well and make the most of your travels.