Staying healthy while travelling

A woman in a brown skirt, t-shirt and black backpack standing in the airport in front of the departure boards, shown from behind.

We all want to stay healthy and comfortable while travelling and still be able to experience all that the local culture has to offer. Here are few things you can do to help you along the way.

A woman in a brown skirt, t-shirt and black backpack standing in the airport in front of the departure boards, shown from behind.

I was chatting with a friend and travel buddy the other day as she was planning for a trip and she asked if she could maintaining digestive health when travelling… stomach upsets, no discomfort or need to stay close to a bathroom. I told her that while there are no guarantees but there are few things she could do before a trip, it just takes a little planning.

For many years I didn’t really think about staying healthy while travelling – I thought a little digestive upset was just the way it was because I almost always got sick when I travelled. Yearly family trips to Trinidad? Sick for a few days. A trip to India? Constipated (the opposite of everyone else in the group!). El Salvador, Cuba, Spain….there was always some digestive distress. Not enough to have me worried, but enough to make me uncomfortable for a few days. Somewhere along the way I realized that it didn’t need to be that way but I wasn’t sure how to fix it. A year in nutrition school gave me some answers.

It’s important to note that no one can predict what will happen and there are no miracle cures, however taking a few simple steps can be helpful.

Here’s the thing: I love to eat the local cuisine when I travel and I always indulge – street food, things I haven’t tried before, just give it all to me. Food and travel just go together! On a recent trip I knew I needed to make some changes, small changes that would keep my tummy happy but still allow me the flexibility to eat the good food that I knew I would find.

Tunapuna Market in Trinidad & Tobago shot from above showing many vendors with produce and shoppers.

Tips for staying healthy while travelling. Here’s what I did:

  1. Snacks for the flight. There often isn’t a lot of choice for healthy food in most airports or on the plane, so for my 4.5 hour flight I packed an apple, a small bag of mixed nuts & seeds, a couple of herbal tea bags (and asked for hot water on the plane) and an empty water bottle that I filled up at the water fountain after passing through security. Travelling can be stressful and a bit taxing on the system, so instead of diving right into new foods or things you don’t normally consume, keep it simple.
  2. Vitamins & Supplements. I never want to be that person who carries around bottles and bottles of pills everywhere I go, but sometimes a few are necessary. Probiotics, specifically travel probiotics, & digestive enzymes are two must haves for me. They both help keep my stomach from revolting when I eat things that I’m not used to, and also help to reduce risk of upset from foreign bacteria in the water or food.
  3. Food. I like to have a few basics with me, especially for the first day as I settle in and get acclimatized. A few ideas: a greens powder to drink on it’s own or in a smoothie if you have access to a kitchen, a small bag of muesli or granola for breakfasts & snacks, dried fruit or nuts. It’s a great idea to have a few favorites on hand, especially if you are travelling to a country with foods that you are not used to eating to give you some options just in case.
  4. Local produce. A stop at the local market for some fresh fruit or veggies that can be eaten raw are good options. Fresh fruits and veggies are a simple and filling option that you can eat at any time of the day.

Taking a few precautions and packing a few simple items can be helpful on a trip. A new environment, new food, long hours of travel and a different climate can be a bit jarring to the body and it might not be easy to find recognizable remedies, so take a little bit of time to prepare ahead of time.

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