Nothing ruins a vacation faster than feeling sick. And if the sickness is a result of our own actions, it is even worse. Staying healthy when you travel [within Europe] is not really hard, but we still need to be careful and make sure we don’t go (too) overboard with anything.
Having a history of obesity, high blood pressure, and stroke in my family, I’ve been careful with my diet for the past 10+ years. Also, I incorporate as much walking as possible in my lifestyle, at home and when I travel.
But what exactly do I do when I travel to ensure I don’t get sick and don’t hate myself when I come back? Read on!
I Walk everywhere
My current best* is 35,571 steps during a day (achieved on July 11, 2015, when we spent about half a day walking in the forest near our home city). My previous best was achieved on the day we visited Herculaneum and Pompeii.
Regardless of where we go, we always plan to walk as much as possible. Many cities have compact city centers, for example. And when they don’t, we mix walking with taking public transportation. We also love to hike.
Walking helps you keep fit and also aids digestion. Plus, walking in the woods prevents depression and combats stress.
Personally, I am a major fan of FitBit Charge 2 , which keeps tabs on my steps and heart rate.
I get my zzz in
Yes, my sleep cycle gets a bit wonky even if the time zone changes by 1-2 hours only. But, I do adjust and tend to sleep the usual 7—8 hours a day I am used with at home. The only difference is that, for whatever reason, I turn into a morning person the second I land in Italy or Greece.
I shop at the farmers’ markets
I love farmers’ markets! First of all, I get a chance to see what’s in season and what the locals eat. Secondly, I can buy veggies and fruits! And spices to bring back home.
The easiest lunch? Grab some local cheeses, fruits, and bread and head to a park or the beach. Since I also like to throw together some meals at the accommodation, as well, I prefer to at least have access to a shared kitchen, if not go for a rental (hello, Airbnb)
I taste the local cuisine
If there is one thing I miss about #italy , it surely is the amazing #food. This photo was taken in December 2016 during our month -long stay in #Puglia . . . . #worldfood #travelfood #worldcuisine #travelfoodie #foodielife #musteat #lovetravel #ilovetravel #lovetraveling #traveladdict #instafood #instagood #foodgasm
There are certain foods I won’t touch even if paid, but, in general, I do make a point to at least taste the local cuisine. One of the foods I don’t like? Pasta! I have to go through loops and hoops when everyone in Italy suggests that at least one of their pasta dishes should be tasted.
My nemesis, however, is the mighty croissant. Or cornetto. Same flakey pastry, different names. And the same addiction. Did I mention they are part of the traditional breakfast in Italy?
We love shared plates! Not only are they enough to fill both of our bellies, but we usually take the leftovers to go and we have at least a snack sorted for later.
I stick to my typical meal hours
I practice intermittent fasting, which means I either go without eating for 14-16 hours between dinner and breakfast or I fast on 2 days of the week. When I have to take any means of transportation, those days are fasting days! (Did I mention I have motion sickness especially in buses?)
What does this mean realistically? I’m not a breakfast eater, usually. And the worst thing I can do for my body is have the above-mentioned cornetto for breakfast (alongside the cappuccino). The sugar crush is guaranteed an hour later!
Therefore, I make a point to have protein for breakfast (eggs, yogurt, cheese). A super easy breakfast? Full-fat yogurt and some fruits (whatever is in season).
Traveler’s constipation is real
There are quite a lot of chances to experience changes in your…bathroom routine. Traveler’s constipation is quite real and is influenced by stress. And your (new) diet. The solution? Don’t panic, drink enough water, and if needed grab that kefir or yogurt!
I (try) to drink enough water
I have a cute water bottle which I never remember to take with me when I fly (any brilliant ideas how I can break the habit?!) but I do make a point to carry bottled water with me when I walk and especially when I hike.
No, I don’t drink enough. Yes, I’ve had some “issues” with being dehydrated but, thankfully, I knew how to fix the situation before it got out of hand. In my case, if I get dizzy and my heart rate is all over the place I know for sure I’ve gone for too long without water.
I wear proper clothing and shoes
Cold weather is just as taxing in our bodies as hot weather. So dress accordingly. And don’t forget the proper shoes.
I love my light waterproof jacket , as well as my lightweight waterproof boots. No matter of when I travel, layers are my friends.
I pack Imodium and ibuprofen
I do not leave home without these two: Imodium and ibuprofen! Unfortunately, I’ve had headaches which decided to start the second I arrived in the airport; and rumbling stomachs on the day you travel by bus aren’t the best news, either!
By the way: if you need to carry any prescription drugs (i.e. birth control pills) make sure you also have the prescription with you.
I always use hand sanitizer and wet wipes
You should add the hand sanitizer to your “liquids bag” or just buy one when you arrive. Both hand sanitizer and wet wipes are super useful when water and soap are not available (say, when you hike and want to stop to eat something). I go as far as carry them in my day pack at home, as well.
I know my body
It is crucial to know your body and your limits. Yes, we all thrive to improve our fitness and go just a bit over that comfort zone…but you may not want to do that every day when you travel. Strain your muscles during a long or hard hike, but take at least a day to recover.
We normally include a “do nothing” day in our itinerary but that usually follows 2-3 days of getting quite close to those limits. After our day exploring Pompeii & Herculaneum we felt quite tired but luckily the next day was spent in two trains and a bus. We were too tired to complain.
Note:* since I’ve been using a Fitbit (2014)