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Living with a medical condition shouldn’t stop you from enjoying everything the world has to offer. Exploring a country in a new time zone, walking along the beach and discovering new foods are some of life’s greatest pleasures – and you deserve to experience them. However, learning how to stay healthy while traveling is especially important for those of us living with medical conditions or disabilities that mean our immune system needs a little extra support.
Staying healthy while on vacation means taking care of your body and mental health before, during, and after your trip. In this article, we’ll give you travel tips and advice so you can enjoy all the benefits of travelling while keeping healthy.
So, whether you’re on your way to New York City or Marrakesh, get ready to pack your bags and keep your travel healthy and happy!
How to stay healthy before a trip
Wellness tips for travelers: before you go
Healthy travel starts at home. Doing enough preparation before you go on holiday will ensure you stay healthy while travelling and get to enjoy every bit of your time there.
Before traveling abroad, speak to your doctors about your medical condition and let them know where you’re planning to visit. You may need to come in for a check-up or blood tests before your travel to be on the safe side, but chances are you’ll get the green light! Don’t hesitate to ask them any questions on how to stay healthy when traveling, what to do if you get sick while traveling, or anything else you’re concerned about.
Once you get your doctor’s approval to travel, check your destination is safe to travel to. For travel advice, visit the GOV.UK website – it will also advise you on visa requirements. The NHS’ Fit For Travel website can provide information on current health warnings and vaccines needed for travel.
If any vaccinations are required, book an appointment with your GP or a private vaccine clinic at least eight weeks before your departure date. (This is because some vaccines need more than one dose to be effective.) And don’t forget to take your vaccination certificate with you when you travel!
You may also be advised to take anti-malaria tablets or other travel medicine. Once again, speak to your doctor about your condition and any contra-indications, and plan ahead of time.
When booking your trip, plan plenty of rest time into your itinerary. Even though it’s tempting to see as many places as possible, if you are constantly on the move you may end up feeling run down and getting sick. If your energy levels are low, you could do one day of sightseeing and take the next day as rest time to recharge yourself.
Finally, don’t forget to take out travel insurance before (or just after) booking your holiday!
Tips for healthy travel: travel medicine
Before you book your holiday, order your medicine (if you take any) and ensure you have enough for your trip. You should plan to bring at least one extra week of medication in case of any delays coming back home.
Next, check that your medicine is legal in the country you plan to visit. If your prescription drugs are not allowed at your destination, speak to your GP as they may be able to provide a permission letter.
Keep your medication in your hand luggage, as checked-in bags may get lost while traveling. If your medication requires cooling (for example insulin), speak to your doctor as they may be able to provide you with special cooling packs for safe travel.
Finally, make sure to carry hand sanitizer, face masks, and disinfectant wipes to keep a healthy traveling environment.
Staying healthy while travelling
When you live with a medical condition, healthy travelling can sometimes feel like a minefield. From contaminated water and food to accidents and emergencies, you may feel the need to be on high alert constantly.
But rest assured! Our tips for staying healthy while traveling will give you the confidence to enjoy your holiday without any added worries.
How to stay healthy while flying
Staying healthy while traveling by plane comes with a few challenges, but ones you can easily overcome. As mentioned earlier, carrying hand sanitizer and face masks with you is a great way to protect yourself from any germs trying to hitch a ride to a sunny destination.
Speak to your doctor if you have a pacemaker or other implant, as it may affect your ability to go through airport scanners. A doctor’s note may be required to allow you to get through security safely. If you have difficulty walking, book a wheelchair or assisted travel at the airport. This can be requested free of charge when booking your flight, or with the airline up to a week before you travel. You may also want to book a transfer by car to your accommodation from the airport to avoid an unnecessary walk.
Travelling through different time zones can also put a lot of stress on the body. When suffering from jet lag, all you want to do is get some sleep. This means you may find it difficult to focus on staying healthy. To avoid jet lag, get plenty of rest before you travel and try to sleep on the plane if you can get comfortable enough.
The main thing to remember when you get to your new time zone is changing your sleep schedule to match your new environment as soon as you can. Avoid oversleeping in the mornings and staying inside – getting out in natural light will help your body clock to adjust.
Traveling healthy – tips for your accommodation
When it comes to your accommodation, make sure to look at reviews before booking and only reserve a hotel room (or apartment, villa, AirBnB) you’re confident is sufficiently clean and tidy. The last thing you want is to get ill from poor sanitation or hygiene!
Thankfully, most hotels now have extensive cleanliness policies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning you’ll have a better chance at staying healthy while travelling. In case of any allergies, you may want to contact the hotel ahead of time to find out what types of cleaning products or bedding materials they use. Some hotels even offer helpful features such as air purifiers and anti-allergy bedding, so doing your research will ensure you find the perfect room for you.
Make sure that your hotel or villa can accommodate any special needs, such as lifts, wheelchairs or support for limited mobility, or a working fridge to store your medication. After booking, give family or friends a copy of your itinerary and insurance policy in case of any emergencies.
How to eat healthy while traveling
Food and water are some of the main culprits when it comes to getting sick while travelling. Do not drink tap water in some destinations – instead, we recommend buying bottled water from a trustworthy shop. Regions such as Europe and the United States are usually much safer, so you may only need to carry a reusable water bottle with a filter to make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day.
We also cannot overstate how important it is to eat healthy, especially if you have a medical condition. Eat a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, protein and healthy fat (like avocados or nut butter), drink plenty of water, and take any vitamins you need to get all the nutrients necessary for a healthy lifestyle while traveling.
Do your research before eating out at local restaurants – choose places with good reviews and avoid eating from street vendors. At a restaurant, choose safer options like steaming hot food (high heat will have killed most germs), or packaged foods such as crisps and crackers. Avoid raw foods, street food, and wild game, as these could potentially be contaminated. Opt for bottled or canned drinks rather than tap water and avoid drinks containing ice, as it will likely have been made from tap water.
Healthy travel tips: what to do in an emergency
In case of any emergency, do not panic! You’ll usually be able to get the care you need while abroad (or get repatriated), especially if you took out a comprehensive travel insurance policy.
Before you travel, make sure you have enough money in your bank account to cover your trip, with extra for emergencies. You may also want to check the expiry dates on your debit or credit cards and let your bank know if you’ll be spending money abroad. This will avoid the risk of transactions being flagged as fraud and your account being blocked. In case of theft or loss, file a report with the local police immediately and call your bank as soon as possible to cancel lost or stolen cards.
Make sure to keep some local currency with you in case you’re unable to make card payments. Get some currency ahead of your trip from a high street foreign currency exchange or the Post Office – these will always offer you better rates than the airport. If you need more cash abroad, only go to banks or legitimate exchange shops and do not do business with individuals on the street who claim to offer better rates. They’ll likely be criminals!
The GOV.UK website’s Travel Guidance section has a list of contact numbers you can call in case of a medical emergency, as well as a list of English-speaking doctors and medical facilities.
Remember to also write down the contact details of your GP and/or specialist in our Travel Translation Letter, and keep a digital copy of it in your phone. You can also send a copy of the letter to the people travelling with you so they can contact your doctor or speak to local hospital staff if you don’t feel well enough to do so.
Speak to your mobile provider before you go to see if you can get a good deal to cover calls and data charges while abroad. Roaming charges can be expensive, and the last thing you want is your phone refusing to connect in an emergency!
Summary On How To Stay Healthy While Traveling
Keeping your mind and body healthy during a holiday shouldn’t feel like an impossible mission. Hopefully, our tips to stay healthy while traveling will have given you some peace of mind!
With the right amount of preparation beforehand (from getting the all-clear from your doctor to arranging vaccines and properly packing your medications), you should feel safe and confident going into your next holiday. Booking the right accommodation and choosing the right dining options (no street food carts, please!) will also help you to stay healthy, no matter your destination. When it comes to hydration, stick to bottled water or canned drinks, and avoid ice in drinks.
Try to stay calm if a medical emergency does occur. Foreign hospitals should be able to give you the care you need, but take a letter from your GP or specialist at home and do not forget to include their contact details, or take a Medical Alert Letter in English and the most used language at your destination.
Do you have any more tips for healthy travel? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
FAQ on How To Stay Healthy While Traveling
How do I prepare my body for a trip?
If you’re concerned about falling ill while on holiday, preparing your body for travel may help with healthy travelling. Taking probiotics before (and during) your trip is a great way to strengthen your immune system and protect your digestive tract from the dreaded traveller’s diarrhoea. You should also make sure to eat nutritious foods, stay hydrated, and get plenty of sleep in the days leading up to your trip so you can depart feeling fresh!
How do I keep a routine while traveling?
A healthy routine for travelers may look different for everyone. If your GP and/or specialist consultant have already given you tips for staying healthy in your daily life, make sure to follow them even during your holiday. Even though it may be tempting to turn off all your alarms and enjoy lazy mornings in bed every day of your holiday, try to keep a regular sleep schedule. If you normally exercise regularly and are concerned about staying fit while traveling, go out for long walks and consider joining yoga or exercise classes if available at your hotel.
How can I practice self care while traveling?
Self care, rest and relaxation are an essential part of how to stay healthy while travelling. Make sure to plan time for rest and recovery in your itinerary, especially if you’ll be doing a lot of sightseeing. If travelling with children or family, set aside time for yourself so you can relax and recuperate. Meditating, practising yoga, or going for walks in the evenings can allow you to spend time with your own thoughts and reflect on what you’ve experienced during the day.
How can traveling make you healthier?
Travelling has been shown to have many health benefits, from reducing stress and improving mental health to helping you breathe better and strengthening your immune system. By taking time away from the stress of daily life and spending time closer to nature, you will not only improve your physical health, but also your mental wellbeing. So what are you waiting for? Book that holiday now!