From proper planning and packing to staying active, here's the ticket to a healthy holiday

Staying healthy while travelling is important, not only to ensure that you enjoy your holiday, but also because you want to maintain the healthy lifestyle you work so hard to achieve on a daily basis. It’s very easy to let good exercise routines and dietary practices fly out the window along with your nine-to-five, but […]

Staying healthy while travelling is important, not only to ensure that you enjoy your holiday, but also because you want to maintain the healthy lifestyle you work so hard to achieve on a daily basis. It’s very easy to let good exercise routines and dietary practices fly out the window along with your nine-to-five, but this can result in you returning home less fit and rested than when you left.

The most obvious way to stay healthy is to book an activity holiday, where you’ll actually be able to build on your usual fitness regime. Instead of being cooped up at the gym or in a yoga class, allow yourself to be set free walking in the mountains, swimming in lakes, cycling and eating good food. Most major tour operators, including Explore Worldwide, Exodus and Intrepid, and booking sites such as Responsibletravel.com, offer a wide range of active trips.

If you can’t book a dedicated activity holiday, or prefer cities, go on walking tours. Explore parks and be sure to use your hotel’s gym and swimming pool. If you’ve got a fitness tracker, you’ll be surprised how many steps you’ll take in just a few hours of walking.

If you have the time, there’s nothing better than ditching taxis, buses and trains and setting out on foot with just your phone’s GPS as guidance. Download maps and routes before you leave your hotel and you won’t even need Wi-Fi. Then you’ll have earned your meal and coffee breaks.

Planning, of course, is key. Whatever your destination or style of travel, it pays to research quality restaurants, cafes, museums and other sites before you go. Make a list of must-see places and slot them into a self-guided walking tour.

If you’re going somewhere with a major time difference that you will have to adapt to, try to make it a longer holiday. Either way, try to book a flight that arrives at your destination early evening. Once you get to your destination, take a walk around in the fresh air before a light dinner, or perhaps a massage, shower and bed. There’s nothing worse than losing a night’s sleep before you go, only to spend 10 hours on an aircraft, then arriving at a destination in the morning and having a whole day’s worth of activities ahead of you. If possible, break up a long flight to North America with a stop in Europe.

Before and on the flight, drink plenty of water and walk around every hour or so.

If there’s not much of a time difference, try not to travel at night, so that your normal sleep routines aren’t disturbed any more than necessary.

Once at your destination, engage in a five- to 10-minute fitness routine that you can carry out every morning in your hotel room, before you do anything else. Mine consists of a version of one of model Elle Macpherson’s bikini boot camp routines, involving two types of sit-ups, crunches, press-ups and stretching – and I add a headstand. This can also be done when you arrive, to freshen up your body and mind.

On your first morning in a new place, get out into the bright light – it helps reset your body clock.

If you’re worried about food, drink and hygiene-related issues in your destination, err on the side of caution and ensure that you only eat cooked food that has been freshly prepared. If you have a sensitive stomach, it isn’t a good idea to try fresh fruit and salads on the beach in India. Cooking kills most bacteria.

Be prepared for minor health issues while travelling by taking your own small health kit, consisting of sunscreen, antibacterial wipes, painkillers, plasters, antiseptic cream, seasickness tablets, rehydration salts and – if you’re going somewhere where you can’t get to a doctor or pharmacy – cold and flu medication. There’s nothing worse than being in an idyllic location with a streaming nose and banging headache.

Consult your doctor about any pre-existing conditions and how to manage abroad: there’s no point wasting holiday time and money by having to worry about it after getting there.

Always make sure you have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place, should the worst happen, and keep a scanned copy of the policy in your email and a hard copy handy, too.

Rosemary Behan is The National’s travel editor.

Source: art & life

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