How To Stay Healthy While Travelling

We’ve all been there – you are so excited to be somewhere new that you throw your usual routine out the window. You burn the candle at both ends, waking up early for a full day of sightseeing and going to bed later than usual. The days are jampacked with new sights, sensations and experiences. After three or four days, you begin to feel frazzled and just want to lay in bed. Then comes the inevitable guilt about wasting your precious holiday time… 

Over my years of travel, I have picked up a lot of easy and simple ways to stay healthy on the road. I want to emphasise the “easy and simple” because I have read some recommendations from other travel bloggers which are doable but either really impractical or expensive. As a backpacker on a budget, I would like to share affordable ideas that you can easily integrate into your routine – wherever you are in the world – so you can feel your best and enjoy your holiday to the fullest. 

In no particular order:

  • Walk as much as possible. Although I often use public transport on holiday, there’s no denying that every destination has hidden gems that can only be discovered on foot. Why not book a free walking tour the first day of your holiday to give you an overview from a local guide’s perspective? I have done walking tours all around the world and they are a very interesting, interactive way to get to know a new destination. 
  • Listen to your body. What signals is it sending you? How are your energy levels, quality of sleep, digestion, hunger, thirst and concentration? It is easy to overlook or ignore changes, which can escalate to you feeling really exhausted or unwell. Paying attention to how you feel, having regular breaks and taking naps can work wonders. 
  • Aim to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. Having a regular sleep pattern is essential for feeling rejuvenated, yet it can easily become an afterthought during a holiday. Being intentional about our bedtime is challenging when there are so many more fun things we could be doing, like watching a live show or exploring the city’s nightlife. However, we all know how hard it is trying to function on too little sleep. You’ll enjoy the holiday more overall if you give your body the rest it deserves.
  • Go on a hike. It’s a great way to get out of the city and enjoy some fresh air. It doesn’t have to be physically demanding to be effective. I am not particularly sporty or fit so I tend to look for hiking trails with low or medium difficulty in order to go at my own pace, take photos and appreciate my surroundings. 
  • Find a sport or exercise that doesn’t feel like a chore. I’ve already mentioned walking and hiking, but maybe you love exploring a new destination by bike, getting on a surfboard or spending hours swimming each day. Maybe beach volleyball is your jam, or you prefer jogging through city parks and along beachfront promenades. Whatever it is, try to incorporate some physical exercise into your day that gets your heartbeat up and gets those endorphins flowing.
  • Don’t overindulge when it comes to food and drink. This one is probably the biggest struggle for me because I LOVE food and have an enormous appetite. However I am sure we can all recall a time or two (or three) when we over-ordered in a restaurant, forced ourselves to finish a meal because we didn’t want to be wasteful, or had one drink too many. There’s the short-term discomfort of feeling queasy, sluggish or bloated and the long-term impact on your sleep and energy levels. I combat this by reminding myself that I don’t have to eat everything in sight on the first day of my holiday, I can stretch it out over the days or weeks that I am there. This city/country isn’t going anywhere and I can hopefully return one day, so it’s not a disaster if I don’t get to try every local speciality.  
  • Stay somewhere with a fridge or full kitchen. Whether it’s an Airbnb apartment, a fridge in a hotel room or a shared kitchen in a hostel. You can buy healthy snacks and experiment with cooking with interesting, exotic ingredients from a grocery store or local market. If you need a break from eating out all the time, or have any bloating or digestion issues, it can be really helpful to prepare your own meals. That way you have total control over the portion size and exactly what goes into them.
  • Use nasal spray/decongestants in polluted cities. I was in Mexico City earlier this year and yee Gods, the air quality really affected me. After a few days I felt really blocked up and had horrible headaches. An over-the-counter nasal spray bought at a pharmacy helped a lot, as well as moving on to a less congested city!
  • Drink LOTS of water. It is so easy to become dehydrated, especially in a hot, humid environment, when doing physical activities or drinking more alcohol than usual. Before arriving at your destination, check if it is safe to drink the local tap water. Bring a reusable water bottle with you so you can always have some H20 on hand.
  • Buy or make rehydration drinks. Sometimes copious amounts of water just aren’t enough if you’re sweating out vital nutrients. My boyfriend and I actively search for fresh coconuts and electrolyte drinks when in exotic locations. However it is easy to make your own version; there are many recipes online involving lemon juice, coconut water, orange juice, maple syrup or honey, but my go-to recipe is really simple: one teaspoon of salt and three teaspoons of sugar dissolved into a glass of water. 
  • Book accommodation with a swimming pool or gym. My boyfriend and I have stayed at some very swanky-yet-affordable hotels and apartment complexes in Asia and South America which come equipped with on-site sports facilities and pools for guests to enjoy. Look for one with a jacuzzi; it’s a great way to relax after a long day of sightseeing.
  • Stretch, stretch, then stretch some more. We often underestimate how exhausting travelling can be – walking more than usual, long journeys by car or public transport, carrying heavy bags from place to place or sightseeing for hours on end. By the end of the day, most of us have sore muscles and throbbing feet. I often use Youtube to follow a deep stretch routine to unwind and relax before bed. 
  • Bring snacks with you on long journeys. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped at a service station or bus station shop and thought “Is this it?”. Rows and rows of crisps, chocolate bars and sad-looking sandwiches which look like they were made a week ago. If I am away from a city on a day trip, or have a long travel day ahead, I make my own sandwiches and bring healthy snacks like bananas, nuts and nutrition bars to keep me going between meals. 
  • Order juices and smoothies. I love trying local fruit while I travel, especially if it is a fruit that isn’t available where I live. Juices and smoothies are a great way to up your liquid intake, especially if you need a break from plain water. I usually opt for smoothies as they include fibre, which is great for your digestion and keeping things moving as they should.
  • Calm your nervous system down before bed. All these new and exciting experiences can be equally invigorating, overwhelming and stressful. I like to relax by using the free Insight Timer app which has guided meditations, relaxing music, breathwork exercises, sound bowls, chanting, mantras and much more. If you find it hard to fall asleep, their sleep music and soundscapes are really effective.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Even though I travel with factor 50 suntan lotion and am good at slathering it on regularly, I still got incredibly burned in Mexico where the sun is so intense that locals often swim fully dressed to avoid burning. I was walking through a breezy botanical garden and felt so comfortable I didn’t think about reapplying my suntan lotion or wearing my hat. Big mistake! I ended up with a horrendous sunburn which affected me for almost a week. Don’t be like me; remember the sun can get you whether you’re swimming, hiking through a forest or walking in an open, breezy area. Wear a hat, keep your skin covered (especially your chest and shoulders) and apply sunscreen regularly to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
  • Wash your hands often. We’ve had a lot of practice with frequent hand washing and using hand sanitizer over the last few years. Keep up these good habits when you’re on holiday, and always have soap or hand sanitizer on you (as it might not be available in public or restaurant toilets). It really helps protect you against new and unfamiliar bacteria in the local food or water, especially if you’re a big fan of street food like me. If you use public transport often, you might be touching dozens of hand rails and armrests that are infrequently (or rarely) cleaned. Eurgh!
  • Enjoy restful, relaxing activities in your free time. I know how tempting it is to update your social media accounts and reply to WhatsApp messages from friends and family as soon as you’re back at your hotel, but that’s more stimulation on top of all the exciting experiences that happened while out and about. I try to set myself a limit for how long I am on social media, or reply to a bunch of messages in a flurry then put my phone away. That way I have time to do some restful, restorative activities like meditation, stretching, reading, listening to podcasts and journaling about what we did and saw that day. 
  • Carry a small first aid kit for minor injuries and illnesses. Hopefully you won’t need to use it but it is absolutely worth making room for this in your luggage. My little kit includes over-the-counter meds like paracetamol, ibuprofen, antihistamine cream (for insect bites), anti-diarrheal and anti-motion sickness pills. I also bring bandages, safety pins, tweezers and plasters.

I hope this post has given you some easy and simple tips for staying healthy on the road. Breaking away from your daily routine is one of the most thrilling aspects of travelling, however if you’re not careful, it can have a negative effect on your health and well-being. My tips should be easy to incorporate into your day, whether you’re on a short jampacked mini-break, or backpacking for weeks or months at a time. If you have any other tips for our community, please share them in the comments below! 

Ciao for now

Izzie, the Curious Sparrow



  1. Love how do-able these tips are. It’s very easy to let the basics go when travelling. For me, it’s hydration, a good multivitamin and keeping to meal times.

    Liked by 1 person

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