Introducing 13 Proven Ways to Stay Healthy while Traveling

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Having the freedom to travel and work from anywhere is the definition of “living the dream.” Fortunately, it’s not as far-fetched of a dream as it once was.
Many of us are already living this type of lifestyle, and the number only continues to grow. We’re called “Digital Nomads“.
Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
But while we’re busy jetting off from one exotic location to another, checking off bucket list destinations one by one, other aspects of our lives tend to get left behind in the dust. 
You know what I’m talking about.

Healthy eating. Exercise. Quality sleep. Self-awareness.

Frequently waking up in new time zones has major effects on our “internal clock” that disrupts sleep and our ability to focus and perform at our best. And living a life on the move and being exposed to so many new things GREATLY increases our odds of choosing whatever’s quickest and easiest.
So we end up eating more junk food, being completely oblivious to what exactly we’re putting into our bodies (and usually how much), and spend less time actually moving our bodies to burn off all the crap we’re eating.
And yes, I say “we” because I’m guilty of it too. I get so excited about experiencing a new culture and environment, that I want to eat all the food, drink all the drinks, and get to my destinations quicker so I can enjoy them longer.
But one day amidst my travels, I realized this wasn’t a vacation, it was my life. And if I wanted to be able to keep on living it to the fullest, having the energy and stamina to explore more, while still being productive and focused on my work, then I needed to change my lifestyle habits.
So that’s what I did.
As a result, I experienced more strength and energy than I’ve ever felt, intense focus and productivity, increased creativity and flow of ideas, higher confidence and self-esteem, waking up refreshed after a great night of sleep, and an extremely positive outlook on life and the future.
It wasn’t just my body that improved when I changed my lifestyle – it was my mindset, my finances, my environment, my relationships, my career… I experienced massive improvements in all areas of my life, and they continue to improve every day.
These changes have given me the ability to experience and travel more, further, longer, and more adventurously; so I wanted to share some ideas to help you do the same.

Below are 13 tips that you can start implementing to make healthier changes to your lifestyle while traveling. This is just a starting point, and I’ll continue to go more in depth in future articles!

1. Keep a stash of healthy travel snacks in your pack. Whether venturing around the city or boarding a flight to somewhere new, you’re bound to get the munchies when you’re on the move.Keep your daypack/carry-on stocked with healthy snacks like almonds, trail mix, protein bars, dried fruit, or protein powder (you can add water later).

2. Going sightseeing or exploring locally? Walk instead of drive! You’ll see a lot more and be more immersed in the culture as you wander through the streets.Whenever I arrive in a new location, I spend the first day or two just getting lost. I wander around the city, looking at all it has to offer.

As I find my way back to my accommodation the city feels so much smaller and more walkable by the time I’m done. Plus it gives me an idea of everything that’s within walking distance so that if I need to run errands, I’ll feel confident getting there on my own two feet rather than hopping in a car to drive around searching aimlessly.

3. Choose accommodation with a kitchen and cook your own meals. Jot down 3-5 “go-to” meals that you can easily cook with minimal ingredients. It should be easy for you to remember and find the ingredients in most places around the world, with quick and little effort to throw together.

For me, canned beans, frozen veggies you can steam in the bag, veggie patties, sweet potatoes, and pre-cut (or easy-to-cut) veggies are my main shopping list items. They can all be cooked in the microwave or quickly sautéed in a frying pan with seasoning. I share a bunch of quick and easy meals to throw together in a shared kitchen on my Instagram page. So feel free to steal some of mine.

4. Find a view you love to reward yourself for being active. Having a “destination” in mind when going on a run or long walk always motivates me to keep going until I reach that spot; and knowing when I get there that there’s going to be a scenic reward for me to chill and catch my breath makes it well worth the effort.

I usually allow myself at least two hours – one hour for the exercise portion, and one hour at the viewpoint to clear my head, soak in the beauty, and feel grateful for being there.

5. When dining out, choose restaurants you know have healthy options, or go for a salad. If you’re dining with someone else or a group, see if your friend wants to share a meal or appetizer. If you share a meal, you’re less likely to overeat and you can order a side salad to go with it to balance it out. If you share an appetizer, you can get whatever kind of yummy delicious app you want and order a salad for the main course.

Either way, you can still indulge in the local cuisine (that’s half the fun of traveling after all!) without going overboard and still get your veggies.

6. Find a workout you enjoy and will do consistently. Create your own “Workout of the Day” of some favorite exercises, give yourself a specific amount to do of each (and increase the number as it gets easier), and do them every day. It’s best to mix things up when you can, but doing the same workout over and over is still better than not working out at all.

I get my exercise in a lot of different ways, but I have a 20 minute “go-to” workout that I do when I’m busy or feeling too lazy for a full workout. It consists of only exercises I enjoy and find fairly easy so that the idea of busting it out real quick doesn’t make me cringe (aka NO burpees!).

7. Cut down on the screen time at night. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the “blue light” from electronics screws with our sleep quality because it prevents our body from producing melatonin (which controls when we fall asleep and when we wake up) and tricks our mind into thinking we need to stay awake.

So try turning off your electronics 30-60 minutes before bed (that means no Netflix or scrolling through Instagram!) Some great ways to wind down and give your body time to prepare for sleep mode are: journaling, reading an actual print book (gasp!), stretching/yoga, meditation, or listening to a podcast with the lights turned off (then you can just drift right to sleep when it’s done).

8. Chase the sunshine. Before choosing a new destination, look up weather reports and choose destinations that will motivate you to get your butt outside and soak up that Vitamin D! Unless of course you’re going specifically for snow activities, in which case…carry on.

But there are very few people who get amped up to be active when it’s monsooning outside, so try to plan your destinations to hit the right spots at the right times. Personally, I choose most of my destinations based on their outdoor offerings such as hikes, beaches, and walkability; so good weather is a necessity!

9. Cut back on the coffee…ESPECIALLY if you don’t drink it black. Cream and sugary coffee has a lot of calories, and if you’re an avid coffee drinker it adds up quickly.

I’ve always been a huge coffee lover (I’m from Seattle after all – the birthplace of Starbucks), but I learned to limit myself to one cup of black coffee in the morning (literally can’t even begin functioning without it) and then I switch to green tea and herbal tea. Occasionally I put coconut milk in my coffee when I want to spoil myself, but I avoid “specialty drinks” at all costs. Also, cutting back on coffee will improve your sleep quality. And tea is really good for you. Which I’ll expand on in a separate post soon.

10. Speaking of, stay hydrated! New climates, flying, exploring, the sun, swimming, partying…all of these things dehydrate us and travelers frequently get sick from dehydration.

As digital nomads who travel frequently, we’re highly prone to dehydration!Buy a thermos water bottle, carry it with you everywhere, and refill it frequently! The reason I recommend a thermos is because you can also use it for hot tea in case you need a break from flavorless water (without going for a sugary or high-calorie drink).

11. Use a fitness tracker or smartphone app to track your steps and activity levels. I’m just going to go ahead and assume that as a digital nomad – you have a smartphone. Download an activity tracking app (iPhones come with one pre-installed) and start setting daily step goals to motivate yourself to be more active.

If it’s in your budget, get a fitness tracker watch to make it more accurate, convenient, and fun. I recently got a Fitbit Charge 2 and it has completely changed my life! Nothing lights a fire under your ass more than feeling a vibration on your wrist and looking down to see a notification pointing out your lack of activity.

12. Listen to uplifting audiobooks and podcasts. Your mindset plays a HUGE role in your happiness, energy, and productivity, so take some time to listen to the wise words of other successful and inspirational people to motivate you and get you in the right frame of mind to make healthy choices.

Listening to podcasts and audiobooks are great during long walks, lounging on the beach, watching the sunset from your balcony, or to wind down at the end of the night (as I mentioned above).

13. When in Rome – do as the Roman’s do! One of the lovely ladies of the Girls Love Travel Facebook Group shared this wonderful recommendation: “In major cities, it can be fun to immerse yourself in whatever the hot fitness activity is there, like a yoga class instead of going out to the bars that evening. Going to one completely in Icelandic was a great experience.”

Ask the locals (or expats) what kinds of activities people do in the area to stay in shape, I’m sure you’ll discover all kinds of new ways to be active!

This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a start! Remember, the idea is “improvement” not “perfection”. You can still enjoy all that a destination and culture has to offer without letting go of your health and body. The key is making deliberate, healthy choices consistently, to balance out the indulgences! 

If you have your own routine for staying healthy while traveling, I’d love to hear it in the comments section!

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Bre Fowler

Hi, I'm Bre - the founder of The Positive Change Co! In early 2015, I left my familiar life in Seattle, WA behind to travel the world and become a digital nomad. Traveling as a LIFESTYLE completely transformed me. It was during my first big trip abroad in SE Asia and Australia that I found my passion for healthy living, addiction for personal growth, and a profound sense of purpose in the world. The Positive Change Co. is about more than just eating healthy and taking care of your body, it's about becoming the best possible version of yourself so that you can offer your best self to others and live a more meaningful life.

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