Include your health needs in your itinerary
When you arrive at your destination tired or jet-lagged, you may feel like crashing. But instead of exploring the room service menu or the mini bar, it may be a better idea to check out the hotel gym or swimming pool. If you have been sitting for many hours on a plane or in a vehicle, the best thing you can do for your body to recover is getting some quick exercise. A few minutes on the treadmill or in the swimming pool will refresh you and also help with a good night’s sleep.
You should learn right away what facilities will be available to you during your stay. If you are planning on a full itinerary, you may want to schedule your exercise routine as early as possible before your days fill up. If your hotel has no health spa services on the premises or they are not to your liking, find out what the alternatives are. There may be a public gym nearby or a park or a beach where you can go walking, running or bicycling. It doesn’t matter so much that you keep to your usual exercise regimen, but it’s important that you maintain some form of regular physical activity wherever you are.
Similarly, you can (and should) be pro-active in meeting your nutritional needs. It is not easy to maintain a balanced diet when you’re in transit. Even if you are committed to healthy eating habits at home, temptations to fall off the proverbial “wagon” lure everywhere the moment you hit the road. On business trips you may meet with partners or clients over lunch or dinner and want to appear generous. Or you’re on vacation and want to let loose a little and have some fun. You may be stuck in a place that doesn’t give you a lot of options, and so you reach for food you would otherwise not consider. Or you’re bored and try to kill time, so you raid the mini bar.
In situations like these, all you can do is counteract as much as possible. Start each day with a healthy breakfast to get enough energy for a few hours. If your hotel restaurant offers it, opt for the buffet where you have more control over your food choices. If you are on the move all day, bring a lunch box or some healthy snacks to keep you going. Carry some power bars or items like that with you, so you don’t have to settle for fast food or sugary snacks when you need a boost. Don’t neglect to drink lots of water to stay hydrated at all times, especially during and after flights. But be certain to use only reliable water sources (preferably carbonated bottled water). When you travel in far-flung places, be aware that some exotic foods take time for your stomach to get used to. And be really cautious about all foods offered by street vendors.
You are not done when you get back home
Don’t assume that you can let your guard down the moment you get back home. In all likelihood, your body is fatigued from your trip or your circadian rhythm has not yet re-adjusted. It is highly advisable that you return at least one full day before you go back to work and reassume your normal routine. If you’re jet-lagged, you probably won’t sleep too well for some time. In fact, for each time zone you have traveled through, your body will need a day or so to reset its internal clock.
The back-end of your trip should also be filled with pro-active health measures. Get back into healthy eating patterns right away and resume your work-out schedule as soon as possible. Don’t forget to spend some quality time with family, friends or pets from whom you were separated. They need to recover from your absence too.
Know what is right for you
Last but not least, when you think of traveling, consider what is appropriate for you. When I was in my twenties, I often traveled spontaneously and on the cheap. Sleeping on trains and buses and spending the night at youth hostels or camp grounds was a lot of fun and offered no hardship. In later years, when I had young children with me, my main concern was about their safety and well-being, but also the educational benefits they would receive from our travels. Today my goal is to visit new and exiting places, but now I travel in reasonable comfort and within the limits of my physical and mental abilities. I don’t pretend that my bodily strength is the same as it once was. At the same time, I am grateful that I can still live my life to the fullest – in some ways perhaps more so than ever before. Knowing what fits my needs, I look forward to many more adventures.