I’m just getting back from a trip to Bali, Indonesia, where I was teaching fitness classes on a beach.
Yeah, I know. It’s a tough gig,
But they ask, I say yes.
That;s about the size of it.
But what I though I’d write about is keeping well while traveling, whether it’s around the block or around the world, tho admittedly I’m gonna talk more about around the world.
First thing I’d say is, do some research. Whether it’s Trip advisor, Lonely Planet, whatever. Learn a little about the place, the water, the food. Basically, how to prepare. I start taking an immunity booster (echinacea, if you must ask) 3-4 days to a week before I depart, and I bring a multi vitamin and Vit. C for the trip itself. You’re going to change your diet and your sleep pattern. You’re going to encounter recycled airplane air, recycled cruise ship air and hotel air. You’re going to come into contact with all kinds of people, and some of them are not as concerned with personal hygiene as you are. Getting sick while traveling sucks. Trust me on this one. Give your body a fighting chance. While flying, drink lots of water. Buy one of those silly neck pillow thingies. Bring noise cancelling headphones because, …..children. Bring throat lozenges, because the recycled air is dry as heck. If you’re in the air for a while, try to get an aisle seat. I know some people like the window (nobody likes the center seat, for good reason) but the aisle gets you free access to the bathroom, without having to disturb the dude who has been sleeping non-stop since you took off. Also, it gives you the option of getting up and stretching. Any position gets old after a while, and sometimes claustrophobia can take over. Give your body a chance to move & get the blood flowing again. Next tip, the airlines will feed you to try to placate you. You find yourself eating something you would never touch at home, just because they put it in front of you. Instead, bring a healthy option with you. Something you like, and something you won’t look back on and go “what was I thinking?”. And while I’m on the subject, PLEASE don’t bring the “tuna surprise” or “Pizza Hut meat lovers” pizza on the plane with you. People are sitting right the freak next to you. Keep it relatively odor free please. 😉
When it comes to food, give it some thought. If you’re from Cincinnati and you’re traveling to Pittsburgh, you’re probably good with experimentation. Try the Primanti Bros. sandwich. You’ll probably be fine. But if you’re traveling to, say, Indonesia, you might want to exercise a bit of caution. Not that there is anything wrong with their food, but you aren’t used to the food itself or the way it’s prepared. And yeah, I know we all loved Anthony Bourdain, and he made us feel like a total loser for eating the club sandwich at the Hilton. But I’ve done the “take me where the locals eat” routine. I’ve also laid on a bathroom shivering and waiting for the next wave of nausea to hit. Water is another thing. If they give you lots of bottled water, take the hint. And, FYI, ice cubes are just frozen water, and you don’t know where that water came from. I even use the bottled water to brush my teeth. I love to try local food. It’s one of the reasons that I love travel. Just maybe keep it on the cautious side. Oh, and a word about “U.S.” food overseas. Just because you see the Golden Arches doesn’t mean you’re home, folks. McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Subway, it’s not the same. It doesn’t look the same, it doesn’t taste the same. If you’re looking for the Big Mac you’re missing, you really might want to wait til you get back home.
Also, as much as possible, bring some of your familiar and healthy habits with you. I bring my running stuff and my gym stuff with me when I travel. When I am in a place where everything is different, having some familiarity helps. A friend of mine gave me some valuable running advice.
“Pick a direction. Run in that direction. Turn around. Run back.”
I’ve not always done that.
I got lost in Sweden, and a 5k run became a 15k.
In Washington D.C. I saw the Capitol Dome in the distance. I ran to the steps. It was very cool. But I wasn’t staying at the Capitol. I was staying in a train yard. Lots of extra mileage and the police got involved before I found my way back.
What’s familiar to you? Fitness, reading, needlepoint? Whatever.
Bring a piece of home with you.
And finally, embrace the differences. Hopefully, you didn’t travel to bring your culture to the locals. See the sights, know that they don’t really have to speak English. Even if it’s English, you can’t always understand it. We actually speak American. I’ve been the Northern Ireland a couple times in the last several years. I LOVE the people, but there are times they could be speaking Turkish for all I know. Work around that. Get a taste for the place, talk to some locals. It’s so enlightening to hear other people’s opinions of us and our country. Not always easy, but enlightening.
I think everyone owes it to themselves (and their children, but that’s a different story) to travel and experience the world. I think we grow from doing it. I hope this little missive helps you to do it safely and in good health.