Looking After Yourself when Travelling

Hi all and thanks for popping in today. When you’re on the road for a long time, you need to look after yourself or you get sick, rundown, hurt yourself, or just plain get stressed and grumpy all the time. I guess the thing is – do I look after myself?

Actually thinking about it I have been to hospitals in Pakistan, India, Serbia, Singapore, Burkina Faso (twice), Bangladesh and Malaysia. And I’ve been lost, hiked the Tatra Mountains with a sore knee, lost my cool in a bank in Bobo-Diolosso, and had Delhi Belly too often I do not care to think about it. So what do I – what do WE need to do to look after ourselves whilst travelling? That’s what I want to explore in today’s post. Oh, I’ve also had malaria and nearly died in Bangladesh from an anaphylactic shock. Just doing my best to mount the argument that perhaps I don’t look after myself that well when I travel.

Bikes in Bobo-Diolosso.

LOL. Anyways. What have I learnt at the very least about looking after yourself when travelling, and I guess I am talking about longer-term travel, moving on from place to place for say at least four weeks up to a year? Probably something, you’d think right?

  • Pace Yourself!

And this is something that I have learnt and definitely not acted upon. And I can’t see myself doing this in the future too. And that’s travel slowly, give myself ‘rest days’, allow time to just relax and appreciate where I am. If I can do this I suspect it will help me stay healthy and enjoy where I am more. In theory. Problem is I always try to cram as much into an itinerary and often a day as is humanly possible. One day I will slow down. One day…

  • Preplanning for Health!

Getting prepped for all the medical issues that I might face is something that is really important. So I always start with medication that I might need. Any regular medication one needs to take can be tricky to get in the numbers that could be needed on a long trip, for example if it’s a daily medication. On top of that, taking things for say headaches or stomach bugs which are pretty likely to crop up as I travel.

Then I make sure I know what I may encounter in the places I go – such as diseases like malaria. Yes, I’m talking about making sure I have anti-malarial and getting vaccinated for other things such as typhoid. This means I need to know before I go what could be an issue before leaving. A trip to the doctor too who can check, and reading guide books and checking the internet so I can be armed with questions when I do visit the doctor.

Finally a little first aid kit is the go. Bandages, band-aids, some sort of disinfectant. There’s lots more I could take like a hot/cold pack, but it depends on weight and space. Always taking sun block insect repellent too. Possibly something to put on bites.

  • Travel in the day when Possible.

So this is something newish for me. I used to look at chances to take overnight trips as a great way to keep under budget, but these days I prefer to take the day trip, get the scenery and then have a good night’s sleep. If I have to overnight I obviously prefer the train to the bus, sleeping on buses is something I am not good at. And arriving somewhere in the early morning after no sleep often just wipes you (well me at least) out for the day and I end up sleeping until after lunch time and not being able to do anything worthwhile in that day.

  • Plan a nice hotel on arrival.

Especially after an overnight flight – harder to avoid than overnight bus journeys. Have a nice hotel to greet you on arrival, especially if it’s a short 1-2 night stopover. This is where I tend to spend the money in terms of accommodation because it keeps me refreshed and if you’re tired after a long flight it’s nice to have a bit of comfort. You look forward to it too. Sama-Sama at KLIA is a particular favourite!

  • Take media with me.

I love music for long bus or train rides. Who doesn’t? It gets you through. Or even back in your hotel room if the day has been stressful. But also, these take we take videos with us as well and if you ave a half-decent TV in your hotel room you can plug a USB stick into it and watch movies and shows to your heart’s content. And it’s great to get away from the outside hustle and bustle sometimes. I often watch whilst I’m working on the diary or blog.

  • Vary the travel and include a beach here and there.

So I do a lot of travel in cities I guess, but I do like to get away to smaller places, the countryside, mountains. It’s good for the soul and you have more chance to breathe. And even though I’m not a big beach-lover I see the value in going to a beachside spot here and there to break up what you’re doing and to have a place where you can legitimately just sit in the sun and read a book. Or listen to music! This way you get refreshed and relaxed. I realise the purpose of travel is not to make one stressed, but you can be active and busy which makes you tired, and although you’re not really stressed you are still rundown. So with long term travel, always look for the chance to recharge.

So. What do YOU do to check yourself fresh and happy when you travel? Please do comment below – and May the Journey Never End!

5 thoughts on “Looking After Yourself when Travelling

  1. I tend to find that travelling slower, and doing less helps me to prevent my memories from a trip from all congealing into one big blur. Most times, my itinerary is packed to the brim, but during my first trip to Japan I made an effort to stretch the days out and move slower. Of all the trips I’ve been on, it’s one of the few that I could tell you exactly what I did on each day I was there. Slow travel is definitely the way to go!

  2. Over time my travel pattern has inevitably changed, but I still try to pack as much as possible each time. Often the first and last nights of the trip are spent on a plane, to save time. Also I try to spend two nights somewhere to have the whole day from sunrise to sunset. However, in important places I try to have a back up day, in case the first one is ruined by cloudy skies. There will come a time when I will replace trips with stays, but it is not yet.

  3. Great tips for staying in good health and good spirits, Andy! One thing I’ve started doing even before the pandemic) is getting good comprehensive medical insurance including medical evacuation coverage. It is an annual policy that covers travel worldwide. I’ve never used it, but it provides peace of mind as I continue to age.

  4. Man it sounds like you’ve had some pretty wild experiences! I really agree with the traveling during the daytime and booking a comfortable accommodation to ensure a decent night’s sleep. I have foregone the two in the name of frugality, but red eye flights and sleeping(ish) in airports is recipe for getting sick and injured.

  5. Nice post, Andy! In my most recent travels (in a not so recent past) I make sure I bring along some OTC first aid meds like for my acid reflux, etc. I learned after some trips where I had some ailments like bad stomach and it was a pain looking for a pharmacie. So now my med kit is in a handy little purse.

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