5 Tips to Maintain Your Health on the Road

Staying fit and healthy is a task in itself when you’ve got routine. Yet, when routine is gloriously thrown out of the window and you ar faced with the alien situations of a backpacker’s lifestyle, you can’t even call where your next meal will come from.

Here’s a several valuable points worth considering:

1. Hydration

Whether your recovering from a heavy night on the buckets in Koh Phangan or enduring a trek through the Himalayan mountains of Nepal, hydration is key and many travellers neglect it. CONSIDER THIS before you resort to painkillers to ease the headache, reach for an energy drink when your feeling lethargic or blame the moisturiser for not curing that flakey, dry skin.

According to the Institute of Medicine (2004), healthy adults should be able to simply use their thirst to determine their fluid needs. However, I know a lot of you prefer to work with figures so here’s their recommendations of fluid from food and beverages: 2.5l for women and 3.5l for men. Although it must be said that this is an average, if your enduring a 10-hour manual labour shift in the intense heat and humidity of outback Australia, you need to adapt to the conditions and take more water on board… Simple right?

There is no excuse, water is all around us. Okay some water is contaminated, but for that there are all kinds of purification tablets. From past experience they aren’t too bad once you get used to them! I try to carry at least a 1.5L water bottle strapped to my backpack and fill up at every opportunity. Worst comes to worst, you have to part with 40 cents for a fresh bottle.

2. Cook in a group to cut costs

The majority of you will be like me and want to do everything on the cheap to prolong your bank balance! Unfortunately, our nutrition usually takes the hit when we are looking to save money… A nutrition-packed plate of salmon and roasted vegetable gets overlooked for the $5 fried chicken box meal. But what if you had the choice to eat like a king for €3?

I’m currently travelling with a group of 5 but if you are a solo traveller pluck up the courage and round the troops in your hostel! By all chipping in for the ingredients, it cuts costs significantly. Last week in Germany, we cooked a chilli con carne, from scratch, with fresh produce, for 5 people at €2.50 a head! Nutrition, Tick! Taste, Check! Money saved to travel longer.. CHECK!

3. Live cheap, eat fruit and veg

On my most recent hitchhiking adventure around Europe, the challenge was set to live as minimalistically as possible! It was through that challenge that I realised how cheap you can pick up fresh fruit and veg. Following on from my previous point about supplementation, when available, fill your boots with the nutrition that comes from Mother Nature herself. Getting your five a day can cost you a measly €2 in most European countries and the quality of produce exceeds the local Asda back home for sure!

4. Multivitamins

Okay… Firstly, I’ll cover myself here, I AM a firm believer of real food over supplementation! However, alike myself I’m sure you will have found yourself in situations where you go days where quality nutrition just isn’t easily available on the road. In this instance, a good quality multivitamin can be really beneficial. The key vitamins and minerals will keep your immune system fighting fit and steer you away from bed ridden days when you could be out exploring.

Here are a few points to consider when selecting multivitamins…

-The best are now tailored to your age and gender, choose accordingly.

-Avoid those which contain more than 100% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of any vitamins or minerals.

-Stick to the consumption guidelines on the packet!

5. Do you wear your backpack properly?

I’ll finish with an issue I have found from countless backpackers complaining of lower back and shoulder problems. How many of you have actually set up and used your backpack properly?

When buying your backpack, any good retailer will go through the process and measure you up in-store. However, as buying online is so efficient nowadays, many of you will have already missed that opportunity. Fear not! These basic steps will increase the comfort, as well as reducing the pain and stress on your back and shoulders…

1 – With your pack on your back, wrap the hip belt around your hips. Clip the belt buckle on and tighten the straps evenly, so your hips hold 80%-90% of your backpack’s weight.

2 – Pull back and down on the shoulder straps to tighten them to fit close to your body and wrap around the shoulders. These shoulder straps are to simply hold the backpack against your body, not support its weight.

3 – Your pack’s ‘load lifters’ are located just above your collarbones and attach the top of the pack to your shoulder straps. Gently pull these straps snug in order to take some weight off of your shoulders.

4 – The sternum strap on your backpack, located on your chest, is simply meant to prevent your shoulder straps from slipping off, allowing your arms to move freely. Adjust this to a comfortable height across your chest that pulls the shoulder straps in.

Click here for a video for you visual learners.

Wrapping it up..

I can vouch for all of these tips as they have all helped me personally. Yet, I would love to hear how you manage to maintain your health on the road. Feel free to share all your comments and tips below.

Sam Cooper

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