When we think about travel, we think about the incredible sights the world has to offer. We think about the diverse, vibrant people that inhabit each and every city on the planet. We think about the ways in which pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones could result in immense personal growth.
But when we think about travel, we rarely think about how it can impact our health.
The truth is that while we’re jet-setting around the world, we tend to de-prioritize our own mental and physical wellbeing. We’re focused on experiencing everything that a place has to offer, from digging into unique cuisine, to spending days in a beer garden. We live by the mantra, “doing the thing you’re supposed to do, in the place you’re supposed to do it”. Then, we wake up one day, months into our travel experience, and realize that we can no longer run that mile as fast as we once could, our pants are just a little too tight, and we are starting to feel a bit sluggish and unmotivated.
The good news is that travel doesn’t have to be a setback to your healthy lifestyle. In fact, with the right mindset and clear goals, it can be just the thing you need to feel inspired to get back in your groove.
#1 - Get some sleep
We get it - you don’t want to waste even one hour of your time in a place that you’ve never been. Your motto might be - I’ll sleep when I’m dead. You want to head out early in the morning to catch a sunrise, or stay out late into the evening dancing to the beat of local music, singing along to lyrics in a language that you have yet to master. The thing is, without sleep built into your schedule you probably won’t have the energy to experience these moments to the fullest.
Make sure you’re giving yourself time to get at least seven hours of sleep a night. That means time spent in bed, without your phone, actually resting from a day of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. You’ll be better for it tomorrow.
#2 - Create a morning routine (and stick to it)
Once you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day (we told you!), adhering to a morning routine can help put you in the right frame of mind. It can be five minutes or a full hour, but whatever you choose to do should feed your soul. Here are a few ideas:
- Take time to appreciate your coffee, your tea, or whatever you drink in the morning. This may be your one moment of peace in an otherwise busy, sometimes frantic, world. Embrace it.
- Try meditating first thing in the morning. You can set a few intentions for yourself for the day and head out into the world with a more positive outlook.
- Before picking up your phone, try grabbing a book and reading a few pages. Your mind will thank you for not bombarding it with external information before it’s ready.
#3 - Make local recipes with fresh ingredients
You didn’t come to Valencia to eat McDonald’s. Set aside some time to wander through a local market and peruse the beautiful ingredients that grow in the region. You’ll come across some familiar fruits and vegetables, and others will surprise you with their uniqueness. If you have the good fortune of developing a friendship with a local, ask them to teach you a few of their favorite recipes. You’ll not only come out the other side with a few new skills in hand, but you’ll also have eaten a delicious, nutritious meal.
#4 - Pack your travel yoga mat
Yoga is one of the simplest exercises to do anywhere, any time. That’s why we suggest looking into getting a travel yoga mat (many Remote Year participants like this one) to bring with you on your adventures. Whether you want to post up in a park, at the beach, or on top of a mountain, you can get your bend on without committing to a specific time or studio. If you need a bit of guidance in your practice, Remote Year participants suggest downloading the Down Dog app, which creates a new yoga sequence every time you want to hit the mat.
#5 - Take advantage of your environment
You’re living and working in such a beautiful place - get out there and experience it! Use the hills of Lisbon as your cardio workout for the day, hike the lush rainforests of Colombia, or scale the incredible mountains of Cape Town. Workouts aren’t defined by structured movements or time in the gym. When you set out to explore the country that you’re visiting, you’re accomplishing two goals with one activity. Just don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and bug spray!
#6 - Try a local fitness class
Want to see how the locals stay fit? Sign up for a class at a local gym or studio and get your sweat on. Everyone does exercise just a bit differently. Not only will you expose yourself to a culturally-relevant experience, you’ll also get your heartrate up. Embrace the discomfort that comes with having no idea what you’re doing - chances are you’ll make a friend if you just ask for help.
# 7 - Set manageable goals
If you’re not really the “workout” type, try setting realistic goals for yourself so that you can stay healthy while traveling. For example, you could make it a point to walk 10,000 steps every day instead of looking up from your laptop at 5 p.m. and realizing that you haven’t moved in hours. Those 10,000 steps could take you into a new neighborhood that you haven’t explored, or to a gelato shop that’s been hiding behind the buildings you pass every day. After walking that far, you deserve a scoop or two.
Staying physically and mentally fit while you’re traveling doesn’t have to take away from the experiences that you want to have while you’re on the road. If you follow these tips, you can integrate healthy moments into your trip with ease - and check out that beer garden without a bit of guilt.