Hi, I’m Dr. Jenny Yu, Healthline’s Medical Expert and Lonely Planet Travel Health Expert. Welcome to my column, where each week I’ll share stories and insights, experiences and opportunities, and perspectives on how you can take the "well" traveled path in your journeys.
Travel takes us out of our day-to-day routine. While that’s often the allure of new experiences, it can also wreak havoc on the regularity of our self-care habits. Whether you’re a traveler living with a certain medical condition or you have preferences in your dietary intake, there are several ways to ensure healthy habits as you travel.
Hydration is often overlooked while we’re traveling — we may grab caffeinated or sugary drinks to stay energized on our journey. But by only consuming these types of drinks, we risk dehydration — and that can actually negatively affect our energy level throughout the day. Consuming alcohol in order to relax can also increase dehydration.
Luckily, thirst is a good gauge of our hydration status. However, we need to drink more water as we age. While the well-known advice of 8 glasses of water per day is a good starting point, factors such as altitude, climate and age change our daily needs. This is important to remember while traveling. There are many benefits of staying hydrated, whether with water and/or food. Particularly when we’re traveling, this will help us stay energized and recover from the impact of travel.
Healthline: How Much Water You Need to Drink
It’s also important to consume nutritious foods while traveling. Consuming whole foods — legumes, vegetables, fruits, grains, fresh meat and fish — is a simple way to do so. Processed foods, like chips or cereals, are often convenient, but seeking out whole foods can combat the energy lulls we get from activity-packed travel. Luckily, you can often consume whole foods and the local culture by exploring open markets and food stalls.
As I write this, I can taste the brininess of a freshly shucked clam from the famous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. I can smell the smoke-filled air of the street vendors in Singapore. My favorite part of sampling these foods is the connection it forges with the people who make them. Learning the customary foods and traditions of a destination helps us to appreciate the various ways whole foods play a role in communities. Experiencing the world through food gives me a sense of the connection between the land and its people.
I hope that these simple reminders — hydration and whole foods — help you to stay well in your travels, in addition to feasting on the local food culture.
For more information on COVID-19 and travel, check out Lonely Planet's Health Hub.
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