Long journeys, greasy street food, lack of routine and snoring dorm-room mates are just a few reasons why backpacking can stop you feeling your best. Throw in a case of Delhi Belly and an overnight bus journey, and you can end up feeling like a second hand version of your distant, former self.
Don’t get us wrong, travelling and exploring the world is an incredible and fortunate experience, but it can be hard to stay healthy on the road with constant change and lack of supplies/kitchen. Here are a few tips we’ve picked up over the past few years to feel good on the move, avoid any illnesses and stay energised:
Pack your snacks and tools
We always make sure to pack the following things in our backpacks:
-A good travel knife (we use an opinel knife from Amazon), a julienne peeler, a tupperware pot and some cutlery. With all these things you can eat on the go and prepare your own snacks/meals when you fancy something fresher. We actually use a Frisbee as our chopping board when travelling – the ultimate multipurpose item!
-Coconut Oil – We love travelling with coconut oil as it has an endless list of different uses. We love it for moisturising, preventing insect bites, sunburn, hair masks and eating! Just one tablespoon a day is such a good source of healthy fats and it tastes delicious! If you can, make sure you buy a high quality oil that is organic, raw & cold-pressed.
-Nuts/Seeds We always have some nuts/seeds on hand for journeys as they are great for energy and can be thrown onto salads or porridge for added tastiness. We like bringing hemp seeds from home as they are a really great source of protein.
-Spirulina Tablets – Spirulina could have it’s own blogpost dedicated to it, but it truly is one of the most nutrient dense superfoods that exist. Especially good for vegetarians, it is such a great source of iron and really helps with our energy levels. Spiruluna is an algae, so make sure you buy a certified organic brand - we use these tablets.
-Spices – If you do plan on cooking while travelling, it is always worth bring a few spices to transform even the simplest of ingredients. We’re pretty geeky and travel with a ton of spices, but we especially like cumin, garam masala, paprika, mustard seeds and turmeric.
Food Markets are your friend
We’ve said it before, but we love a good food market (click for our Indian & Colombian favourites!). They’re also the best place to find delicious, local produce for preparing meals or snacks. We always find that the produce at markets is a lot cheaper and better quality than in supermarket stores, with way more variety, friendly faces and colourful options.
If we don’t have a fridge, then we normally stock up on nuts, seeds, fruit and raw vegetables for making big salads. This doesn’t have to mean boring salads ….be adventurous and include lots of colours! On the Andaman Islands we would buy fresh wholemeal chapatis from a local vendor, take them to the beach and stuff them with homemaderainbow salad, and coconut oil/lime dressing for the best and cheapest sea-side lunch on offer.
Natural Ways to avoid getting sick
Being sick away from home is horrible. In terms of stomach problems, we’ve both had our fair share of the dreaded ‘Delhi Belly ‘and all of its nasty consequences. It’s common sense, but always eat in popular places with a high turnover, and don’t always assume that if you pay more for a meal then you won’t get sick.
Healthy gut bacteria is a huge game changer when it comes to fighting off parasites & unwanted bacteria. After a couple of years battling with IBS, I ultimately found that fermented foods were the best source of natural probiotics for my body. If you often have stomach problems, this is a huge thing I would recommend! Most cultures have their own traditions of fermented foods - whether it be sauerkraut in eastern europe, dosas in India or chicha in Colombia. As well as this, it can be really helpful to take high quality probiotics before/during your trip, to boost healthy stomach bacteria. You can buy this in powder form or capsules and add it to water each morning. We also always travel with citricidal grape fruit extract, iodine and coconut oil to help prevent/fight off any stomach problems.
If you do get sick, remember to stay hydrated! If you’re somewhere with coconuts, then drink those babies up. Other helpful options are peppermint/ginger tea, plain rice with lime and coconut oil and fresh papaya with lime (the peppery papaya seeds are magical for fighting off parasites).
Start your day right
Ok, ok, weve all heard a million times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But it is true - you're going to feel a whole lot better if you have a nourishing breakfast when you travel. Giving you more energy to do all your crazy travel adventures like jungle treks and bungee jumping... Or beach lazing.
We love trying the local breakfasts wherever we are, but long term we often find them too rich and not really what we're craving. We've got into the habit of having overnight Oats while travelling, as they give us a lot of energy, are really cheap and delicious too. We just use our Tupperware pots to soak oats in water overnight, then in the morning we add coconut oil, honey, nuts, seeds and local fruit!
Seek out healthy spots
Use websites like happycow.net to find healthy spots all over the world - the Internet is your friend for this! You’d be surprised where you might find some really cool shops/cafes selling healthy food or hosting yoga classes. We've found everything from raw cacao in small Indian towns to kombucha in the south of colombia!
Don't be too hard on yourself!
Although it's important to look after yourself on your travels, fussing and worrying about how many vegetables you're eating per day is not exactly the right path to enjoyment. Make the most of being in another country: try local food, go out with new friends and don't get stressed over the little things!
We love fresh, good food and feeling great, but this doesn't mean we don't allow ourselves things like samosas and different foods from around the world. Just listen to your body, be prepared and enjoy your travels!
What at are your tips for staying healthy while travelling/away from home?