When your address is ever-changing around hostels and open roads, it can seem almost impossible to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It's easier to eat out at restaurants and cafes because (1) it's convenient, (2) it's easier and yummier, and/or (3) because you want to try the local foods unique to the city/town/area you're exploring...which doesn't always mean eating healthy meals, or maintaining a healthy lifestyle, naturally. So in an attempt to combat this struggle for both myself, and for my nomadic audience, I've compiled 10 foolproof ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle whilst living life as a backpacker.
1. Stay Active
You don't need to have a long intense workout routine to stay active. You don't even need a gym membership. With a little creativity and will power, you can maintain an active lifestyle no matter where you are on the map.
Opt outside! Go for jogs outside - Go for hikes whenever and wherever you can - Ask around where the nearest park is - Google a nearby (free) outdoor gym - or just find random objects around your accommodation that you can comfortably lift reps with. Remember, no work out is pointless, no matter how short or timid - everything counts!
2. Stay in hostels that have kitchens
Staying active is important, but it won't get you very far if you're not watching what you put into your body. Diet is 80% of the battle. If you're exercising but mainly eating junk, your body will not be the healthy powerhouse you're striving for. The best way to combat the urge to eat all the deliciously unhealthy food at the restaurants is to grocery shop and cook your own meals. It'll save you a lot of money, and a lot of calories.
You don't even have to be a good chef in order to keep up with cooking your own food (although, Pinterest-ing some yummy easy recipes won't hurt).
I have no idea how to cook a proper meal, so I stick to the easy stuff - boiled eggs, salads, canned tuna, veggies, stovetop chicken, brown rice, oatmeal, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, etc.
3. Carry a reusable water bottle with you
It's so important to stay hydrated. Save the environment and a couple bucks every time you refill your water bottle - instead of buying more and more plastic waste, invest in a solid water bottle to carry around and refill at any sanitary water fountain, sink, etc. (Be cautious with tap water - do research on the sanitation and safety of the tap water distributed where you're traveling. If it's safe to drink, though- refill often).
4. Walk as much and as often as you can
Need to go to the market? Get across town? Save money on cab/Uber fares, and take a walk to wherever you're headed. You'll see the beauty of where you're staying on another level, become accustomed to local directions, and feel better overall from the exercise.
5. Keep a journal
Prioritize your health physically, as well as mentally. Keep a journal to keep track of your travels, as well as to unburden your mind and vent to the objective private audience of the pages.
6. Protect your skin
Use sunscreen everyday and moisturize your body. A little maintenance goes a long way for the health and longevity of your skin.
7. Pack snacks for your day
Don't pack junk - spend the extra couple of dollars at the grocery store and buy vegetables, fruits, nuts, and granola bars. My go-to snacks are carrots, almonds, apples, and chocolate BelVita breakfast biscuits.
You should spend more time outdoors than in, especially when you're traveling & exploring new places. Setting out for your day with a couple of healthy snacks in your bag will help keep your energy up, calories low, and it will keep you from spending extra cash at cafes and restaurants.
8. Don't eat two bad meals in a row
As much as you may feel like you've gained 5 pounds from indulging in a huge, fabulous meal...you definitely haven't. Your strides towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle whilst backpacking have not been squandered. It is totally okay and acceptable to give into temptations and cravings...in moderation. Have the ice cream cone. Get the kebab. Order the side of fries with your meal. Just make sure that when you do, you do it in moderation. And then make sure you prioritize eating a healthy meal the next time you get hungry.
A lot of times, after I give in to my cravings, I like to go for a walk afterwards. Being lightly active after a big meal supposedly helps your digestive system do its thing..... but I mainly do it because I feel less bloated and more energized afterwards.
9. Drink with a purpose
Occasional cocktails are sometimes a necessity to solo traveling, in my opinion. It will occasionally help ease the jitters that come naturally when you stray yourself away from your comfort zone - and put yourself in a new environment amongst completely new people. It really does make meeting new friends easier, when you're with some liquid courage on a night out. It's important to remember, though, that this has to be the case in moderation.
*My point here does not by any means imply that the only way to make friends while traveling is through the buffer of alcohol. Traveling itself creates a beautiful platform to make new friends from all walks of life, simply by living and being yourself.*
My point here - is to not consume alcohol just for the sake of consuming alcohol. Do it within the right context. Go on nights out, make friends, have fun. Just don't make this your mentality 24/7. Don't drink alcohol everyday just to drink. Do it on special occasions. Do it on a fun night out with new friends you've just made. Do it at an awesome music festival. Do it with a purpose.
10. Create a routine
Make feeling good about yourself and your health a part of your daily routine. Don't let your day feel complete without you being active for at least 30 minutes of it. Make it your priority to mainly eat healthy meals every day. And If you stray from this ideal from time to time.... let that be okay too. Counter your indulgence with a healthy meal, and a healthy mentality. Let yourself have fun, have carbs, have sweets, have alcohol, but above all else, have moderation.
Grow into a healthy routine abroad. Because the healthier you are whilst traveling, the longer you'll be able to travel!
Be your own definition of healthy & happy.