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With simple actions, world travelers who go from one place to another can take care of their health while enjoying unique experiences.

Advisor: Elkin Arango Vélez
Doctor and surgeon, specialist in Sports Medicine

Taking care of your health while you are traveling does not require much effort, and without a doubt, it will ensure an even more enjoyable journey. Staying hydrated and watching out for a heavy backpack can be determining factors during your journey between countries or continents.

Before starting your trip is it necessary to find out if you need any vaccines before entering your destination, as this will help you avoid getting preventable infections. And just as important as having your up-to-date shot record is always having a full bottle of water. Staying hydrated is the first step for a healthy trip.

Sports doctor Elkin Arango Vélez states that when a person is dehydrated, not only do their lips and tongue dry out and their urine become very yellow, but also, they will be very tired and irritable and could even become dizzy or have blurry vision. “You should not wait until you are thirsty, because this happens when there is a substantial loss of water in the body. It is necessary to drink liquid constantly and keep in mind that water is not potable everywhere: it is best to verify the water quality.”

There are three things to look out for regarding food: depending on the country, the food is prepared with different cooking methods, be careful not to get an infection; do not skip meals to save time or money; and on long walks, avoid going a long time without eating.

“There are individuals that eat everything and nothing happens to them, however, it is not that way for everyone. It is good to find out what food is eaten where you are going and eat appropriately. For world travelers who move a lot, your body’s energy expenditure increases, so you should not skip meals, as this can cause complications such as hypoglycemia or tiredness, which can sometimes cause you to have to interrupt your trip.”

Good physical conditioning

In their desire to visit and see as many places as possible, many travelers walk very long distances every day. The doctor states that it is very common to see people arrive to other countries and start walking for eight or ten hours, while at home they are quite sedentary in their daily life. Some get frustrated because they cannot see everything they want to because they feel tired or could risk hurting themselves with a muscle contracture or tear, affecting their joints, or in the worst case, falling and suffering a break or fracture. “The recommendation is that if you are going to go on a trip that requires substantial physical effort, start getting in shape before you leave, focusing on physical resistance and strength.”

Regarding the weight of your backpack, the doctor insists that for expert and trained travelers as well as those who are just starting their career as a world traveler, there is a risk of injury. When you do physical activity for a long period of time, overuse injuries can occur. Tendon injuries, spinal injuries, shoulder problems or knee problems can appear if you are walking on uneven ground.” Physical strength training will improve your performance, but you should not overdo it.

Regarding smaller details, using the right footwear should also be on the list. Even though this depends on the type of terrain, it is good to take shoes that have a good cushioning system, that are flexible and can be adjusted, and are ideally a little bit loose, as the foot tends to swell. If shoes are too tight, this could cause friction or pain.

To complete the check list for self-care during your trip, you should not forget a good sunscreen, sunglasses with UV filter, and get enough rest despite wanting to stretch your day to fit in as much as possible. 

Prepared for adventure

  • Keep your travel insurance in mind, which is important in risky situations, for illnesses or accidents, and even more so when the traveler is in a country with a different language or culture.
  • Pack fruits or healthy snacks to eat during the journey so that your body has enough energy. Try to find places with well-balanced food and good prices.
  • Part of enjoying the trip is also not being anxious about having to see everything at once. This will make you take it easier, resting when you need to and undergoing less physical strain.
Source: Juan Camilo Vélez Ortega, traveler to four continents and 40 countries.
  • Play your trip better by doing your research, understanding the country you are visiting, and enjoying the experience to the fullest. Do not miss out on anything.
  • Be smart and practical when you are packing and do not add unnecessary weight.
  • Before your trip, practice training with the shoes you are going to wear during your walks or hikes. Also train with your backpack, simulating the weight you plan to carry.
  • Be an environmentally and socially conscious traveler. Connect with nature and be responsible not only with the environment but also with yourself.
Source: Alejandra Ramírez Vidal, her passion for traveling has taken her to 51 countries around the world.

Related: Be a responsible consumer when traveling