After traveling for more than 60 countries in the world and being away for as long as half a year straight, I can say that traveling can be both healthy and unhealthy for you. It all depends where you go and what you do. While I was traveling in Vietnam for a month, I thought I would be healthy because I knew the food is nutritious and hearty. Never did I expect to gain weight instead of lose.
In the big cities, I always walked, I never relied on public transportation to take me from point A to B, unless I had to go to the airport or the distances were ridiculously long. I wanted to move my body as much as possible to feel good and to exercise without having to rely on a gym. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re traveling in a healthy way. Let’s take a look at how traveling can also be unhealthy for you:
1. You consume a lot of alcohol
It’s inevitable to avoid alcohol when you’re traveling. Most people consume more alcohol abroad than at home. You want to enjoy your vacation to the fullest so you grab a beer or cocktail every evening. It is, after all, your time to unwind. But if you want to be healthy, drinking alcohol every day is probably not the best idea. Alcohol contains a lot of calories and sugar, especially beer, which is one of the most consumed alcohol beverages in the world. Even if you eat healthy, but you drink a beer or two everyday, you’ll quickly notice it on your body. If you’re traveling in countries such as Vietnam for example, which has the cheapest beer in the world, you will most likely want to drink it.
2. You don’t move your body at all
This all depends where you are, but if you’ve found that perfect paradise island, such as Phu Quoc, you’re probably not going to walk around a lot or exercise. Most people rent a motorbike to get around the island, so you just ride your bike and go from one beach to the other. Getting your daily exercise is crucial if you want to stay healthy – only 30 min walk per day is good – but most people don’t want to go for a run when they’re finally on vacation.
3. You eat unhealthy food
As mentioned before, this all depends on where you travel, but when we travel, we are less cautious on what we consume. We want to try all the new food that we don’t have at home because why shouldn’t we? Food is one of the biggest reasons why we travel, we want to taste the authentic food abroad and perhaps get inspiration to cook some of it when we get home. But it’s easy to get swept away. All of a sudden, you’re consuming a ton of fried food and having dessert every night. It does depend on where you are in the world, some countries have much healthier options to choose from, while it’s trickier to be healthy in other parts of the world.
4. You lose sleep
Let’s face it – hostels can be a lot of fun, but they’re also a pain in the ass at times. It’s not always easy to sleep when you’re sharing one room with 12 other people, and 9 of them are snoring or making noises. But you can also lose sleep because you’re always in transition, you can’t sleep in overnight buses or you just have a hard time falling asleep in a strange bed. We need sleep to function properly and you’re not always guaranteed to get a full 8 hours of sleep. Lack of sleep can weaken your immunity, make you gain weight and give you high blood pressure, amongst other things. So when you’re traveling, wherever you go, make sure that you make sleep a priority!
You might stress more
Everyone has this romantic idea about how traveling makes you more relaxed, but traveling is actually quite stressful! Especially if you’re going to travel for a longer time. Everything can happen while you’re abroad – missed flights, getting robbed, not knowing where to go, trying to find a specific place, getting sick, etc. And when you feel burned out, you most likely want to stay home in your own bed and watch Netflix. But when you’re traveling, it’s not possible. Instead, you’re stressing in a room full with other people. Stress is really bad for your health and can cause you headaches, and other pains. You’ll always be stressed about something in life, but you might be exposed to more stressful environments when you’re traveling.
Although traveling is one of the most enriching experiences you’ll have in life, it’s also important to talk about how it can be unhealthy for you. But once you’re aware of it, you can make changes and learn to travel in a more healthy way.