Backpacking is exciting, but not always glamorous. Communal shower rooms, shared dorms, long bus journeys – all of these can complicate your efforts to stay healthy while backpacking.
That’s why we’ve put together some essential tips for staying healthy while backpacking to ensure you get the most out of your trip.
1. Practice good hygiene
Staying clean and healthy in a packed hostel isn’t easy, but if you don’t keep on top of your hygiene, you could get sick or even develop a bacterial problem like an eye stye or athlete’s foot.
Wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, change your clothes, do laundry often, and shower daily. Hostel showers aren’t always the cleanest place, so be sure to wear flip-flops in the shower and don’t share towels.
All of this combined will help keep you from getting sick while you travel – which is the worst!
2. Stay hydrated
We’re always being told to drink more water, but it’s especially important when backpacking. Hot climates, long days out exploring, and unfamiliar conditions make it even more vital that you drink plenty of water. A water bottle with a filter is especially useful if you’re hiking or visiting places where the water might not be as clean as at home (though always speak to locals and find out how safe the water is – even a water filter can’t eradicate all bacteria from water).
3. Apply plenty of sunblock
Sure, we all want to come home from backpacking with a great tan, but that doesn’t mean we should ever forgo sunblock. Severe sunburn will ruin any backpacking trip and too much UV exposure is never good for us. Always apply sunblock, even if it isn’t hot out, and reapply every four hours to ensure you are always protected. Don’t forget to moisturize after a day in the sun too.
4. Embrace Travel Yoga
Even if you’re spending all day walking, that doesn’t mean your body is getting the exercise it needs. Heavy backpacks and cheap mattresses are hard work for your muscles, but it’s hard to stretch out in a cramped hostel. Find some great travel yoga moves that will stretch out your body but don’t require a mat or lots of space to practice.
5. Eat, sleep, repeat.
Backpacking offers days filled with adventure and excitement, but if you’re going to stay healthy throughout your trip, eating and sleeping properly is essential.
Don’t skip breakfast before you hike up that mountain. Don’t stay out late if you know you have a bus at 6 am the next day. While backpacking there will be times you don’t get your five-a-day, or you choose to party over sleeping, so ensure that you find a balance and prioritize your health.
6. Check local emergency and healthcare numbers
Despite your best efforts, sometimes we can’t help getting sick while backpacking. The most you can do to prepare for this is to ensure you know local emergency numbers and where you can get healthcare if you need it. Investing in travel insurance also means you won’t be surprised with huge medical bills should you need to go to the emergency room.
Staying healthy while backpacking isn’t always straightforward, especially when you want to spend your days out and about rather than worrying about getting nutrients or doing yoga. Following these tips, however, you’ll lessen the chance of getting sick on your trip and be able to enjoy your travels from start to finish.