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Ideally, traveling should be a fun, relaxing experience. However, as almost every experienced traveler can attest, sometimes plans go awry and unexpected troubles arise.

It should go without saying, but your health and well-being should be your first priority when you travel. It’s one thing to miss a flight; it’s quite another to accidentally put yourself in harm’s way during a holiday.

With that in mind, today we’re going to provide you with a step-by-step breakdown to ensure that every trip you take is a healthy and happy one.

Tips For a Healthy Vacation, Every Time

Before You Travel

Yoga RF

There are a huge range of articles that provide tips for staying healthy while traveling abroad; stay active, wash your hands, eat well, be cautious of the tap water. However staying healthy should start at home, before you depart for overseas.

First, make it a point to research the place you’re visiting; water quality, food options, and medical facilities vary wildly from country to country, so do your homework on your destination in advance.

In addition, it’s a wise idea to see your doctor for a check-up before you hit the road, especially if you have a condition that needs addressing before you can travel safely. This includes scheduling an appointment with a reputable dental clinic a few weeks before your trip so that there will be enough time to have any issues taken care of before you depart.

Maintaining a healthy immune system before you travel is one of the biggest keys to avoiding getting sick during your trip. Your immune system is your body’s defence against infection and illness, and if yours is weak you’re at higher risk of contracting bugs and viruses overseas.

How to Strengthen Your Immune System Before Travel

➤ Eat high-protein, high fiber, low carb meals, which are easy to digest, with plenty of fresh veggies. Like any fighting force, the immune system army marches on its stomach.

➤ Be as active as possible to maintain proper blood circulation, and a healthy weight. Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living.

➤ It only takes 30 minutes of exercise each day (a brisk walk counts) to sweep white blood cells back into circulation, making your immune system run more smoothly.

➤ Get at least 8 hours sleep each night in the lead up to your travel. Sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system and make it more vulnerable to developing an illness.

➤ Don’t over-use antibiodics. Those who are addicted to antibiotics at the first sign of a runny nose can often make themselves resistant to these drugs over time, causing more serious infections.

➤ Don’t smoke. And don’t be around your friends when they do. Smoking is obviously terrible for the whole body, though secondhand smoke can be just as harmful.

Minimize your stress levels before travel; The relationship between your mind and body are closely linked, and a wide variety of illnesses are linked to the effects of emotional stress. For help with emotional stress, please see BetterHelp.

While You’re Traveling

Airplane seat flight airport

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you should defy sound health practices. It’s actually because you’re in a foreign environment, and spending time around bacteria your body has never encountered before, that you should look after yourself even more.

The easiest way to prevent getting sick overseas is by staying away from the bacteria that causes it. This means eating and drinking as safely as you can, and maintaining good hand hygiene.

Washing your hands as often as possible (with soap) is the best way to keep them clean, but this isn’t always possible, especially if you’re traveling remotely. Traveling with an alcohol based hand sanitizer (make sure the bottle is less than 100 milliliters so you can take it onto the plane) is highly recommended.

And getting enough sleep is just as important during your actual trip as it is in the lead up to your departure. It’s very tempting to try and squeeze in as many experiences as you can during your time-off, though you do need enough energy and sleep to be able to properly enjoy them.

Not only will getting some solid shut-eye help you overcome jet lag and fend off little maladies, but if you’re taking a road trip and driving long distances, it’s really important to stop as needed at rest areas to nap and recharge your batteries.

So, something to add to the ‘before you travel’ heading, would be to not overpack your itinerary when researching and planning your trip.

Consumption of Food and Water

Hot dog RF food

In terms of food, shopping locally and cooking your own food is the best way to reduce risk of consuming infected food, but this isn’t always possible.

If you haven’t prepared the food yourself, you should only eat food that is cooked and served hot. Don’t eat anything served at room temperature, or looks raw or undercooked.

Bottled water is the best way to ensure that the water is safe to drink, and if you’re traveling in a country where the water is unsafe, you should avoid ice in your drinks, and not accept fruit or salad from local restaurants, as this has likely been washed under the tap.

You should also consider using bottled water to brush your teeth, keeping your mouth closed while showering, and not swimming in dodgy looking bodies of water that may be contaminated (like lakes). And if you’re heading to a buffet, you could take your own knife and fork if you really wanted to.

After You Travel

Sleep bed RF

Just because you’ve landed safely after a long trip doesn’t quite mean you’re out of the woods yet. In reality, travelers still need to take a few precautions once they return home.

Mainstream medications for overseas travel (like malaria pills), might only act to mask the symptoms of a sickness so that you don’t have to seek care in sub par hospitals overseas. The idea is that once you’re home you can see your local clinician.

So if you get home and you’re feeling a bit off, it’s important to book in to see your doctor for a check up. Don’t confuse the symptoms of jetlag with actually being sick, but if you continue to feel groggy and unwell after 2-3 days of being home, it might be worth a visit.

Depending on your activities overseas you might also consider visiting your local testing clinics to get the all clear on certain infections that you may have picked up on your trip. This is especially advisable if you have engaged in sexual activity while traveling.


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. I read your article before traveling to Slovakia (I live in Belarus). I drew attention to those things that need to be done before the trip. And you know, that was good. True to minimize the level of stress did not work, but what can you do. And during the trip I was also guided by your article and some other other recommendations.

    But there were some problems with sleep. I could not fall asleep neither in the bus, nor in the hotel (on the way to Slovakia). He stayed there with his relatives, it was easier, but for some reason my back ached constantly. Although I did not get any injuries and did not catch this place. Maybe psychosomatics? I do not know. After returning home, the problem persisted. I went to the doctor, was examined, nothing serious was found. But the doctor advised me to go to the massage therapist, at the moment I am taking a whole course, they started with the usual relaxing massage. I give a lot of money for this, but it seems to help, the pain is now not constant, but as if in waves. I’m not sure that massage will help me. Can you give tips on how to avoid similar situations? Maybe some physical exercises can be performed during the trip?

    • Thanks for reading Timofey, I’m glad to hear that some of our tips here worked for you before your trip to Slovakia – I think we’re all in the same boat on the struggle with reducing stress, but something we can always keep working on!

      Sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling with back problems. Unfortunately I don’t have the medical expertise to be able to advise on back pain, but I typically try to keep 20 or so minutes at the end of every day while traveling for yoga – helps stretch the body out and ease some of those aches.

      Yoga With Adriene is one of the best on Youtube – here is a link to one of her 30 minute sessions for Yoga specifically for back pain:

      Hope it helps!

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