We’ve heard it being said a thousand times – “health comes first,” and, well, this couldn’t be more true especially when traveling. If you’re stuck in bed and battling with a cold, or you’re on crutches trekking through busy markets, you’re not exactly getting the cultural experience you signed up for. Lemon tea with honey may be nice, but if you’re in the Rum capital of the world, you’re going to want to taste the honey infused Rum instead.

So staying fit and healthy, no matter where you’re going, and for how long you’re planning on being a nomad, is essential.

We’ve been super lucky *touches long wooden object* to be relatively healthy over the past 14 months. Yes, we’ve had to cure our sniffles with local remedies (seems the birch oil from Finland really does work), and we’ve coped with stomach bugs in Namibia using the proudly South African Rehidrat to get us hydrated and healthy again, but on a whole, we’ve been strong enough to fight off all the various viruses and germs that our bodies had ever experienced.

We’ve decided to share our top tips for staying alive and kicking hard whilst cruising around the world, one city at a time:


1. Take Breaks From The Break

Even when taking time off to travel, you should balance the amount of exploring with regular breaks, you know, to avoid burnout. Full-time and long-term travel can take its toll on the body, and trying to fit in all the sight-seeing and optional activities can definitely catch up with you (and not in a good way).

2. Stay Hydrated

This could be the most simple and important way to stay on top of your health when on the road. Long flights and commutes often dehydrate you (which is the main cause of headaches and exhaustion), so supplementing your electrolyte intake is essential. We carry Rehidrat sachets with us and decanter them into our bottles of mineral water after long journeys. Having a rehidrant will also be worth its weight in gold when you need to replenish electrolytes after losing liquids if you were sick or just went on a long hike. Take a reusable bottle with you at all times, and fill it up when the drinking water is safe. Be very careful though – don’t be too trusting of the water found in all countries – sometimes buying bottled water is the safest route to go #TrueStory.

3. Get Your Vitamin A,B,Cs 

Building up your immune system and ultimately preventing colds and fighting unknown viruses is easily done when you take the “prevention is better than cure” approach. Most of the time, when your body relaxes when it is on holiday, it gets out of survival mode and this is when you’re prone to picking up bugs and colds. We always carry vitamins with us and take them daily (namely vitamin C, B and iron). There are an array of travel-friendly multivitamins so make sure you keep some space in your first aid kit…cue tip number 4.

4. Be Wary Of Fast Foods

Fast food ultimately drains your energy instead of giving it to you. Trust us, we know it’s really hard when you’re on the road, and you don’t have the facilities to create or cook your own meal, so you’ll opt for something quick and easy. When possible, try to locate a fresh grocer and build a dish that you know will give you the energy and vitamins you need. Have a look at these travel-friendly snacks suggested by our friends at The Kitchen Thief. Also – when in doubt – choose fruit. It’s fairly affordable all over the world, and packed with natural sugars to give you an instant kick, (and we obviously don’t need to mention that it is better than 90% of the pre-packaged meals out there).

5. Don’t High Five The Germs

Everything you touch, from door handles to money to your mobile phone, carry harmful germs that somehow make their way into your mouth and will ultimately make you sick. Make sure you have a hand sanitiser with you at all times. The bottles are usually less than 50ml, so they are plane-friendly, and won’t take up too much space in your carry-on.

6. Visit A Travel Clinic

If you are heading into rural, maybe more isolated destinations, it’s highly advisable to go see a travel clinic before you leave – or better yet, have a mobile travel clinic like these guys visit you in your home or office before you leave. They will advise if you need any precautionary vaccinations or medicine, such as malaria tablets or yellow fever injections (which we needed for our recent East Africa tour).

7. Keep A Mini First Aid Kit

It’s safe to say that you’ll need a plaster, or antiseptic cream, or motion sickness pills at least once on a long trip, so make sure you carry a mini first aid kit with you at all times. We have plasters, tape, baby scissors, tweezers, antiseptic liquid, valoid and immodium (just to mention a few items), that we carry in a sealed little kit box that goes in our carry-on (besides the baby scissors and tweezers of course – those stay in our big toiletry bag in our checked-in luggage).

8. Make Travel Insurance Part Of Your Budget

Incase of emergencies, like that time you decided to waterski in Mauritius and sadly did more water gliding that skiing, or that time you went paragliding in Switzerland, but spent more time on crutches than in the air, you’ll be super grateful that you had travel insurance to cover you ( although always make sure you read through the Ts and Cs as some insurance policies do not cover extreme sports ). Getting caught in a foreign hospital, at any time, will be scary, but it’ll be a lot less scary when you know you have a policy covering you for anything from broken bones to stitches to lost luggage even. Each country will have various insurance companies and policies available, so make sure you weigh up your options and make space in your budget for this essential pointer.

9. Find Time For Exercise For Your Body And Mind

Jogging, swimming, yoga, meditation; whatever your preference, keeping your fitness levels and wellbeing looked after during your journey is sometimes more important than when you are at home. Traveling to foreign places makes you susceptible to picking up all sorts of germs and viruses, so staying fit and healthy is crucial. We love doing short meditation sessions on the go, as they remind us to stay present and not think about the end of the journey or where we came from. We use Headspace nearly everyday to guide us through 15-20 minutes of meditation daily. The App is great for beginners, and can literally be done anywhere, whenever you feel the need.

10. Flip Flops For The Win

Hopping between hostels, hotel rooms and camp sites can sometimes be a little gruesome, so keeping a pair of flip-flops/sandals/jandals/slops (whatever you call them in your part of the world) is very important for showering. Athlete’s Foot is a real thing and you’ll want to stay as hygienic as possible at all times.

For more of our travels, check out #HowFarFromHome on Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

  • Sam
    Posted at 20:54h, 14 April

    Oh man, yeah being cautious with water is so crucial. I got Dysentery when I was living in Egypt and I will never drink unbottled water (and when you get bottled water make sure you hear the crunch when you twist the lid) without my filter ever again. I’ll look into those hydration packets you mentioned. Have either of you looked into Sawyer Water Filters? Good post!

    • howfarfromhomeblog@gmail.com
      Posted at 05:40h, 15 April

      Yeah it’s soooo tricky with some places…but totally worth getting bottled water and Rehidrat sachets – they even come in different flavors (black currant, vanilla, orange) so you can mix it up on the go 🙂 We’ll have a look at the filters – thanks Sam!

  • Kiera
    Posted at 11:33h, 15 April

    Hey there! I came here from seeing your topdeck tour video on vimeo. Out of curiosity, and relating to this article, did you get the infamous “topdeck cough” while on that tour? We are going on one this year and are a little concerned about getting sick since we have two weeks of travel after the tour finishes.

    • howfarfromhomeblog@gmail.com
      Posted at 14:03h, 15 April

      Hehe, no no, we have now been on two Topdeck Travel tours and have been 100% healthy on both. Excited to hear you’re going on one later this year – which tour?? If you get tour leaders named Noddie or Scottie, tell them we say hi 😉

      The only advice we have is what’s written in this article – take the precautions (vitamins, Rehidrat, bottled water, hand sanitizer etc) and you’ll have the best time, with tons of energy to travel for long 🙂

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