Pamela MacNaughtan

Girls Guide to Healthy Travel

All travellers should strive for healthy travel. Let’s face it; there is nothing worse than being sick or injured in a foreign country. Language barriers can make simply conversations difficult, and reading medical instructions next to impossible. Healthy travel encompasses more than illnesses or accidents, it also encompasses things like exercise, eating right and more.


Buying travel insurance is a decision that a lot of travellers struggle with. Do you really need it? I mean, come on!

It’s easy to think of travel insurance as a waste of your hard earned money until you’re in an accident or seriously ill in a foreign country far from home.  Travel insurance is just like car insurance. It’s a safety precaution that gives you peace of mind, not to mention widespread relief if you should actually need it.

Depending on the country you’re visiting, paying medical bills can be expensive. If you buy a travel insurance policy before your trip, the money is spent. You’ll figure out your daily travel budget based on the money you have left over.  However, if you decided to skip it, your daily budget is going to take a serious hit and you could end up cutting your trip short.

Before you leave home, take the time to research various travel insurance companies. When you find a policy and price that works for you and your budget, buy it! Then sit back, and relax knowing you’re covered should anything happen on the road.

First Aid Kit

There have been a few debates over whether or not travellers need to bring a First Aid Kit with them. Sure, you can buy most things in any country, and they may be cheaper, but that may not be a convenient option.

Illness, accident and things like travellers diarrhoea are unpredictable. They will hit when they hit and trust me when I say, getting to the pharmacy to buy what you need may be next to impossible.

Travellers are like Boy Scouts. They should “Always Be Prepared”.


Vaccinations maybe eat a little money, but they are worth it. Everyone should get their Hepatitis A & B shots before they leave home. Why? Well, you need to have 3 injections over a specific space of time. PLUS, it will give you some peace of mind. Not many people can live on rice every day, for every meal. If you have your Hepatitis A & B shots, you can eat pretty much anything and not worry.

Some vaccines are cheaper in other countries, ie: Thailand.  To save money, you can opt to have your other travel shots while you’re on the road. However, use caution. Do not just stop by any clinic. Needles need to be sterile. If you’re not sure or feel hesitant about getting shots while travelling, get them at home. It doesn’t matter what others are telling you, at the end of the day, you need to feel comfortable and happy with your choices.


Depending on your destination, you may find yourself sitting on buses, trains or planes for hours on end.  Besides finding something to keep your mind occupied, you should also be looking for ways to exercise.

It’s important to keep your blood flowing during long-haul travel. Take time to get up and stretch your legs whenever the opportunity presents itself.  This will help prevent blood clots and will keep your limbs from going stiff.


If you have a medical condition that requires daily medication, make sure you have enough for your trip. It’s also a good idea to carry an extra prescription (in legible writing) with you, just in case.

Medication is the one thing where you should sit down before your trip and list all of the possible worst-case scenarios that you think could happen during your trip. Use these scenarios to prepare. Should you have an extra prescription in case you lose your bags? Do you have a medical condition that doctors need to know about in case you’re in an accident and cannot speak for yourself? Is that information written down somewhere? You don’t need to become a nervous fanatic over it, but you should be aware and prepared, just in case.

Eating on the Road

Be smart, but not fanatical. Eating in a foreign country is not a scary experience. In fact, it can be quite enjoyable. If you’ve had your Hepatitis A & B shots, most foods will be pretty safe. If you’re still unsure, give fruits and vegetables an extra wash with chlorine tablets to be sure.

Whatever you do, do not let your fears take over, be adventurous and try new and different foods. Your taste buds will probably thank-you in the end! Be sure to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Meats are delicious and should be cooked properly. Most street meat is fine, plus it’s incredibly yummy!

Eating Back Home

If you’ve spent some time overseas (more than 2 weeks), your stomach and digestive system may need time to adjust. We have a lot of processed foods in North America. Take your time. Eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables once you get home and slowly introduce dairies and processed foods back into your diet.

If you suffer from sharp stomach pains after eating, it’s most likely from the difference in your diet. Cut back on the foods that bother your system and slowly increase portions as your body adjusts. This can take anywhere from a few days to a few months depending on how long you were travelling.

Smart Choices

Remember, healthy travel is about making smart choices. It’s about listening to your inner voice and making choices that you are comfortable with. Take some time to sit down and think about where you will be going and what you’ll be doing. Then think of ways to protect yourself should something happen -whether it’s serious or a bad case of the runs in the middle of a jungle. Once you have that list created, write down what you need to do before your trip, and what you can do while you’re on your trip. This will help take some of the edges off and will give you some peace of mind.

Once you’d made your choices, and prepared yourself, let go! Know that you’ve taken care of your health choices and focus on having an amazing experience.


  • Sheryll

    February 3, 2011

    Good advice! I’m slowly realizing I’m going to have to jump on my vaccinations. I’ve been avoiding it because I hate needles so much, but it’s going to have to happen.

    Loving the advice about working out and eating healthy. Especially with long term travel, those 2 things are important. I can see how it would be easy to eat out a lot and be sedentary on the road.

  • February 5, 2011

    In some countries it is so easy to stay healthy, other countries not so much. I lived in Taiwan and it was hard there. The streets are not runner-friendly, but I eventually found a soccer team to run around with. I also joined a swimming pool. When there is a will there is a way!

  • February 6, 2011

    Great tips Pam! I always carry pepto and other meds with me for “just in case” moments so i can treat myself with meds I know and am familiar with.


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