Staying Healthy While Traveling: Know Your Physical Limits

When traveling, it’s especially important to know your physical limitations. Traveling is exciting and enjoyable, but can also be tiring.  Adjusting to a different climate or altitude, adapting to new time zones, and changing your regular, day-to-day routine can be stressful.  Fatigue can take a toll on your body and also make you more susceptible to injury or illness.  Below are some tips to help you stay healthy.

Before You Go:

  • Have a physical exam.  Be sure to tell your doctor about any special conditions, medications, or recent surgery that may affect your travels.  For instance, if you have had surgery or a major dental procedure prior to your trip, the CDC recommends you find out how much time you need to allow for recuperation before traveling by air. While it’s always best to check with your physician, British Airways offers a chart of suggested recuperative times for various procedures.
  • Know what level of activity to expect.  If you’re going on a tour, find out in advance how much walking and other activity is involved, and how many hours you will be traveling each day.  If you’re on a hiking or biking vacation, know how fast the pace is and how many miles you will be expected to do each day.
  • Be aware of your physical limits.  What is your endurance for physical activity?  How far can you comfortably walk each day?  What is your tolerance for heat or cold?  For instance, with a beach or mountain destination, you may want to plan your vacation at a time of year when the weather is moderate.  Check what the weather will be at all planned destinations and what specific activities will be involved.  Then be sure to pack appropriate clothing and gear.
  • Get in shape before you travel, especially if you plan an active vacation such as skiing or hiking.

While You Are Traveling:

  • Recognize warning signs that signal fatigue.  General symptoms can include lack of focus, headache, irritability, weakness, lack of energy, or digestive issues.  Ways to eliminate fatigue include pacing yourself, getting adequate sleep, exercising, and eating regular, healthy meals.
  • Take time to adjust to a new environment before engaging in strenuous physical activity, especially if you’re not used to a high altitude or to an extreme change in climate. Over-exposure to hot or cold weather can lead to fatigue and other conditions, such as heat stroke and hypothermia.
  • Stay hydrated. Even moderate activity under some circumstances can cause dehydration leading to fatigue. So be sure to drink plenty of water, and try to avoid alcohol or caffeine.  Proper hydration is also important to help lessen the effects of jet lag.

Is It Fatigue Or Something More Serious That Requires Medical Attention?

According to the Mayo Clinic, emergency medical attention is required if fatigue is accompanied by abnormal bleeding; severe pain in the chest, abdomen, pelvis, or back; shortness of breath; or unexplained weight loss or gain.  If general fatigue persists for more than two weeks despite rest, good nutrition, plenty of fluids, and a low-stress environment, it is time to schedule a visit with your doctor.



US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA)
UStiA is a national association of insurance carriers, third-party administrators, insurance agencies and related businesses involved in the development, administration and marketing of travel insurance and travel assistance products.