7 Ways to Stay Healthy While Vacationing

Photo by Salvador Martin Yeste on Unsplash

Okay, is anyone else feeling a little shell-shocked by this cold weather?  (As I write this, it’s -16 but feels like -20…while just a few days ago, it was +8!  What is going on?!?!  Only in Calgary…)

While we’ve been lucky with spring-like temperatures so far this winter, I do admit that my body and mind are dying for sunshine, heat and that refreshing sea breeze.  And I know I’m not alone – so many of my friends are taking off to hot destinations in the next few weeks and I am pretty close to joining them on this trek!

One thing I always worry about while traveling, especially to all-inclusive resorts, is getting sick.  Our wedding was in Cancun just two years ago and I had one of the worst head colds ever on my wedding day.  Thankfully, you can’t tell in our photos but I do wish I’d felt better to enjoy the day more.  It was awful and I look back and wish I had taken better care of myself leading up to and during that trip!

Live and learn, right?

And that was not the first all-inclusive resort I got sick at!  Nope – I think I’ve been sick with some type of cold at 90% of the resorts I go to!  This isn’t anything against all-inclusive resorts at all.  It’s me, and my inability to realize when I need to take it easy, boost my nutrition and stop trying to do EVERYTHING all the time!

So, I have a very good understanding of why people get sick on vacations now.  I’ve dedicated my scientific mind to experimenting with how to avoid getting sick while on vacation…AND, I have a ton of tips at my disposal to avoid those frustrating vacation colds and the tummy troubles that often come along with tropical destinations.

Photo by Victor Filippov on Unsplash

#1: Drink Tons of Water

One of the first things we skimp on while traveling is water.  If you’re like me, you drink a fair amount during your normal every day routine.  But, you hit the beach, start hiking and experiencing a new place, and suddenly you realize you’re only getting ¼ to ½ the water you’re used to.

(Plus, um, I find it difficult to find bathrooms while traveling so, yes, I admit to purposely not drinking much sometimes…you?)

Water flushes out toxins, chemicals, pathogens and more bad stuff so make sure you’re staying hydrated. Especially in warm climates, you’re going to lose more water from sweat and activities.  You’re moving more, I imagine, you’re getting out and about to see the culture and try new things.  Just make sure to bring lots of water with you on your excursions and try to keep a few extra bottles in your hotel room.

I find more and more hotels are offering a water bottle refilling station in their lobbies.  I love buying a huge water bottle when I get somewhere new (I’m not a fan of lugging around my own bottles from home, but if that’s your thing, go for it).  Then I keep refilling it throughout the day.  My personal goal is at least 4 liters of water per day.

Photo by Vicko Mozara on Unsplash

#2: Avoid The Sugar

The worst thing you can eat or drink on vacation is sugar.  Sugar is pro-inflammatory and it sucks nutrients from your body, reducing your immunity.

I know, I know, those lovely, fruity tropical drinks with the umbrellas are delightful while lounging by the pool. BUT, they’re also SO full of sugar!

And, yes, that buffet table of tiny desserts looks really delectable, right?  Nothing wrong with a few of them once in a while BUT try to avoid overdoing the sugar while on vacation.  THIS is actually one of the problems I have with all-inclusive resorts (and why they always make me sick) – there is just so much sugar, usually hidden, in the food and drinks.  Be mindful of what you’re eating and keep your sugar intake to a minimum.

My advice?  Stick to drinks made with soda water or dry wines.  The occasional sugary tropical drink shouldn’t hurt, but all day long these are going to add up.  Plus, the calories!

#3: Get Your Rest

This is super important, especially before you head out on vacation!  Strange, right?  You’re heading out because you need a break from your hectic life.

Remember that lack of sleep can impair your immune system.  If you’re already sleep deprived when you hit your destination, chances are you’ll succumb to the perils of the vacation cold or worse.  Make sure you prioritize sleep the week or two leading up to the trip, and take a few extra days at the beginning to just let your body naturally sleep when it wants.  This may mean afternoon naps (which are not a bad thing).

And, if you have long flights or overnight travel, give yourself permission to rest when you arrive so your body can repair and strengthen its immunity before you head out exploring the sights.  If you push through exhaustion, you are more likely to get sick down the road.

#4: Bring the Right Supplements

I’ve learned this the hard way.  ALWAYS bring the right supplements for your travels!  If I forget or decide not to bring one or two with me, THAT is when I get sick!

My travel supplements include a non-refrigerated probiotic (Seroyal HMF Travel are amazing), fermented protein bars (great when you can’t find a snack at 3 am), a multivitamin / mineral complex, and greens powder.  I also bring oil of oregano and extra vitamin C with me to all-inclusive resorts due to my personal history.

It’s important to keep your immune system strong with the vitamins, minerals, protein and nutrients it needs to stay strong.  The greens powder boosts detoxification and antioxidants, which is important after a lot of sugar and/or alcohol.  Probiotics are super important because 70% of your immune system is in your gut.  Travel, new foods, lack of sleep, and alcohol all negatively impact your gut microbiome.  And the fermented protein bars are great because they help build up good bacteria in your gut and they don’t cause bloating.  Plus, I find they keep you regular…

#5: Choose Healthy Foods

While traveling, it’s especially important to choose foods that really boost your nutrition.  To be honest, I tend to gravitate towards whatever foods are local to the area I’m visiting.  Granted, this is a lot easier to do off a resort than on one, but I still look for foods that are more authentic.

And doing so helps you avoid fried foods, processed junk and carb-heavy dishes that all deplete your immunity.

To make things easy, opt for fresh protein options (like seafood or fish if you’re by the sea), fresh vegetables, and some local healthy fats (avocados!).  As a Caribbean rice-and-beans lover, I do probably eat more carbs on most vacations than usual, but if you can, keep these dishes to a minimum too.

I’ve been to quite a few tropical locations and so far – knock on wood – never experienced the stomach issues that many people have.  I chalk this up to a couple of things:

  1. I avoid meat as much as possible. I will eat fish and occasionally chicken, but no red meat if I can help it.
  2. I eat a lot of hot peppers, which, for some reason, seem to keep me from getting tummy troubles.
  3. I take those probiotics every single day.

So, while this is not scientifically backed, these 3 things seem to work for me.  And I’m comparing to my travel companions who do NOT follow these same covenants!

#6: Exercise

Sometimes I want to just chill out on the beach with a good book and NOT exercise!  And, yep, I do this quite often!

However, regular, daily activity, even if it’s just a swim, hike or walk, help keeps your lymphatic fluid moving, which flushes out toxins, pathogens and debris.  Keep moving, maintain your exercise routine as best as possible, and, most importantly, try something new!

Last year I tried kite boarding.  Ever done this?  It was such fun but quite hard!  I was the only one out of our group who face-planted in the water – twice! – because I forgot to let go of the kite!  So, if you know what I’m talking about, you know this isn’t exactly the best form for this sport.  But it was fun to try something new.

#7: Relax

Why am I telling you to relax on vacation?  Isn’t that obvious?  Well, for most people, I believe it’s pretty natural to relax on vacation.  However, I still hear about people worrying too much.  If you miss a flight or miss a boat, it sucks…but don’t let that sort of thing get you down.

Especially if the things that don’t work out are minor.  I’m a worrier when I’m in a new situation, but over the years I’ve learned that things will inevitably work out.  Do what you need to do to relax, if that means booking all your excursions and transport ahead of time or if that’s more of a go-with-the-flow attitude.

Vacations are supposed to be fun, exciting and invigorating, so try to avoid worrying too much.  Remember to take it easy and let yourself have some fun!

Photo by John-henry Canault on Unsplash


No vacation is ever awesome when you’re struggling against a cold or stomach issues.  Prepare your body before your vacation with good nutrition, sleep, regular exercise and a few immune boosting supplements.

Take care of yourself during travel and when you arrive – it’s totally cool to take a day or two to chill out and relax and get your mojo back.

And, while on vacation, drink lots of water, eat lots of healthy foods, exercise daily and get your rest!

But, of course, most of all – have fun!

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Daina Gardiner
Daina Gardiner

Health & Wellness Contributor (C.H.N.), Owner at Mind Body Healthy Calgary

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