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I’m coming out of a 2-week long cold and I thought this would be a good time to talk about how to stay healthy while travelling full-time. Yes, I’m sick now but it’s really the first cold I’ve had during our year of travel. I also usually don’t get sick more than once every few years.
This was true even when I worked at a hospital. I was constantly surrounded by sick, contagious people in hallways and elevators. Sometimes I even had direct contact with them–I might spend several hours with someone with an upper respiratory infection in a small room, handling papers and other things that they touched, taking their vitals and doing other tests on them.
Travelling is very similar to working in a hospital sometimes. You are in a place with a lot of people and you don’t know where they’ve been and whether they’re sick or not.
Here are the easy, inexpensive things I do to keep myself healthy.
Hygiene is everything when you want to stay healthy
Wash your hands. Wash them before preparing food and before eating. Also wash them after shaking hands or touching other people, or touching things in stores or other public places. And of course, wash your hands every time you use a bathroom. Especially public bathrooms.
Before I started working from home I made it a habit to take a shower right when I got home. Because germs and dirt collect on places other than your hands, including your hair. I would change out of my clothes and take a shower right away and not walk around inside with shoes from outside.
When in highly crowded areas (like when we stayed in Las Vegas), I always took a shower when we got home for the evening.
I also regularly clean and disinfect items that I use “out there” often, such as my cell phone, purse, sunglasses and backpack.
Toothbrushes get changed once per month, and after every illness. I clean my hairbrush periodically, too.
Always having water with me is a necessity, so I also have 2 water bottles. I use one and wash the other, switching every day or two.
I also always, always keep my nails very short (never past the tips of my fingers or toes). Nails harbor bacteria.
Of course, keeping your home clean is important too; especially the bathroom and kitchen. Luckily in such a small space, it’s easy to clean every surface regularly.
Eat healthy to stay healthy
I try to stick to foods that are minimally processed. Processing adds unneeded fats, chemicals, sugar and preservatives. It also tends to leach all the nutrients out of the food. I eat fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal. If I don’t have fresh, I eat frozen. Most frozen produce is flash-frozen; picked when it is perfectly ripe and frozen immediately. Just make sure to check the package for any additives.
I also never skip meals or let myself go hungry. If we have a long travel day, we still stop for meals. And if I’m hungry in between, I pull some food out of the fridge and eat while we drive down the road. Some of my favorite go-to snacks are hummus with fresh veggies, raw nuts or nut butter with a banana. No prep needed.
I also drink lots of water, pretty much to the exclusion of all other drinks. I make sure the water is safe by buying filtered water from a water dispenser (found inside many Wal-Marts) or using the water filter on our sink in a pinch. Filtered water is also all we use for cooking food.
Stay healthy by getting enough rest
This includes not doing long travel days all the time and resting plenty between long trips. I keep a routine during the day and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
I have a lot to do every day, but I put limits on it. By using time management, I get projects done. But I don’t push myself if things take longer than expected. There’s always tomorrow.
Rest is emotional, not just physical. I try to avoid unnecessary drama in my life by keeping toxic people and situations off my radar. This includes not keeping up on all the news or spending lots of time on social media. I also keep a positive outlook and if I’m struggling to come up with a solution to a problem, I take a break and come back to it later.
While travelling up the east coast, we needed to be close to thrift stores and libraries so we could buy books for our business. This often meant sleeping at Wal-Marts, both to save money and because there weren’t always other options. We moved from one Wal-Mart to another for several days, and then retreated to a state park for a few days to enjoy some quiet surroundings.
Get exercise to stay healthy
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or highly strenuous. Just taking a walk in fresh air helps. For inside exercise when the weather is too bad, I have resistance bands. They’re cheap, take up no space and weigh nothing. We also have a balance ball (deflatable). Body weight exercises, jumping jacks and squats are also good for building up strength and getting up your heart rate–no equipment required.
Of course, one of my favorite ways to stay healthy is to ride my bike. Running is good too (but I’m not very good at it). I find interval training is good for increasing cardiovascular endurance.
I know some people, especially in smaller RVs, sign up for a gym membership with a nationwide gym. They get their exercise and can take a shower there, so they don’t have to fill up their grey water tanks! Some of them in the stealthy vans even boondock outside of 24-hour gyms successfully.
Keep allergies under control to stay healthy
I have year-round environmental allergies, and by travelling the country I can never be sure which plants I’ll come across and be allergic to. Taking a daily allergy medication (Zyrtec) helps. But I still had problems with congestion, so now I use Flonase, which is a nasal spray. Both are over-the-counter and fairly inexpensive. I find that when my allergies get out of control, I’m more likely to get sick. I think the chronic irritation in my nasal passages makes me more susceptible to infection.
Also, to help with dust-build-up in the RV we routinely wash and/or replace the filters in our air conditioners. We clean the fan blades and screens in our ceiling fan vents. Additionally, if we’re driving through a dusty/smoky area or behind a car with dirty exhaust, we change our dashboard air to re-circulating or shut off the vents altogether.
We have as little fabric in our RV as possible and no carpet. We use covers on all the chairs and take them off and wash them. I also wash the curtains that cover our windshield. To control moisture, we use portable dehumidifiers and vents when cooking or showering.
Removing moisture from window interiors and keeping all the blinds and window shades free of dust is also important for allergy control. And with all of our pets, they get brushed and bathed too. It isn’t a perfect system but it helps to keep the fur content down.
What are your tips and tricks to keep from getting sick?