Travel Wellness Kit: How To Take Care Of Yourself On The Road
Traveling becomes uncomfortable, expensive and loses its shine when you are unwell on the road. This travel wellness kit will help minimize all of these discomforts and inconveniences so you can focus on being in the moment and enjoying your time in this special destination.
Staying well while traveling is always important, but it’s even more paramount when you are a digital nomad or backpacker – anyone traveling for months on end. Poor food choices and loose health habits compound to affect your experience greatly.
Do you love traveling? Maybe the digital nomad lifestyle is for you! Learn how you can take steps to become a digital nomad today.
3 Factors That Will Impact How You Stay Healthy While Traveling
1. Your Budget
And I’m not just referring to your food budget – your overall daily spending budget will impact your health all around.
The amount of money you spend on accommodation will impact if you have access to a kitchen or not. Likewise, the amount of money you have budgeted for daily food will have a huge impact on the quality of meals.
You cannot completely avoid these limitations: your budget is your budget, and it’s better to be prepared with a travel wellness kit and be able to travel cheaper for longer.
2. Dietary Restrictions
Avoiding dairy, gluten, non-Kosher foods, meat (my personal dietary restriction) or any other food group will affect your diet significantly.
3. Where You’re Traveling
Access to nutritious food will vary greatly based on where you’re traveling, what is naturally occuring in the region and what the local culture cultivates as their standard cuisine.
It’s something to keep in mind as you map out long-term travel and plan out how to maintain your health on the road.
Travel Wellness Kit: Health Maintenance Items
I’ve broken this travel wellness kit into two parts: maintenance items and reaction items. You won’t necessarily need to pack all of these items for every trip, but these suggestions will give you a foundation to pull from.
1. Single Kitchen Knife With Sheath
A big challenges with eating fresh food while traveling is the lack of kitchen amenities.
Finding a hostel or hotel with a kitchen will be rare, depending on what part of the world you’re in. When I was backpacking in Latin America, it was only once or twice a month that I had access to any kitchen basics.
Because of this, carrying a few basics in your travel wellness kit will be a game-changer.
I recommend an actual kitchen knife over a pocket knife because it can keep things more sanitary and the blade is the right size for the job. This can make broccoli, sweet peppers, carrots, etc. snackable.
When you pick up something fresh at a market or grocery store, now you can easily do something with it!
I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of money on a fancy knife in case you accidentally leave it in your carry-on bag going through and airport and it’s confiscated.
2. Produce Bags
I wish I had these bags with me in Latin America, where huge markets were overflowing with fresh fruits and veggies.
The obstacle with eating fresh food right from the market: the food isn’t washed, and odds are there won’t be a strainer at the hostel to wash everything.
This may seem extra, but hear me out:
Say you want to take some delicious fresh blueberries on a long bus ride: how are you going to clean them? Handful by handful in the bus terminal bathroom? And then load up all of the rinsed blueberries back into the plastic bag that they came in?
I’ve been there, and it’s a mess.
Produce bags are mesh and food can be washed directly through the bag. The food also keeps better in the mesh bags because the water dries and they have fresh air, unlike a plastic bag (which should always be avoided anyway).
The bags are also virtually weightless and take up almost no space. I’ll never travel again without a few in my pack. You may be able to find mesh produce bags at your local grocery store, or they can be bought on Amazon.
I’m not a healthcare professional, and this is not medical advice! Just so ya know.
Your body will not always get the right nutrients when you’re traveling. I think that’s almost a guarantee of traveling.
During my first big trip traveling through Latin America as a digital nomad, I didn’t pack any vitamins. I was on a tight budget and went days or weeks without a meal having vegetables that weren’t deep-fried.
I felt worse and worse as the weeks passed, and halfway through the trip, I bought vitamins. The improvement was such a contrast to how meh I’d been feeling for months.
I had more energy, my stomach functioned more regularly, I had fewer colds. I will never travel again without a supply of vitamins that lasts the whole trip. Seriously: this is an essential part of your travel wellness kit.
A packing tip for handling bottles: to make the bottles take up less space, empty them into Ziplock bags and label them with the information that you need to remember.
While we’re talking about vitamins.. Does vitamin B really keep mosquitoes away?
One of the vitamins my doctor recommended for me was vitamin B, and it just so happens that some people believe B makes you unappealing to mosquitoes. It was recommended to us in the Amazon to take B to help minimize exposure to malaria.
Before taking daily vitamins, I was a mosquito magnet. I would sit down and have 12 new bites while my husband sitting right next to me had none. After I started taking vitamin B, the tables turned and the mosquitoes bit him much more than me.
If you search on Google you’ll quickly see that the theory isn’t scientifically proven, but I had luck with it.
If you consult with your doctor and they say you could benefit from taking vitamin B, it may help you on your travels through high mosquito zones!
4. Water Bottle
Conscious water intake should be a goal for you on your travels, and a bottle that suits your needs is an important part of your travel wellness kit:
- Looking for the most size-efficient bottle? Something collapsible is probably best for you
- Need something higher capacity? A hydration pack will fit your needs better
- Traveling somewhere without drinkable tap water? A wide-mouth bottle and a UV-light sterilizer will be your friend (you can read more about these specific tools in my sustainable travel packing list)
Before my first-ever overnight hiking trip, B-Man from REI (a famous source of information at the Pittsburgh REI on the Southside) gave me this advice for staying hydrated: begin every day by drinking water until you pee, and then fill up your bottle and get on the trail. Then, do the same at every water fill-up throughout the day.
This was advice specific to staying hydrated with a limited water supply where you’re dependant on refilling your bottle from streams along the trail, but it’s great advice for traveling as well.
Travel Wellness Kit: Reaction Items
5. First Aid Kit
I won’t spell out every item that you should have in your first aid kit, because you can read the detailed list here: just in case travel kit. But I would be remiss to not mention the importance of including first aid items in your travel wellness kit.
Things will always go wrong along your travels, and even if they somehow don’t wrong for you, I reckon you’ll encounter someone who needs a bandage along the way.
6. Liquid IV
Liquid IV is a hydration multiplier, which is a fancy way of saying that it takes a normal bottle of water and multiplies its effect. It’s a powder that dissolves in your water. It’s a great addition to your travel wellness kit because it’s small, disappears into you bag when you don’t need it and will be there to save the day when you do need it.
Use Liquid IV to stay hydrated on long bus rides or any travel scenario where you won’t have access to a bathroom for extended periods of time.
My longest bus ride ever was 27 hours in Peru, with no stops for food or water. By the time we arrived in Cusco, I felt so sick from dehydration; I would’ve given you a kidney for a Liquid IV.
Be sure to also one Liquid IV in your first aid kit for every person in your group. Use Liquid IV to treat dehydration, help recover from stomach hugs, etc.
I had a dermatologist tell me once, “we tell most patients to go home, put some Vaseline on it, and then call us again in 3 days if they’re still having trouble. And about half of them don’t call.”
Bug bites, rashes, sunburn, harsh soaps used to wash the sheets you’re sleeping on: irritating stuff happens to your skin when you’re traveling. Vaseline calls themselves “the healing jelly,” which in my experience is spot on.
These travel-size Vaseline tubs are sized just right: they’re sized to take in your carry-on, and are small enough to stash one away in every bag.
Travel Wellness Kit Final Thoughts
How do you take care of yourself when you’re on the road? Which items in this travel wellness kit will you never leave without?