13 Jan Healthy Living Working Abroad
It’s 2018, and I’ve just approached 18 months as a remote worker, while travelling around the world, but, for the next eight weeks there will be no travel, other than to the doctor’s surgery, because I made the biggest mistake while travelling, and didn’t take care of my health. It’s easy to do, I mean, who would find it easy to not touch the delicious food on offer from Nasi Lemak in Malaysia to Anticuchos in Peru.
Taking our bodies for granted
It’s important to stay healthy while working remotely and as men, we take our bodies for granted and infrequently get checked out because we’re feeling fine, but illnesses like Diabetes and high blood pressure are silent killers and can hit you when you are least expecting it. Around six years ago, I plucked up the courage to visit my local doctor’s surgery and was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes, and since, every three to six months, I go and get checked out to make sure that my blood sugar levels are in control.
Biggest mistake: not keeping healthy
The last quarter of 2016 was spent living in Spain, and every morning, I took a walk to a little bakery, around the corner from my apartment, where for breakfast I purchased freshly baked bread, which was still warm and tasted incredible with local cheeses.
Of course, I knew that a high carb diet was not good for my Diabetes, but I became addicted to the smell and taste. Prior to Christmas I returned home to the UK, and went for my usual blood tests and the results did not come as a total surprise – erratic blood sugar levels and high blood pressure were what has stopped me from travelling, at least until it is under control with medication, exercise and diet.
The thought of spending two to three months in the same place, and not travelling is the motivation for me to start to live a healthier life, and while that is going to take time, it has made me realise that I cannot go back to how I lived before while travelling around the world.
Dangers of ill health while travelling alone
If like me, you travel alone, the dangers are even higher, because the last thing you want to happen is to find yourself being taken ill, and staying in a hospital, where English is not the first language, or, worst still, needing hospital treatment but there’s no one around for you to call for an ambulance. While I am the last person that should be giving out health advice here are my tips to try and keep healthy while travelling:
Change your habits while travelling
Rather than eating a large meal in the evening, think about changing your eating habits so that you have your main meal of the day at lunchtime, and then exercise a couple of hours after. This will help burn the calories off, especially if you’ve had foods that include a high amount of carbs. Eat a healthy snack in the evening and try not to eat after 7 pm.
Put at least an hour aside each day to complete some rigorous exercise that is going to help you burn fat and calories. It could be in a gym on a treadmill or, go for a walk, on a route that has a number of hills and steps. Ideally, start your exercise around two hours after you’ve eaten your main meal of the day.
It’s easier to keep hydrated when you’re living in countries in SE Asia, because of the heat and humidity force you to keep hydrated, but this is less so when you’re staying in cooler, less humid climates like in European countries. It’s important that you keep hydrated because being regularly dehydrated could result in liver issues in the future, and you do not want that.
Regular check-up’s when you’re back home
When you’re back home visiting family and friends, take the time to book an appointment with your doctor and get a health check-up. Not only will it put your mind at rest, but also it will reveal any issues that can be dealt with before it is too late. If you infrequently return home then think about your healthcare in the country that you are residing in and go and speak to a local doctor.
Keep people informed
When I return back on my travels I plan to make a note of the address of where I am staying and keep family and friends informed, along with contacts of the accommodation landlords/hosts, which can be contacted if they do not hear from me for a period of time. Use a service like Dropbox, where you can give a family member access and save any travel interties, and information. This is only as a precaution but could help you should the worse case scenario happen.
Travel/Health Insurance is essential
Last but certainly not least, make sure you have adequate travel and/or health insurance so that you are not having to pay for medical bills should you become ill while abroad. Here in the UK, we have the luxury of the NHS, which gives us free medical treatment – visit countries like Thailand, and the USA, and you could end up with a huge medical bill and losing all of your life savings.
Don’t make the same mistake that I made and not look after yourself while travelling and living your dream lifestyle. The important thing to remember that everything is fine in moderation, do not go overboard while eating the local cuisine, enjoy the experience, but look after your health.