Why Travel is Good for your Health

Travelling to various destinations around the world and taking in everything they have to offer truly is one of life’s great experiences.  Not only does travelling provide us with memories that will be with us for the rest of our lives, but travelling is in fact very good for your health.

“A vacation is not a luxury, It’s an investment in your health.” says Jens Pruessner, Associate Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry, Neurology and Neurosurgery – McGill University, Montreal.

How does travel make you healthier?

There are a number of ways that travelling affects our health.  Let’s look at a few:

 

1. Travel is good for your heart

In a study released in 2000, a significant sample of 12 000 men were studied over a period of nine years.   These men were considered to be high risk candidates for coronary heart disease.  It was found during the study that those who did not take an annual vacation were a 21 % higher risk of death and 32 % were at risk from death by means of a heart attack.

Woman who travel regularly are around 50% less likely to suffer from heart disease.

Why?  Well the simple answer is stress.  A vacation helps to relieve stress and recharge the batteries, while forgetting about all the troubles of your work life.  Lower stress levels also mean lower blood pressure levels, a really important factor in leading a healthy life.

2. Travel makes you happier

Relaxation is a major reason why people go on holiday.   It is also a time of rejuvenation for body, mind and soul.   A holiday, while reducing stress immediately, also helps with the body’s ability to process stress once you get back to work.  Less stress means you will be happier!  Studies have found that people who go on regular holidays show better productivity levels and lower absenteeism than those who do not.

3. Travel helps learning

You are never too old to learn!  Travelling to new destinations, especially outside of your own country helps to expose you to new cultures, customs, languages, history, religions and traditions.   It can also help you to develop skills that you might never have used before such as planning skills, problem solving, creative thinking and negotiation skills.

4. Travel builds relationships

Travelling is about making incredible memories, and what better way to do it than with a spouse, child or as a whole family.  Sure there might be the odd conflict, but studies have shown that 75% of adults say travel helped to improve relationships, improve romance and led to better communication with their significant other.

What to pack for Year Long Trip!

Backpacking around the world for a year!  How amazing would that be?  Just think of all the places you could visit in a year, the people you would meet and activities you would get up to.

Wait, wait!  Suddenly it’s hit you … how much planning is this going to take?  Seems a little daunting doesn’t it?  How can you possibly pack for a year’s travel?  Where do you start?

It’s not as daunting as you think; it just takes some preplanning and some great packing skills to ensure you have the things you will need on your trip.

Research and planning is everything

You would have put some thorough thought into your destinations for your yearlong travel.  You will know what kind of weather conditions to expect for each location based on the time of the year that you will be there.   This is not a one week trip, so be sure to do your research properly if you haven’t.

Let’s look at essential items you will need for your travels.

1. Backpack

 

The smaller your backpack the better! Yes you can fit more items into a large 75 litre backpack, but remember, you have to carry this with you everywhere you go.  A large backpack is fine at the airport but not great when you are trying to get on an overcrowded bus going to your next destination.

2. Travel Wallet

 

A travel wallet is essential for keeping all your important documents safe.  Tickets, money, driver’s license, travel itinerary or photos of loved ones.  Make sure you have copies of all your other important documents stored elsewhere as well.

3. Essential Clothing

 

Clothes although often fairly light can take up plenty of space.  Remember, you can replace items while you are in other countries.  Below are some ideas; you will have to make your own decisions!  Consider taking the following:

  • Two T-shirts (make sure at least one is cotton or polyester that will remove sweat from the body). These will also dry quickly after washing.  You can include a polo shirt if you wish.
  • One long sleeve shirt. The long sleeves provided added protection against a hot sun, strong winds or biting insects.  The front pocket also comes in handy for storing loose change.
  • One lightweight down or fleece jacket. These can fold up very small thus taking up little space.  You might consider a rain proof jacket as well.  If you will be travelling to a colder destination as part of your travels only  buy those clothing items en-route, never take bulky clothing items with you when you will only need them months down the line.
  • Two pairs of pants. They should be made from quick drying materials and one should be a slightly heavier pair for cooler weather. A word of advice, leave your jeans at home, no matter how difficult it seems!  They will take up too much space and are not comfortable in hotter climates.
  • For the ladies, wrap around skirts are a must, especially in Asia. Pack a thin lace cardigan as well to cover up when entering religious shrines and temples.
  • When it comes to underwear, well that comes down to the personal preference of the traveller. For men three to six pieces should suffice.  Ladies, we will let you decide!  Remember, you can wash them on your travels.  Choose quick drying examples.
  • Pack in swimwear if you will use it, otherwise leave it out.
  • Take at least four to six pairs of socks. Remember to keep them clean to avoid any fungal problems.   Again, get socks that will dry quickly.
  • When packing your clothing, try rolling it up to save space.

4. Shoes

 

Shoes can make or break your trip.  Unless you are planning on hiking in a mountainous terrain do not pack hiking boots!  The only shoes you should need are a pair of sandals/vented shoes and a pair of trainers.  You might consider buying a pair of flip-flops in one of the countries you travel to if you need them.

5. Medical Kit

Make your own medical kit and fill it with the following:

  • Sunscreen
  • Lip salve
  • Flu tablets containing a decongestant
  • Throat lozenges
  • Plasters and bandages
  • Antihistamines
  • Anti-septic cream
  • Diarrhoea tablets
  • Hand rub (alcohol based)
  • Cream for insect bites
  • Painkillers
  • Anti-fungal cream

Remember you will be able to replenish your kit on your travels.

6. Washing/Body Grooming Kit

Make your own washing kit and fill it with the following:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo
  • Razor
  • Soap
  • Sanitary pads
  • Nail clipper and tweezers

You will need to wash your clothes while travelling, but purchase washing powder in the countries you visit.

7. Electronic Items

Electronic items are essential for your trip, from recording your adventure to helping you through a boring train journey.

Some things you could consider are:

  • MP3 music player
  • Camera
  • Video recorder
  • Laptop
  • Tablet
  • Kindle book reader
  • Mobile phone

You can’t take them all with you and remember to get comprehensive insurance on these items as thieves often target them.   A solution however comes in the form of a smart phone that can cover most of the duties performed by the above devices.  It can also be used as a GPS, currency converter and a calculator and will usually be kept on you at all times, making it a safer option.

8. Miscellaneous Items

The following items will be very useful to have on your travels.

  • Quick drying towel
  • Umbrella
  • Water bottles or camel back
  • Sarong (it has multiple uses ladies)
  • Travel knife, fork, spoon and bowl
  • Sleeping sack (takes up much less space than a sleeping bag)
  • Hat

Ultimately you will have to decide what you need to take with and what you need to leave behind!  Remember, the smaller you can pack the easier your travels!

Travel Essentials for a Cold Climate

Travelling to a cold climate will require a fair bit of extra planning on your part.  Taking too much clothes can lead to space issues as well as baggage weight problems which can incur extra costs.

Start by researching what kind of weather you will encounter at your destination.  This can be done by investing a little bit of time online.  Also look through your itinerary and see what kinds of activities you have planned.  Select your wardrobe accordingly.  Having said that, always have one set of clothing which covers the worst case scenario!

Remember, you can reuse and recycle clothing in winter by wearing an item twice before cleaning it.  Always pack well before you leave, this will help you to decide which items are absolutely necessary and which are not!  If you have too many bulky items, bring some of them as carry-on luggage.

Here are a few travel essentials and tips to take into consideration while packing for a cold climate destination.

1. Layering

 

Layering in three distinct layers is one of the secrets to cold weather clothing.  The three layers you need are:

  • Absorption layer. This is usually light polyester, merino wool or silk.  This layer helps to absorb sweat and make it evaporate thus keeping you dry.
  • Insulation layer. This is a thicker layer such as a fleece, turtleneck or some other synthetic clothing item.   This keeps your body heat trapped in and provides a protective barrier to keep cold air out.  Never use cotton, it absorbs cold and does not repel it.
  • Protection layer. This provides a protective outer shell for your body.  Try to pick lightweight fibres that are wind and waterproof.  Make sure these items have panel sections that can be opened if you get too warm.

2. Convertible and Multiple Use Clothing

 

Pack clothing that can perform a multitude of tasks for example, a warm jacket with removable sleeves that can act as a sleeveless jacket. Also pack clothing that can be used in a number of situations.   This will reduce the space needed in your luggage.

3. Sunglasses

Take along a fashionable pair of sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection.  Remember glare off snow can damage your eyes.

4. Beanie/Head Scarf

 

Most of your body heat actually escapes through your head.  Not only is a beanie or head scarf fashionable but they will help keep you insulated.  In extreme cold conditions remember to wear face protection as well.

5. Gloves

 

Gloves are extremely important in cold weather.  If you are in an area of extreme cold, use glove liners for an extra layer of protection.

6. Socks/Shoes

 

It is very important to keep your feet warm in cold conditions.  Sock liners will provide an extra layer of protection in extreme cold.

Your shoes will need to be waterproof and practical.  That doesn’t mean you cannot make a fashion statement with them! There are lots of brands available that are both practical and look great.

7. Turtleneck

 

A turtleneck can double as a warm undergarment and can keep your neck warm.  It is perfect to use as insulation in your layering of clothes.  This is a perfect example of clothing with multiple uses.

8. Leggings

 

Leggings can also have multiple uses, for example, as long underwear or in conjunction with a skirt to form a great outfit when it gets slightly warmer.

9. Don’t Double Up!

 

Never pack more than one pair of the same or similar items of clothing.   This just takes up unnecessary space.

10. Vacuum Bags

 

 

Vacuum backs can save a lot of space!  Make sure you use one for your sweaters, one for your pants and one for miscellaneous clothing items.

Top 10 Travel Accessories

We all love to travel!  Exploring new destinations, meeting new people, discovering new cultures and eating fantastic new cuisine!  There really isn’t anything better!

Holidays are fun, but they require pre-planning, not only in researching where you will travel and your activities while you are there, but also what you will need to take with on your trip.

Let’s look at the Top 10 travel accessories you should be taking with you on your holiday.

1. Luggage

 

Your luggage will make or break your trip.  Having to cart around a massive suitcase everywhere you go will only seem fun for the first five minutes after you have left your house.  Try to pack all your items in a compact suitcase that offers protection, polycarbonate luggage is perfect for this.  Of course, wheels are important; you will be pulling or pushing it a fair way on your travels.  Remember, two wheeled suitcases can only be pulled which can get tiring after a while.  Four wheeled suitcases can be pushed, but this is difficult to do in an area with a bumpy surface (cobblestones for instance).   Also remember combination locks to protect your precious cargo.

2. Travel Wallets

 

A travel wallet is essential to keep all your passports, tickets, money, travellers’ cheques and all other important documentation organised and in one location.  Never used a travel wallet before?  Try one, you will never be without one on your travels every again.

3. Comfortable Walking Shoes

 

No doubt there will be much walking as well as standing during your holiday.  You definitely want shoes that are comfortable, durable and that you can walk in for hours at a time. Tired, sore feet are a traveller’s worst enemy.

4. Hat

 

Never leave home without one!  A hat is perfect to keep the sun off your face and the rain from running down your neck!  You are looking for something practical not necessarily fashionable, so choose something with a wide brim and that can be folded up easily when packed away.

5. Multi-tool

 

These are perfect to tackle any kind of situation where you might require some form of a tool.  Most multi-tools feature a knife, mini saw, pliers, scissors, screwdriver, bottle opener, nail file and many other accessories.  Remember not to pack it into your carry-on luggage if you are travelling by air as it will be confiscated at the security counter.

6. Universal Plug Adaptor

 

Pack one of these to ensure your electrical appliances will work in the country that you visit.  Some adaptors come with a USB connection as well, useful for charging mobile phones.

7. First Aid Kit



A first aid kit is a must, either buy one or pack one yourself.  It should include bandages, plasters, anti-septic cream, Ibuprofen tablets, Antihistamine tablets and insect repellent.

8. Camera

 

Never leave home without one!  A “point and click” digital camera is perfect to record all those important memories from your trip.  Make sure you take enough memory cards to store all the photos you will take.

9. Waterproof Clothing

 

Weather is unpredictable so having some form of waterproof clothing in your luggage is important.  Look for lightweight examples and try to pack a jacket and pants if space allows.

10. Zip-lock bags

 

These are perfect for separating wet items of clothing from dry ones as well as dirty clothes from clean ones.  Pack a variety of sizes, you will find all kinds of uses for them.

These are a just a few of the items that should be in your luggage the next time you travel!  Bon voyage!