On my last day in Honduras I had a mini baleada. I had a mini version, with only refried beans and a bit of cheese; just enough to say I actually tasted the traditional food of the country, the one everyone asked me every day If I had already tried. Apparently you can’t leave Honduras without having one.
Not trying baleadas at the beginning of the trip was a conscious choice, and the reason is what led me into writing this post in the first place (well, actually a friend gave me the idea). With more than 35 countries already scratched out my bucket list (and some visited a couple of times already), I can say I have some travel experience. Working remotely and being an Olympic aspiring fencing athlete for 13 years now contributes a lot to the nomad lifestyle, and after literally at least 1.000 hours on airplanes (and honestly probably more) traveling becomes your routine. That is actually an important realization to come to because if you don’t, it may backfire on you later.
We all know travelling is exciting. It’s all new! New people, new culture, new places, new food, new habits and so on. We want to make the most of it, we want to try everything as much as we can, we want to visit every corner, and we definitely don’t want to go back home feeling like we could have enjoyed more or that opportunities were missed. That’s why people rarely diet or exercise while travelling. It’s when even the introverts throw themselves into parties in the middle of the week and work with hangovers the next day. And if you hesitate before trying or doing something you wouldn’t normally, there’s always the tempting excuse being repeated by all of your friends and by the voices inside your head: ‘But you’re travelling!’ After all, when will you be back? When will you try baleadas again?
Trust me; you will be back if you want to. I’m less than 30 and have already visited Russia four times, and please consider that I’m from Brazil. We don’t even have direct flights to Russia. And no, I’m not even close to being a millionaire. But even if you won’t travel to Papua New Guinea twice in your life, you will travel more. So, there comes a point when you have to take care of yourself while away, because traveling becomes your routine and you’ll have to make sure that the constant moving doesn’t keep you away from a healthy lifestyle. It’s wonderful when traveling is becomes more of a rule than of an exception, but it also means that you won’t get to try every different food, you need to keep up with your fitness routine, you won’t buy souvenirs for every aunt you have, you won’t see everything because you will need to rest, and you certainly won’t be able to party every day.
Probably not all of your local friends will get it, so you should expect some peer pressure for going out more, drinking more and spending more money. This happens because people are more used to the idea of travelling for tourism. And of course, if you only get to travel abroad once every two years or even less, it’s a whole different story. There’s more time to burn, it’s more of a unique event and there’s probably even budget for unnecessary expenses. That’s not the remote lifestyle though. We travel a lot but we usually travel on a tight budget, so we have to be smart about it.
However, it doesn’t mean that you won’t fully enjoy the experience. You have to balance your commitments the same way you would in a normal routine. With a social life and indulgences once in a while, you can do this while travelling too. If you love desserts, for example, just choose the one you’re more curious about and treat yourself with no regrets. But sometimes the typical local food isn’t unhealthy and is something you can totally include in your diet, and that’s when some basic nutrition knowledge comes in hand. In regards to alcohol almost every country has a typical drink, so you might want to try it. This part really depends on your tolerance and on how well you perform having ingested alcohol the day before. Personally, I avoid drinking alcohol if I have a task that requires energy and focus the next day.
About the tourism itself, keep in mind that you can’t even know all of the landmarks in your own country. Think of cost benefit. In some of your travels you will be able to choose a more expensive package for a special adventure, but in others you will have to enjoy local and affordable experiences. Most countries a have day during the week of free entrance at a museum or at least a cheap ticket. And honestly, one of the best ways to feel a city is to walk around the streets without a specific destination. You might find out places you weren’t expecting at all! Plus, walking keeps you in movement and this is something you should do as often as you can in your travels (if the place is safe, of course).
That leads us to a very important topic (especially for those who travel because of sports), which is fitness routine. You won’t always find a gym and odds are that you won’t be able to do what you usually do to as an exercise in your country of origin. My rule is to go for a daily 20 minute run and 10 minutes of bodyweight exercises. It’s a routine I can do everywhere, doesn’t drain my energy and doesn’t require a lot of time.
Last but not least, shopping budget. Very few of us have a museum at home to store all of the cool souvenirs we find on the way. Actually, very few of us even have spare space in our luggage to carry a lot of extra items, and the more you travel the more you understand the concept of light packing. It’s tempting to “overbuy”. For me, one of the best places to visit in a foreign country is the supermarket. I absolutely love spending time observing all of the unique products I find and I often find myself feeling the urge to buy local products to store at my home later. My advice is don’t buy more than you’re going to use during the trip and if something happens to be that special than you can have an extra few for the go. It’s the same with all other stores, only buy what you need, just like you would normally do.
I believe all of those tips are helpful to keep us fit, healthy, energized and with enough cash for the next adventure. It is all about balance and knowing that even though you can’t have it all, you can still have a wonderful time anywhere and precious memories (hopefully most of them inside your head and not on your smartphone).