Healthy Travel Tips from an older single Mum
So Mum ‘Where do you want to go for your 53rd birthday, and what do you want to do” asks my 9-year-old son?
To some of you, this may be a normal ‘birthday’ question, but for us, it usually means a change of country or a “bucket list” item.
You see, we have been traveling the world. In fact, we are now in our 40th country and our 3rd year of continuous travel.
My son was born on St. Patrick’s Day, so his last birthday he chose Ireland – naturally.
I chose an Island off Bocas del Torro in Panama for my 51st Birthday, where we enjoyed paddle boats and kayaking as part of the day, and a long beach-walk on the white sand collecting shells – it was just gorgeous.
And then it was The Bahamas for my 52nd Birthday.
So now I am turning 53 years old in January. Where will life lead us to, and what activities will we be involved in?
It is not so much a question of where I want to go, or what I want to do, but how I feel. And right now I do not feel my age, and I really don’t think I look my age – well some of you might say I need my eyes checked !!!
So what contributes to a youthful and great life when you travel?
My answer would be to eat, drink, be merry and be healthy.
In order to eat well, we mainly eat vegetarian.
And I now like to cook. Now those who knew me in Australia knew I hated to cook as it took too much of my precious little time I had spare. But after all the restaurant meals, and the lack of fruit and vegetables, a home cooked meal for us is the greatest.
So we try to rent apartments, cabins, and homes with a kitchen as our first choice.
Some Guest Houses and Apartments also give us the ability to cook, and to meet others at the same time.
We buy our own fresh foods.
I make my own muesli.
We try to shop at local markets.
We carry a cool bag so I can keep the food fresh.
When we can, we try to do this as a partnership, and Explorason will chop the mushrooms, or cheese etc.
We also housesit. This often includes tending to the owners garden or allotment. We then get to pick fresh organic produce from their garden.
In France there was a copious amount of lettuce, so lettuce soup was made, and it was lovely. In Fiji, we had fresh pineapples from the plants in our backyard, bananas from our tree, and passionfruit from the vine. In Tuscany, I had vegetables and wonderful herbs. These I tried to take with us. I’ve also learned to dry papaya seeds and use them instead of peppercorns. Great for anti-cancer qualities, and fresh papaya on my muesli in the morning straight from the garden is glorious.
Another great part of eating fresh and sourcing our own produce would be that it caters to our budget.
We try to live off $60 a day – all up. In Europe with owning a car this is not possible but is around $90 a day, but when we housesit, this brings it right down in cost. In Fiji, we lived for an average of $15 a day.
We still eat out, but we try to order food that is good for us when we can, and we keep a check on a balanced diet.
Of course, we love a treat, and Explorason loves chocolate, so as long as it is in moderation, this is the key for me.
Water – We always carry water. Usually, we use our own metal water bottles and have a wetsuit type fabric cover that goes over our shoulder.
We also have an immense / boiler, so we can boil our own drinking water, so in countries where the water might not be of health standards, we boil our own at night, and then pour it into metal drinking flasks to cool overnight. This means we are safe, and we save money.
Juice – We love fresh juices, and in 3rd world countries these are usually available at a very good price and are a great cleanser. We make sure we ask for no ice if it is a region where water might be unclean.
Milk – Explorason loves his milk. It is a great source of calcium and we seem to go through about 1 liter a day. Where possible we buy from the supermarket, but sadly it is often long life, as this is most readily available in all countries. Fresh milk is hard to find.
Alcohol – I also like a glass of wine, and I do try to drink red when I can, but I keep my drinking under check.
If it possible I buy my own as it is less expensive than ordering out.
I find this relaxes me, and I enjoy it.
For me being merry, means being happy. And usually, that means FUN.
So how do we have fun? Often it is jokes, or being silly. Forgetting how old’ I am meant to act’, and engaging with my son.
I try to remember to laugh. Yes, sometimes we need to remember to smile, let go and have some fun. Be spontaneous. Be a little crazy. No-one knows me, so I can be free to be me. This is a really important part of my journey.
AND NOW FOR THE HEALTHY SIDE OF LIFE ……
LOVE AND CARE FOR YOUR BODY
So how do I take care of myself?
Vitamins – I am not the world’s best person at taking vitamins. I find they make me want to go to the bathroom often, and this is not a great thing to endure when I am on a bus or traveling. But I do try sometimes to take them. I take no other medication unless I have a headache or become ill and require a prescription.
Smoking – I do NOT smoke cigarettes or pot or any substance. Neither do we frequent places filled with smokers.
Skin – I try to take care of my skin – In Fiji, we did a mud pool that left my skin smooth and soft for days. I also use Skincerity – a great product I was sent to try in Ireland and love it.
Feet and hands – How about a foot or hand massage – with fish!
You can read about my fun time having this unique experience in Greece here.
Body Massage – I love a good massage and this is a great way to relax as well.
A relaxing massage on the beach is the perfect place for me to relax and let go of any stress.
In Morocco, I had a massage with Moroccan Argan Oil.
It is great for your hair and skin, and I had a great massage in Marrakech with the most talented of ladies, who worked her skill deep into my shoulder muscles, and gently over my scalp.
Hair – I use some great Jamaican products called Groganics I found in Ireland – yes a strange mix, but it is a terrific growth stimulant. I found I lost a lot of hair with stress before I left Australia, and also again with extreme temperature change when we arrived in Ireland, so I am pleased with using this peppermint oil based scalp treatment
Sleep – It is really important to sleep enough, and to sleep well.
Beds – With all the changes in beds this is tricky.
A good mattress and pillow are important for a good night sleep.
Time – And a minimum of eight hours for me and ten for Explorason, though I find he is OK sleeping in the car if we are driving if he needs to catch up. As a driver, I can’t! However getting a set routine of a time to go to bed can be tricky. Especially as a room usually is all in one and so if he goes to bed I must too. The answer for us is that I wake early and he continues to sleep.
I love it when we get a place that has soft white linen, and a fluffy quilt!
Light and Dark – Make it dark – I close the curtains and have the room dark. My son likes to sleep with a light on, so we have found a little battery operated candle that can give the room a dim light.
Ventilation – It is important to also make sure the ventilation is good, but not too hot or cold or allowing insects in.
I check the heating/cooling is safe and the right temperature.
Noise – Peace, and quiet is important – We try to choose a back room away from the road or any loud activity. Just in case, carry ear plugs. Roosters, meowing cats, noisy birds, and barking dogs can ruin your sleep too.
PESTS – No insects – no bed bugs, mosquitoes, flies, bats, mice, spiders, ants, scorpions, or other nasties vital for a good night sleep. Sadly we have encountered all of these and more, so we make sure we have a good repellent with us, and also a mosquito candle. If there is a Citronella plant we pick the leaves and burn them, or dry them too. We do room checks before we enter any room to make sure it has no nasty surprises. (Surprisingly the bedbugs were in a 4-star hotel opposite Disneyland!)
Get some Sun – sun makes me feel good, and a little sun is proven to be good for you too. Please have a read here. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/17/stephanie-seneff-on-sulfur.aspx
Now, this was an important factor in choosing now as a time to travel.
When we decided to go on this journey together I made a conscious decision it was because I wanted to ‘do’ things with him. I wanted to be physically able to participate.
I was petrified of horse-riding when we started, but now we have risen horses that many times, that fear is completely dispelled. I am pleased with myself I conquered that one.
So as we travel the world this comes in many forms.
I will give the safest sports a go. We stayed in Hawaii and the family took us paddle-boarding.
We stayed a few in a gorgeous town called Bonito in Brazil. Here we swam with the giant goldfish and tubed the river rapids.
Part of our hotel deal at an oasis in the middle of the desert was a daily rowboat on the mirky green muddy waters. Not bad for a $25 a night hotel.
Whether it is a water park, swimming, tubing, rowing, parasailing, canoeing, water skiing or any other such sports we both do this together and have fun.
It is an important thing for my son not to feel ‘alone’, so I try to go on as many times as I can with him.
We decided to leave all our worries behind and fly through the air. My son called me “SuperMum” this day, as we hung in the silence above the crystal aquamarine waters of Fiji.
A unique boat ride to see the beaches around Buzios Brazil was with a waterside boat. It was raining and freezing cold, but I was determined to ‘give it a go’. Turns out the sea water was warmer than the air.
So now comes the fitness part.
I might not be the fittest person in the world, but I am determined to give it a try.
Camel riding through the Zagora and Sahara Deserts to some of you may not be a sport, but you will feel a few aches and pains as a result, and Explorason wanted to race his camel – however, he wasn’t allowed, so he got off and ran through the sand dunes.
We have tried snow skiing, tobogganing, hiking, sand-boarding, horse-riding, donkey-riding, ox-riding, camel riding, motorbike-riding bike riding and tandem cycling, bowling, go-karting, golf and mini golf, and a myriad of other sports. If it looks safe, fun and affordable, we will give it a try.
I want to have this time together. So even if it means climbing up trees, I will attempt it, as long as there are good safety measures in place.
I also don’t want my son to do things alone as he has no siblings, so we both have an active and healthy approach to our lifestyle.
For me, I find probably the most exercise we do on a regular basis is walking.
Walking through Machu Picchu with a bit of a climb, there is always walking – every day. But I want to stay young, and I want to enjoy this life together. So I choose a healthy life.
We walked over the Salt Flats of Bolivia and had a great time playing too.
We have even walked through caiman in the wetlands of Brazil. Look below and there were hundreds of them. Fortunately, they are pretty lazy and don’t attack unless provoked.
And being Exploramum and Explorason we love to explore. We have also explored the Amazon Jungle of Ecuador and trekked through mud up to my thighs, and then a canoe in a lake watching the manatee. Explorason swam with the pink dolphin there too, and fished and caught a Piranha. None of the other men caught any, so he was really thrilled.
And to explore we need to be get up and go. We do a combination of tours, treks, expeditions, cruises, and we also plan our own travel too – all on a tiny budget.
To me, this is probably the biggest way we stay fit and healthy.
So, as my 53rd birthday looms ahead of me, I have to say I feel pretty good for my age.
For any of you who are contemplating traveling with your child/ren and are concerned as to how you will have the stamina – know you will.
You will if you want to.
And for me, it is the best time of my life.
I spend each wonderful day exploring this magnificent world, and that is incredible. And I have a great time with my son too.
It is the most wonderful healthy, happy, and fulfilling life.
And every day is a blessing.
As we enjoy the water sports at the beach of Greece, I think of the words of my favorite song by Louie Armstrong, and I hope I can inspire some of you to live life to the full.
“I think to myself what a wonderful world.”
Questions and Comments
- What do you make of my Healthy travel tips article?
- Do you find it enlightening?
- What are some of the tips you think may work out for you?
- Do you have additional tips?
- What do you make of families that travel permanently?
- Do share your comments with us below.