20-hour flights, hopping between time zones, and being thrown into foreign cities is enough to fluster even the most seasoned travelers. While traveling and spending time abroad is an absolutely enriching experience, it can take a toll on your health if you aren’t careful.
My name’s Nick -- I’m an exercise science student at Salisbury University and a 2019 Fall Sydney GE Alumni. Growing up and living with Type 1 Diabetes for a majority of my life has been the driving force that has guided me to my purpose, which I truly believe is helping others optimize their health.
I’ve had the chance to work in personal training, strength & conditioning, physical therapy, chiropractic, diabetes education, movement coaching and nutrition and have found value in all of them. I’ve cultivated a drive to learn, educate and empower other individuals regarding their health -- as becoming so health conscious has changed my own life so much, I love sharing it with others.
Through my experiences in the field and time spent abroad, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of living healthy, especially while traveling. So, I wanted to share with you my 5 tips on how to stay healthy while traveling or interning abroad that hopefully you’ll be able to apply to any of your future travel endeavors!
1. Be mindful of your nutrition, but don’t let it dictate your trip
I’m what some may call obsessive when it comes to my nutrition, carefully calculating in my head the macro/micronutrients in a meal before I choose it from the menu. Many of us aren’t so careful, or let alone know what micronutrients are, and that’s okay!
Do your best to eat healthy while abroad -- eat fresh, local, whole foods, and avoid processed foods as much as possible. Take advantage of the local produce and foods native to the area you travel and try new things. Even if it’s not “healthy,” every once in a while, a calorie-dense, sugary plate of dessert is quite tasty.
Don’t let your strict diet get in the way of experiencing the trip of a lifetime. Find the balance between mostly whole, healthy food and “unhealthy/processed” food in moderation!
2. Take time for yourself
A group travel trip abroad can be an amazing experience. There’s something to be said for exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people who are in the same position as you are. I promise you’ll make some of the greatest friends and build some really powerful connections.
That said, as humans we all need time for ourselves. We all need some time to relax, not be around people, and be alone with our thoughts.
On an adventure like interning abroad, living with amazing people that you have limited time with, you’ll want to be with them 24/7. It can take a toll on your body and mind if you don’t take time to slow down and process all the amazing things that are going on around you.
Try reading a book, writing in a journal, or even just lying back on the beach and relaxing!
3. Make movement a part of your daily routine
As humans, our bodies are meant to move. On a trip abroad, it’s easy to get into the routine of sitting all day at your internship, coming home and lounging around with your friends, going to sleep, waking up and doing it all again.
Incorporating movement into your day will improve your mood, your sleep, give you energy, make you strong and let’s not forget, it keeps you looking trim and healthy! It’s easier than it sounds.
Even if you don’t want to go to the gym while traveling (like most), there are ways to incorporate exercise and have fun. Go on a run during your lunch break, walk to work, go on a hike, swim at the beach, or play a sport you love! Even better, find a buddy to move with you and keep you motivated, bring a friend to yoga class, or go on a bike ride with your roommate!
During my time interning in Sydney, we filled every weekend with amazing coastal hikes, and a lot of games on the beach--everything from volleyball, to Spike ball to hacky sack. Most of us also walked to work every day. Needless to say, we were ALWAYS on the move, and you can be too.
4. Listen to your body
I know a lot of us are young college students with endless energy, and we usually feel pretty invincible. A trip abroad can definitely be full of long nights out, staying up until sunrise, and always being on the go trying to make the most of the limited time we have.
A lifestyle like this can negatively affect your health now and in the future. Never allowing your body to catch up to your fast-paced lifestyle leads to sickness and disease now and when you’re older.
Traveling in itself is a stressor, so give yourself time to adjust. Get enough sleep! You can’t really “catch up on sleep” and I promise the three cups of coffee that are keeping you going the next morning aren’t doing you much good. When you’re tired…sleep! When you’re hungry…eat! When you don’t have the energy to stay up and talk with your buddies…take some time by yourself.
There’s no shame in putting your health first. Remember you can’t have fun on your trip when you’re sick and stuck in bed. Your body talks, so don’t ignore it!
5. Keep in touch with those at home, but don’t rely on them
Traveling nowadays is completely different than it was 20 years ago. We can FaceTime our friends and families, speaking to them face-to-face from the other side of the world. It's pretty amazing.
By all means, use the opportunities we have to stay in touch with those back home, tell them about your adventures and all the great things you’re doing. However, realize that it can also be a bit of a curse, if you become reliant on it. I know a few people who’ve gone abroad, but spent more time chatting with their family at home than their new friends abroad. This only leads to homesickness and can negatively affect your mental health!
Take full advantage of the people around you, meet new friends, and make connections with others. Keep in touch with everyone at home but utilize this time in a new place to make those special, lifelong connections!
Everyone is different, and we all function differently. However, we are all human beings and need certain things to thrive. Follow these healthy travel tips and you can have the trip of a lifetime while being the best human you can be!
Nick’s Exercise Science Internship in Sydney
My internship in Sydney was with the UNSW Lifestyle Clinic, which is an exercise physiology clinic right outside of the city. As an exercise physiologist, I had the chance to work with patients with chronic health conditions and apply different exercise therapies as treatment for them.
Every day, I was able to work one-on-one with up to seven patients, each one with a unique diagnosis and background. This means that their treatment had to be tailored to their specific needs. I helped prescribe a combination of strength training, cardiovascular training, and functional/balance exercises to help provide our patients with the best results.
This internship gave me the chance to work with an amazing team of health professionals, improve my clinical skills, and learn more than I ever thought I would about certain chronic conditions. I even had the chance to work with a 9-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, and through fitness games and exercise therapy, helped him lessen his symptoms, improve his movement and most of all, have fun! It was an unforgettable experience and I am beyond thankful for the opportunity.
I was definitely very busy while abroad. My internship was full-time, and my weekends and other free time was spent exploring and experiencing all that Australia has to offer -- including camping in the Blue Mountains and snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef.
Trying to fit in all that I wanted to do in a limited time was tough, so I had to use these tips to maintain my physical and mental health.
Are you considering interning abroad? Apply now to be on your way!