Sitting on the return flight home from our second trip to Bali, with my 12 year old “Why me?” Flu ridden son sitting next to my “thank goodness I got over it quickly but just had to share” 8 year old daughter, and listening to the chorus of coughing & nose blowing singing out from the “back of the bus” travelers sitting around us, while my “must be coming down with something” husband sits across the aisle, I am pondering if it really is possible to holiday in good health…?
Don’t get me wrong, we have had an incredible trip! The beautiful warm weather was a welcomed break from the cold of our Aussie winter, the sunsets spent with friends and Bintang on a bean bag were amazing, the adventures to temples, experiencing ceremonies, cruising the sea’s on a one day island escape, incredible local food, the infinity pools and cocktails, the friendly banter and bartering on the streets looking for bargains, and the return to surfing after at least 4 years out of the water after my back surgery will make up some incredible memories that we will all never forget. Quite different to my first experience over 9 years ago where I was 7 weeks pregnant, morning sick as all hell and heavily influenced by the vast array of Balinese aromas that I was not all prepared for, sharing an amazing villa with my husband’s family who I had not really spent a lot of time with and getting to know how our dynamics might work together in a foreign country where my “not so well travelled” husband struggled with the culture shock and at the time thought that surfing was the only point in having a holiday and so it was his only real motivation to venture out once he had overcome his uncertainty about getting around. This left me with our just 3 year old incredibly blonde and active boy who drew attention from the locals at every turn that he really did not like which led to a lot more down time in the Villa, Oh and not to forget a dose of Bali belly for us all. I can definitely say I have a much better appreciation for Bali and its people this time around and I absolutely am glad that went back, and will most likely do it again.
I also remember my very first trip overseas was when I was 16 on an international athletic tour, participating with approximately 50 young Aussies in various athletic tournaments in Canada and the west coast USA. I cannot tell you if it was travel sickness or a stomach bug of sorts but I spent the majority of that flight in the lavatory (not one if my finer moments) and the nausea continued for at least 3 days into the trip leaving me dehydrated and undernourished. I thankfully overcame the illness and had an amazing time and participated well earning PB’s, medals and great friendships along the way. I have since returned to the USA anther 3 times for ski holidays and conferences and apart from self-induced illness (what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas …. hehehe) I have been able to travel with good health in groups.
But this brings me back to the original question, can you really holiday in good health? In most cases yes, of course you can! So long as you are prepared! Prepared to experience all that there is to experience as life on holidays or not, goes on. Illness like the flu are unfortunately part of life, stomach upsets and gastro bugs are as common as the cold in our home country, and it is no different when you travel. So my strategy is always to try to give myself and my family the best chance of a healthy holiday is to live that way all the time. Having the right tools in your belt can really help your normal life be just as happy and healthy as your holiday life. So what tools am I talking about? Detox, Destress and Balance
Australians work harder and take less holidays than many other nations (although being in Bali I could have sworn we were in another state of Australia- a bit like traveling in New Zealand last year too actually!) and so our emphasis becomes living to work, not working to live. There must be down time in our lives and by that I don’t mean feet up watching binging on Netflix, I mean finding an opportunity for our body to relieve the built up stress in our lives through mindful movement. Rhythmical movement with the purpose of relaxing. This can be in the form of running, walking swimming, surfing, dancing, Yoga, Pilates, riding or anything that gets your heart rate and breathing rate above the norm and keeps a pattern for a period of time (20- 30 minutes or more is recommended and this can happen at various intervals throughout the day, or all at once). The proven impact of this on our stress levels and immunity is significant and is well worth pursuing even while on holidays. These holidays I have walked, surfed, participated in Yoga, and I brought along my resistance bands (which are super light-weight and low space for traveling – no gym required!) so I could stretch, strengthen, and reset posture and core in our room as traveling can really work your body over in the wrong way if you let it. (I have developed a variety of short routines that work and that are available – click here if you are interested)
Our lives are becoming more toxic every day. Travelling to countries like Indonesia we are aware of the toxins in the water so we avoid it by drinking bottled water, then we switch to sipping cocktails through plastic straws… but there is the thing, we are just contributing back to the pollution cycle… apart from the lack of fresh water in these countries, worldwide the plastics, bacteria and heavy metals are an issue in many water sources including in our own country as has been reported recently. But we can keep ourselves well and help solve the problem if we choose to use our own solutions. Our family uses daily and travels with a portable water filter bottle for each of us. It uses a coconut fiber triple filter that removes virtually all toxins and allows us to avoid the single use water bottles and refill anywhere, and none of us experienced Bali belly which is amazing!
I also believe that our nutritional and immune support is vital to reducing the impact of stress, at home and abroad. Let’s face it, life is busy and when we plan an overseas holiday there’s a lot more to it than we think. Planning, packing, parking, pet-sitting, passports etc… add to the list of things we must manage on top of our work, family, finances and so on. I used to think if I can just ward off this sickness and we can make to our holiday in good health we have done alright, and inevitably, the holiday would roll around and the illness would win over. I have been on many holidays where either myself or a family member has spent it unwell. Travel itself has inherent risks of exposure to illness. Many people all doing just as we have, pushing through results in us packing our stress with us and hoping the sickness will stay away, and in confined in air conditioned spaces this turns into a cocktail we don’t want to sip on! So these days I work on consistently building my families immunity using good quality balanced nutrition and effective nutritional supplementation, immune boosting practices such as regular physical activity in our natural environments, planned down-time for rest and recovery, mindful movement to help reduce the impact of built up stress and tension which in the bigger picture of our health and wellbeing has been genuinely successful with our house hold having less illness overall, and less down time as a result of illness. How can I measure this? I have not had a sick day for my own illness in over 12 months! And, my children’s report card tells me thy have less time off school this year than in previous years.
So, as I ponder, I believe you can holiday in good health in the same way we can live in good health. Finding a better balance in life is the way to finding good health and bringing consistent practices on holidays with you will always benefit the factors that contribute to overall health – mindset, emotions, relationships, physical efficacy, and our environment. Working through stress only increases the risk of lowered immunity and the likelihood of your body using the restricted down time you give it to then give your free time away to illness, while using positive practices to reduce and manage stress over time will allow your holiday to be just that, a holiday. It doesn’t mean that you will scoot through life unhindered by cold or flu, but it will help you recover faster and enjoy more of your life on holidays and while we work towards the next one. So, when is your next holiday and how do you plan to live life in good health?