Kathy Chin Leong is an award-winning travel writer who has endured freezing temperatures near the Arctic as well as the scorching sands of Fiji.
On her travels, she has suffered mosquito bites lasting for weeks, sunburns that have seared off the top layer of her skin, stinging bladder infections, and cruise ship diarrhea, to name a few.
She shares twelve practical tips on how to keep skin and body healthy after learning the hard way.
1. Drink water, like ALL the time. I know that you are sick of hearing this, that you are not 10 years old, and that I am not your mommy.
Why am I lecturing you? First off, dehydration causes weird headaches, and you will wonder why you are feeling dizzy and cranky. Second, your pee will turn bright yellow as an indicator, and the next thing you know, you have a urine infection. Eww! That burning sensation is NOT, I repeat, NOT fun.
Therefore, guzzle more H2o than usual. The heaters in airplanes and hotel rooms suck the moisture out of your body like a vacuum cleaner gone amuck.
Always keep fresh bottle with you, and ask if it is safe to drink the tap water every place you trod. Do your homework! Buy bottled water in legit stores, too. I have been told some tricksters will sell local water and slap a fake label on the bottle. Be wary.
2. Moisturize, especially at night.
Take advantage of that hotel lotion to slather your bod and cheeks. Ask housekeeping for boatloads of those infinitesimal bottles without abandon. Bring lip balm to rub on both lips and cuticles. That stuff really works! Traveling a lot does age you as you find yourself running on different time zones and on different schedules while eating exotic foods.
3. Bring healthy snacks, organic teas, and powdered drinks your tummy is familiar with rather than chancing it in the wild.
Nuts and dried fruit are good energizers, but do not over consume. On the airplane, your pocketbook will not have to get gouged when you whip out your favorite teabag and ask for hot water. I like to bring water enhancers to flavor my bottles when plain water gets boring.
4. If you have allergies, make sure to inquire about the ingredients in foods before consuming.
If going to a foreign country, have an index card written out in that language so wait staff will understand your condition. You always bring your meds and over-the-counter meds with you, right? If prone to illness, ask your doctor for an antibiotic prior to your departure. Believe me, having your stuff on hand is better than wasting half a day looking for a pharmacy. And that foreign pharmacy’s products may or may not work on you!
5. Sunscreen yourself several times daily especially in tropical and sunbelt regions such as Hawaii or the Caribbean.
Use SPF 30 or higher. I learned this on the beaches of Fiji when I forgot my precious tube of SPF, and I thought I was invincible since I never get sunburned in California. Oh, the folly of that thinking! Lying on my bed to recover from a toasted back for the next three days did not make for a romantic honeymoon. Oh the pain I could have saved myself if I were not so proud.
6. Protect your scalp and your eyes with a hat and sunglasses.
In Fiji, the sun is so bright tourists feel their pupils are being tasered if they fail to wear protection. Also , skin cancer is a reality, and you must do all you can to guard against it. I try to keep brimmed hats and sunglasses on travel packing list every time I hit the road.
7. Track your weight. Succumb to the evil machine – the bathroom scale.
You can weigh yourself before you depart and determine to maintain that weight or tell yourself you will not go over a certain poundage. Only you can be the judge of how you manage your food intake. Hey, I am not the Diet Police, but note that most hotels have a gym, and you can find a scale somewhere.
8. Maintain a food diary.
Apps such as Lose It! will enable you to record your calories, foods, exercise regimen, and weight if you desire. Buffets are deadly, I know. Choose wisely, Young Grasshopper!
9. Integrate movement as much as possible.
On active vacations where you hike and ski, but do not overdo the eating and drinking just because you think you earned it. When you embark on an inactive vacation, force yourself to walk faster, or incorporate exercises in the privacy of your hotel room. The free Move app offers exercise routines to get that blood flowing.
10. Nourish and cleanse your face and skin by maintaining your schedule.
Bring samples of the face products you use at home to keep your skin fresh and pristine. Do not cut your skin routine short on the road.
11. Sleep well.
Get quality sleep so you are not prone to illness. Once I stayed up in my cabin until 2 a.m. on a cruise ship, and I got so worn out I got a fever and chills the next day. It ruined my only sightseeing day in Italy.
12. Destress and relax! Determine that nothing will destroy your good mood.
Your mental state has much to do with your health and quality of life. When you are anxious, angry, worried, or fearful, your body will tebel. Want fewer wrinkles? Smile more! So what if that waiter in Monaco was a jerk? Prepare yourself mentally with a positive state of mind and refuse to let mishaps or rude waiters upset you. Get over it, forgive quickly, and move on. Life and vacations are way too short to hold a grudge!
Kathy Chin Leong is an award-winning travel journalist who has trekked the world. As founder of www.bayareafamilytravel.com, she is passionate about helping people step out of their comfort zones and challenge themselves to try new things and visit new places. Her work can be found in National Geographic Books, Sunset Magazine, and many others.