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4 ways to stay healthy while living abroad


Sickness can reign its head at the most unfortunate of occasions – like at Christmas, on your wedding day or during your adventures on the other side of the world.

Although living abroad is fantastic in so many ways, it ain’t without its drawbacks. Getting lost, getting ripped off and getting food poisoning all spring to mind.

Even catching a cold can be a lot more annoying away than at home, simply because you don’t have the facilities around you that you’re used to. You may be living in a really hot country, for instance, where hot water bottles and Lemsip aren’t readily available. Or translation issues might get in the way of you getting the help you need. And anyway, who wants to get sick abroad, when they’re meant to be having fun?

Not me, I can tell you. Because getting sick abroad can often lead to a deeper sickness – homesickness – which we’d all like to avoid, right? That’s why I’ve come up with some nifty tips for staying healthy while living abroad.

1. Arrive healthy

airport arrivals travellers

The number one way of getting sick when you travel is to be run down before hitting the runway. Trust me on this one – I’ve been on trips when I was tired and stressed out from all the farewell occasions before I left, only to arrive at my destination with the makings of a cold…which would turn into a flu or full-on chest infection days later.

You need to take care of yourself before you fly.

Of course, there’ll be friends you need to say goodbye to and final drinks to be had – not to mention all the things you’ll need to buy and packing to do – but make sure you don’t burn yourself out. Try and have everything ready to go at least a day or two before you’re due to leave. Spend your last couple of days eating the right foods, not drinking too much alcohol, and getting plenty of sleep.

That way when it comes to departure day, you’ll be well rested, with your defences ready against any nasty bacteria lurking around on the plane. And don’t forget to take whatever measures you can while on the flight itself to ensure you’re in optimal health when you land.

2. Eat properly

Another big factor in sickness while abroad is a poor diet. Now, I’d never ask you to miss out on the joy of street food by any means – but try to eat proper meals around the same time every day.

vegetables veggies healthy food

When we skip breakfast or lunch and resort to grazing on small snacks instead, we become susceptible to infection. This might be easier said than done, especially if you’re moving around a lot, but try to get into some kind of a routine if you can.

Also, choose the healthy option if there’s one available – so skip that bag of fried stuff on the train journey and opt for fruit instead! Take advantage of the fresh produce available in whatever country you’re in and try making a healthy juice every morning. Embrace the local cuisine – which is probably much cheaper than at home – and eat hearty, healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Basically, feed your body well, keep it strong and the healthiness will follow.

3. Exercise regularly

Our bodies are composed of fat, water, bones and muscles. These muscles weaken if we don’t use them regularly and our internal organs often pay the price. By exercising regularly, we’re fine-tuning our bodies, allowing them to strengthen both outside and in and warding off sickness much more effectively.
yoga exercise fitness

Just like eating, it’s good to have some kind of a routine when it comes to exercise. And if you’re living abroad, it’s a great way to meet fellow expats, too!

Join a gym, sign up to a running club, take a regular class like yoga or pilates – whatever you choose, do something that’ll start your day in a positive, energetic way. You’ll start seeing the benefits in no time.

4. Sleep soundly

happy sleepingSleep deprivation is one of the biggest causes of sickness to both our physical and mental states. That’s what all the experts say, anyway. It can lead to chronic fatigue and depression as well as a host of more visible repercussions.

Think about it. When your body doesn’t get enough rest, it stops working properly. Its ability to fight off infection basically flies out the window. And because of those few sleepless nights you’ve had because of being jet-lagged, or moving around, or worrying about your new job, you’ll find yourself sick while living abroad.

My advice? Get some sleep. Even if your routine is different to home; you eat later, rise earlier, don’t have a bedtime routine, whatever. Just remember to make time for a good night’s sleep. You’ll feel a helluva lot better come morning.

Hopefully these four tips will help you to stay healthier and happier in your life abroad…and you can continue making people jealous back home!

Sarah Cummings writes for


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