I don’t know if you’re like me, but I like to be prepared when I go on holiday.
Firstly, I don’t want to spend time having to buy stuff that I forgot to pack. Secondly, I don’t want to become ill due to being unfit, and Thirdly, I want to have enough energy to do EVERYTHING!
We went on the Europe Jewel Tour which took us to 10 countries in 14 days and although I was a bit nervous to begin with, you know … being on a coach with a whole lot of strangers, going at a fast pace around the hot spots of Europe … I needn’t have worried because it was absolutely fantastic.
However, I’m glad I was prepared, because long haul travel tends to send your mind off at a tangent.
Sensible Health and Packing Tips for Long Haul Travel
I didn’t get everything right mind you, and in hindsight I thought I’d write down a few sensible health and packing tips to remind myself next time I go anywhere, and that might help with your preparation if you travel to Europe or on holiday anywhere else for that matter.
Fitness on holiday
Being walking fit was a real bonus. Generally the touristy type of walking in Europe is not hard (unless you want it to be), but you’re likely to be walking up and down steps and doing far more than you do at home – all that sightseeing for instance. If you’re on an overland tour as we were and want to make the most of say just 6 hours in Florence or an afternoon and evening in Vienna, then the more walking you’re prepared to do the more you’ll be able to see.
If you’re not fit you may not want to walk up clock towers for beautiful views or visit high look-out points for awesome photo opportunities – but why waste time sitting down when you can walk all over a city and discover so much?
As you go along always keep a little change in the currency of the country you’re visiting for the toilets – especially in Europe. Service station toilets on the motorways and many public facilities at tourist spots require payment. There’s nothing worse than hopping from one foot to the other and hoping some kind soul will look kindly upon you and give you some change to go pee!
Keep hydrated. I found that it was all too easy to let the days slip by and forget to keep sipping water. Some of our driving days were long and it was easy to have a little sleep on the coach and wake up dehydrated. We drank the tap water everywhere we visited during the Europe Jewel tour and filled our water bottles daily from our hotel bathrooms.
I paid attention to looking after myself during the tour and was careful to eat well and get enough sleep. Your days are likely to be jam-packed full and often long; early starts, some late dinners, often quite a lot of walking, as well as different food to get used to – it can all take its toll on your health and energy.
Some tips for long haul travel and keeping well …
Don’t forget to pack your prescribed medications
Use personal hygiene products that you know suit you.
If food looks or smells suspect then don’t eat it (We sent back Moules Mariniere in Paris because they smelt horrible).
Take a multi-vitamin course before you depart and continue taking a multi-vit during the tour.
At every destination I found delicious food to tempt me away from the straight and narrow routine of the low fat, low carb diet I try to follow, and believe me there’s lots of chance to over-eat all the wrong (but oh so tasty) things!
Tip: I think it’s important to eat regular small healthy meals when you’re travelling to keep your energy levels up. By all means indulge in the local fare and try the traditional dishes and delicacies, but don’t pig out every day on fabulous pastries in place of more healthy energy-giving fruit and eggs or cereals at breakfast, and don’t eat pizza and gelatto all the time in Italy – leave room for some veggies and fruit, won’t you!
The pace of The Europe Jewel tour for example is quite fast – that’s why we were are able to experience and see so much in just 14 days. Although I didn’t find the trip totally exhausting, it was full-on and there wasn’t a lot of time to stand still and contemplate the universe, so to speak.
Tip: I found that it was important to keep up on sleep. Sometimes you’ll be burning the candle at both ends, but getting to bed early after a late night is a good idea. Also pack some earplugs – just in case!
I’m an over packer by nature, putting in lots of ‘just-in-case-items’ especially if I’m travelling by coach or car. But I was quite good on this tour and I found out that it’s really not necessary to pack so much, and the tour was definitely not a fashion show.
I wrote some tips about How to Pack for Europe on the popular style blog: Styling You: How to Pack for a Trip to Europe
I found that non-crease, hard working clothes that could still look reasonably smart after two or three wears worked the best for me.
Tip: You’ll rarely have the time or inclination to wash and really dress up for dinner when you’re travelling. One smart outfit, active wear, and layering are the way to go.
Lugging lots of heavy luggage in and out of hotels, up pavements and up stairs to hotels is not fun so keep your main suitcase under about 18kg.
And make sure you pack comfy walking shoes.
Sometimes we moved quite fast between different countries. One day we had breafast in Czech Republic, lunch in Slovakia and dinner in Budapest. Three different cultures in a day!
I found it was important to get into the groove quickly and let go of everything you think is ‘normal’. So try and be open to everything. You’ll be mixing with people from different nationalities and exploring new places and different cultures. Keep an open mind, be sensitively inquisitive, realise you can’t do and see everything, and retain a sense of humour if things don’t go to plan.
Keep aware. Pic-pockets, thieves and scammers prey on those who are not paying attention. So if you’ve had a night on the town and you’re tired, be even more aware. Don’t change money in places that have not been recommended to you. Keep your valuables with you at all times. Lock your suitcases in hotel rooms. Don’t have the attitude, “It won’t happen to me.” One of our party had a wallet stolen out of her shoulder bag on a busy tram and we were pick pocketed in Paris.
A bag or bum-bag for your personal belongings should be carried tight at your side (to the front of you) all the time, and in crowds, trains and trams you need to keep hold of it. My secure bum-bag (ugly as they are!) was always with me and it carried my passport, money, credit cards and mobile phone.
In my small day pack, which I took with me every day on the coach, I carried a roll-up waterproof rain jacket and a super light super cheap poncho which could cover my day pack (that always contained my camera and mobile phone) and me, in case of a downpour.
I also carried a sun cap, small tube of sunscreen, warm scarf, small bottle of water, a few squares of toilet paper (just in case!), notepad and paper, book, camera and any maps or guides I needed for the day. As we travelled in April (Spring), I also had a warm light weight fleecey jacket with me most of the time.
Tip: Pack some plastic bags (or use the disposable shower caps from your hotel bathrooms!). These are useful for popping in your day pack so that you can more fully protect your mobile phone and camera if you’re caught in rain, or for enclosing dirty clothes in your suitcase, or to pack a wet swimsuit or smelly shoes.
So that’s it! I hope you’ve enjoyed these pics around Europe and picked up one or two handy tips for whatever wonderful holidays you might be planning too.
Disclaimer: Expat Explore gave me 30% discount off the Europe Jewel tour.
Have you been away on holiday recently – Do you have any extra tips to add?
Until next time,