Backpacking, Travel Resources

How to stay healthy while backpacking

So many people tend to think they have to down-prioritize staying healthy while backpacking. Especially being a long-term backpacker, it’s easy to forget all about nutrition and exercise. The focus usually is on seeing as much as possible, spending as little money as possible.

Still, staying healthy on the road doesn’t have to limit your travel experience. I’ve basically backpacked non stop the last two years. Even though I haven’t been taking care of my body as well as I would’ve liked all of the time, I’ve learned a thing or two about staying healthy on a travel budget. That is healthy both mentally and physically. In this article, I’ll give you some tips that I’ve implemented throughout my travels about how to eat healthier on the road and how to keep a healthy mindset. And honestly, it’s not complicated or hard to do! It’s all about listening to your body. What better time to practice that, than while traveling?

That is healthy both mentally and physically. In this article, I’ll give you some tips that I’ve implemented throughout my travels about how to eat healthier on the road and how to keep a healthy mindset. And honestly, it’s not complicated or hard to do! It’s all about listening to your body. What better time to practice that, than while traveling?

Stay in places with a kitchen

When it comes to eating healthy while traveling, the first step is to make it as easy as possible for yourself. If you’re on a budget, cooking while traveling is usually way cheaper then eating out. Of course, this doesn’t apply everywhere. For example, in Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico it will serve you to eat out at least for lunch. Still, staying in hostels where you have the opportunity to cook, makes it easier to know what you’re putting into your body.

To me though, there is no such thing as a travel diet. This is totally subjective, but while traveling, a big part of getting to know the culture is also getting to know the food where you are. Like, I would even say that there is such a thing as “food travel”. Take Lima, by example, The capital of Peru, but also a culinary capital on a world basis. If you go there, you’re bound to try out some of the food they have to offer. What I mean to say is, there is a balance.

If you have a kitchen in your hotel, hostel or airbnb, you can eat a good breakfast, maybe make a lunch to go. Or maybe eat lunch outside and then make a good backpacker dinner at night. You avoid eating all your meals on the street or at restaurants, which sure is nice, but normally not that healthy.

Acai beach bowl. Not homemade, but kind of healthy, and definitely cultural.

Too complicated cooking on the road?

The best food while traveling is usually simple food. Healthy travel meals aren’t that complicated, and doesn´t have to consist of many ingredients. A little goes a long way. It might be easy to find excuses not to cook or to go out to eat instead. Here are some tips to keep you inspired to make backpacking meals on the read.

  • I always travel with my favorite set of spices in my backpack. They don’t take up much space but make all the difference when cooking.
  • Plan out a couple of dishes with more or less the same ingredients. That way you don’t have to throw away food or carry it around in your backpack from place to place.
  • Ask other people in the hostel to pitch in and make a meal together. That way the expenses get divided in-between more people and you also get an opportunity to make new friends
In Buqete Panama with 3 canadian girls. We spend a couple of days in thes Couchsurfing place where we all cooked and hung out.

Bring along healthy snacks for your sightseeing

Healthy food to go, is a key both for economical, practical and health reasons. Make sure to have healthy backpacking snacks with you when you head out for a day of sightseeing and exploring. A bag of nuts, dried berries or fruits, some pre-cut vegetables or fruit makes perfect for travel snacks. This way it is way easier to grab quick and healthy food on the go. Also if you find yourself in a place where snacks or food is hard to find or very expensive, you won’t have to go too long without eating. When you get hungry it’s easy to opt for the first and best option on the street. This option is rarely the healthiest or the most economical snack.

Stay hydrated while traveling

Make sure to always have a bottle of water with you. If you happen to eat out, it’s easy to pick the soda option instead of the water if you have to pay for them both. If you have a refillable water bottle, you save money and are more likely to drink water instead of buying a sugar-filled drink.

Get enough rest

It might be hard to prioritize rest and sleep when traveling. After all, you’re on a vacation or on your travel adventure. Your days are filled with things to do, places to discover and sleep is not on the prioritising list. A good nights sleep and a day without a full schedule is sometimes necessary from time to time. You should never have a bad conscience when taking a day off from traveling.

Take your time and be realistic about what you will have time to do and see. It can be better to relax on the beach and watch the sunset, instead of rushing from place to place. It’s ok to say no when you’re at home, and it’s ok to say no while traveling. If you give yourself time to rest, you’ll also have a better experience when discovering and traveling.

Stay active

This one is usually pretty easy while traveling. I never walk more than when I’m getting to know new places. After long days of hiking, walking and discovering new places, remember to wind down and stretch. That way your body will restitute and you’ll be prepared for more activities and new adventures the next day.


When we were in Urugauy we used these stairs on the beach to work out.

I try to do some easy yoga exercises whenever I can, go for a run, or do some exercises in a park whenever I have time. It’s really up to you, but as in your day-to-day life, taking the stairs instead of the elevator counts while traveling too.

Hope you found these easy ways to stay healthy while backpacking, helpful.

What do you do to stay healthy while traveling? Do these tips seem reasonable to you? Please let me know in the comments what you think!

Here are some easy stepts to take to stay healthy while backpacking. They are not complicated, and will not limit your travel experience.

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