How to keep healthy while traveling like a backpacker

When I travel, I normally consider it a period where I can eat whatever I want –-within reason. But when I embarked on a three-month trip around Europe and Asia, I knew that way of thinking wouldn’t fly. But as a backpacker with limited funds, I imagined my diet would consist of pints of beer, instant noodles, and french fries. (Okay, sometimes that was the case.) However, I ended my trip fifteen pounds lighter and filled with more energy than ever before. Here’s what you need to do to live healthy while on the road:

Explore the city by foot (or by bicycle)

The number one way I stayed healthy was simply by exploring. In Amsterdam, I would literally spend days wandering the city, finding awesome hidden shops and making new friends. Ditch the 20-euro “hop-on, hop-off” bus tour in favor of a free walking tour or cheap cycling tour. Or if you’re down, just start walking and purposefully get lost. That to me is the best way to see a new place.

Hostels with kitchens (or at least a good breakfast)

The first hostel I ever went to had a kitchen for hostel guests. That night, several of the guests prepared a potluck style feast and fed the entire hostel fresh seafood pasta, mixed salad, and warm garlic bread. Staying in a hostel with a kitchen is convenient because you can save money by cooking and you have complete control over what you eat.

And breakfast. Nothing will get me to book a hostel quicker than to see that they have a free breakfast advertised. My favorite hostel in Singapore provides every morning a meal of tea or coffee, toast with kaya (coconut spread), and fresh fruit (dragon fruit, watermelon, and oranges). So good!


Snacks are your best friend. When you’re on a long-haul flight or worse, a twelve-hour bus ride, you’re going to be famished. I always see people running off the bus at a rest stop to stuff their bags with overpriced soda and potato chips. Bring along some healthy snacks like fresh fruit, nuts, power bars, etc. Do this daily, even when just strolling around a new city. You never know what will happen. Case in point: I brought some snacks with me as I went on a short walking trail in Ireland. Turned out to be a six-hour trek through a mountain pass. Believe me, I was stoked to have snacks on hand!

The Basics

With all the excitement of traveling, sometimes you forget the basics, like water and sleeping. I know I do. Stay hydrated! You should keep a bottle on you constantly. Make sure you take a night off from partying every now and again to get a proper, full night’s rest. 

Other than that, eat the street food. Climb the temple stairs. Try that strange looking fruit. Yes on the scoop of gelato. Walk it off. Sleep in. Travel is ‘easier’ now, websites like FlightHub find us cheap flights, lonely planet and wikitravel is everywhere, but thsat doesn’t mean we should be careless, especially not with our health.Have the time of your life.