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4 Ways That Traveling Abroad Can Affect the Body

Updated on February 23, 2019
The Naughty Nomad profile image

Chandreia is a digital nomad, and an aspiring entrepreneur. Her motto is self-reliance is the key to obtaining a blissful and happy life!

Expect to have stomach problems


1. Traveling abroad can have a major affect on your tummy!

Hi Guys! Chandreia here with a bit of news that you can use while on your journey to becoming a digital nomad. While Traveling abroad may seem like a dream come true, it can actually be a nightmare if you are not aware of the multitude of possibilities you may encounter. When I started my journey I had no idea what I would experience and boy did I learn a lot in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, I've had to battle with both travelers constipation and diarrhea, but not at the same time. My first experience happened shortly after I arrived in West Africa. The entire trip was about 17 and a half hours long. During that time, I had just about eaten and drank everything under the sun. I was 3 days into my trip when it hit me...I couldn't take a dump. I was pretty sure that I had drunk enough water, I love water and I drank as much as a baby elephant and for the life of me, I could not figure out what went wrong and why I could not have a bowel movement. I got caught off guard and was totally unprepared for it. It was the worst episode of constipation that I had ever experienced in my life and I ended up having to use an African brand of laxative to get any relief. In reflection, I remembered that I really hadn't drunk that much water as the airline was serving alcoholic beverages during the flight and I did partake in my fair share. Rather than blame the ordeal on the alcohol, I'll share with you that anytime you're traveling abroad your diet, exercise and bathroom routines will change. It is imperative that you maintain healthy eating and exercise habits while traveling abroad, especially when traveling to high altitude countries. Alcohol can induce high altitude symptoms leading to dehydration and eventually constipation. For me, I traveled across time zones to another continent. I learned that the body is used to eating and drinking at different intervals during the day and when you travel across continents you began to eat and drink at a time that your body is probably accustomed to being at work or in bed sleeping, not eating. It takes time for the body to adjust to the change in time and difference in the foods that you are eating while traveling abroad. With that being said, here are a few tips to remember:

  • Drink plenty of water- Drinking enough water will keep your body hydrated. Fruit juice or another clear liquid like chicken broth can aid in keeping you hydrated. Try not to overindulge in alcoholic beverages or caffeinated drinks such as soda or coffee as they can cause dehydration.
  • Try to eat enough fiber- Fresh fruit and vegetables are a great source of fiber so make sure you're eating at least 2 cups of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Try to stay physically active- Who wants to do exercise while traveling abroad and seeing new things? Not me, but it is necessary to keep your system in top condition and to possibly avoid constipation.
  • Pay attention to your body- Many times we tend to get caught up in the moment while traveling abroad and believe it or not it's easy to ignore the urge to go potty, but that's a big no-no as putting off the urge to defecate can make constipation worse.

In about four weeks time I also had my dance with travelers diarrhea and boy was it a doozy. Man oh man how I cried. I was sick for about a week. Here in WestAfrica, a lot of the cuisine...well mostly all of the cuisines are seasoned, prepared, or cooked with scotch bonnet peppers. I had been eating a great deal of pepper, which was not an issue for me as I genuinely love spicy foods. When the stomach ache hit, It hit with a vengeance and its pain was worse than that of travelers constipation. Before I embarked on this journey I did consult with a travel physician. He went over the basic do's and dont's for traveling abroad such as:

  1. Eating- consuming foods that are fully cooked and served hot and only eating fruits and vegetables that have been washed and/or peeled by your own hands. Also, never eat anything served at room temperature or from street vendors as their hands may not be as clean as you would like.
  2. Drinking- Only drinking bottled water and or ice made from bottled water. Canned and bottled carbonated drinks are good as well. Don't drink from the tap water or use ice or other drinks made from tap water.

I followed all of the rules and still ended up with explosive diarrhea for approximately a week. I did some research and found that moving to a new country can have a severe effect on gut health. According to the "migration between certain countries can profoundly affect the bacteria that live in our digestive systems with important implications to our health." After reading their report, I let it run its course and I was fine in about a week.

2. Traveling Abroad can affect your menstrual cycle


Traveling Abroad can wreck your Period...period.

If you're a woman traveling abroad on the search for the digital nomadic experience, I hate to burst your bubble, but it is necessary to ensure that you bring along extra pads or tampons for your trip. In the event that I am offering TMI (too much information) just know that I want you to learn from my experience. I was here in Africa for only 2 weeks when my monthly friend came earlier than expected. The bad news is that it lasted for approximately 25 days and that is something that I have never experienced in my life and I'm 45 years old. When I returned from my trip to Africa in July of 2018, my period was three weeks late. This time it was worst. Personally, I'd rather be late than to be hemorrhaging. In case you didn't know, the menstrual cycle and sleep cycle are connected and when your sleep cycle is disrupted, so too will your menstrual cycle be totally out of whack. This is due to the exposure of light at a different time of day in comparison to the exposure to light when you are at home. It is a clear case of Jetlag. Exposure to light triggers hormonal changes in the body, no matter how small it can still affect the bodies circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythms are the body's internal clock. It tells you when to go to sleep and when to wake up. Your circadian rhythms are affected by both sunlight and temperature and can cause you to experience issues while traveling abroad.

"Hold the Mosquitos"


3. The Mosquitos can be relentless when traveling abroad

Depending on where you travel to and what time of year it is, you can bet there will be mosquitoes somewhere in the mix. Personally, I could do without the Mosquitoes and they were the worst part about my trip to West Africa. The mosquitoes here are relentless. They are like nothing I've ever seen before. You can forget about using OFF insect spray to try and combat them because they react to OFF as if someone invited them to happy hour! They drink that shit. They bathe in it, and it will definitely do you no good. Before I came here, I visited my doctor and he prescribed an anti-malarial medication called Atovaquone. It's supposed to prevent Malaria, luckily I haven't had to use it. I don't know which are the worst here, the flies or the mosquitoes as far as being annoyed goes. Here a few tips that I use to guard myself against mosquito bites while traveling abroad:

  • Do your research- Research your destination to determine if there are any health risks associated with Mosquito bites.
  • Always pack repellent- Always remember to pack your repellent and I don't mean off or a citronella candle due to their ineffectiveness. You must adhere to a chemical based repellent that contains DEET or Picaridin. Even a military grade repellent will do the trick.
  • Fragrances- Avoid wearing strong aftershaves and perfumes as they tend to attract mosquitoes.
  • Surroundings- Ensure that there is no stagnant water anywhere around as Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water.
  • Living Quarters- Choose a place to stay that has fans or air conditioning as the constant flow of moving air which can prevent mosquitoes from landing on you and biting you.

Be prepared for a change in climate while traveling abroad


4. Combatting Climat Changes while Travelling Abroad.

Now, I'm not complaining about being here in West Africa, but you should know that it's hot as hell here. Don't get me wrong, I can endure a little heat, but this is ridiculous. I have prickly heat rash all over my body. I knew it would be hot here, but man...I had no idea it would be this hot. Since Africa is so close to the equator it is one of the hottest places in the world. You should always make a point of knowing the climate of where you are traveling to and pack accordingly. On this journey, I've discovered that you must do your best to adjust to climate changes while traveling. Believe it or not things like age, overall health and physical condition will determine how well you adjust to climate changes while traveling abroad. If you're not careful, you can develop a climate-related illness such as:

  • High altitude locations- When you travel to a high altitude location such as Mexico City or China, you can experience headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep disruptions, and stomach issues. You must get to a lower altitude as soon as possible.
  • Heat-related illness- In extreme heat, you can experience heat rashes, dizziness, fainting, or a heat stroke. If you have a health condition such as high blood pressure, you may be prone to heat exhaustion which causes severe thirst, nausea sweating or lack of coordination. You must stay hydrated to avoid heat-related illnesses.
  • Cold-related illness- In extremely cold conditions or cold temperatures that you are not accustomed to, you can develop frostbite or hypothermia. Signs of hypothermia include the inability to use your hands, goosebumps, shivers and/or a rapid heartbeat. You must pack enough clothes to protect your skin and regulate your body temperature.

I hope this information has been helpful.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Chandreia


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