So…you’ve chosen to be a wandering trader. You’re getting the best of both worlds: making a solid income and trekking the globe at the same time. Whether your journey is just beginning or you’ve been living the life for a bit, you’re always looking for great lifestyle hacks. And staying healthy on the road is surely at the top of your list.
Your challenge –– should you choose to accept it –– is to eat healthy, include an exercise regimen, and avoid illness as much as possible. Sounds difficult, right? Well while you’re wandering, there’s no question that this can be a little harder than if you’d stayed put. But staying put wasn’t exactly in your plans for living, so you need some straight talk and answers. You don’t have to become a gym fanatic or give up the occasional steak dinner, but with some useful tips you can succeed at staying healthy while roaming.
Plan for Your Health Care Needs
Having health insurance and a network of providers is much more difficult without a permanent address. Thankfully, because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you may be able to take advantage of an open enrollment period to get coverage. Separating from full-time employment is considered a qualifying event, and you have sixty days to select a new plan. Other enrollment opportunities typically exist throughout the calendar year.
However, finding insurance can be particularly challenging for full-time floaters. Technomadia presents some of the most common shopping problems, such as:
coverage that does not cross state or county lines;
specific required time limits to reside at a “home address”;
plans that restrict care to “emergency services” outside the state of domicile; and
spotty access to their carriers’ provider networks while on the road.
Alternatives for wanderers include individual plans, starting a small business group plan, coverage with any affiliated organizations (such as churches or professional guilds), some forms of travel insurance, and electing to retain employer coverage while telecommuting. For providers, consider services such as virtual doctors and urgent care facilities. And planning ahead is especially critical: if you know your itinerary, ask your carrier for referrals to doctors in the places where you’ll be staying.
Fitness and Food
There’s a complex relationship between food and physical fitness. Working in good eating practices and activity on the road is especially important to maintain your health. Tooling your road routines to include exercise is sometimes easier than you think. A few creative ideas help you keep active, such as exploring your destinations on foot or bike, making use of hotel
fitness facilities, and downloading some workout apps or playlists to motivate you and keep you moving.
Some simple practices with food are also vital to great nutrition. Pre-pack nuts, trail mixes and snack bars, but carefully inspect food labels while shopping. When dining out, incorporate fiber, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. And if you still consume animal products, choose low-fat dairy, lean meats or seafood. Drink more water, because sun and alcohol dehydrate you more quickly than normal. Finally, to make some rapid snacks or meals, stock up on quick healthy goods at the local grocer such as canned beans, brown rice, microwavable veggie packs, and dairy-free dressings like the Just Mayo line from Hampton Creek.
Keep in mind that the quality of food and water, as well as the kinds of contagions, can differ between locations. This New York Times article strongly urges travelers to make sure they’re current on vaccinations before departure. Also, use water in pre-sealed bottles to drink and brush teeth, and avoid opening your mouth while showering or swimming in pools. Avoid fresh bodies of water in locales with poor sanitation. Finally, carry a card listing current medications, along with extra doses for emergencies –– but if you’re traveling by air, ensure that they conform to TSA regulations.
Healthy Roaming Is Easier With Planning and Know-How
Freedom means both more flexibility and risk, and you’re ready to meet the challenges that come with it all. Paying attention to insurance coverage and health care providers, including healthy eating and a fitness regimen, and taking special precautions are the basics to staying well while wandering. And since you’re a proactive sort of person, these recommendations are perfect tools to help you construct a healthier, fuller traveling lifestyle.