Here’s something that won’t blow your mind – it’s important to look after your health. A quick search on Google will tell you that, and in 2015 we learnt exactly how health can have an impact on our style of travelling.
Travelling with a Tumour
In 2015, after an agonising year of bad sleep and serious pain, I (Rachel) was finally diagnosed with a schwannoma (a tumour that grows inside a nerve). It wasn’t an easy diagnosis to get. Apparently only affecting one person in forty thousand, I had to fight to get misdiagnosis recognised on various occasions. A little side tip for anyone going through pain that you know is not normal for your body at the moment – if you don’t agree with your doctor, find another. Don’t give up on what you know is right.
A long story cut short, I was grateful to eventually meet a wonderful surgeon who cared about me as a person, and who removed the largest tumour from the main nerve behind my left knee with minimal damage. Then I got that sweet phone call that told me my tumour was benign, and I was finally able to get a good night’s sleep again.
But hang on, what about the travelling bit? Well, I knew how to travel with a schwannoma (in fact, I still have one that I’m aware of just under the original one, that I hope doesn’t grow). It meant painkillers, and being careful not to put too much strain on it (not that I always paid attention to this – climbing Snowdon being a particularly painful memory). After having enough time to recover and learn how to walk without a limp, I was ready to travel.
We headed to Malaysia, and put the rough few months we had experienced behind us. We spent the first 42 hours of our time in Kuala Lumpur as we usually would, exploring. We walked tens of thousands of steps a day, nothing out of the ordinary for us. On day three, I woke up and found that I was suddenly in pain again. I was limping, and the main nerve that had been operated on up to five months before was berating me for my careless adventuring. The thing was, it hadn’t occurred to us to slow down – there was too much to see, a wealth of food to taste, an escapade to be had around every corner.
Our Style of Travel
We thought about our own style of travel. We think nothing of walking miles and miles a day, and if there’s a mountain to climb we choose our feet over the convenient tram. We love to swim, scuba and kayak. In Taman Negara we kept on trekking up to the highest point possible, long after others had dropped out. So, we concluded, it was time to be serious about our health and fitness level, to be excellent travellers.
Tips for Staying Fit While Travelling
Though it isn’t always possible to visit the gym while travelling, in periods when we are saving money for adventures we visit the gym regularly. Strength training is particularly important, the stronger your core, the more you can lift on your back. The stronger your legs, the further you can walk. You don’t have to be a body builder, but increasing your weights every few weeks can really make a difference, whether you’re running for a train with a rucksack on your back, or climbing seemingly endless steps to see a monument.
We replay the difficulty of climbing in high humidity in the Malaysian rainforest often, and we train for the possibility of this happening again. By increasing the incline on the treadmill you can push yourself to climb imaginary mountains. Next time we’re in that rainforest, it should be easier.
We both practice karate. Martial arts can teach you strength, the ability to remain calm, and can give you confidence in self-defence. All of these are invaluable when travelling.
Staying Fit on the Road
It completely depends on what your style of travel is, but staying fit while travelling can be easy. It just means altering slight behaviours, such as walking places instead of getting undergrounds, or hiring a bike to travel a city. It can be fun to do this, you see much more of the city and get to stop whenever you spy something of interest.
Do you have any fitness tips that help you when you’re travelling? Let us know!