Digital nomads often travel the world while they work, immersing themselves in the local culture and cuisine. And though they are in most cases free to do what they want, when they want, where they want, digital nomads aren’t free from many of the health concerns that non-nomad workers encounter.
From sitting for extended periods to eating more takeout food, digital nomads can have the same health challenges an in-office worker might. But while a non-nomad can rest at home in their own bed and see their regular doctor, digital nomads don’t have these creature comforts close at hand. That’s why it’s extra important for digital nomads to keep their health front of mind.
Here are seven tips to help you stay healthy as a digital nomad.
1. Skip the Gym
Staying physically fit as a digital nomad can be a bit challenging. While hotels often have on-site gyms or guest access at nearby facilities, staying at a hostel or long-term rental doesn’t always include the same perks.
To keep yourself healthy, create a fitness routine that doesn’t require a gym at all. Walk, hike, and bike everywhere you go instead of taking the bus, subways, or taxis. Use apps and streaming workouts to bring an instructor with you wherever you are. And use everyday items (water bottles, cans) to use as weights. Consider bringing a resistance band with you on your travels. They’re lightweight, easily stashed in your luggage, and can help you amp up your workout.
2. Sit Pretty
While people think that “nomad” is synonymous with “traveling,” that doesn’t mean digital nomads are constantly moving. When you relocate from one place to the next, you’re often sitting. And even when you’re working from a sunny beach, you’re probably still sitting to get your work done.
But airline seats and beach chairs aren’t the most ergonomic or supportive. To help maintain your posture and muscles, don’t neglect good posture when you’re on the road. Try some of these hacks to help support your back and neck:
Tennis balls: When you get to where you’re going, place the ball on your sore muscle and pinch the ball between a wall or the floor, then press for pain relief.
Skip the seat: If you travel by plane (and it’s allowed), stand in the aisle or the back instead of sitting the whole trip.
Work right: Try to work somewhere with a desk, like a coffee shop or a coworking space, and save the beach trips for days off.
3. Eat Right
One of the highlights of any vacation is forgoing healthy eating every day. Sampling the local cuisine, having dessert (or several!) every night, and tasting everything a region has to offer is often a highlight of your vacation.
Of course, as a digital nomad, you aren’t on vacation. You’re working, just someplace different every week or month. And while one of the advantages of being a nomad is the ability to immerse yourself in local culture, to stay healthy as a digital nomad, don’t eat like you’re on vacation. Eat like a resident.
Make the time to shop locally and prepare your meals at your home base if possible. This gives you a chance to learn how to cook new meals (and wow your friends and family) and also lets you control the fat, salt, portion size, and anything else that can derail your diet. As a bonus, cooking at home not only helps your waistline, it helps your budget, too!
4. Catch Some Zzzs
One often overlooked aspect of staying healthy as a digital nomad includes getting enough sleep every night. The average adult should sleep between seven and nine hours every night!
As a digital nomad, you’re probably changing time zones relatively frequently. Add to that getting used to a new bed and a new location—and the temptation to indulge in local nightlife—and you might find yourself getting less sleep than you should.
Once you arrive at your new home base, give yourself time to adjust to the time zone before heading out for a night on the town. To help yourself get enough winks every night, use blackout shades (or an eye mask) to keep the light out, making it easier for you to fall and stay asleep. Also, consider using a white noise app to help cover any sounds that might disturb your slumber.
Traveling often leads to dehydration, even when you don’t realize it. Planes tend to recirculate dry air, and when you’re on the road, you may not realize how hot it is inside the car or bus. Make sure to drink plenty of water as you travel and skip the sugary and caffeinated beverages, as well as alcohol.
6. Manage Stress
Addressing your physical health is only part of the equation. To stay healthy as a digital nomad, you need to care for your mental health, too.
Keeping your stress in check is sometimes easier said than done. When your flight is canceled again, you might find yourself losing your cool. Remind yourself that travel delays are part of the adventure and an opportunity to meet new people. Or try meditating to help you manage any stress you’re experiencing.
7. Have Health Insurance
Finally, to stay healthy as a digital nomad, make sure you have health insurance that covers you no matter where you are. While you may not seek out routine care while you’re on the road, you never know when what you think is a cold actually isn’t. The ability to get medical care wherever you are not only gives you peace of mind but also keeps you healthy and safe.
Healthy, Happy, and Safe
Being a digital nomad can mean a life of freedom, travel, and exposure to new cultures. But, if you don’t stay healthy, you may not experience all the digital nomad lifestyle offers.