Whether you are hopping on and off planes, touring around the exotic city sites for the day, or trekking through mountainous terrain in mid-summer, staying hydrated is vital. It’s easy to forget to drink sufficient quantities of water, especially if you have a busy schedule or are consumed by the thrill of adventure! Remember, thirst is a sign of dehydration!
Here are some tips on how to stay well-hydrated during your travel:
- For adult males and females, the recommended fluid intake is between 2.1 and 2.6 litres per day. This equates to 8-10 cups of fluid.
- Adequate hydration is important for your physical and mental health. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, headache and muscle cramps. A good way to measure fluid losses is to weigh yourself prior to and after undertaking any activity. The amount of weight you lose is equivalent to fluid losses (1kg = 1L fluid). It is best to keep fluid losses to less than 1 kg. The colour of your urine at the end of the day is also a good indicator of hydration status. If it is dark in colour, you are dehydrated. Try and ensure that your urine stays pale in colour all day.
- If your are going on day trips, drink 1-2 glasses of water before you leave your accommodation, and when you return. Be that any water you consume is safe to drink. Carry a water bottle with you during the day. These can sometimes be heavy and cumbersome, so look around for hydration bladder packs which can be lighter. Insulated water bottles will help to keep your water cool throughout the day.
- Long haul flights are often associated with fatigue, headache, dry mouth and eyes. These are all signs of dehydration. Cabins are kept at a low humidity point, so keeping hydrated is essential. Drink water throughout the course of your flight. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks as these can cause or contribute to dehydration.
- For short hikes or walking tours around a city, water is an adequate replacement fluid. For more endurance-style hikes spanning over a few days, it is suitable to have specially formulated electrolyte-containing fluids (sports drinks) as they help ensure fluid is absorbed and retained more efficiently by the body. Electrolyte containing fluids generally contain 4-10% carbohydrate, along with some sodium which aids effective absorption. These fluids come in both a liquid and powder form which can be easily carried in your backpack. Sports drinks have been shown to improve the uptake and utilisation of fluid by the body.
- Hot climates will put you at risk of dehydration and heat stroke. Sunburn affects the body’s ability to cool down. Heavy sweating leads to greater fluid and mineral losses from the body. Avoid being in the sun for long periods. Resting in the shade, or spending time in a place with air-conditioning will help your body cool down. When in the sun, wear sunscreen, light coloured clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. Loose fitting clothing also helps with airflow and sweat evaporation. Stay well hydrated with water, and avoid alcohol and highly sweetened drinks. A sports drink with additional electrolytes will help replace salts and minerals, if needed, during periods of heavy sweating.
- Did you know that many foods can help you stay hydrated too! Solid foods contribute about 20% of our total water intake. Fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, oranges, iceberg lettuce, cucumber and strawberries to name a few, have a high content of water. Be careful in developing countries however, as fruit and vegetables have been grown in local water which may be contaminated.
Enjoy your trip, keep safe, and happy hydrating!