Taking a break from regular classes or lectures to lead or participate in an educational travel program abroad is often an added bonus of school or university life. With GROUND Asia’s educational travel programs, the experience that students gain from being outside their comfort zone and relying on their own wits, teaches them important life skills that will stay with them for a lifetime. However, getting you and your students to your destination, or to the point where your educational adventure really begins, is not without its own set of frustrations that at times can be physically and mentally draining.
Here are ten tips to help keep you and your students healthy and perky while you are on the road – whether it’s traveling by bus, car or by air.
1. Catching up on sleep Physically moving across times zones, hauling luggage and bags, standing in long immigration queues, or waiting for a flight, can really take its toll on your body. Wherever possible, try to grab a nap or two, or simply close your eyes and try to relax. Even a short sleep can leave you and your students feeling more energized. Constant lack of sleep can really drain your immune system, and leave you and your charges prone to colds or other energy-sapping infections – not very conducive to a demanding study program!
2. Drink lots of water It’s always important to keep hydrated, especially if you and your students are following an educational program in the kind of tropical climate your body is not used to. Slow down, pace yourself and keep to the shade where possible. Make sure you and your students carry water bottles, and make a mental note of the places where you can replenish your drinking water supply. Listen to your body and drink when you feel thirsty, which will probably be more often than normal. You and your students want to avoid becoming dehydrated at all costs, because this will affect your overall health and ability to fight off infections.
3. Eat a balanced diet It’s easy to overindulge and binge eat when you are traveling, but remember that overeating – especially sugary foods – will leave you and your students feeling tired, and enhance those feelings of jet-lag, such as dizziness and headaches. Where possible, try to stick to a high-fiber diet, similar to the one you would eat back home, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid foods because they aren’t the best nutritional choice, but practice a little moderation. Trying out new dishes in a new culture is, after all, part of the educational experience, so strike a healthy balance.
4. Move your body Sitting for hours in the same position, whether you are in a car, bus or plane, can stiffen your joints and muscles, and it’s not good for your blood circulation either. Where possible, encourage your students to get up from their seats, walk around and stretch their arms and legs. If they can’t stand up, you can suggest doing a few sitting exercises instead – like stretching out your arms, neck or shoulder rolls and back twists. If you are traveling by road make regular stops every few hours, so that you and your students can get out and walk about – even if it’s only for a few minutes.
5. Get vaccinated When traveling abroad, it’s always important to check with your doctor about the type of vaccinations you will need for the country you are visiting. Make sure your students are well aware of this and approach their doctors in advance, as vaccinations for some specific conditions may need to be ordered in advance. For some countries vaccinations are mandatory, so it’s important that you also make the parents of your younger students aware of this. You can also double check vaccinations for a specific country online at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
6. Brush those toothy pegs For long trips keep a toothbrush and toothpaste handy in your carry-on. Brushing your teeth after taking a long nap or eating an inflight meal, helps to get rid of any bacteria that may be building up in your mouth. Keeping your teeth and gums clean and free from germs is another way to protect you and your students from unwanted infections. Your student travel companion sitting next to you will also secretly thank you for looking after your personal hygiene!
7. Medication When traveling, you can never be sure when you or one of your students may start to feel unwell. For emergencies, keep a special area free in your travel bag for an assortment of vitamins and general medications that you use at home. In some countries, you may have trouble finding the same quality or equivalent medication, so these can be a real lifesaver. Don’t forget to check that your students bring any prescription medication they need and also think about packing medicine for pain or fever, such as aspirin, or ibuprofen, as well as antihistamines, antacid and antidiarrheal electrolyte solutions.
8. Comfortable footwear If you are traveling to Asia, you will find open toe sandals, flip-flops and light espadrille-like footwear are common place for most people, especially when they are walking about in their local neighborhood. While there’s a good chance you and your students will get on the plane in coldish weather, still wearing a pair of shoes or sneakers, when you arrive in the tropics you will find them rather hot and sweaty for everyday use. Suggest to your students that they pack a pair of sandals or flip flops in their travel bags, which they can switch too when you arrive. They will really help to keep you cool and comfortable, and have the added bonus of being easy to slip on and off when visiting someone’s house.
9. Clean hands For most people, it goes without saying that washing your hands before a meal or after using the toilet is an important part of sanitization. Traveling through airports and using local public transport, you and your students will come into contact with all sorts of germ-infested surfaces, so it’s also worth having a bottle of hand sanitizer handy to use after washing your hands. In some places, while there might be water, you may not have the luxury of soap, so an antibacterial hand sanitizer becomes essential.
10. Keep calm and carry on There’s an endless list of things that could go wrong on your trip, but while it’s important to be prepared for the worst, always expect the best! However, if you or one of your students ends up facing problems – whether it’s lost luggage, a delayed flight, or even a cancelation – it’s important to try and remain calm. High levels of stress can have a really negative impact on your health and can lead to other complications too. Breathing exercises are a great way to help relieve stress and can help to counteract any anxiety you may be having. Take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, then exhale and repeat the process several times. Meditation is another great stress reliever, which is very effective, once you have learned the technique.
While following health tips may not seem essential in the face of more immediate issues, at GROUND Asia we know from experience that preparing in advance and taking care of your health and hygiene, can make all the difference to the success of your educational travel program. For more info on our education travel programs, get in touch with us here.
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GROUND Asia partners with communities across Asia to assist in their sustainable development. The communities we work with are our clients. To meet their expectations, we empower them through mutually beneficial programs to ensure their development needs come first.