Last week I introduced a new series on preparing for your world travel adventures. In that post, I invited you to step out of your comfort zone, broaden your horizons beyond your usual athletic activities, and allow me to be your guide as you embark on traveling the world. I also told you about some of the great once-in-a-lifetime trips that have inspired my lifelong love of travel.
Depending on how your health may, or may not, align with your travel dreams and adventure plans, before you head out the door to aggressively train in the nearest hills, let’s discuss preliminaries (yes, boring stuff, I know!). Some of the first steps to preparing for your adventure are getting a medical assessment from your doctor and then beginning a gradual training program.
SEEK YOUR DOCTOR’S OPINION
Before beginning any exercise plan, it is important to see your doctor first. If you are reasonably fit, you know it and your doctor will likely confirm your impressions. If you are unsure of your physical fitness, consult your physician and get a medical checkup before you start. Your doctor should know you well enough to give you feedback on your health and give you some advice on where to begin with conditioning for your trip. Let your doctor know of your new goal, describe what you plan to do, and allow him or her to give you that head start—in the proper direction.
PREPARATION LEADS TO ENJOYMENT
If you currently exercise only a modest amount, you may still experience discomfort on your first adventure abroad. Only a small percentage of people walk or run daily or implement a regular exercise plan (“regular” meaning at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week as recommended by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Your goal should be to have a very consistent routine of physical conditioning. Since my earliest days of travel, conditioning has become part of my lifestyle and a means to an end. Regular training (the means) allows me to take off and walk across Spain if I like (an end). Whatever your travel dreams may be, your good health, or better health, will allow you to go farther afield and to genuinely enjoy your journey. Proper physical conditioning is a crucial step toward achieving your travel goal. One of my favorite mantras is that preparation leads to enjoyment.
After seeing your doctor and getting approval to begin training, I suggest you get out and enjoy at least some walking on a regular basis before you attempt a long mountain trek or other challenging terrain on foot. And, if you plan to wear a backpack on your travels, practice wearing it (fully loaded) the last four or five weeks of your training. You’ll be happy you did!
Even if your travel goal is a more modest one, such as taking an organized bus tour across Europe or a river cruise, it is still important to properly assess your health (with either a brutally honest self-assessment or a checkup from your physician) and condition in advance of your trip. Getting on and off buses, hauling your luggage or a backpack about, walking city streets, and meandering through museums may be more tiring than you might anticipate. But conditioning for a few short weeks ahead of your trip will allow you to enjoy your journey (of a lifetime, or one of many!).
Your preparation has a direct relationship to the enjoyment you’ll experience on your journey. Preparation leads to success and to meeting your goals. In other words, you reap what you sow.
The next post in this series will more thoroughly discuss how to make a training schedule for your travel destination. Before you know it, you may be considering a walk across Spain!