How to Volunteer and Travel Mindfully with Health Issues

For most of us, traveling abroad is a time that we associate with relaxation, fun exploration, new discoveries and a welcome change to our daily lives. However, for those afflicted with minor to severe health problems, planning a trip abroad can be very stressful and time-consuming. Therefore, some of the following tips and tricks should help alleviate this burden and prove to you that nothing can get in the way of your travels.

Traveling with Food Intolerance

Choosing to live a vegetarian or vegan life style is easy nowadays, as most countries offer a variety of alternatives for people with these diets of personal choice. 

However, if you suffer from a diagnosed food intolerance or allergy, traveling abroad can seem very challenging.

Useful Tips

Overall, it is wise to familiarize yourself with the cuisine of the country you are traveling to and check if it suits your diet. Plan ahead and let your accommodation know what foods you cannot eat so they can prepare a special meal plan for you. Make sure to always read the food labels and menus thoroughly to ensure that you are not allergic to any of the ingredients or substances. In restaurants it is also wise to inform the waiter, or preferably the chef, if possible, what type of foods you should not eat. 

Furthermore, it is a good idea to carry some snacks which you can eat without any problems and avoid sampling any food, which you do not know the exact ingredients of.   

Make sure to always stay hydrated and ensure that the tap water in the country that you are visiting is suitable for drinking. It also makes sense to munch on hydrating foods such as cucumber or watermelon which acts an additional source to keep you hydrated throughout the day. 

Only suffer from food intolerance when traveling abroad ? 

If you are only affected by an upset stomach when traveling abroad, this can be due to you eating, or eating more of, the foods which you might actually have an unknown or undiagnosed intolerance to. Of course venturing on a culinary discovery and trying new flavors is part of all the fun when being abroad. However, keep in mind that even though you might be eating dishes which you similarly prepare and cook at home, the ingredients such as spices, oils, nuts, herbs, etc. are still likely to be different in a foreign country and not always compatible with you.

Useful Tips 

Since you do not already know what the trigger is, it is advisable to make notes of your food intake in a food journal, to assess what causes the problem. When we are on holiday, it is only normal that we over indulge in tasty new foods and drinks, but maybe those seemingly nice treats are the culprit and cause nasty digestion and stomach problems which might be avoidable when you closely take note. 

Once again, staying hydrated and eating healthy fruit and vegetables are great remedies to help beat the nasty reaction to that unfamiliar food intolerance. However, please note to wash your fruit and vegetables from food markets properly with clean water before eating them. 

Drinking Water

When it comes to drinking water abroad, please bare in mind that not every country has clean tap water suited for drinking. Drinking water from the tap might not necessarily be unsafe, but can cause discomfort if our bodies are unaccustomed to it. According to a report by the UNICEF, popular travel destinations such as Mexico, Nepal and Cambodia do not provide clean water and have some of the most poorly managed water supplies.


If you suffer from a health condition and rely on daily medication, then planning ahead is key for your travels. 

Traveling with ADHD

When traveling with ADHD make sure to keep your usual routine in place as much as possible. Before your departure, it is vital to consult your doctor and make sure that they prescribe enough medicine for the whole duration of your stay. It is important to keep a copy of the prescription with you in case you lose or require more of your medication while being abroad and ensure that it is in its original packaging with the generic name and original label on it. 

Please note that some countries ban or restrict stimulant medication which in effect could mean getting arrested if caught carrying them without the right document. To avoid this from happening, it is recommendable that you contact the embassy of the country you plan to visit, to obtain an official approval of bringing the stimulant medication in to the country.

Find out where the local doctor and pharmacy is, which sells your required medication, in case you require more. 

Traveling with Asthma

To avoid an asthma flare up while embarking on your adventures, ensure that you prepare for all of your medical needs. Most importantly, make sure to store your medication and your inhaler in an always accessible piece of luggage. Reduce your risk of respiratory infections by frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers. Also, consider wearing a mask in public areas during flu season. If you are traveling by plane you might want to ask if you can pre-board. Tell the flight attendants about your medical condition. Wipe down your armrests and tray tables. Avoid using airline pillows or blankets.

Traveling with Diabetes

Diabetes should not hold you back from traveling and discovering the world. Once again, it is important that you consult your doctor prior to your departure so they can ensure you are fit enough to travel long distance. Also ask how you should administer your insulin doses when traveling through different time zones and to provide enough prescriptions for the duration of your stay. 

Find pharmacies and medical facilities close to where you are staying, if the circumstance arises requiring a form of health care. On this note, getting a travel insurance might be advisable. Order a special meal that suits your meal plan, or pack your own. Diabetic people are exempt from the maximum of 3.4 oz. liquid rule for medication and are permitted to carry fruit juices or gel packs to keep insulin cool, that surpass that bottle size.  

Traveling with Mental Health Issues

A current controlled or previous history of mental health problems, is not an absolute barrier to travel. Once again, you are fit to go if you plan ahead and make sure that you have packed enough of your regular medicine for the entire duration of your stay and have a copy of your prescriptions from your doctor. Also, research health care facilities in the region where you will be staying and get comprehensive travel insurance in case of an emergency. 

Be aware that the different time zones and jet lag can disrupt your mental health, so knowing when to correctly take your medication is essential. Despite this, try to maintain your regular routine and make sure to get the adequate amount of rest and calorie intake, to avoid fatigue. 

If you are traveling alone, pre-arrange phone calls or video calls with your family members or close friends for mental support and guidance. 

Written By
Join the Conversation


  1. says: Anhanii

    To volunteer to travel, first of all, you need to equip yourself with protective gear, especially in places where the climate is different from the one you live in. Need to find out information first, ask people who have gone there to get experience words from letters

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply