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Being safe

Staying Healthy While Travelling
In Canada and the United States

Here you'll learn key techniques for staying well and enjoying each day while travelling or attending school in Canada and the U.S.

Happily, these suggestions do not cost anything.

In fact, some of these health recommendations save you money, yet are very effective and simple to implement.

Dress for health and comfort

Europeans express dismay over the way some Americans choose to dress in their great cities.

During the summer, American visitors seemingly of all ages and social and economic strata flock to cathedrals and the most elegant districts in a state of near undress, in marked contrast to the local populations and other nationalities.

Some of this behaviour results from the dynamics of American society, where large numbers move from more humble economic circumstances to a richer life without having been trained in the social graces of those who have traditionally travelled the World.

However, much American tourist behaviour is based on habit based due to the North American climate, which makes such behaviour a survival tactic.

Nearly all of the U.S. is extremely hot—as well as very humid in the eastern part—during the summer, as are southern Ontario and Quebec in Canada.

The heat combined with high humidity produces a comfort index as wretched to a person in full clothing as in any equatorial country, which can make you very hot and uncomfortable.

Such an excessively high body temperature can be highly dangerous and even deadly.

You will be a lot more comfortable if you dress very lightly in natural fibres like cotton.

You'll also be more comfortable outdoors if you don't stay too long in overly air conditioned environments indoors—the contrast to which can make you miserable when you go out.

When driving on a open road, for example, try to avoid using air conditioning—you will get used to driving without it—and let the breeze cool you.

Otherwise, you may become reluctant to spend time outside of your car, especially in places like Florida during the summer.

Moreover, when you have control over the air conditioning setting, as in motel rooms, keep the setting at the highest temperature that still allows comfort. Have it on just enough to make the humidity not noticeable.

Drink enough water

Drink, drink, drink large amounts of water during the North American summer.

The heat requires this.

People from temperate climates, such as northern Europe and northern Japan, may not realize the importance of maintaining water in the body. They may drink the same by habit as they do in their cooler countries. Not good.

Drink to be more comfortable, to avoid dehydration, and to avoid heat strokes.

Remind yourself to keep drinking water. Force yourself to drink water frequently until it becomes a habit.

Older people should take special care to drink enough water, as thirst diminishes as you grow older.

And, it is water, not tea, not coffee, not Pepsi, or similar drinks, that you should emphasize. After all, you don't cleanse your body in baths of soda pop.

Luckily, "safe" water fountains exist in the public areas of most American and Canadian cities.

Cafes and restaurants often serve free water as part of a meal, or provide tap water upon request without change.

In addition, always carry water when driving, both for yourself and for your vehicle, in case it overheats.

Very inexpensive purified water or spring water is for sale in every supermarket.

The suggestion to drink lots of water, by the way, applies for airline travel, as water can increase body comfort in an environment of dehydration.

Start the day with a glass or two, and remember to drink during the day.

Adopt a healthy daily routine

A healthy routine fosters an enjoyable and productive day.

And, the basis of a healthy routine is rest.

Rest is the basis of activity. Let us repeat an often ignored law of nature: Rest is the basis of productive activity.

Your day goes better after sleeping well.

Along with ample rest, you need a good diet.

Travelling by auto, coach, or train involves long periods of relative inactivity, and this alone calls for modification of diet by, for example, eating less heavy foods.

With some exceptions, follow a French routine (French as in France, not French as in Canada or elsewhere).

Other than their exceedingly foul cigarettes and a few other dubious habits (please do not send Dr. Voyageur vicious massages electroniques, dear French readers!), the French over the centuries have developed a remarkably healthy lifestyle.

This ranges from getting up early to deliberately finding excuses to walk or bike, instead of driving or taking local coaches for errands.

It is interesting to compare the relative average torso sizes of adult American and Canadian men and women with French men and women. The difference is shocking.

Americans and Canadians, including Canadians of French descent, are all too often fat—grossly, unhealthily fat, even at very young ages.

Yet, people in France are for the most part thin. You'll find possible reasons for this below.

Here are the basic steps, which will serve you so well when travelling or otherwise:

Get up when you wake up

Get up when you wake up.

Get up early.

Don't stay in bed once awake, which produces staleness during the day.

Try to develop a routine of getting up prior to 6 a.m.

Avoid an unhealthy breakfast

Ask yourself what nutritional value does your current large breakfast give you?

Far too much fat and sugar?

Avoid snacks

Don't eat or drink anything but water between meals.

Small children may snack on healthy foods, but adults should allow time for digestion between meals.

French adults almost never snack.

And, French adults never consume the massive amounts of anti-acid medications that Americans and Canadians do, as evidenced by the extraordinary amount of stomach relief advertising on American and Canadian television.

Americans and Canadians constantly add food and drinks, often of very dubious nutritional value, to their stomachs, while a previous meal is still being digested.

Americans have even invented a name for this type of eating, "grazing."

This routine confuses their bodies.

Water, however, can and should be consumed throughout the day, except perhaps just before or just after meals.

Have your main meal at lunch

Have your main meal at lunch, and allow ample time for it.

Do not rush this meal, as so many Americans and Canadians do.

Eat in a comfortable, relaxed setting, which allows digestion to begin in the proper manner.

Remain seated throughout lunch, and do not get up immediately after eating.

Instead, allow at least five minutes or so for the stomach to begin to digest before moving on to other activity.

Have an ample lunch and have a variety of foods that changes each day, but don't overeat. Do not eat to the point of discomfort.

Have a variety of foods, but avoid heavy foods while travelling

We don't advocate specific foods to eat or not to eat.

However, we do suggest that a large variety of freshly-prepared food, including a number of different fruits and vegetables, be consumed each day.

Do avoid too much fried and other very fatty foods, which are particularly difficult to digest while travelling. These are the "fast foods" that so many eat while on the run.

You can enjoy rich foods—the French, after all, savour rich foods—but don't consume massive amounts of them.

As mentioned, favour meals cooked from fresh ingredients, when possible.

Avoid food poisoning

The hot North American climate makes it dangerous to consume a variety of foods that have been without refrigeration for more than several hours.

Especially dangerous are eggs and products made with eggs, such as salads and sandwiches made with mayonnaise. Meats and fish go bad quickly, too.

Some say the acidity of mayonnaise helps preserve meats, but please be very careful.

Many people die or become severely ill from food poisoning each year in Canada and the United States due to foods improperly stored in a warm climate.

Because you'll likely enjoy outdoor picnics while travelling, be concerned about proper food storage.

Bread with a hard cheese is easily portable; bread with chicken salad is not.

Stay away from overly cold foods and drinks

Even in hot weather, avoid having too much very cold food and drink, an American bad habit.

This interferes with your digestion.

Avoid the American routine of having many drinks with ice throughout the day. You may ask for water without ice in restaurants.

Alcohol, by the way, makes you feel hotter, not cooler, on warm days. If you must drink it, don't have it too cold.


Have at least one period of significant of exercise each day, preferably in the early morning or evening when it is not so hot.

And, vary the types of exercise that you do.

For example, walk one day but swim the next—or do both the same day.

This will do wonders for your digestion and well being.

Even on Greyhound trips, you can walk at rest stops, which usually occur every two to four hours. Just do not be late getting back.

On trains you can walk back and forth along most of the length of the trains, and on many go up and down stairs.

When driving, stop every two to three hours for at least some light exercise and for freshness of mind.

The important point is to keep active, even when opportunities are limited.

Have an early light evening meal

Don't have your evening meal too late. And, don't eat too much rich food at night.

Having an early light meal allows you to sleep better and for your body to focus on purification, not digestion, while you sleep.

Americans and Canadians often eat earlier in the evening than many cultures.

Join them—but just don't consume as much.

Go to be early

On most nights, go to bed early, by 10:00 p.m. or earlier, if possible.

A natural cycle makes you feel sleepy prior to this time.

Go with this cycle.

If you frequently have trouble falling asleep, remove temptations near your bed, such as books, light switches, television remote control devices, computers, etc.

You may ignore the early to bed rule in Montreal and New York City and other exciting places at times, but try to follow it as much as possible.

You need a good sleep to be your best.

Avoid colds

You have to avoid people boorish enough to not cover their mouths when they cough. Turn away from them. If you have to cough without a handkerchief, turn your mouth toward your shoulder. Do not leave germs on your hand.

Also, avoid rubbing your eyes with your hands and fingers or picking your nose with your fingers. Cold germs spread easiest this way.

Colds are perhaps the most common complaint while travelling.

But, getting proper rest, having a nutritious diet, and keeping your hands and fingers away from your nose and eyes are the best ways to avoid them.

Good luck!

Adopt the above routines.

You'll benefit greatly from them.

You will be lean, keen, and ready for travel and other opportunities.

As promised, have you noticed that the above suggestions cost absolutely nothing to implement? In fact, you should save money by following these.

If you just follow the above general hints, you are doing well.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday.

For health and safety tips when camping or hiking

Go to >> Staying healthy outdoors

For more health and safety tips

Go to >> Being safe

Go to >> Driving safely in Canada and the U.S.

Go to >> Staying healthy

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