We often think that embarking on long-term travel will cause everything in our lives to deteriorate, from our safety to our waistlines.
Having almost been blown up back home in Boston this week, however, I assure you that’s not the case.
For nine straight months of travel, I was perfectly safe on rickety Southeast Asian buses, in creaky Ghanaian hotels, and on the streets of notoriously mugger-friendly Southern Spain.
And yet, in month one of my new apartment in Boston, I just found out that there was a giant gas leak seeping from a hole in one of our pipes, slowly spewing toxic, flammable fumes into our lungs, ready to ignite at the first spark!
Thanks to some sharp-nosed friends, I reported the smell and a VERY alarmed gas technician came immediately to fix it. But… sheesh! What an annoyance it would have been to explode back home after successful long-term travel abroad!
And here’s another surprising boon of extended travel besides the fact that it’s often safer than being back home: Travel appears to have slimmed me down!
Check out these before and after photos and judge for yourself. Pre-travel I was a cheeky little missy. Post-travel, I got a nice defined chin goin’ on. If you trace the progression on the 400 photo-filled articles on this blog, you may see the steady change as well.
Now, this weight loss is NOT what I would have expected, given the ridiculous number of articles on this blog with the label: “Lusciousness: Food.”
But when I ponder it, I can see some reasons why travel could tighten up one’s body:
- Extended travel makes you lose bulkiness and gain lean muscle from the miles and miles of walking you do, and the many times you hoist your big backpack!
- All the food I ate abroad combined likely had less toxic preservatives than one week of processed American food!
- When you travel for months on end, you HAVE to learn moderation in food and drink, because a hedonistic vacation lifestyle can only last so long before your system freaks out.
- Before I left, I was in an extremely stressful job, and thus was stress-eating like crazy. During long-term travel, you can often sleep as much as you want, and do anything it takes to make yourself less stressed. And thus some of that stress weight melts away.
- While traveling, I had a whole year without winter, meaning I didn’t gain that customary cold weather insulating pudge.
- Since it was warm everywhere I went and there were lots of coasts, there was much swimming to be done, and swimming is superb exercise.
- Long-term travel with no steady income means a miniature budget, which forces you to think extra hard before paying for another snack or a bigger meal.
- There are lots and lots of nubile young backpackers on the road with you, and thus you have extra incentive to keep up with their muscular physique!
- Almost certainly, you will get sick during long-term travel, which, for better or worse, re-sets your system.
- When you travel in Developing Countries and live with local people, you cannot indulge in constant expensive eating as you might in America with friends, because your local friends do not and cannot live that way.
So there you have it: want to lose weight? You can either exercise more and eat better at home… or hop on a plane and start traveling for months on end. Or, as in my case, you can do both! Here’s to stayin’ healthy, chums.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!