There’s something about the mountain air that brings out the best and worst in people. Often, when travelers reach the mountains of the northern areas, it’s as though the fresh air induces the need to show off and be “adventurous” or “brave”. Men and women alike push themselves too hard, overestimating their strength and ignoring their body’s signals. This is especially dangerous at high altitudes, where altitude sickness is a very real possibility, and medical help is often far away. To combat this uninformed approach, here are some health tips for travel in the mountains, to keep you safe and healthy on your next trip into the northern areas.
10 Easy Health Tips for Travel in the Mountains
1. Drink a lot of water.
Staying hydrated is the most important tip for travel in the mountains! The higher the altitude, the more water you need to drink. You will sweat a lot while trekking, but you may not notice due to the low humidity and fast rate at which your sweat evaporates. Make sure to drink at least 4 liters of water per day.
2. Carry dried fruits.
Dried apricots are a delicious snack common throughout the northern areas of Pakistan, and they are known to help with altitude sickness and increase stamina. They are also extremely easy to carry! If you cannot find dried apricots, other forms of dried fruit will do, and cheese is another alternative snack commonly found in the northern areas.
3. Add ORS to your water.
When you sweat, your body also loses something called electrolytes. Drinking water will replenish fluids lost from sweating, but will not do anything about lost electrolytes. Adding one portion of ORS to your water each day will help replenish your electrolytes, and give you stamina for your mountain trek.
4. Stretch after a long day of walking.
If you don’t want to be bedridden after a long trek, take care of your body! Take 10 to 15 minutes to stretch once you return from your day’s adventures. Here are some stretches you can do to alleviate pains from trekking.
5. Use massage oil on your limbs and feet.
After trekking around for a day, warm up a bit of massage oil (olive oil also works), and use it to massage your legs and feet. Oil massages stimulate circulation, which is exactly what your body needs after a long day of trekking!
6. Dress to protect yourself from the sun.
Wear a scarf or hat to protect your head, sunglasses over your eyes, and long shirts and trousers to protect your arms and legs. The higher you are, the thinner the air, and the more intense the sun’s UV rays are. Snow also reflects sunlight, which can be particularly damaging to your eyes, hence the need for sunglasses.
7. Pack natural materials.
Cotton, wool, or silk clothes are best, as they allow your body to breathe while walking. They will also dry much faster if drenched in sweat or rain.
8. Drink ginger tea.
Everyone knows ginger tea is especially helpful for settling an upset stomach, but it is also very helpful for combatting the effects of altitude sickness!
9. Watch out for each other.
Though it may seem obvious, this is one of the most important health tips for travel in the mountains, and something people quickly forget when high on “bravery” in the mountain air.
Watch out for your friends or family when walking in the mountains. If someone is feeling sick, or showing symptoms of altitude sickness, stop for a moment. Give them a chance to rest and breathe, and make sure to provide plenty of water and fruits. True friends don’t push too hard or make fun of each other, they look out for each other when necessary.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
You don’t need to be macho in the mountains, you need to be attentive. If someone is sick or needs help, get help. Locals understand the challenges of living and exploring the mountain areas, and can be an invaluable resource in times of need. The people of the northern areas are also very sweet and helpful. Make sure you are kind in return.
Do you have other health tips for travel in the mountains?
Everyone has their own methods of dealing with extreme situations, and we would love to hear what yours are! Feel free to comment with your own tips below. You never know when they might be useful to other travelers.