Some of the most exhilarating travel experiences and destinations just happen to be up in the sky – so far up, in fact, that they can sometimes cause what some unfortunate travelers experience as high altitude sickness.
But, lucky for you, dear traveler, we have some tips and tricks for adjusting to altitude, helping you have the very best trip possible.
Let’s start by explaining what altitude sickness really is.
What is Altitude Sickness, Anyway?
Also known as acute mountain sickness, altitude sickness occurs when you are exposed to a reduction in the partial pressure of oxygen.
In other words, altitude sickness is made up of a series of adverse effects (such as nausea, exhaustion, or hyperventilation) as the result of your body’s exposure to a shortage of oxygen.
The Good News?
Altitude sickness doesn’t have to ruin your next big adventure. It’s a good thing, too, because you wouldn’t want to miss out on the adventure of a lifetime – like one of our hiking trips through British Columbia, or our Peru adventure vacations.
Tips for Adjusting to High Altitude
Following the guidelines below will help ensure your health and happiness during your next high altitude vacation:
1) Arrive Early.
Try to arrive at your high altitude destination a few days early. This will give your body a few days to rest and adjust as you prepare for the intense activity to come. Take it easy – rest in your room or take a short, slow walk around town. Focus on relaxation and avoid overexertion – these are the first few days of your vacation, after all!
2) Slow Down.
The best piece of advice we can give to travelers is to take it slow. Allow your body the time it needs to fully adjust to its new surroundings. Jet lag, an unfamiliar environment, mixed with excitement and changes in pressure and oxygen levels are enough for anyone to feel overwhelmed. It’s important to take the time up front to truly relax and let your body acclimatise. You’re asking a lot of your body when you tackle any adventure vacation, so do yourself a favor and give it the rest it really needs!
3) Stay Hydrated.
We just can’t say it enough: water, water, water! Do your body a favor by continuously sipping on water throughout the day. Being dehydrated is never a fun experience, but at a high altitude, the implications of dehydration are even worse. Constant water drinking is the perfect solution to the most common symptoms of dehydration – including headaches, chapped lips, and irritability. Drink up!
4) Breathe Deeply.
Relax! Take a deep breath. You’re on the adventure of a lifetime, after all! At higher altitudes you’ll notice that the air is thinner. Be conscious of your breathing and remember to take in generous amounts of oxygen through slow, deep breaths.
5) Eat Lightly.
Be sure to eat light meals for your first few days at high altitude. Overeating can cause difficulties sleeping at night. Additionally, since your body is adjusting to the altitude, it’s having to work overtime to digest your meals. Give your body a break by eating a light lunch and a light dinner upon your first day of arrival. Chances are you won’t be too hungry, anyway!
6) Avoid Alcohol.
If you’re going to consume alcohol, be sure that it’s in very small quantities (if any at all). You’ve probably heard that consuming alcohol affects you differently at higher elevations – and this is true. You will feel the effects much quicker, and when your body is already working so diligently to adjust to the altitude, adding alcohol to the mix can result in additional unwanted reactions. Of course, a welcome drink at your hotel is completely fine, but we recommend leaving it at that for your first few days.
7) Wear Sunscreen.
You’re closer to the sun up here! Even if it doesn’t feel warm outside, be sure to lather up. If that sun is shining, chances are your skin is going to attract the rays. (Even if it’s cloudy, still put that sunscreen on just in case). If you’ve ever experienced a sunburn on your first day of vacation, you won’t think twice about this point!
Don’t let a fear of altitude sickness get in the way of an otherwise fantastic adventure. You’ll never know what you’re missing out on! From hiking tours in Peru to hiking in Tasmania, you’ll find many exhilarating hiking vacations to choose from with Austin Adventures.
Rely On Your Travel Experts
By taking the proper time to rest and by following the other guidelines noted above, we’re confident you’ll experience nothing but fun and excitement on your vacation.
That said, it never hurts to have someone else on your side. For your next high altitude vacation, why not consider traveling with other like-minded individuals and an experienced tour guide?
Your guide is well-equipped to assist you should you have any questions or concerns about altitude sickness or anything else on the course of your journey – just one of the many perks of small group travel.
Explore small group vacations today!