Hydration is a major part of keeping our bodies healthy and energetic. H2O helps our muscles function, our skin protect, and our brains focus. Becoming dehydrated creates a shut down within the body that is not only painful, but possibly harmful long term. The most irritating part is that we know this is completely avoidable by paying attention to our bodies.
The most common hydration tip we hear is drink 8 cups a day and you will be fine. However, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academics, women should consume 91 oz of water a day and men 125 oz. Translated to American drinking measurements this equals 11.375 cups for women and 15.625 cups for men. A typical Nalgene bottle holds 4 cups; therefore, women would have to refill that 3 times a day and men 4 times a day. If you are filling your 1 liter camelbak it is about the same amount of cups as your Nalgene bottle. How are you comparing so far?
Taking this a step further, I fully believe that when traveling it’s important to consume over the recommended daily amount. Why? Because it will help your body stay regular on a not so regular routine. When traveling everything changes in your regular schedule. You probably wake up earlier because you are driving all day or catching an early flight. You will probably eat different foods such as fast food whether it’s because of that early morning and being rushed or because you don’t want to waste time on the road. Airplane food and culturally diverse foods can also be a huge surprise to your body. You will exercise less and sit more. And finally, traveling can increase your stress level making your heart pump faster.
Consuming more water will make this irregular routine feel a little less abnormal to your body. Water helps you digest or rid the body of those unusual foods, keeps the muscles moving while being awake longer, and curbs stress snacking or other habits. Yes, you may have to be finding the restroom a little more frequently, but wouldn’t you rather that than fainting from dehydration while on an epic trip?
This is all perfectly easy when you live and travel within the United Sates, but this hydration recommendation becomes a little tricky when you start crossing the pond. Have you ever been to Germany? Their beer there is fantastic; in fact, it’s so fantastic that it’s cheaper than water at most restaurants. It blew my brother’s mind when his wife asked him to order a bottle of water and the price tag was 14 euros. Same thing in Italy with wine. I went nearly a whole trip drinking only wine at meals because water was twice the price.
In a USA restaurant the waiter or waitress will typically bring out water right away, and some even leave a bottle of cold water on the table for you. It is a cultural blessing, which most Americans take for granted, and it is amazing how much you miss this little gesture when you don’t have it. That was the first thing I ordered when returning to America, a FREE glass of ice-water.
So how do we get around paying obscene amounts of money for water and yet continue to hydrate ourselves while traveling? One way is to know the tricks of the country. Places like Mexico don’t have free water because their tap-water is no good. It’s is a safety reason for not providing water on the dinner table, and they are not as blessed to have high tech filtration systems like America. Therefore, bottled water takes the place.
Bottled water in countries you are unsure of is always the safe bet. Buying bottled even in countries like Germany, who I know have the resources to filtrate their water, but choose to charge you for it, is a good alternative. Most of the time you can find a grocery store that sells good bottled water for mere cents. By preparing ahead and drinking your bottled water while doing your sight seeing, you won’t have to shell out the money for it at the restaurants.
Another trick to know is what the locals call their “table water”. I found that it was possible to get free drinkable water in most European countries, but you had to know how to ask for it, and you had to be prepared for a not so happy waiter/waitress to bring it to you. Like I said places like Germany, Italy, and Austria are set up with water filtration systems and they know how to make their water drinkable. They just prefer to make extra money off of tourists because they know they can.
Knowing the tricks of the place you are visiting is a huge step in getting those 12-20 cups of water a day. However, if you noticed above when talking about daily amounts, I never used the word drink, rather I chose the word consume. So I’m going to teach you the best tricks to COSUME your daily amounts even when beer is cheaper than water.
Did you know that 80% of our water intake comes from drinking liquids and the remaining 20% comes from foods?
Your diet becomes just as important as drinking water when trying to stay hydrated. In fact you could probably bump that 20% up to 30% if you eat healthy fresh foods. Who knows you may even reach the other food pyramid recommendations by doing this. CRAZY! Here are just a few examples of how much water foods contain:
Food to Percentage Water
Lettuce (1½ cup) 95%
Watermelon (1½ cup) 92%
Broccoli (1½ cup) 91%
Grapefruit (1½ cup) 91%
Milk (1 cup) 89%
Orange juice (3/4 cup) 88%
Carrot (1½ cup) 87%
Yogurt (1 cup) 85%
Apple (one medium) 84%
Sweet Corn on the Cob: 74%
White Meat Chicken, Cooked:61%
Whole Wheat Bread: 35%
So what about those other so called “unhealthy” beverages, do they count towards staying hydrated? YOU BET! Check out the chart below to see just how much water is in beer. Granted this is not always the most ideal choice for hydration, but in moderation beer does have nutritional value. I mean, the Germans drink it religiously and most of them are very fit people.
|Regular Beer||Light Beer||Bud Light||Michelob Ultra|
When it comes to your body never give up. The evidence shows that there are easy tricks to stay hydrated. Sip your coffee, eat your fruit and vegetables, drink your beer, and buy some bottled water. Most importantly, pay attention to the signs your body gives you and stay ahead of dehydration while touring the great wall of China or the Roman Empire. To end, I’ll leave you with a quote my good friend reminds me of every day, “hydrate or die!”. He was a marine…
*Originally published on brktrail.com