By Sammy Amaro |

Advice for travelers: don’t get dehydrated. Traveling takes a large toll on your body, and not recognizing the warning signs can end up ruining your trip. 

Thinking back, I may have taken the warnings about dehydration a bit lightly. Even though our class had been warned several times in information sessions to watch out for this health hazard, I didn’t think it would apply to me. Everyone understood the importance of staying hydrated, we carried our water bottles everywhere, even in the airport. But I still didn’t drink enough water.

Travel wreaks havoc on your body. On airplanes, the air inside the cabin is extremely dry and the humidity is much lower than most people are used to. While driving, the AC in the car can dry sweat quickly and the driver may lose more water than they realize. Some studies even suggest that driving dehydrated is the same as drunk driving. 

I, for one, don’t usually become dehydrated so I almost didn’t recognize I was experiencing it. On our free travel weekend, my group of friends and I decided to visit the farmers market in a ruin bar in Budapest’s Jewish quarter. It was an amazing experience. There was a row of flowers pushed against one side of the wall, twinkly lights and netting above our heads, and walls tagged with everyone who came before and wanted to leave their mark.

Cramming the artistic wasteland on the ground floor sat a gnome statue on a swing above the crowds. Stalls with friendly vendors sold everything from bouquets to hot sauce. The mid-June heat didn’t bother me much since I spent a large portion of my childhood at my grandmother’s house in Mexico before she got AC. It wasn’t until I stood up to get a lemonade from the bar, away from where my friends sat, that I knew something was wrong.  

I suddenly felt tired, my knees grew weak. A headache began to root itself into the forefront of my brain, and my stomach became unsettled. I set down the lemonade and coconut water I had ordered just in time to run over to a nearby trash can and throw up. 

The feeling seemed to last forever, but when it passed, I grabbed the drinks and immediately headed back to our table to tell my roommate. If my roommate hadn’t recognized these as the symptoms of dehydration, I might have just thought I was overwhelmed and brushed off my sudden bout of sickness. After all, the crowds, the colors, the language and the heat seemed to have gotten to me. I could have ended up in a hospital with an IV drip stuck in my arm to get fluids.

Dehydration presents itself in subtle ways: feeling constantly thirsty, dry mouth or exhaustion are common symptoms. It also includes dry skin, headaches and dizziness. All symptoms I had. Every morning that week I’d wake up feeling tired with a dry throat, but I’d write it off as not having enough sleep or the lack of humidity in the city. 

This could happen to anyone. Drinking enough water isn’t something you learn to do for the purpose of staying healthy in Europe, it’s about presenting a healthy habit into your lifestyle. Hydration isn’t just about carrying a water bottle, it starts early from the minute you get on a plane. For example, airplane passengers are inundated with so many choices like tea, juice, water, coffee or even alcohol. With so many options, water seems a boring choice to go with a meal or not quite enough to wake you up after a four-hour nap.  

To prevent dehydration when you travel, it’s recommended to drink more water and avoid diuretics like coffee and tea. Especially if you sweat, which is more likely in the summer, drinking enough water to replenish the water you lost through your sweat is important. This way you replace the water that you lose. Electrolytes also help, like those found in sports drinks.  

While it may seem like an exaggeration, dehydration is a serious issue that travelers face. I wish I’d taken the warnings to heart, but at least now I know better.