The Secret to Maintaining Your Health During Travel
Written by Jackie Mulligan
Travel can disrupt our healthy lifestyles in more way than one: from increased stress and disrupted sleep to limited food options and more time sitting. Sometimes it feels like a week away can undo all the good progress we’ve been making. Let’s not let travel be a reason for us to deviate from our health goals. How? After years of traveling cross-country to see family and across the world for my job, I am sharing my best travel tips to keep you healthy, minimize stress and enjoy the experience of being away.
To Exercise or Not?
Travel in itself can be stressful and adding in intense exercise may not be the best idea for you if that’s the case. If you’re going to compromise sleep to get in an early morning workout, think again. If you’re well rested and have flexibility, then I recommend sticking to your normal routine and making it a priority. Travel can also be an opportunity to switch things up and add in more stretching or bodyweight movement which you can do right in your hotel room. My two favorite resources are: ROMWOD and YogaGlo. Alternatively, you can go for a long walk or visit a nearby park with your jump rope. This can help you to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings and can help reduce stress while you get the blood flowing.
My last post, Give Yourself a Break, provided tips and techniques to getting quality rest that you need and deserve. Adequate rest and sleep are essential for basic function of the neurological, digestive, endocrine and immune systems. To recap, remember to blackout the hotel room (disconnect unnecessary lights and alarms, draw the shades, or bring your eye mask) keep the temperature cool, stick to your bedtime routine (unpack, shower, read, stretch, etc.), wear ear plugs and unplug from technology an hour before bed to get quality sleep.
Beat Jet Lag
To prepare for longer trips (one week or more) shift into travel time zone. You may consider moving all activities, meals and sleep time up an hour for up to three days before you depart. For shorter trips (less than one week), I recommend staying on your home time zone as much as possible. Hydrate well and more than usual; avoid alcohol and caffeine. Once you arrive, aim to get early morning sun exposure daily to help reset your circadian rhythm.
Part of the fun of traveling includes exploring new restaurants, local foods, and cultures. Do your research beforehand and map out healthy restaurants so you have a plan before arriving. You can search directly on Google, Yelp, or Tripadvisor for keywords like “paleo,” “farm to table” or “gluten-free.” You may also want to research nearby grocery stores and markets.
Surviving Long Flights
To avoid airplane food and ensure you get in sufficient fuel, prepare to-go meals or bring a premade meal. (I often travel with Model Meals and Mush). I typically pack a big salad with meat to eat on the plane during meal time. Vegetables often fall by the wayside on travel days, so packing them in a meal is a sure way to keep them in your daily intake. Spend the extra money on a spacious seat; it’s worth it. Wear comfortable clothes and get up to stretch. Instead of planning more work for the duration of your flight, enjoy the stillness from being disconnected. Rest. Hydrate. Breathe.
When you arrive at a restaurant, tell the waiter your food preferences (gluten-free,dairy-free, or whatever you are trying to avoid) and ask for their assistance in making substitutions. You can order a salad with oil and vinegar on the side, a burger (sans bun) with a lettuce wrap, or any entrée dish that includes fish, meat or poultry with double vegetables on the side.
Healthy & Convenient (Snacks & Supplements)
Ever realize that you’re hungrier when you travel? It’s like our bodies and brain go into survival mode because there is a chance that food may not be available to us for a longer period of time than we are used to. Packaged foods or low maintenance food make for great emergency snacks, especially while traveling abroad or working long hours away from the hotel. You can pack them in your suitcase and take what you’d like in your carry-on for immediate use.
Some of my favorite “on the go” food include (most are also available at WholeFoods):
– Jerky like Epic Bars or CHOMPS
– Bars like RXBAR, Simple Squares or Mammoth Bars
– Nuts and seeds (or pre-made trail mixes)
– Dried or freeze-dried fruit like dried mango or apple chips or coconut chips
– Individual packets of almond butter or coconut butter
– Fresh fruits like apples, bananas, avocados or oranges
– Protein substitute to add to your water, tea or coffee like collagen packs
– Vegetables are not easy to find on travel days: PurePharma G3 is a perfect replacement
– Daily dose servings of Omega-3 Fish oil, Magnesium and Vitamin D3 in individual travel sachets PurePharma-3
– Probiotics to go
Go With the Flow
While maintaining your health throughout traveling is ideal, the most important thing you can do throughout your trip is to not stress about getting your workout in or eating perfectly. In fact, stress is one of the main causes of digestive issues. This means you may be eating a nutrient-dense, whole food diet but if you’re stressed, you’re impairing the absorption and breakdown of your food.
“Wherever you go, there you are.” Many of us travel to amazing places for work but don’t get to actually enjoy the places we visit. Even if work takes up most of your time, do what you can to get outside, walk around and take in some of your surroundings. Unplug from your digital devices and look around. Yes, there is time.
Your brain likes a plan, so wherever you’re headed, do your best to plan ahead and prepare. The goal is not perfection– (read: “all or nothing”), but instead, to minimize stress as much as possible so that you can thoroughly enjoy the experience of traveling while also maintaining your health. Let’s change the storyline and turn travel into an opportunity to continue to improve our health.
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