7 Ways to Stay Healthy (and Fit) When Traveling
Hi from the bright and sunny city of New York. I’ve just made another 18 hour journey across the ocean. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. This time I’m all about traveling light and creating space to make a real transformation. I’m first inspired to take stock and share the lessons I learned on traveling well from my last transatlantic journey just a few short weeks ago. These tips are guaranteed to keep you feeling and looking your best while on the go.
But first, can I just tell you how surprised at how unwell I felt on this past trip. I spent half of my time abroad trying to recover from eating foods that didn’t agree, battling to stay hydrated, and fussing over home yoga practice in places not designed for yoga (hello creaky hardwood floors).
I made some rookie mistakes! Allow them to be at your service. The main takeaway is that being healthy in your own home and being healthy while traveling requires radically different approaches. For the latter, preparation is your best weapon because some days maintaining your health will seem like a battle. You should also take stock of your healthy habits pre-travel to see how travel conditions can create roadblocks to healthy, routine behavior.
On this front, I could give you an endless list of do’s and don’ts but I won’t. Instead I will give you some food for thought based on my own knowledge, experiences along with a downloadable Travel Well Tip Sheet & Packing List. I hope this will help you to positively glow from the inside out on your next trip.
1. Stay hydrated.
This seems simple enough but when you add in varying levels of water potability at your destination, and extreme contrasts in weather and altitudes, it is very easy to become dehydrated. Buy a water bottle that travels well. Designate your water bottle as your “travel water bottle” so that it has a mental association with keeping you hydrated while traveling. Fill it up after the last security gate prior to boarding the plane. Don’t be shy to ask the flight attendants to fill it up while flying. This will go a long way to ensure that you don’t arrive at your destination on the back foot, severely dehydrated. Download a water tracking mobile app such as Waterlogged to keep you motivated on your hydration journey.
2. Yoga and meditate every day.
I’ve extolled the physical and mental benefits of prating yoga daily in many places. When you are traveling things can get a bit tricky so here is what worked for me. I carved out a small slice of time each morning to do gentle yoga. I packed a decent travel mat. You can use my guide on how to develop a yoga practice to help you figure out one that works for you when you travel. I also yoga studio hopped and put together a tip sheet on how to select a yoga studio that fits you. I learned stillness meditation and incorporated that into my mornings and evenings. Meditation gives efficiency gains, calmness and additional ease. Plus it’s a big help with jet lag!
3. Go with your gut in mind.
One of the best things about travel is eating yummy new local cuisines. Unfortunately it also means a higher than usual exposure to processed foods and ingredients to which you might have sensitivities. Prior to my travels I had almost stopped eating all gluten and further reduced my dairy intake. We all know airplane food is the worse food on the planet. But as I hadn’t Prepared with healthy snacks, I was forced to eventually eat. I was however prepared with digestive enzymes and probiotics. Make sure you have these on hand to help your body deal with situations in which you must eat foods that you normally wouldn’t.
4. Detox. Detox. Detox.
Not in the hardcore detox retreat kind of way, but in a gentle common sense manner. Have some inflammation? Take some Turmeric or Krill Oil capsules. Feet swelling? Practice Legs up the Wall yoga pose and drink some Dandelion Tea. Feeling kind of blah, constipated? Try a tablespoon of Castor Oil very early in the morning and be near a toilet 3 or 4 hours later. This should be done as a last resort but it is VERY effective and all natural. Remember your FIRST method of DETOX is to drink lots of WATER.
5. Invest in a travel skin care regimen.
If I could have you write this 10 times to commit this to memory I would. The skin is the largest organ in the body and is in charge of some heavy duty waste elimination functions. Facial skincare was a footnote in my list of travel concerns. Oh boy did I regret this! I had breakouts reminiscent of 9th grade and eczema flare ups! If this happens to you, you might as well call Tyrone! Attending to a break out is infinitely harder than preventing one. I got a Hydrafacial, which is phenomenal and immediately and fully hydrates your skin, but it’s a bit on the expensive side. A little miracle for inflamed skin that I discovered along the way was Pine Tar soap. I’m also experimenting with oil cleansing methods and stumbled upon an amazing Canadian brand called The Ordinary that has pure oils that are so INEXPENSIVE that you will hardly believe the price tag. I’m using their Borage Seed oil which has the highest amount of linoleic acid than any other oil! People with acne prone skin are thought to have a high percentage of oleic acid in their sebum (natural skin oil). It’s thought that these low linoleic acid levels is one of the things that causes acne. Pumpkin seed oil is also a great source of linoleic acid.
6. Pack light.
Carrying around a lot of physical baggage can end up becoming emotional baggage depending on your mode(s) of transport. Because of where I live right now traveling is almost always long and complicated. However, when I’m able to travel light I always feel better. I’ve found the packing lists on Travel Fashion Girl to be super helpful. The site has many generic lists, some for men. When you find a travel light formula that works for you – write it down somewhere so that you can easily return to it!
7. Take time to prepare!
Traveling bad can happen to the most experienced health-conscious travelers as many trips are bookended with increased responsibilities at home and work. Don’t fall victim to mindlessly planning your trips. The best tried and true method is to have packing lists that you stick to as if your very life depended on it. The peace of mind you have on the way to the airport —i.e. no mental gymnastics to determine whether you forgot something at home — is priceless! It’s a good idea to revisit these lists as your needs will change over time.
A word of caution...
There are times to fly by the seat of your pants and traveling is not one of them. I wish I could write that you don’t need to spend resources to travel well, but that would simply be an untruth. The solutions I’ve recommended are all natural, of high quality, and from low to moderate in cost. If you want to stay well while traveling, then download my Travel + Well Packing List and put it to use! Organizing yourself will get easier over time, it just takes a bit of practice.
Good luck and bon voyage!