Traveling can be one of the most difficult times to maintain a healthy diet, hydration intake, sleep schedule etc. BUT it is also one of the most important times to maintain a healthy routine. I know the word routine may not seem like something that would be synonymous with travel but it really is, especially if travel is a frequent part of your life or work. Think about it when you travel you are most likely going to be spending at least one of your meals in the car or at an airport/on a plane, your sleep schedule will most definitely be off, and your workouts may be more difficult to get in. All of these things are need to be in balance for a healthy lifestyle, so why give them up when we travel? Even if it is only for a few days. Why not instead try and find ways to make small changes that can help keep our bodies balanced and feeling like their normal selves.
Quality food choices are essential to maintaining a healthy body and feeling great while traveling. Not only do our bodies need nourishment for the energy traveling takes out of all of us, but food is also directly tied to how our digestive systems will respond to travel. Since constipation, and bloating are common side effects of travel, it is so important to avoid foods that may increase these symptoms such as fast food that can be found at all airports, or the high fat potato chips and other processed foods that can be found in convenience stores.
Since traveling tends to lower most peoples inhibitions around food, especially when we are tired and stressed, it can be easy to make poor choices that are only going to make us feel worse. Not to mention the reality check you get when buying an $15 dollar airport sandwich, also known as airport high way robbery. For both of these reasons I always travel with a game plan around food and never underestimate my potential hunger, or the fact that I could easily be delayed a few hours at the last minute.
Here are some of my go to tips/tricks to maintaining a healthy diet while traveling:
- Bring a few granola bars (I always have a few lara bars in my bag if need be)
- Check online what the airport has for food options in your terminal, and plan ahead where you will go for food so that you aren't as likely to be distracted by other unhealthy options when you are hungry.
- Bring some whole pieces of fruit like apples, banana, and peaches that can be easily transported and don't require any utensils.
- Pack an individual sized container of hummus and some carrot sticks.
- When in doubt, go to Starbucks. Almost every airport has one and they usually have healthier granola bars, hard boiled eggs, cut fruit, lattes/cappuccinos that can be made with non-dairy milk, and purred fruit smoothie packs for healthy snacks.
- Bring along a few individually wrapped pieces of your favorite dark chocolate to curb your sweet cravings. (I opt for 70% cocoa and higher)
- If you are in a bind in a convenience store opt for unsalted nuts, fruit/yogurt if they have it, hard boiled eggs (usually in the refrigerated section), or check and see if there are any lower-sugar granola bars, granola, or cereals that you may be able to eat with your fruit or yogurt.
Drinking lots and lots of water while traveling is probably the biggest key to staying healthy, and feeling/looking great. It is so easy to become dehydrated while traveling, which is why it is incredibly important to be drinking as much water as you possibly can throughout your trip. Drinking a lot of water is also key to staying "regular" and avoiding any digestive issues while traveling.
Here are some of my favorite ways to stay hydrated while traveling:
- Bring a reusable water bottle - I always have a water bottle with me that I can empty when going through airport security, and refill once I am at my gate.
- Sometimes I find it daunting to think of hydrating in terms of cups (I always lose track) so instead I think of hydrating in terms of liters, I aim for 3 liters a day of water and use a liter water bottle when traveling to make it easier to keep track of my hydration.
- Give yourself a deadline. For instance I will tell myself that I am going to drink an entire liter of water while on the plane, and will make sure I do so before getting off. Yes the downfall to this is needing to go to the bathroom, but hey its all part of keeping your body healthy.
- Skip the booze. It can be very tempting to enjoy a few glasses of wine on a long flight, but drinking will only further dehydrate you so I would advise avoiding it, or sticking to only one small alcoholic beverage if need be.
- If you just can't do the whole water thing at the moment, coffee and tea both will add to your hydration. While the caffeine in them has diuretic properties, you will still net fluids. Just make sure to watch your calories, and avoid using high fat creamers and sugar.
I am the worst at getting sleep while I am traveling. I can't sleep on airplanes, I can barely sleep in cars, I just am not a good travel sleeper. With this said I have found a few ways to try and get some sleep in while traveling, and have figured out the best ways to avoid serious jet lag.
Here are some of my favorite ways to stay rested while traveling:
- Buy a neck pillow. Like now. They literally are game changers when traveling and make it about a million times easier to catch some sleep.
- Purchase some ear plugs/noise canceling headphones and a face mask. For us light sleepers ear plugs/headphones are necessary and a face mask doesn't hurt when trying to get some sleep on a daytime travel trip.
- Make a relaxing playlist to listen to while you travel.
- Try melatonin. Melatonin is a natural supplement which can aid sleep, and is non-dependent.
- If you land in a different time zone try to stay awake for as long as you can, and aim to fall asleep during their reasonable nighttime hours. This may be difficult but it is the best way I have found to avoid serious jet lag. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to get up early the next morning if you don't need to, and sleep for as long as you can (even if this means into the mid-morning). Once rested you will have an easier time adjusting to your new time zone.
Working out can be hard to manage while traveling, however it is possible to stay active while traveling as long as you plan for it, and are realistic. For instance it may not be possible for you to workout everyday while you are traveling however it is always possible for you to walk the stairs or choose to walk a few miles rather than take a cab.
I tend to have a 3 mile rule. If my destination is under 3 miles and in a safe walkable area I will walk. For instance on my last trip to Washington DC, I walked roughly 7 miles each day just by choosing to walk instead of take a cab. Or I would walk one way to my destination and take a cab back. This way I got in a ton of exercise without ever planning a true "workout".
It is also good to always bring your workout clothes, and look to see whether your hotel provides access to a gym, or if there is a yoga or spin studio that may be located nearby in your area where you could workout once or twice. You can also google good running routes near your travel destination, or do some easy exercises like push-ups and sit-ups in your hotel room if needed.
I usually will travel with my travel yoga mat and do a few "at home" yoga practices while I am on the road. This is a simple way for me to get a workout in, without even leaving my hotel room.