With so many of us traveling again, it is important to remember how to keep yourself healthy while on the road. Keeping your immune system running smoothly, getting quality sleep, and staying at a healthy weight—whether you’re in back-to-back meetings, relaxing at the beach, or reuniting with family—is a top priority. Read on for a few ways to keep your healthy goals on track even while traveling.
1. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
When it comes to making good choices around food and exercise, getting enough quality sleep should be high on your list. Ever notice how after a poor night of sleep, junk food cravings are at an all-time high? Quality sleep—and enough of it—helps regulate your hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. To start any trip on the right foot, it’s important to maintain good sleep hygiene—and take steps to mitigate any disturbances that a time change might cause. If possible, start prepping for the change by adjusting your sleep schedule about a week before you leave to help you align more closely with the local time at your destination. When you arrive, be sure to get a little sunlight early each day to support your body’s circadian rhythm and natural melatonin production. Pack an eye mask and/or ear plugs, as well as download a white noise app, to help you get comfortable in an unfamiliar sleep environment. Finally, don’t be afraid to take a melatonin supplement as a preventative measure. Five milligrams 30 minutes before bed should do the trick.
2. A Little Meal Prep Goes a Long Way
The key to healthy eating on a trip is all about being prepared. Research healthy dining options at both the airport and your destination before you go. Google menus for restaurants in your vicinity to have a good idea of the choices you’ll have.
Ask your hotel if they can provide a mini refrigerator, which will allow you to store a healthy breakfast or keep nutritious snacks on hand. If that isn’t an option, pack a foldable travel cooler. Once at your destination, fill it with ice and store a few key perishables that will help you from raiding the minibar’s candy and cookie selections.
The same goes for your car and/or flight. Utilize that cooler bag so you can skip the salty and sugary junk. Focus on snacks that include protein, healthy fats, and fiber, such as cut up fruit and veggies, raw nuts and seeds, chicken or tuna salad, hardboiled eggs, and Greek yogurt.
VEGGIE HACK: Pack frozen cubes of your favorite green juice or smoothie in a plastic Ziplock baggies. As long as they’re solid, you can take them through security, and they’ll be ready to sip by the time you reach your destination.
3. When You Eat is Just as Important as What You Eat
In addition to making mindful choices throughout your trip, it is also worth considering the timing of your meals if you are facing a transition between time zones. If traveling to an earlier time zone, consider waiting to eat breakfast until you land, signaling to your body that your day has just begun. If flying to a later time zone, aim for a lighter dinner so that you can get to bed earlier without a heavy meal to digest which will make it much harder to fall asleep.
4. Take a Full-Body Approach to Staying Hydrated
Land and air travel can both be dehydrating which means headaches, digestive problems, and even a greater susceptibility to germs. Bathroom breaks can be tricky, so many of us skimp on water. Pack your reusable water bottle to fill on the road and after getting through security. Sip regularly throughout your drive or flight. Avoid dehydrating beverages like alcohol and coffee and give yourself a little immune boost by using saline spray. Keeping the mucous membranes in your nasal passages adequately hydrated helps them better defend against pathogens, so be sure to use it multiple times on a long flight. At your destination, start your day with at least two full glasses of water—it’ll set you up for a better day even if you’re less diligent later in the day.
5. Don’t Take a Vacation from Exercise
You may be headed to the beach or stuck in back-to-back meetings, but make sure you stay committed to moving your body every day. While it’s great if you can hit your hotel’s gym every morning and get in your usual routine, it’s not necessary. Use the excuse of exploring a new place to get some movement in. Consider walking instead of calling an Uber, sign up for a biking or walking tour, hit the trail in a local park or go online and search for short exercise routines that can be done literally anywhere at any time. These are often free, and thanks to the pandemic, there are thousands of options, many of which are free. Just 5, 10, or 15 minutes of getting your heart rate elevated and your muscles moving is beneficial, so even a short workout in your hotel room is a win.
Exercise not only helps you maintain a healthy weight, but energizes you, elevates your mood, supports healthy sleep (both helping you fall asleep faster and deeper), and even strengthens your immune system. Research shows that regular exercise boosts immunity by not only making your body more resistant to infection, but by allowing it to detect infection earlier. Just like drinking water, get your exercise in early because as the day wears on, you’ll be less likely to try and fit it in.
6. Supplement with Magnesium and Probiotics
One of the most common side effects from travel is an unhappy digestive system. The airplane’s pressurized cabin, as well as a disruption in both your sleep and meal schedules, often leads to constipation, gas, and bloating. Taking magnesium will not only help you stay regular, but its calming effect can help soothe a nervous flier and make it easier for you to fall asleep at night.
Another way to support your gut is by supplementing with probiotics, starting before your trip. Not only will they bolster healthy digestion, but they will also boost your immunity. With about 80 percent of your immune system located in your gut, maintaining a healthy microbiome will help you fight off any germs encountered in the airport or onboard the plane.
7. Caffeinate Wisely
A little caffeine can help your body adjust to a new time zone or routine—as long as you’re mindful about it. Starting your say with a cup of coffee or green tea will help you adapt to a new sleep pattern. Just make sure you don’t overdo it and stick to an early cutoff—even if you’re tired. After about 10 or 11 in the morning, switch to non-caffeinated beverages, and be aware of “hidden” caffeine in things like chocolate or kombucha.
Traveling, whether for work or pleasure, can be hard on the body. But by trying these tips you can help ease transitions between time zones, soothe tummy troubles, keep off extra weight, and help your immune system run smoothly. If you need help figuring out how to implement a healthy lifestyle while jet setting, please click here to contact me. Together we can build a wellness plan that’s right for you.