How to Stay Healthy While Traveling
There’s nothing worse than coming back from a trip feeling more depleted than when you left. So if you often come back from vacation feeling like you need another one … what you really need is a wellness plan while you’re traveling.
And don’t worry - I’m not going to recommend a crazy detox plan while you’re gone. Grant yourself a little grace while you’re away and know that your “travel health plan” will probably look different than your “at-home” health plan.
After all, you’re on break and will probably want to indulge more than you usually do! You may be drawn to an extra glass of wine (or two ;) ), some ice cream or local treats.
There’s a way that we can loosen the reins on your diet while on vacation without completely derailing your health and feeling depleted, heavy and exhausted upon your return home.
In this post I share some of my favorite tips and tools that I personally use while I’m on vacation (regardless of where I’m traveling!)
Booking Your Travel
Think about where you are staying and how that affects your food choices.
I usually stay at an Airbnb instead of a hotel because I love nesting and feeling at home - even when I’m halfway around the world.
Having your own kitchen makes traveling a healthier experience. Home-made food is inherently healthier than that prepared in a restaurant - plus, dining out is always more special when its an option and not out of necessity.
What this looks like will depend on you, your preferences and the type of trip you’re on. I usually will make a quick breakfast and enjoy 1-2 meals out, depending on where I’m traveling and how I’m feeling! After all, sometimes you don’t feel like putting on pants and going out for dinner or drinks. Sometimes you do.
There are always solutions even if you don’t have your own rental. For example, you can always request a mini fridge if you’re staying in a hotel which gives you options to save leftovers and even grab some basic snacks.
I also like having my own kitchen because it’s fun to pretend you’re a local instead of a tourist.
When I’m away I make it my mission to explore different markets and eat local foods as if I were living there myself. For example, when I’m traveling along the coastline I look for a local fisherman and ask if they have any tips for preparing the fish.
When we were in Croatia we bought some local fish, collected dried grapevines from the fields and cooked it on an open fire (per our fishermans instructions!); in Mexico we bought some super fresh fish and made ceviche. After all, tasting my way through different cultures is one of my favorite ways to travel!
Set an intention for your vacation
Intentions are a really powerful way to set the tone for how you want to feel while you’re gone AND how you want to feel upon your return home.
Your intention will be unique to your vacation. Here are some examples of intentions I like to use:
If I am going to a tropical island my intention might be to “feel happy, energized, well rested (and tan!) when I come back home”
If I am going back to NYC to visit friends, my intention might be to “connect with friends, visit my old yoga studio and spend time people-watching in my childhood neighborhood!”
Focus on non-food and drink related activities when setting your intention because it can remind yourself to focus on the parts of your vacation that you really care about and that will make long lasting memories.
Create a Healthy Packing List
What are healthy travel foods I can pack?
I usually recommend reducing on packaged foods and processed snacks as much as possible, but when you’re traveling they can be a real lifesaver! After all, you never know when you’re going to be delayed and hangry - and hangry minds make poor choices :)
So let’s not let that happen. Here are my favorite packaged travel foods and snacks:
Rhythm Superfoods Carrot Chips
Raw seeded trail mix (you can DIY this by combining your favorite nuts and seeds into a ziplock and add either goji or mulberries for a little sweet kick)
Collagen peptides singles - these are great for a little breakfast or midday protein boost (just add in coffee, tea or other beverage)
Hemp Heart Singles - great option to toss in your purse and enjoy on top of veggies or a salad.
Before I hop on a plane I also pack a lunch or dinner, some fresh veggies that can travel well and I can enjoy on the plane instead of chips. Baby bell peppers, and organic pre-washed snap peas are usually great for this!
Which supplements should I travel with?
The following supplements can be super helpful to have on hand when you’re traveling.
Digestive enzymes - help to break down your food and reduce post-meal bloating. They’re especially helpful to have on hand because food on vacation can be a little more indulgent.
Melatonin - helps with jet lag. If you are changing time zones and will need to reset your internal clock, pack some extra melatonin. Start this on your overnight flight or when you get to your travel destination.
Oil of oregano - is an antimicrobial and good if you have travelers diarrhea or are coming down with a cold and need a little immune support. Use as needed and do not take long term.
Soil based probiotic - are also good to protect yourself against traveler’s diarrhea and for easing digestive issues. I like a soil based probiotic because they don’t require refrigeration. Take this daily on an empty stomach.
Magnesium citrate - while traveler’s diarrhea gets a lot of attention, traveler’s constipation is also a major issue for many people! And nothing will put you in a worse mood while you’re traveling than feeling bloated and backed up. Magnesium is a natural relaxant and can help improve digestive regularity - bonus as it can also help deepen sleep if you take it before bed.
Vitamin C and Zinc - I usually pack some individual vitamin C packets and some supplemental zinc for extra immune support (especially after a long flight). Traveling can be stressful on the body, which can wear on the immune system. Vitamin C and zinc are a great combination for added immune support. Take before, during and after your flight and as needing during your trip!
Note: take zinc with food and not on an empty stomach.
Other wellness essentials to pack:
Essential oils - I like packing an essential oil or two when I’m traveling. I usually choose peppermint oil for travel because it can help mask unwanted smells (hello, long flights!), and also improve headaches and reduce nausea. Find an oil that is distilled with a carrier oil like grapeseed oil so it can be applied directly to your skin, like this one.
Eye Mask - Sleep is always my #1 priority while on vacation, which is why I always pack an eye mask or something to cover my eyes when I sleep. The pitutiary gland produces melatonin (the hormone responsible for sleep) and requires total darkness to do so.
What are Healthy Tips for Airplanes?
Hydrate well - sitting on a plane is like being in a large dehydrator. Make sure to drink plenty of filtered water.
Move and stretch - is especially important for long flights. Sitting for hours on end reduces circulation and can promote blood clots. Get up an walk around every hour - take a stroll down the aisles and even a few stretches in the back of the plane.
Avoid the ice, tea and coffee on flights - I usually avoid the coffee, tea and ice on flights because of the way the care and standards related to water tank care on commercial flights. I normally avoid alarmist topics like this, but is something I personally practice and thought it was worth mentioning here. If you’d like to read more about water safety on flights, here’s an article
I usually try to avoid topics that are alarmist, but this is something that I personally practice and thought I would share … just in case!
What are Good Wellness Guidelines should I Follow on Vacation?
Think of these less as ‘rules’ and more like guidelines that look very similarly to how you eat at home. They are there to help provide both balance and flexibility. For example:
#1 Continue to eat regular meals throughout the day.
Normally I recommend 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. While this might look a little different while you’re on vacation - still try to stick with eating every 3-4 hours because it stabilizes blood sugar. When you have low blood sugar, you will feel more anxious, tired and cranky (far from the ideal vacation). Plus low blood sugar also drives us towards less healthy options.
#2 Commit to avoiding foods that make you feel like crap (i.e. food that you know you are sensitive or allergic to. Choose fried foods and sugar mindfully.)
If you know that you’re reactive to certain foods - think back to your intention and how you want to feel on your vacation. If you really want, enjoy every bit but if having ice cream will make you feel bloated, heavy and tired for the next few days … is it worth it?
Think about your motives - do you really want it or do you feel like you ‘should’ be having it because:
It’s a once in a lifetime experience!
You have such fond memories of having this food or restaurant (without necessarily wanting it right now)
If you want it - enjoy every bite!!
It’s helpful to pause and think about WHY you’re gravitating towards the food to avoid unwanted eating experiences.
#3 Balance your indulgences with healthy meals.
Have your cake (or pasta, wine, gelato, etc) but then follow it with a healthy and well rounded meal or snack for your next meal.
Sometimes foods high in sugar and carbs can drive more cravings. Striking a balance between indulgent foods and a well balanced meal is key because it is nourishing and balancing.
Choose a base of veggies for most meals. Scout out menus for veggie-heavy appetizers, dishes and sides. They can come in any form- raw, in a soup, steamed, roasted, pureed, grilled, etc.
Order your dressings and sauces on the side, which are usually the least healthy part of eating out. When you order them on the side you can drizzle them on to your own taste preference.
How to exercise on vacation
There’s no need to ‘hit the gym hard’ while you’re gone, but moving your body can help you feel good while you’re gone.
Here are some You Tube workouts that don’t require any equipment - just a little bit of floor space. Yoga mat optional :)
Most importantly - enjoy yourself while you are away!
Be present where you are and the people you are with - this is what truly makes the longest lasting memories!!