This is a guest post by Louise Hendon, co-founder of Paleo Flourish Magazine. Louise has lived on 3 continents and travels extensively. Most recently she has spent time in Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar. Next up, she is planning to return to Europe and travel more there.
I’ve always loved traveling. There’s something exciting about jumping on a plane or into a car, watching the scenery fly by while your mind drifts, and then arriving at a new destination eager to experience all the wonderful sights, sounds, and smells.
Even as I write this, I’m on an 8-hour boat journey traveling through the beautiful country of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). When I look out of the window, I see old fishing-boats newly equipped with motors as well as centuries-old temples rising from the trees lining the riverbank.
While I love traveling, I also have to admit it is tough to stay healthy. Sitting anywhere (bus, train, plane, car, boat) for a long time is unhealthy for your body and then food at most of the rest stops offer very few choices and even fewer healthy ones. If I’m being honest, traveling is a pretty unhealthy experience to put your body through!
So, in this post, I’ll share a few tips for staying healthy while you’re traveling from one place to another (I’ve written elsewhere about staying healthy when you’re vacationing, which is slightly broader topic than just traveling).
6 Awesome Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling
Tip #1: Take plenty of healthy snacks with you (especially on long trips).
You never know what you’ll find at a rest stop, station, or airport, so I like to be well-prepared with my food. I like to stock up with some healthy snacks like 100% dark chocolate, nuts, beef jerky, boiled eggs, etc.
This ensures you won’t be tempted by all the junk food when you start to get hungry during your trip.
Tip #2: As an alternative to tip #1, fast during the traveling period.
For some people, like my husband, Jeremy, it’s easier just to fast for the journey. It’s an easy way for him to ensure he doesn’t eat any junk and leaves him with more room to eat the delicious food of whatever place we’re traveling to.
Tip #3: Take a lacrosse ball and massage your back if you’re sitting for a long time.
My chiropractor taught me this trick – a lacrosse ball (or yoga massage ball or a racquetball) is around the perfect size and hardness for massaging your back against a wall or the back of a seat. I like to use them on long flights to get some of the knots out of my shoulders.
You can also use them to massage the balls of your feet if you’ve been walking a lot and to help the circulation in your legs.
And, it was an invaluable addition to my road-trip through Ireland with friends last summer – we all took turns to roll it across our backs at the hotel!
Tip #4: Move around when you get a chance.
One of the toughest aspects of traveling is the lack of movement it entails.
So, if you get the opportunity, get up and move around. This is tough if you’re driving of course, in which case, you should try to take rest breaks and walk around a bit. On planes or trains, try to stand for a part of the trip. You can also do some squats and stretches if there’s enough room.
Tip #5: Catch up on sleep if you can.
For some reason, journeys always seem to start really early in the morning. And that generally means I never get enough sleep the night before. So, I like to take advantage of a long trip to catch up on sleep (of course, this again assumes you’re not the one driving!).
If you’re flying and there’s a time zone difference, then try to match your sleep schedule on the flight so that you wake up when it’s morning in the new time zone. Remember to take ear-plugs and an eye-mask for the flight – I find this really helps me get better sleep. Another item I always pack is lavender essential oil to smell before I go to sleep (it also helps to get rid of other unpleasant smells near you).
Tip #6: Choose wisely if you do eat at a restaurant.
I’ve found that no matter where I am, I can generally find something vaguely healthy to eat. Sometimes it’s a salad from a fast food restaurant without the dressing, a burger without the bun, and if there’s a sit down restaurant, they will usually serve some form of steak with veggies.
Internationally, it can be a bit more challenging, but most of the world has vegetables, fruits, and/or meats. Occasionally, I have to be a bit more creative with how I ask for things (and I try to learn from my mistakes e.g., just saying “no sugar” in Thailand means they instead add sugar syrup to your drinks so I’ve learnt to also say “no syrup” when ordering). And at the worst, I end up eating not very much for a few days, which is not a big deal.
The biggest thing to take note of is what foods make you feel the worst and to avoid those at all costs.
For me, I’ve found that dairy, alcohol, and to some degree gluten make me feel worse than anything else (usually for days after too). And so I try my utmost to avoid those. So far in my travels, the only place that has been problematic for me has been northern India where they eat a predominately vegetarian diet filled with grains and dairy.
I also travel with a supply of probiotics and supplements to help me stay as healthy as possible. Greens powder is another supplement I love to have handy (it’s a bit bulky for very long trips unfortunately) as you can mix the greens powder with some water in the mornings for a nutritious and quick breakfast no matter where you are.
In the end, traveling is never going to be that healthy of an activity, but by doing a few simple things, you can make it less tiring on your body and more enjoyable overall. So, I hope these tips help you on your next trip so that you can enjoy the journey as well as the destination.