Keeping up a healthy lifestyle while traveling requires some thought and extra planning.
Here are some snack ideas, fitness tips, and packing suggestions to keep you thriving on your next trip:
“There is a kind of magicness about going far away and then coming back all changed.”
― Kate Douglas Wiggin
Two important rules to live by with any mode of traveling are:
- Drink lots of water to stay hydrated
- Avoid processed foods as much as possible
The water part is easy, but how do you accomplish #2 with what’s available at airports and gas stations? Even seemingly healthier options like trail mixes and nuts often contain vegetable oils, preservatives, added sugars, and artificial ingredients.
The ideal solution is packing your own food.
Non-perishable food ideas:
- Dried fruit and nuts
- Coconut flakes
- Coconut Butter
- Homemade trail mix
- Dark chocolate – look for bars with extra dark chocolate with a high cacao content and minimal sugar.
- Tuna packets, wild salmon packets, sardines, and other canned fish
- Beef or salmon jerky
- Dried olives
- Rice crackers
- Toasted seaweed
- Homemade kale chips or collard green chips
“Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone?”
― Erma Bombeck
On shorter plane rides you can pack a healthy meal from home or stop by a health food store on the way to the airport. On road trips, store perishables in a cooler or insulated cooler tote bags (found in most supermarkets – they are less bulky than the standard cooler). Fill up reusable water bottles with ice at gas stations to keep your food cool and use the melting ice as drinking water during your trip.
Perishable food ideas:
- Fresh fruit (grapes, tangerines, apples, etc…)
- Cut up vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, jicama, red peppers, etc…)
- Hard boiled eggs
- Smoked salmon
- Roasted turkey breast
- Thinly sliced London broil or other roast
- Whole milk yogurt, raw cheese
When you can’t prepare ahead just do the best you can with what is available (look for the least processed options), you’ll get back on track when you return.
Your Travel pharmacy
“All journeys eventually end in the same place, home.”
― Chris Geiger
Hopefully you’re already boosting your immune system by getting quality sleep, avoiding processed foods and excess sugar, and managing your stress. But for the rest of us, an extra immune boost before traveling is a good idea. I take echinacea a few days before traveling (there are alcohol-free drops for kids) and travel with an echinacea throat spray.
Pack your favorite go-to remedies for stomach distress, fevers, colds, and first aid care. The following supplements and lotions are always in my travel bag;
- Vitamins – If a strict regiment is needed, I organize day to day supplements in resealable plastic pill bag (I reuse them numerous times so don’t need to buy them often).
And the one supplement I never travel without is Green Pasture’s Butter Oil / Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend capsules. (I’ve asked the company – the capsules do not require refrigeration).
- Gut protection – Most of our immunity begins in the gut, so consider probiotics, enzymes, and other digestive support for preventative care or upset stomach, bloating, and other digestive issues.
- First aid – For the inevitable bumps and bruises of my active kids, I never leave home without arnica pellets and arnica pain relieving gel, cream for minor cuts and scrapes, and band-aids.
I also pack other homeopathic remedies for nausea, mild fever and colds, and insect bites. These are all very safe to use on yourself and children.
- Skin healing- For sunburns and skin irritation I just started using Egyptian Magic cream and am loving it (though I just started hearing about another less expensive honey based cream that I want to try).
I also bring supplements to help heal the skin (my acupuncturist recommends Cataplex F and Calcium Lactate for sunburns from Standard Process, they also work well for fever*). And some people have noticed less sunburns on a regular routine of Fermented Cod Liver Oil.
- Skin protection – I’m not a big believer of sunblock for day to day sun exposure but will use it for prolonged periods in the sun if hats and clothing are not enough. Look for all natural sunscreens to limit your exposure to toxic ingredients found in most sunblocks. Look up the safety of your sunblock and thousands of other products at EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.
*Please be cautious and educated when buying supplements and vitamins, just because something is natural and sold in health food stores does not mean it’s good for you. It’s best to consult a practitioner for guidance on supplements. At the least educate yourself on the supplements you are taking and look for whole-foods based supplements – synthetic isolated vitamins can do more harm to your system.
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
― Gustave Flaubert
Make sure you periodically get up and walk on long flights and and make frequent stops to stretch on long drives. Sitting still for a long time can put you at risk for DVT – Deep Vein Thrombosis. (Staying hydrated is also important).
There is also no reason to give up on exercise because of limited gym access or safe running trails. Bring some lightweight equipment or learn some good old-fashioned body-weight exercises that don’t require much space.
Travel friendly exercise equipment:
- Travel yoga mat and strap
- Resistance bands
- Exercise Bands
- Therapy balls (these bounce balls work for self massage as well)
- Jump rope
There are also plenty of bodyweight/cardio exercises that can be done in the 24″ x 68″ space of a yoga mat:
- Jumping jacks
- Tricep dips
- Lunges, jumping lunges
- Burpees or squat thrusts – my favorite full body cardio/strength move. Start in a standing position, drop into a squat, jump back to a plank (can add a pushup), jump back to a squat and return to standing or add a vertical leap. Repeat as many times as you can and/or mix it in between some of the other moves.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
― Marcel Proust
Technology has really changed the way we travel. I see this most when packing for my kids. One device (ipod or ipad) replaces the dvd players (and the always getting scratched up dvd’s), books, gameboys, magazines, and toys I had to somehow carry on for a family of five. Some other techie stuff I like;
- Kids noise isolating earphones. This is especially important on airplanes where the engine noise overpowers most headphones and kids are bound to put the volume too high. Loud music/movie for prolonged periods can damage your hearing. It’s hard to find affordable and safe earphones for kids but don’t skimp on this one and don’t overlook ear damage that can be done from our devices and invest in yours and your kids ear health.
- Headphone splitter – you can use this to check the volume of your kids device – also great for two kids to watch and listen to a movie or music from the same device.
- Bring along your favorite yoga or fitness dvd on your laptop/ipad. I use the free software, Handbrake to transfer dvds to my iTunes library (I also use it to load my kids favorite movies as well).
- I have a ton of health and nutrition websites and blogs I can barely keep up with, I like using Pocket (Read it Later) to archive articles to read when traveling and wi-fi is not always available.
- Travel apps (like translator, currency converter, flighttrack, tripit and tripadvisor) have exploded in the last few years. But my favorite road trip app is AroundMe – it lets me locate the nearest food markets around my location so I don’t have to rely on gas stations to refill on snacks.
“It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression,
‘As pretty as an airport.”
― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
Traveling can really get an eco-conscious girl down – like all those zip top plastic bags we’re all forced to use. But there is no reason to abandon all “green” habits.
“Green” Travel Essentials
- GoToob travel bottle for toiletries/ liquids. No need to keep buying travel sized toiletries for the sake of the FAA, just fill up a few 2-3 oz. travel bottles from your regular stash. The GoToobs are also food safe and the best leak-proof container I have found so far for salad dressings that is not glass.
- Reusable shopping totes – these are compact (folds into its own pouch) and light enough that there is no excuse not to have reusable bags on your trips.
- Despite my love affair with my iPad, I cannot relinquish the use of pencil and paper – be it for notes or drawing sketches. But I do seek out journals made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper. My favorite is from USA made Ecosystem that comes in six colors and three sizes.
- I always carry unscented travel wipes and alcohol-free hand sanitizers. (Avoid those with triclosan, a hazardous antibacterial ingredient found in many soaps and cleaners).
“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin
What are your favorite travel essentials? How do you stay healthy while navigating airports and road trips?