Summer, and it’s time for a new adventure! What do you have planned for this travel season?
No matter where vacations take us, time off lets us get caught up in things unusual and exciting: the stunning scenes, the local culture, the people, the sounds and movements, and patterns different from our everyday routines. What a wonderful opportunity to explore, unwind, and renew!
…but only if we do it well. For many people, “getting away” can mean leaving behind those smart choices we’ve worked so hard to make a part of our daily living. Outside of our normal environment, those healthful habits can disappear as fast as the hometown in your rearview mirror. We might tell ourselves we’ll deal with catching up when we return, but reality isn’t quite that kind.
When the vacation ends, the consequences are clear. Have you ever returned home with head or body aches, fatigue, a bad cold, an injury, or a few extra pounds?
Those are rotten souvenirs—the kind we all would be better off without.
Like every other item on your vacation agenda, maintaining your wellness is much easier—in fact, perfectly doable!—if you plan ahead thoughtfully. In fact, that’s my number one key to healthy travel…
Healthful Travel Tip #1: Prepare ahead.
You are already accustomed to planning before a trip. For example, if you’re headed to a cold locale, you’ll pack your suitcase with warm clothes you can layer—not swimsuits and sandals. Simple and sensible, right?
Now think of your suitcase as more than a portable wardrobe—it’s your on-the-go self-care kit. Pack items that will help you keep your good habits within easy reach during your journey. Here are some ideas:
- medications and toiletries
- Neti pot and allergen-resistant pillowcases
- lightweight exercise equipment, like resistance bands
- a favorite herbal tea for bedtime wind-down
- a journal, favorite quotation book, or other inspiration source
- nutritious, easy snacks like nuts, fruit, precut raw veggies, or low-sugar protein bars
- a sturdy, refillable water bottle
Healthful Travel Tip #2: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Headaches, fatigue, air or motion sickness, overeating, irritability, sleep disruption, increased allergy symptoms, a vulnerability to colds…so many of the troubles that frequently come with travel might be avoided by drinking enough water.
By the time you feel thirsty, your body is already low on water. So make it your habit to carry a refillable water bottle with you wherever you go—and use it not just when you’re parched, but every time you think of it.
Healthful Travel Tip #3: Take advantage of rest stops—in any form.
Everyone is quick to get out of the car and stretch periodically during a road trip. Ahh—what a relief to have a break from that cramped, folded, sit-still position!
But remember that if you’re traveling by air, the same principle applies. Use the wait time during check-in to stand to your full height, rise on tiptoe for a calf stretch, slowly lower your heels, and fold over to touch your toes. Other simple movements work in a crowded line, too, or an aisle after the seatbelt sign goes off!—like shoulder or neck rolls or turning side to side from the waist. As you stretch, imagine your muscles engaging and releasing and blood flowing smoothly to every point in your entire body. What a simple, refreshing practice!
If you find yourself with a long layover, consider this bonus self-care time! Repeat your stretches, follow with a good long drink of water, then walk up and down the terminal briskly enough to get your heart rate up. It’s a wonderful gift to give yourself.
Healthful Travel Tip #4: Put regular meals on your itinerary.
You packed easy, smart snacks—check! Nibbling every couple of hours, not letting yourself get too hungry, will go a long way to avoiding an energy crash, bingeing, or poor-quality quick choices. Now go one step further and make room in each day of your journey for sit-down meals. Choose thoughtfully, and savor your meals slowly and mindfully. You’ll enjoy your food more in the moment—and avoid regret later, too.
Want to experience that exotic local dessert? Great! Just remember moderation. Ask for a half-portion, or better yet, order one treat to share with your travel companions. That’s a choice that builds camaraderie and supports your wellness, too.
Healthful Travel Tip #5: Start each day with self-care.
For your own sustenance, a smart start goes a long way. Plan to get up earlier than the agenda demands so you can have some quiet time to prepare yourself, physically and mentally, for the day ahead. Regardless how much touring, playing, and go-go-go is on the schedule, taking the time to center your mind, balance your body, and remind your spirit what it’s all about will set you on a path to enjoyment—without sacrificing everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve. (And to ensure a sound sleep at the end of the day: Rinse and repeat!)
I hope you have wonderful plans for your vacation this season. Please, make the most of that time away by turning it into an extension of your larger goals for your wellbeing: living the experience to its fullest, soaking up every golden moment, free from discomfort and regret!