Nothing can spoil a well-deserved vacation faster than getting sick…
Remember to eat fresh fruits and vegetables…but use caution in countries that lack proper sanitation
The bags are packed, itinerary planned, important documents copied and uploaded to the cloud; outfits matched, liquids shrunk to 3oz increments, pre-check-ins completed and you’re ready to head out the door. But just as you lock the front door to head out on your next adventure a fleeting thought passes through your mind: I hope I don’t get sick or gain 20 pounds!
Nothing can spoil a well-deserved vacation faster than a migraine, muscle aches, or tummy troubles.
However, it’s not just vacation travelers who need to stay healthy on the road. As the economy improves and business travel picks up, many road warriors are in danger of joining the increasing ranks of professionals who support stats that say obesity and frequent work travel are connected. Meeting over drinks, coffee and meals can quickly add up. So can a more sedentary lifestyle as you sit and travel and wait in lines.
Think about it – they say sitting is the new smoking, so professionals are already at a disadvantage every time they embark on travel for work.
For both groups, leisure travelers and business travelers, staying as close to your daily routine while traveling increases your chances of staying healthy and keeping a healthy weight. The trick is having the discipline to do that when your surroundings, schedule, and food choices are different than what you get at home.
So, how can you enjoy your travels, try new things, and stay healthy and fit?
Be Healthy Before You Leave
Staying fit and active throughout the year make traveling easier on your body
Traveling healthy is the best preventative measure! Start loading up on healthy stuff weeks before you leave. Dark leafy greens, vitamin C rich fruits, whole grains, good sources of protein. If you don’t workout already, why not start now? Even walking will give you a little extra benefit as you’re traveling.
If you’re flying, and especially if you’re traveling during cold and flu season, consider a supplement boost such as Airborne®, Vitamins C and E, or anything else recommended by your doctor.
**Of course, any suggestions related to medical decisions should be discussed with your doctor to be sure they are safe when considered with your overall health and personal lifestyle choices.
Plan for Workouts While Traveling
It’s very easy to pack your running/walking shoes for healthy travel
Not all hotel gyms are adequate. In fact, many of them are pretty awful! Be prepared to look for other options.
It’s very easy to pack your running/walking shoes and clothes. Do some research around where you will be staying to find running trails, parks, and gyms. Ask your hotel attendant for places to workout.
On a recent business trip I was thrilled to discover a park within walking distance from our hotel. I was able to run the trail and also the bleachers to get a great workout in after a day of sitting in class.
Another option is to check for local yoga studios or activities like dancing, rock climbing, surfing, or bike rentals. You can find discounts on some places by checking Groupon for deals.
The point is to never miss a workout. Even a 15 minute stretching session, series of body weight exercises, or a 20 minute walk are better than nothing at all. If it’s impossible to exercise one day, just do it the next day and never miss two days in a row. This is all about maintaining a good habit.
Choose Energy-Giving Snacks
Where you buy your road food will determine your choices
Eating healthy snacks and drinking plenty of water keep your energy levels high. Just because you’re traveling and most likely spending a stretch of time sitting in a plane or in a car doesn’t mean you should start eating like a couch potato!
First thing to think about is where you are going to stop to get your food. The same concept many of us use at home also works on the road – if it’s not in the house, you’re not going to eat it! So think about where you are going to stop to get your food.
If you stop at a fast food place, you’re going to get fast food. However, if you pull into a grocery store, you’re more likely to put some fresh produce and protein sources in your basket. Think of options such as almonds, dates, apples, celery and carrots along with hummus, peanut butter, milk and yogurt. If you’re looking for more than a snack, many grocery stores have delis filled with fresh soup or salad. Additionally, you can get pre-cooked chicken to put on top of salad, inside a pita, or dip into hummus.
Avoid foods that will get you down. Avoid simple carbs (aka – fast sources of sugar), soda, sugary snacks, deep fried anything, non-fat packaged foods which tend to be loaded with chemicals, and anything that lists “partially hydrogenated” on the label.
Um…put down the pink snowballs and back away slowly from that fancy baked goods display…
Navigating Your Main Meal
Healthy choices can taste great! Food photography by Dawn Damico
It’s very easy to start each meal with some high-impact vegetables. Order a plate of veggies, a dark green leafy salad, or a vegetable soup. Think about which foods have high fiber and be sure to include those. Also, rather than order a full dinner, try a sampler of appetizers or splitting the meal with your companion. Our motto is: If we’re still hungry, we’ll order more! However, because the portions in most restaurants are larger than what I would typically eat at home, I’m rarely hungry with half a plate.
Another trick for keeping your gut healthy as you travel is to start each day with some yogurt. You’ll get needed probiotics that help with digestion and may also protect you from harmful bacteria.
However, if you’re picking up yogurt at the hotel’s continental breakfast, watch the ingredient list for the amount of sugar. If it’s a double digit that begins with the number 2, put it back! I prefer a high quality plain Greek yogurt with a high protein count and low sugar count. If there is a mini fridge in the hotel or you’ve packed a small cooler, stop at the grocery store and pick up the good stuff. My favorites are Chobani® and Fage®
Balance your eating day. When you’re in foodie heaven, surrounded with top restaurants, balance out your day. Of course, you’ll want to experience the best meals. However, balance it out. When a 5-course dinner is on the agenda, choose a light breakfast and lunch. Then, savor every morsel!
Water keeps the vital rivers of your body running!
This is a no brainer, but hey, we’re all human and forget. This keeps you hydrated and also helps flush out any toxins you pick up in the environment and local foods. Watch the color of your pee. It it’s not a very light yellow or if you discover you do not have to use the restroom very often, you need more water!
Stick to your Schedule
If your normally workout in the morning…then plan to do that while you travel
This can get tricky when you have crossed time zones; however, do the best you can. If you normally workout in the morning, continue to do so. Even something as simple as Yoga in your hotel room can get your day started right!
When you’re in a seminar or long business meeting and they take a 15 minute break, take a walk outside or around the venue to stretch your legs. Fill up your water bottle and be ready for the next session.
Keep a Healthy Smile!
Health begins in your mouth…
You may already know that a healthy mouth is important in warding off germs and keeping you illness-free. But did you know that celery is known as “nature’s toothbrush?” It’s also packed with fiber and helps with blood-flow, both pluses when you’re traveling.
Too road-weary to stop and floss? Get a quick pick-me-up for your mouth by preparing toothpaste drops in advance. Combine 2 dabs of toothpaste and a pinch of baking soda. Place dots of the mixture on a piece of wax paper and let dry for 24 hours. Peel off the dots and store in a plastic bag or container. When you’re in need of a quick dental pick me up, pop a tab in your mouth and swish with water before spitting out (just like when you brush your teeth!)
Maintain Good Hygiene
End your shower with water as cold as you can stand it…
If you are in a hot place, consider showering at least twice a day. Cold water is great for blood circulation! Wash and/or sanitize your hands often. Remember, you are most likely to pick up germs when you touch doorknobs, car handles, handrails, bathroom taps. flush levers, and other surfaces.
Get your ZZZZZ’s
Sleep away stress and open your soul up to rejuvenation…
No matter how hectic your schedule, shoot for that magic 7-8 hours of quality sleep. This will help with recovery, managing stress, and allowing your natural immune system to run at optimal levels no matter how upside-down your daily schedule is. Plan ahead for sleeping in strange places. Pack a travel alarm clock, eye mask, ear plugs, and perhaps lavender essential oils for a soothing bath at the end of the day.
When you find sleep impossible, close your eyes and breathe. Deep breathing, any form of meditation, can allow your body to experience mini-rejuvenation.
Check in with the Local Bees
A spoonful of liquid gold may help you adapt to the local climate…
If you are bothered by allergies or the pollen count is high where you’re travelling, find some local honey. We learned this little trick while visiting the lovely town of Ojai during high-pollen season! I don’t know why it works; however, after a few spoonfuls of this liquid gold, the irritation disappeared. It must be local honey.
Freshly brewed green tea gives you the greatest health benefits – hot or cold…
Full of antioxidants, great flavor to upgrade your water, hot or cold. This is a simple addition for your healthy road kit! Add a bag of green tea leaves to cold water in your water bottle and let it seep overnight or drink hot with honey. Either way, it will encourage you to stay hydrated with the added benefit of being a healthy.
Note: Avoid the popular bottled varieties that contain more sugar and sweeteners than tea!
Get Your Head in the Game
With the right balance you can fully enjoy what each travel location offers from food to amazing new views…
Make exercise and healthy eating a priority, and they will be a priority. When you start out on your trip thinking you’re going to gorge and gain weight, well, that’s exactly what’s going to happen!
However, when you start out knowing you will continue to move closer toward lifetime fitness and healthy lifestyle choices, then that’s what’s going to happen.
My husband and I actually ate our way through Rome and didn’t gain a pound because we continued to stay active and balance out our many small meals during the day. We’ve explored towns by lacing up our shoes and running through back streets and country roads. We’ve done yoga while looking out across the city from our hotel room, biked Tahoe mountains and hiked Vegas canyons. We still experienced amazing meals and never gained a pound or experienced fatigue.
Being mindful about your travel choices will allow you to enjoy your trip. You’ll stay healthy and energized during the vacation or business trip without feeling heavy with guilt (literally) from food choices you make while away from home.