I recently returned from two weeks of travel, and despite spending those weeks relaxed on vacation, I found my body didn’t feel quite as healthy as I am accustomed to. Whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure, or competition, keeping your diet consistent can be challenging. I’d like to give you a few tips on how to keep your body healthy while enjoying your travel.
When we move away from our daily routines and toward the unpredictable pace of travel, we are faced with different cultural norms, including places to eat, modes of transportation, things we feel we “must try while we are here”, and even different circadian rhythms (ex. the dinner hour in Europe is closer to 9pm and people tend to go to sleep later than in America). With all of this in mind, I present:
- Tip #1: Stay Hydrated on your flight and during your trip. I always fill a large bottle of water up at the airport for my flight because if I don’t I know a stewardess will offer me exactly 2 tiny cups of water for a 6 hour flight. Not enough. On your travel day and after you reach your destination, be extra focused on drinking water. During your flight, the cabin pressure reaches about 6,900 ft when the aircraft is cruising at 39,000 ft. This means for however long you’re flying, your body is at an altitude equivalent to Colorado, losing water as vapor through each breath you exhale.
- Tip #2: Fruit Snacks… not the packaged kind. Eating at restaurants for days on end can mean you aren’t getting as many fruits and vegetables as usual in your diet. Go to a local grocery store and purchase fruit that you can keep in the hotel and eat for a healthy snack. It’s an easy way to fuel up, and when you head out for the day you can throw a couple apples in your bag for later on.
- Tip #3: Walk, Don’t Drive. Unless you are saving your legs for a competition, walk as much as possible. Stretch out and restore blood flow to your legs by walking around the cabin. This will break up sitting in the compact airline seat for extended periods of time. When you reach your destination, you’ll end up discovering more about a place than by car, and you will save money that you would have spent on taxis and subway tickets. While in New York City, I stayed fit by walking (despite having dessert every night).
- Tip #4: Bring Earplugs. Chances are you usually sleep in a room by yourself, and on trips a roommate or family member who snores can make or break your mood the following morning. A pack of earplugs will run you $6 and allow you to sleep more soundly. Getting consistent rest on a trip can keep your immune system strong and help you avoid getting sick as you come into contact with new people and places.
- Tip #5: Mind your Meals. Don’t forget to eat breakfast. This is surprisingly easy to do on vacation, but fill up with a yogurt and banana from the store or oatmeal and hard-boiled eggs if you’re grabbing a hotel breakfast. Avoid the temptation of getting a pastry for breakfast, as you’ll feel hungry again in a shorter amount of time and you may not be used to eating pastries at home for a meal. Restaurant meals serve larger portions that can be very high in salt. At dinner, order a salad before your entrée to help you get fiber and vegetables. If the meal is big, you can split an entrée with someone for a regular sized meal while saving money. When choosing restaurants, go to a local place and avoid big chain establishments. Their familiarity may be comforting but they tend to be less healthy; instead take advantage of being in a new environment by trying new foods! Prior to a competition, skip dessert. During a vacation, that decision is entirely up to you!
Next time you travel, keep in mind how accustomed your body is to certain needs: proper hydration, consumption of fruit and vegetables, and adequate sleep. Striking that balance between maintaining healthy habits and trying new things will not only allow you to fully enjoy wherever you travel, but also help you feel healthy coming home.
Useful Items to Carry-On
- An Empty Water Bottle
- A Sweatshirt and Socks - It can get cold on planes.
- Hand Sanitizer
- Cereal or Protein Bars
- Breakfast Cereal
- Competition Necessities - Suit, goggles, shoes, whatever you will absolutely need for your athletic event
- Nut Butter of your choice, jam, honey
- Isotonic Drink Powder
- Protein Powder