Whether you are someone that travels every week for business, a weekend road tripper, or only travels a few times per year, you’ve likely realized that staying healthy on the go can be quite challenging and may not always seem worth the effort. It’s your time to relax and let loose after all, right? I previously had the mindset that I would start to take care of my body and focus on my nutrition and fitness AFTER a whole host of things – my next vacation, upcoming holiday, family gathering, social event, etc.
It finally hit me that I needed to shift my mindset about health and travel when I was on a trip to Paris and missed seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up at night (a bucket list item for me) because I was sick. I had neglected sleep, exercise, and overindulged on junk food and alcohol and definitely paid the price for it. Moderation is good, but I have trouble with that while on vacation.
On a recent trip to Europe, I made it a point to focus more on taking care of my body with various types of daily movement and nutrient-dense meals and snacks along with a few supplements. It was refreshing to have the energy to see and do so much more in each place I visited when my body was functioning at its peak, and it was surprisingly simple to make a few needed changes to my routine. Things, like staying well hydrated and avoiding junk food, might already be on your radar, but here are some additional tools that have helped to support my health and fitness on my recent journeys. I hope you find them useful!
Bodyweight and HIIT workouts
I like packing resistance bands to help me stretch during layovers or on long flights, and a jump rope is great for HIIT style cardio. Whether or not you have bands or a jump rope to bring, there are countless apps that will guide you through short HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts that don’t require any equipment. The great thing is that they take up very little room in your luggage and you can do them anywhere – the airport, your hotel room, and my favorite – outdoors! Some days, you may not have a chance to do a workout due to travel schedule, but in that case, you can just aim to start and end your day by holding a plank or by doing 10-20 pushups or squats. Some movement is better than nothing!
A wonderful resource you can look into is November Project. They hold free outdoor workouts in many cities in the US and in cities around the world. I’ve attended one of their workouts in San Francisco and had a blast! They’re an incredibly encouraging and accepting community that help you see more of the place you are visiting while getting in some challenging physical activity.
Use Local Transportation
If you’re headed to a new place, scout out the local transportation network ahead of time. It can be tempting to take a taxi for convenience, but you will generally see so much more and get some healthy activity in by using local transportation like a tram or subway and being willing to walk. If you’re in a bike-friendly city like Amsterdam or Copenhagen, definitely be adventurous and rent a bike to explore the city that way.
Supplements and Enzymes
Activated charcoal pills are always in my carry on when I travel. Unfamiliar food and water can wreak havoc on a normally iron stomach. I have been so thankful for these pills several times when I’ve gotten food poisoning, had an upset stomach from eating new types of food, or overindulged in alcohol and needed to bounce back quickly the next day. They do a great job of absorbing toxins in your system, helping you eliminate them, and getting your digestive system back to normal function. Along with these pills, digestive enzymes will also be a wonderful addition to help your body adjust to the overload of carbs that you’ll likely be eating on your travels.
Take them 15 minutes before eating for optimal effect. You may not feel like you need any digestive help, but you’ll be surprised how new environments (especially when traveling overseas) can cause your system to feel a little off-balance. The other go-to supplements that I take daily on my trips are Vitamin D3, B Complex and a high-quality probiotic – these all help with gut health and boosting immunity.
I like to bring at least a few healthy snacks from home to keep me from only wanting to buy junk food on my travels. Though a lot of airports are starting to carry more healthy food these days, the prices are still outrageous and airplane meals are often full of artificial preservatives and other junk. Fun note: if your airline offers meals for special dietary needs (vegan, gluten-free, kosher, etc), you will get your meal before everyone else! Some of my favorite snacks to bring are EPIC Bars (jerky and fruit/nut), That’s It bars, Biltong (air-dried beef with no sugar), raw nuts/trail mix, hard-boiled eggs, dark chocolate, and Olive Oil packets to use as dressing on my salads.
Collagen peptides are great nutritional boosters to bring on your travels to help maintain a healthy weight and protein balance. A lot of vacation food will be heavy on simple carbohydrates like bread, so adding some collagen into your morning coffee or tea is a painless way to get in some needed protein each day. It’s also helpful to research your destination(s) in advance and determine either healthy restaurant options or where you can buy groceries to make your own meals. If you’re in a pinch and need to grab something at a convenience store, always opt for snacks with the least number of ingredients, high protein content and low sugar content.
Over 50% of the population is deficient in this key mineral, so chances are you might need a
little boost. You can opt for pills, a powder that you drink, or topical Magnesium spray. My choice is the spray because your body absorbs it so quickly and if you have any gut issues (like I do), you don’t have to worry about the pills not being effectively absorbed. Magnesium is great for relieving muscle tension, helping with headaches, and generally just helping you to relax and sleep. This has come in handy for me on countless occasions when I’m needing some relief from aches and pains from a hard day of travel.
You’ve probably heard or seen this buzzword, but have you wondered what adaptogens really do? They are made of a combination of amino acids, vitamins, and herbs that modulate your response to both toxins and emotional stressors in a changing environment (source: Organifi.com). Check out this overview to determine which adaptogen might be the best fit for your needs – they will quickly become your favorite travel companion for their ability to help your body adjust to new environments and stressors (flight anxiety, anyone?). You can find adaptogens in so many other forms theses days – pills, powders, and even coffee from brands like Four Sigmatic.
Blue light blocking glasses
Exposure to blue light has many negative consequences, but the one most relevant to travel is sleep. Blue light from phones, TV screens, alarm clocks, and even kitchen/bathroom lights basically tricks your body into thinking it is daytime so it won’t produce as much Melatonin (which regulates our sleep cycles). Wearing blue-light blocking glasses on long plane rides (when you’re watching movies, on your phone a lot, or playing games) will both protect your eyes and help to keep your body clock in a normal rhythm. This will be key to helping you sync
with the local time zone and minimize jet lag once you reach your destination.
If you’re wanting to prioritize your health on your travels, I’d suggest just choosing one or two of these tips and starting with those. Be encouraged that we’re all a work in progress when it comes to embracing health as a lifestyle and no one has it all together! It’s all about making small improvements each day.
What’s been your biggest challenge when trying to stay healthy on the go? What’s been your biggest success? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Thanks so much for reading!
About The Author
Emily is a nutrition and movement coach certified by The Institute for Integrative Nutrition who has made it her goal to plank in every continent. After struggling with serious health issues for several years, she learned the importance of embracing healthy living both at home and on her travels.
She started her blog, The Planking Traveler as a way to share her passion for wellness with others and inspire you to embrace enjoyable movement and optimal nutrition as a sustainable lifestyle instead of just a temporary fix to lose weight. Follow along with her healthy adventures on Facebook and Instagram.