The holidays are upon us, and with that usually comes a lot of travel. I have put a lot of time and energy into establishing a healthy routine when I am home, and I used to dread travel because it meant giving up all those comforts that help me feel balanced and often included flare-ups of my IBS-C, catching a cold, or just not feeling my best. And most times the whole point of travel is to renew, experience and enjoy ourselves! Hard to do when you feel like crap.
So I have found so many ways to travel healthfully while also getting the most out of my trips!
1. Learn what foods you can "splurge" on and what you cannot.
For me, I can have small amounts of gluten (more in Europe) and other foods I normally don't eat to manage my IBS-C. However, my body doesn't handle most legumes and milk no matter how small the amount. While I would love to have ice cream and lattes, I would be in pain, bloated, and wanting to stay in the hotel room. Not worth it.
2. But don't think you must stay 100% to your at-home diet.
Traveling is about experiences, whether you are visiting a new country or your hometown. Maybe at home you eat 100% organic and avoid all sorts of food. But if you can afford to splurge on certain foods, do it if you want! The point is not to let your diet control your trip. For instance, I don't eat pastries at home most of the time, but I certainly didn't let that stop me from eating them in Paris! And I did not beat myself up or punish myself for doing so!
3. Research places to eat in advance and visit the grocery store.
I keep a running list on my phone of healthy food restaurants in different locales. I also scope out places in advance and find the nearest grocery store to grab water and snacks for the hotel room. I don't always go to all of these places, but knowing where I can get a healthy meal makes travel less stressful for me.
4. Pack your own meals and snacks for the actual travel.
I usually pack my own meals in disposable tupperware for long plane or car rides. My favorite is a quinoa salad with plenty of olive oil and avocado to keep me satiated. I also pack plenty of snacks. My favorites are beet chips, kale chips, coconut butter, fruit with sunflower butter, and protein bars.
In fact, for long flights, such as red-eyes, I make an entire "plane plan." This includes mapping out my meals and snacks to loosely follow when and what I would eat at home, and establishing a good plan for getting sleep - including turning off the entertainment, dabbing on lavender essential oil, and at least attempting to nap for a couple hours.
5. Avoid sugar before and during the actual travel.
Studies have shown that after ingesting sugar, your immune system is actually weaker for 3 hours! That means if you have sugar right before you get on that packed flight, your immune system isn't at its best when it really needs to be. Thus, I try to avoid sugar before I fly and avoid sugary snacks and drinks while actually at the airport or on the plane.
6. As much as possible, plan your flights, hotels, etc. the way YOU need to.
After years of travel, I learned I really need sleep, especially a five-hour stretch. I do NOT believe in working a full day and "saving time" by flying overnight and working the very next day. If I can, I schedule to fly during the day. This does not "waste my time" because my sleep and feeling 100 is very important to me.
I also pick hotels near grocery stores or healthy restaurants, or ones that have mini fridges and kitchens for food prep whenever possible.
7. Learn to pack light!
Healthy travel isn't just about physical health, but mental health as well. I always hated stressing about packing, and forgetting things. Now, I use the same app I use for grocery shopping, Cozi, for packing. I have a packing list that is always there and has everything I need. When the time comes to pack, I just check everything off the list, and keep it carry-on only. This makes packing stress-free and leaves plenty of room for all my snacks!