Travelling is wonderful. But if you get sick in any way while there or right after you get back, not so fun. Some of this can be attributed to jet lag and recycled air on the plane. But over the years I’ve realized that the biggest reason much of the above happens is that we tend to stop mindfully looking after ourselves when we travel. Travel wellness isn’t just about taking a break to go away (for however long).
Yes, you’re on holiday. But if you’re like me and like to be away for a fair stretch, keeping up a version of my wellness routine and healthy habits is actually quite nice. The key is to decide what is important to you and be realistic about how you can incorporate it into your time away. Find a travel wellness balance that works for you whether solo, with a partner, or in a small group.
I connected about this with a friend, who is also a Nutrition Consultant, one day over tea because I was wanting to write this blog post. She has many food allergies and sensitivities, but her outlook on them is very realistic, mindful, and healthy. She also made the spot-on point that “you can’t be happy if you can’t be yourself” while you’re travelling (OR in life!)
So here are my six ways of staying healthy (and happy!) while travelling:
1. Get Your Google On
I’m admittedly more of a first-world-country traveller, but I always make sure to check if I need to get new or updated vaccines for wherever I’m going, especially somewhere more tropical. I also make sure I have travel medical insurance (usually part of most medical benefits plans for companies). These may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at some of the stories I’ve overheard at airport gates…
I also avidly research what’s around my accommodations – grocery store, restaurants, tourist attractions, nice park, etc – and I like to know if there’s a fridge (for water, apples, cheese) where I am staying. This is pretty key for your meals because if you don’t have (or choose not to have) the luxury of “when in Rome” while you’re travelling, how are you going to feed yourself?
2. Get Stepping
Travelling doesn’t always allow for an early morning workout, but I really love to walk everywhere and my beloved (but not really) stairs love to show up where ever I go. You’d be surprised at how much cardio and leg tone you get by getting in at least 10K steps per day while wandering around a city or going for a hike. I need a new FitBit, but most smartphones have a step tracker, and I love to know how many steps I’ve taken while seeing a beautiful place!
3. Online Yoga
Yoga wise, my travel mat comes everywhere with me and I am much better with my own practice when I’m guided. Gaia.com* if perfect for me with their online videos; some of which feature my yoga teachers from here in Vancouver. So I can shake it off with Gloria (Kundalini), chill out with Cam (Hatha), or slay the dragon with Bernie (Vinyasa) from anywhere in the world. Gaia.com’s app and site have a great three-month trial package, and the monthly cost after that is a #GetThrifty $10.00 USD. It’s also easy to cancel or pause your subscription if needed. Aside from blogging, Netflix and research, this site is the reason I carry my laptop when I travel. There are similar sites available, but this one is my favourite. And yoga is great for helping stretch out those legs and glutes after taking all those aforementioned stairs!
*Subscribers are able to gift classes, so the first person to comment below with your favourite kind of yoga, I’ll gift you an online class so you can check it out!
**This isn’t an ad, I just really like this site!
4. Fuel Up
Not sure about you, but I get hangry if I don’t eat regularly. I always eat a good breakfast to start the day (I love oatmeal), or have a quick snack (like an apple or a Kind bar) before getting to wherever we are eating breakfast. Making sure to drink enough water throughout the day is also pretty integral for me. Incorporating leafy greens wherever you can is also a great energy boost.
I’m probably better at taking my vitamins while on holiday than I am at home. My little case holds a 1-2 week’s worth of capsules, including some shelf- stable probiotics (like these from Flora Health), which are the key to my digestive wellness (keeps up healthy flora and gives some prevention from anything iffy happening if your system doesn’t like what you’ve eaten!) Keeping up with your probiotics, supplements, etc is a good way to to keep your body running when you are probably eating with a bit more freedom – a.k.a. ingesting more sugar and ‘different’ foods than normal.
5. Have a Travel Wellness Emergency Kit
I love to try local cuisine, and I am lucky that my stomach is fairly cast iron. Except for one day in Tokyo that I don’t think could have been prevented. (Tip: If you ever get severely dehydrated from your stomach betraying you while in Japan, go buy some Pokari Sweat. It’s a similar sports drink to Gatorade, but tastes way better! It was also the only bottle that had English writing on it when I was in major need of electrolyte replenishment!)
But the point is that you never know what might happen.
#GetThrifty: Keeping a small supply of your tried and trues for when things go a bit awry will save you some money and give some piece of mind.
In my wellness/emergency kit:
- Wellness Teas – Traditional Medicinals has excellent cold/flu, sleep, and digestive options and I keep a couple of each in my toiletry bag
- My travel vitamin holder with Multi, omega-3, cranberry, and a shelf-stable (no refrigeration needed!) probiotic like this one from Flora Health
- Vitamin C fizzy tablets like Emergen-C or Berocca (which are excellent for if you had a really good time the night before 😉 )
- A small bottle of Ibuprofen and tampons (for that time of the month)
- Saje Peppermint Halo for headaches and Pain Release for sore muscles (they both smell AMAZING, and can be found in their Pocket Farmacy)
- First aid wipes and some band-aids
6. Relax and Be PRESENT!
Like life, travelling can often be very go-go-go-go-go-go. No wonder a common feeling is to get home and then feel like needing a vacation after the vacation! It’s one of the reasons I meditate every morning, at home or while travelling. It sets me up for being able to catch whatever the day has in store for me and run with it with some grace and gratitude. Taking some space by doing some travel yoga, having a proper beach day (like the girls and I did in Barcelona), or reading a book in a park like Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh always settles me. I also try to put my iPhone away more often, which I think is the best way to ‘unplug’.
On my last day anywhere, I try not have anything scheduled other than when I need to leave for the airport or get in the car to go home. Also, make sure to stretch and sleep. Lots of sleep.
How do you keep healthy and happy while travelling? Would love to hear your tips!
P.S. I actually had this post written and scheduled for last week to go with my probiotics giveaway on Instagram, and then I looked at it and went “nope, needs a re-write” and promptly hit delete. Part of me was horrified and went “Noooooooo!”, and part of me felt better because I was tired and not feeling authentic about it. Work and life were quite ‘busy’ (and TMI – sorry! – it was that time of the month) and I hadn’t been walking my talk in the land of self-care. I had a bit of a reset over the weekend and rewrote the post, feeling much more myself.
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” (Gustave Flaubert)