Edit: Hi guys! This article was first published on May 24 2016. However, I made a video of this blog post in October 2017. So you can watch the video above or read the original article below! Enjoy xoxo
Ciao/Olá everyone! Sorry for the long absence. I was on my honeymoon in Italy and Portugal for the last 3 weeks. Although I do love blogging, I also wanted to be in the present moment and simply enjoy my time travelling. (Insert #mindful)
Which brings me to today’s topic: how to stay healthy while on vacation. Although travelling is so enriching to the soul, I find that it can throw my body and mind off balance if I’m not careful. I therefore strive to make healthy habits a priority when away from home. Here are tips that work for me:
Heath tips to consider before you travel
While I do follow a 85% healthy/15% indulgence diet on a day-to-day basis, one week prior to travelling, I step it up 99% healthy. This is in preparation to all the inevitable YOLO eating habits that will occur on vacation (gelato errday in Italy, natas errday in Portugal… I’m very fond of sweets!) I’ll follow the same 99% healthy diet one week after my return then bring it back to the 85%/15% ratio.
I just can’t deal with airplane nor airport food (who can?). So a day prior to takeoff, I make myself a large batch of oat bars to bring along with me. I make sure that they are full of fiber, protein, and good fats. Click here for the recipe!
Having these on hands prevents me from purchasing stale egg sandwiches (I can’t deal with white soggy bread) at the airport and make great mid-day snacks while sightseeing.
Health tips for when you’re on the plane
With its closed space and lack of air circulation, airplanes are just big old bags of germs waiting to spread. As soon as one person is sick and coughing, you’re practically toast. Therefore, the morning of my flight, I usually take 1000mg of Vitamin C to help boost my immune system. I am also a freak about hand hygiene.
While this is a no-brainer, it has taken me forever to adopt: drink plenty of water on board as airplanes dehydrate you.
I have tiny bladder. I need to pee every.single.freaking.hour.
Even your grandma can hold in her pee better than me. I also have bad plane karma and always end up in the middle seat. So to avoid asking my seated neighbor to get up 8 times during a flight, I usually reduce my water consumption to a 1/3 of my normal intake. Which will inevitably make me feel miserable at the end of my flight. So this time around, I decided to chug down my usual water intake (about 250ml every 1 to 1.5 hour). The result: I didn’t have my usual headaches, didn’t feel as tired and as a bonus, my skin was supple and glowing (my skin is usually an oily mess after an oversea flight because of the dehydration). Yes, I had to ask my neighbor to get up to the point of irritation, but at least I was feeling great.
Wear contention socks
Not only do I have a tiny bladder, but I have legs that will swell up if I’m seating down for an extended period of time (insert #thestruggleisreal). To avoid this and experiencing discomfort in my legs for 3-4 days, I wear contention socks. Unsexist thing ever. But they work. So give them a try if you have the same problem as me (just don’t expect your significant other to be turned on)
How to stay healthy once you landed
Choose your meals wisely
My stomach gets upset quite easily. If I don’t treat it right, I’ll either be thrown into the constipated-for-days or shitting-out-water spectrum of a tummy tantrum (#TMI). Over the years, I find that having a mainly vegetable and seafood diet keeps my belly happy. While one of the pleasures of travelling is tasting local cuisine, sometimes my stomach refuses to cooperate. For example, last year when we traveled to Prague and Vienna, most restaurants served dishes consisting of red meat and boiled potatoes. Needless to say, this sent my stomach into a frenzy. Luckily, I was able to find some great vegan restaurants (thanks to Happycow.net) to prevent my stomach from going on strike.
Right before my trip, I finished the very entertaining and informative book Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ that explains the functions of the digestive tract. According to the author, scientists are more than ever interested in the bacteria found in our gut and the influence they have on our bodies. Although there is still limited research out there on the topic, probiotics seem to help maintain a good gut health. With a stomach like mine, it seemed like a no brainer to try to incorporate some probiotics during my trip. When possible, I would pass by the market and buy some yogurt of kefir to eat in the morning. As an extra precaution, I had bought probiotic pills to bring along the journey. What is tricky with probiotic pills is that they often need to be refrigerated to guarantee the life and quality of the bacteria. However, I bought a product from Jamieson that claimed it didn’t need to be refrigerated after opening. I’m not certain those claims were legit, but at worst, the pills wouldn’t work.
While I can’t objectively say that probiotics helped, compared to my previous travels, I did feel less heartburn and was less bloated when I was eating foods outside of my usual diet. However, for my next travels, I will probably just skip the probiotics pills and stick to the yogurt, which at least give me some protein and is a source of calcium.
Drink plenty of water
I wish there was an app to localize public toilets in Europe.
Back at home, I practice yoga on a daily basis. Therefore I couldn’t foresee spending 3 weeks without doing my yoga (#yogareligion)! Luckily, Lole sells a travel-friendly mat that you can fold flat and place in your luggage. Obviously, in order to fold it, the mat must be made very thin, therefore offering zero cushioning for your back when lying down. However, it did its job.
Now did I end up doing yoga daily? Truth be told, I didn’t. I did yoga maybe 5 times in 21 days (I’m not impressed either!), but I’m happy I brought it nonetheless. Plus, it was useful to have when I did my stretching in the morning to shake off the aches and stiffness caused by mediocre beds (because lying directly on the ground is just yuck).
Stay physically active
My favorite part of my travelling always involves escaping the city and taking a hike. Not only is great to get the heart pumping, but it’s simply refreshing to be surrounded by nature and get some fresh air. Plus the views are always breathtaking. A great mind + body + soul experience (and tones the ass nicely as a bonus).
You would think travelling is all fun and games, but it can be downright stressing to be thrown out of your comfort zone and daily routine. Between the getting lost, living out of a suitcase, dealing with knuckleheads at the airport and arguing with your travel companion on what to do next, it’s surprisingly easy to lose your shit on vacay. To avoid ruining my vacation over trivial matters, I try to do 5-10 minutes of meditation a day.
So these are the tricks I use to stay healthy while travelling. I will admit that I had some trouble following my own advice at time, but sometimes you just got to eat that damn gelato.
What are your tips for healthy travelling?
Much love and hugs,
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