Traveling takes a lot out of you, in more than one way. Typically, the wear and tear come in threes: mind, body and soul. From being jet-lagged to what I like to call being “nerve-pinched” (having a pinched nerve plus people getting on your last nerve), most travelers aren’t fans of taking the easy road, especially when it comes to personal health.
I wasn’t the healthiest of travelers. Instead of packing nutritious snacks for the plane, I grabbed overpriced and processed airport snack food. Instead of chanting positive affirmations, I chanted ranting chains that would occasionally make a sailor blush.
Ideally, people would do what’s good for them all the time. Realistically, we do what we can with what we’ve got. Staying well means focusing on what’s healthy for you in the now, and being flexible was my road to becoming a healthier traveler.
You Nut: Eat Healthier Now, Enjoy Guilty Pleasures Later
Bus rides and flights are long. You’re crammed into this box with a bunch of other people who just want to get from Point A to B to C in peace, and there are usually limited options when it comes to food, drinks and the toilet.
To be happier and healthier, I’ve learned to pack healthy snacks for long flights to stay nourished and less cranky. Nuts are packed with protein, and I mix in antioxidant-rich dark chocolate and other tasty goodies. Sometimes, I ask strangers for candy in trade for trail mix. Sharing is caring.
The perk to eating healthy in advance is that you enjoy guilty pleasure foods later. It’s okay to splurge between flights if you spy steak during a layover. If your body wants steak, it wants steak. Sometimes, your only choice is overpriced airport food, and that’s okay, too. Flexibility and balance are important when traveling.
Drink the Water, Silly
This is one of my mantras: “Drink the water, silly. Drink it now.” This is solid advice, folks because hunger pangs are often your body craving water. Don’t get dehydrated. Drink water, and your wallet will thank you, too.
There are apps remind people to drink water, and some of them have cute plants that guilt you into drinking water. Yes, humans need reminders to water themselves. In real life, my green thumb will dry up, and I’ll forget to water my plants. When it comes to the Plant Nanny app, the plants are so adorable that I can’t let them die, and I end up drinking my eight glasses of water a day.
Get Quality Shut-Eye
I’m a weird sleeper, but I think most people define themselves that way. I love a just-right mattress, with the perfect amount of give with a little firmness. My pillows must be squishy but not flat, and ear plugs are definitely a must for travelers, even if you think you have the ability to sleep through the loudest of construction projects.
A good pillow and a comfortable hoodie turned into a blanket make most trips bearable for getting a little sleep, which is better than no sleep. In fact, a good hour and a half of sleep is better than none, and most adults need between seven to nine hours on average.
The key to getting quality shut-eye is in keeping a routine: going to bed and waking up at the same time. Similarly, you should do this with your meal times, keeping to a routine where possible, because your grumbling belly will keep you up. If you don’t, you’ll be a grump in the morning.
Bedtime rituals also help: reading or coloring in an adult coloring book. Visualization exercises also help me to relax, such as picturing a favorite memory of a loved one when I miss them.
These tips are basically lectures you got from your mom as a child, but as the story goes, we learn mom had a real point with her “nagging” later in life. So, you nut, eat healthy snacks, drink your water and get quality shut-eye.
Be easy on yourself. The road to becoming a healthier traveler is in your flexibility to work with what you have access to and what feels healthiest for you in the moment, which may mean eating a giant slice of chocolate cake or an expensive steak while visualizing yourself watching the perfect sunrise. Don’t forget to drink your water, silly.