Traveling abroad can be both relaxing and exhilarating, however one thing is for certain – at times it can be stressful on both the mind and the body as well as easily derail (at least temporarily) healthy habits long ingrained at home.
Being a Holistic Health and Wellness Coach as well as a long-time travel enthusiast, here are my top tips on how to stay healthy while traveling overseas.
Drink 4 times more water than you think you need to.
This simple tip helps with everything from dehydration to constipation to overcoming exhaustion and jetlag. Long flight times and new climates can have more of an impact on your hydration levels than you realize. Try starting your day by drinking 16 ounces of water, as you’re likely to get distracted as the day goes on.
Get plenty of sleep.
This is a big one! Traveling, especially to different time zones, can exhaust the body.
Restful sleep is the time your body requires to recover and repair, preparing you for another adventuresome day of sight-seeing!
Don’t be tempted to burn the candle at both ends. Take that afternoon nap if you need or want to.
Vacations should have rest and relaxation time built-in, so you go home feeling refreshed and happy.
Take vitamins and supplements.
Personally, I always travel with a few key supplements that keep me rested, relaxed, healthy, and all systems working as they should. Magnesium is my never-leave-home without. If I had to bring only one, this would be it. Magnesium not only regulates your digestion, but it can also help you drift off to dreamland. As well, it reduces anxiety, increases energy levels, reduces muscle aches and headaches, and increases serotonin (the happy hormone), promoting relaxation and calming the mind.
If I can fit it in my travel bag, I also bring melatonin and/or valerian root for regulating sleep, plus vitamins C and B complex for an immune system and energy boost. Other great options for increasing overall wellness and immunity include a daily multi-vitamin, turmeric capsules, dried ginger and dried garlic tablets and probiotics.
Eat breakfast and pace yourself.
A lot of travelers eat breakfast at their hotels before starting out for the day, and this might be your best opportunity to begin the day with a healthy and well-fueled start, leaving you energetic, clear-headed and ready to explore your new surroundings.
Try to add in protein (think eggs and Greek yoghurt) and plenty of fibre such as fruit and fresh veggies. Once you have a good nutritional foundation under your belt (literally), be sure to pace yourself adequately throughout your day, building in rest time and relaxation between activities.
Breathe, stretch and meditate.
The best way to find your rhythm, calm your mind and prepare your body for the day’s activities is to start each morning with some light yoga-style stretches followed by 10-15 minutes of mindful breathing or meditation techniques.
Better yet, check with your hotel and see if they offer an early morning yoga or light exercise class!
Limit alcohol and sugar consumption.
Yes, a lot of people use holiday time to indulge in all the delicious goodies they limit in their daily lives back home, but consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and sugar can deplete our bodies, causing exhaustion, dehydration, and increased inflammation.
Compounded on top of jetlag and busy site-seeing days, this is not the recipe for feeling your best as you explore new regions of the world, and may significantly increase your risk of headaches, sore muscles and crankiness.
Digital detox – limit work and screen time.
It can be extremely tempting to check in on work, quickly reply to some emails or update social media accounts whilst globe-trotting, especially because fast and free internet connections are readily available in most places these days. However, I would recommend trying your best to close those electronic devices and explore your new surroundings instead.
If you find yourself with unexpected free time, talk a walk, meet some locals, try a new dish or engage in meditation and light exercise. One reason you took a holiday was to get away from the pressures of daily life. Use this time to fully disengage and turn a mindful eye on what’s right in front of you instead.
Oh, this is a hard one! It’s so tempting to bring that extra pair of shoes or jacket, or 15 pairs of socks – just in case. However, most places you will travel have good, fast laundry service and access to at least some shops to purchase a last-minute item in the event you do have a major clothing malfunction.
Save your back muscles, time and frustration by learning the art of packing only the essentials, leaving you feeling light, organized and ready to hop from destination to destination unencumbered.
Open your mind and heart and keep a travel diary.
Another soul healing thing that makes travel so incredible is its ability to open our hearts and minds. While new cultures, new customs, different procedures and strange culinary choices can be fun and fascinating, there’s also the possibility they can be overwhelming and tiresome at moments.
Make a promise to yourself to go with the flow, remain calm and not let the small things ruffle your travel feathers. Instead, find the humor in situations that are out of your control and take it as a cultural learning experience. And be sure to write these moments down in your travel diary! I promise that months later when you’re back home reading about your adventures, these memories will make you smile and laugh.
Pack a small first-aid kit.
This is a great idea no matter where you go and always comes in handier than you think it will. The first-aid kit should include:
• Bandages of varying sizes and moleskin for blisters
• An antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin
• A fever and pain reducer
• A motion sickness remedy
• Anti-itch cream
• Medicine for allergic reactions
• Stomach ache medicine
• Cold and flu relief medication
• Extra bug spray
• Wet wipes and hand sanitizer
Last, but certainly not least – treat yourself to a spa day!
Whether at an exclusive resort or at a more affordable local establishment, reward yourself with a few hours or a whole day dedicated to nothing but ‘me time’! Nothing can leave you more rejuvenated, happy, glowing and relaxed than time spent being soaked, scrubbed, steamed, and massaged in a beautiful setting with knowledgeable therapists.
It’s one travel memory you won't easily forget!