Travel is a wonderful part of life. Experiencing new cultures, taking in new sites, meeting new people, and seeing how the rest of the world lives is one of the greatest blessings I’ve ever had.
I’m fresh off a two week trip to Australia and New Zealand. I was speaking at a few events and connected with amazing people. Mom joined me for the trip, and we took advantage of every single moment seeing the site. We visited wine country, enjoyed the Sydney Opera House and harbour, and even visited the Lord Of The Rings set in New Zealand. It was magical! (Check out the photos here.)
While it was a wonderful trip, it feels so good to be back in my own bed and my own kitchen.
This felt like a good time to share my best healthy travel tips with you. Trust me, you can enjoy your trip without letting your health fall apart. Feeling like you need a vacation after your vacation kind of defeats the purpose. My goal is to always fully enjoy myself without feeling like I need a two-week detox when I get home.
I travel often for business and take a good amount of just-for-fun trips as well. Whether I’m in the US or traveling abroad, these are the healthy tips that I stick with to maintain my healthy lifestyle while also enjoying the trip.
My personal approach to food and life is to follow the “90/10 Rule” — traveling or not. Structure, routines, and plans with a little bit of ease built in. You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 Rule, where 80% of the time you follow the plan and 20% you can do what you want. I prefer to think of it as the 90/10 Rule, because for me the 80/20 Rule is a little bit of a slippery slope. As with everything I teach you, I encourage you to find what works best for you.
Staying hydrated is always important, traveling or not. However, it should be the first thing on your mind when you travel, especially if you’re on an airplane because the humidity inside the cabin is lower than normal. Your body will also be acclimating to a new climate, and between finding your way around and enjoying your trip drinking water can be easily forgotten.
Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, and loads of other issues. It can also cause hunger, so bottoms up! When you arrive at your location find a convenience store and purchase at least 60-70 ounces of water for each day that you’re traveling. Whether I’m in a little beach house in Costa Rica, a hotel in Sydney, or an AirBnB in NYC this is always the first thing that I do.
Find the closest grocery store to where you’re staying. You may or may not be able to find a health foods store, but at least find the nearest market or grocery store to grab some fruit or fresh food. Dining out is a wonderful part of the travel experience, but try to have one meal a day from the grocery store. Think whole/real foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, and salads. (This is better on your pocket book, too!)
This doesn’t need to be anything fancy, you can even just use a quart size ziplock or a small travel pouch. Add herbal teas, raw nuts and seeds, low-sugar/healthy bars, extra vitamin C, probiotic stick packs, and your supplements in an easy to access small bag in your carry on. I also keep a few small packs of almond butter in mine, too.
Like I mentioned above, carry a few healthy snacks with you. You don’t have to bring your entire pantry, just grab a piece of fruit that keeps well (apple, banana, orange), some almond butter, your own healthy trail mix, and/or a good-quality, low sugar bar. These types of healthy snacks will tide you over in a pinch and can prevent you from needing that pastry at the airport or chips from the gas station.
Save your indulgences for a fun local restaurant, not the cheap preservative-laden food you’ll find in terminals and convenience stations. Another tip that will save you from processed travel food it to eat a big, healthy, protein-rich meal before you leave your house. If you leave the house hungry, the candy bar isle might get the best of you.
Nothing good comes from this cart except for asking for water with no ice (the ice on airplanes is often not clean and full of germs—ew!). Ask for hot water for the herbal tea you brought on board or just sip a plain water no ice to stay hydrated. The snacks are full of white flour, sodium and preservatives, and all of the drinks are full of sugar. Bring your own plane snacks to start your vacation off right.
Not only will you have a better dining experience, you’ll be able to make sure you have good-quality food. I usually use TripAdvisor (app and website) to find places with good reviews and view menus to find a place that looks equally healthy and delicious. Traveling or not, when you look at food ask yourself if you’re respecting your body before you eat it.
No matter where I am I usually stick to the following:
I’m currently on a speaking tour in Australia and New Zealand for two weeks. On long trips like this it’s even more important to stick with my healthy habits. Last night, I had the beautiful opportunity to have dinner at the famous Sydney Opera House. The dining experience was exquisite.
The food was mostly healthy with some decadent extras available. Definitely a 10% kind of meal, and definitely worth it! We dined on local cuisine of shellfish, carrot salad five ways with a local cheese, a crepe dish and a fabulous mango dessert with five textures of mango. It was divine.
The 90/10 way of eating allows us to enjoy these types of experiences guilt-free. Rules and structure with a little bit of wiggle room.
We also went wine tasting in Australia’s Yarra Valley. We sipped on a few different wines and enjoyed the gorgeous landscape. We stayed mindful of how much wine we consumed and snacked on nuts and fruits to keep our blood sugar stable. It’s a memory that mom and I will always remember fondly.
You may or may not have control over where you stay. If you’re able, stay in a highly walkable neighborhood and walk to most destinations. You’ll get to experience more of the city and add in extra movement, too. I’m currently on a speaking tour in Australia and New Zealand and have been averaging 13,000 – 17,000 steps per day just walking around and enjoying the cities. That’s anywhere from 4-7 miles each day.
Quick tracking tip: The Health app that is built into the iPhone automatically tracks your steps if you have your phone on you. It’s a fun way to see how far you’ve gone (a FitBit or pedometer of course works great too.) Aim for at least 10,000 steps per day, traveling or not.
Along the lines of choosing where to stay, consider renting a condo or apartment with a kitchen instead of staying at a hotel. Preparing a few of your own meals in a kitchen, especially breakfast, will help you stay on track and probably save a little money, too.
Dry locations in the US like Utah and Arizona can give you a sore throat if you’re not used to the climate. A small travel humidifier is usually less than $20 and can make a huge difference when you sleep. Also, if you’re staying in a hotel ask the hotel if they have any extra humidifiers. Most dry places stash a few at the front desk and make a world of difference for your eyes, nose and throat when you wake up in the morning.
Just like when you’re at home, a dark sleep space with no extra light will help you get better rest. Turn the alarm clock light off or unplug it, and use a towel under the door if light is pouring in from the hallway. Eye masks look funny, but if all else fails use one. Any light in your sleep space can disrupt your good night’s sleep.
Hopefully you’re already walking a lot, and the hotel gym is always an option if you’re not getting enough movement in. Also try to incorporate movement into your vacation to enjoy the sights. Swimming at the beach, hiking to see the views, and other types of built-in exercise make the trip even more enjoyable.
It’s easy to forget simple things when you’re out of your routine, so be extra mindful that you stay on your high-quality multivitamin and supplements. You’ll be exposed to even more germs that you’re not used to, and if you’re on a plane you’re exposed to a LOT of radiation just from being so high in the atmosphere. Extra antioxidants are of the utmost importance!
For me business travel isn’t a vacation and I stay super regimented with my daily routines and habits. When I travel for pleasure I always plan ahead and use the tips I gave you above, and then go with the flow when I arrive. I’ve been all over the world and no matter where I’ve been I’ve at least been able to find a piece of fruit for breakfast.
International Travel Tip: If you’re leaving the country, pack a little first aid kit with ibuprofen, aspirin, a decongestant like Sudafed and antihistamine like Benadryl. Bandaids and alcohol wipes are a good idea, too. I just throw a couple of each of those in my travel bag (you don’t need to pack a full box of each.) I rarely would take any of those things but when you’re out of the country they may be expensive or hard to find. I’ve needed all of those things for either myself or fellow traveler from unexpected illness, bee stings, and other mishaps along the way.
April 8-13, 2017. There are only a few spots left, get the details and book it here.
Instead of prescribing what I think you should do, I help you find what works for you.