Whether you’re soaking up the sun on your summer vacation or you’re escaping the cold down under for a tropical retreat, travel is on the menu for many of us throughout the year. For some people, it’s a big part of what they plan to look forward to, and for some, it’s a more regular occurrence than it is for others. In any case, maintaining a healthy lifestyle while you’re jet-setting can be pretty tough.
There’s a lot of underlying stress during the act of travelling, factors like jet-lag and fatigue to take into consideration, and oftentimes, there’s no kitchen to do your weekly meal prep or cook healthy ingredients from scratch in. Moreover, taking a holiday is a time when we should be enjoying ourselves and letting loose a bit. This means a little cheese, a little wine, and a little bread!
One of the biggest challenges is maintaining a routine. Routines are the backbone of any healthy lifestyle, and travelling compromises our day-to-day eating habits, gym time, sleeping, and overall balance. Fortunately, you don’t have to abandon it all just to have a little fun in a different place. Here are some of my essential items for keeping up good health while travelling, whether you pack ’em in your bag or you pack ’em in your brain.
1. Bullet journal
Everywhere that I go, my bullet journal goes. It’s a tiny little thing, so it easily fits in any bag, purse, backpack, or luggage that I’m toting along. Bullet journaling is a simple concept; instead of writing out long-winded diary entries, you simply use bullet points to organise anything you so desire! Amongst the most useful bullet journal layouts I use while travelling are my habit and mood tracker and my food and exercise tracker.
While my bullet journal won’t tell anyone if I’m eating loads of sugar or not working out, I certainly feel a level of accountability to make it happy. This helps me to see if I’m taking too many rest days in a row, indulging too often, or feeling anxious and tired. When I have all this data, I can help pull myself out of a rut or bad travel eating habits, motivating me to make the best decisions I can.
2. A gym pass
Sure, it sounds like a frivolous expense. If the hotel you’re staying in has a gym, even better! When you’re booking accommodations, look at your options for fitness. Of course, some trips come with built-in exercise; if you love the outdoors as much as I do, then the gym is rather secondary if you’re putting in long hiking days. If you’re touring a big city, you can easily just stick to walking. Otherwise, I like to line up gym access – especially if my trip duration is longer than a week.
Snag a guest pass from a friend if you’re travelling near people you know, or call gyms to see weekly rates. Some gyms will have very inexpensive monthly rates that are worth the daily pump, or you can use ClassPass to find individual classes at fitness studios. This gives you a healthy daily habit to keep your routine strong while you’re away from home. While you can do at-home workouts on vacation, it’s more motivating just to be inside the gym. Plus, you’ll feel better about having that slice of pizza or plate of pasta later!
3. A good probiotic
Gut health is the centre of our body’s health. It impacts everything from digestion to mood, and we want both to remain in good standings – especially during travel! Stress, unhealthy foods, a lack of hydration, sleep changes, and everything else that comes along with a good holiday impacts our gut flora big time. Travel can also wear down the immune system. How many times have you gotten sick mid-trip, or upon returning home? Our bodies just know something is up when we’re away from home for extended periods of time, and we need a little boost to combat the swift change in routine. Think of a probiotic as easy acclamation – it will simply help you better adapt to a new environment.
A quality probiotic can keep the good bacteria in the gut thriving through even the most treacherous conditions. If you’re going to pack ONE supplement, this is it.
4. The Headspace app
Headspace is the easy way to meditate. If you’ve never meditated and you want to get started, I couldn’t recommend it enough. While many people – myself included – enjoy travel, there’s also some anxiety surrounding plans, flights or long drives, and just getting everything together! Meditation is the answer. It’s a great way to calm down, especially on a flight. This can be super helpful for someone who is afraid of flying!
I always download a session ahead of time so as soon as the flight is in the air and I have a few hours to myself, I can zen out for 10-20 minutes. This puts me in a great head space – no pun intended – and rejuvenates me after a long day spent checking baggage, cooped up in an airplane seat. It also gives me a good excuse to find a bit of downtime for myself each day, even if my itinerary is otherwise full. I like to meditate in a nice green space, city park, or while I take a rest during a hike. Download the free app here.
I’ve made this mistake WAY too many times, but I’ve successfully learnt my lesson. The airport is a tough place for food. While the outrageous prices generally deter me from making any impulse decisions, it’s not smart to hit the airport on an empty stomach. If you’re travelling a long distance without healthy options, I strongly suggest making a full meal or eating something satiating prior to boarding, but for short to medium-length flights, a few snacks will do! Stress, fatigue, jet-lag, and unexpected happenings like flight delays can all lead to cravings, and the airport has plenty of sweets and junk food to soothe ’em. Don’t give in!
Some of my favourite snacks are Rx Bars which have a nice boost of protein, flavoured seltzer water which keeps me hydrated while curbing my sweet tooth, some mixed nuts, or freeze-dried fruit. For more ideas, check out some of my favourite paleo-friendly protein bars.
6. Rose water spray
Daily hygiene and skincare rituals are a huge part of daily routine, but they tend to get pushed to the wayside when our regular stock of supplies isn’t available to us. Of course, you can invest in travel-sized containers for all of your products, but for me, I like to stick to carry-on luggage with a size limit for liquids. If I had to choose one beauty essential, rose water spray is it. It’s a refreshing way to wake up, clean up, and refresh after a long travel day. It’s good for toning and moisturising the skin, and I can use it on sun burn or bug bites for quick relief, too. I like to use this right after a flight when I’m feeling a bit stuffy and my skin is feeling dry.
7. Water bottle
Okay, okay – we’re getting back to basics here. Still, it’s a crucial carry-on item for me whether I’m taking a walk down the street or flying across the country! Buying water at the airport means waiting in line and spending an absurd amount of money. The tiny cups of water they fill up on-flight aren’t enough to quench my thirst which seems to be exacerbated by travel. I always carry my 32-ounce Nalgene water bottle and fill it up as soon as I make it through security. It’s always empty by the end of my flight. Hydration is key for feeling healthy and happy.
8. Ear plugs & eye mask
You never know where you’re going to be sleeping. At home, we have a lot of control over our sleeping environment including sounds, lights, and overall comfort levels. If you’re staying in a city hotel, you’re going to be fighting off some light and noise pollution. You might be sharing a room with someone who snores. You might just have trouble sleeping away from home. In any case, being armed with some simple, basic, and small tools for a good night’s rest is going to be something you thank yourself for when you’re energised enough to trot around a new location all day.
A good pair of ear plugs to drown out any noise and an eye mask to keep the light out are my go-to sleep luggage. This means I can sleep anywhere, from hotels to the backcountry.
Where are you headed this season, and what’s in your bag? Let us know, and share this with your jet-setting travel partners so your whole crew stays healthy on the go!