The end of May kicks off the summer travel season. Time to explore new lands! Time to relax at the beach! Time to get sick...wait what? Often travel means we throw out the good habits keeping us healthy, deplete our immune systems, and rush from one bucket list item to the next. Then we come home ill having not relaxed.
In the past week, two clients have asked me for help around travel. One asked how to eat healthy while she is traveling. The other one has just returned from a trip and feels completely derailed from all the healthy living tools she's learned over the past couple of months working with me. Over the years, I've learned many lessons around travel, staying healthy, and enjoying an easy reentry.
With these tips, I hope you find a way to have a fun and exciting vacation while taking care of yourself. This way you can enjoy the trip, and you can enjoy your return home!
- Maintain Routine. At home, I drink warm lemon water every morning, walk 10,000 steps most days, and do a minimum of five minutes of yoga or Qigong every day. On vacation, I drink warm lemon water every morning, walk 10,000 steps and more every day, and do some Qigong, yoga, or combination thereof daily. Travel can mess with your immune system, upset your digestive system, and disrupt your sleep cycle. When you maintain what you do at home to stay healthy, you are more likely to feel great and enjoy your vacation. As an important aside, travel often slows down our digestion. Warm lemon water every morning will help you stay regular.
- Schedule Down Time. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Feeling encumbered by few vacation days and the desire to see everything, I would sightsee until I would drop. I wasn't resting before the vacation, and I wasn't resting on the vacation. My immune system would throw in the towel, and I would come home with an upper respiratory infection or severe fatigue. The rushing on vacation meant I wasn't actually experiencing or enjoying what I was seeing. Then, re-entry would be incredibly painful because my body would knock me upside the head and force me to lie down. I now know to schedule only one or two big items per day, with plenty of time for leisurely lunches, slow strolls, and meaningful meanderings. If I am traveling for more than a week, I enforce downtime with a laundry day, which leads us to Tip #3.
- Pack Light. You may be wondering why packing light is a healthy tip. Packing a suitcase to the hilt and then lugging it from destination to destination is a recipe for stress. Stress interferes with enjoying your trip. Also, in some places, especially southern Europe, wheeling a large suitcase makes you a target of petty thieves, including pickpockets. If you are traveling by train with a big bag, sometimes you have to leave it on luggage racks at the end of each train car. This means it is often out of your sight and a target for theft. When you travel light, you are able to travel faster, safer, and access more places. When you travel heavy, you have to constantly factor in how you are going to move your suitcase from point A to point B. When traveling light, I only pack for one week, and do one day of laundry per week of travel. That laundry day is enforced down time, usually needed at that point in the trip when I've been out and about sightseeing for multiple days. There are easy ways to travel light. Pack only three colors (mine tend to be navy, black and white), pack only clothes in these colors that can be washed together, and pack a scarf that ties all three colors together. From my friend Emily: lay out everything you want to bring and eliminate half. Think back to what you always drag with you but never need. I have never needed heels while traveling during the summer. By the way, the one exception I make for traveling light is when I take a cruise. Then I do bring a big bag because I enjoy participating in the formal nights and various activities. Plus, often the cruise line takes care of moving my bag from airport to ship and ship to airport.
Now it's your turn. What is your best tip for staying healthy during summer travel? I'd love to hear from you in the Comments section below.