Whether summertime travels take you on dirt roads to family campgrounds, or on jet planes to distant lands, your adventures are best served with a healthy dose of wellness. Pack these travel tips in your bag to feel your healthiest on that well-deserved vacation!
Stressed Yet? Along with the great joys of travelling come the frustrations and stresses of getting to your destination. Waiting for layovers at the airport or watching the speedometer stay at 0 km/h while stopped on the 401 are situations stressful enough without fielding endless “Are we there yet?”s from bored kids. As much as we can attempt to plan every detail of our trip, travelling requires a certain amount of surrendering to the journey, rather than focusing on the destination!
But there are ways you can keep your stress level at bay. Taking 10 minutes to do a calming deep breathing exercise or meditation can significantly reduce your stress and anxiety. Using a meditation app on your phone is a great tool if you want more guidance. Research has shown that using a meditation app for 10-20 minutes per day can improve wellbeing and lower systolic blood pressure, a common indicator of stress (Bostock, 2018).
Sticking to your well-established routines often helps assuage feelings of stress that creep up in unfamiliar situations and environments. Keep doing your exercise routine, whether it be a yoga practice in the morning or a stroll in the evening, and continue taking your supplements at the same time that you normally do. If you take probiotics for gut health or mood support (stress, depression and anxiety), shop for a product that is formulated to be “shelf-stable,” meaning that it’s safe without refrigeration. This makes travelling much easier on these good bacteria! Probiotics are a great travel companion, especially if you’re the type to have changes in your bowel habits or abdominal pain when stressed. The probiotic strains L. acidophilus and B. longum have been shown to be effective in stress-induced gastrointestinal symptoms (Diop, 2008).
Satiate Along with your exercise and supplement routines, stick to your normal meal times. Eating large meals late at night can keep you up counting sheep when you should be catching Zzzs, so try to finish eating about 3 hours before bedtime. When you wake up in the morning, be sure to eat a hearty breakfast and pack snacks if you’re going on a day-long outing.
Chopped veggie sticks and nuts and seeds are nutritious options to have on hand. Be sure to toss a few bottles of water in your backpack, too. Depending on where you’re travelling, you might not have access to potable water and it’s important to drink 8 cups of water per day, plus more if you’re being active! While it’s exciting to sample the cuisines of foreign countries, some ingredients may be “surprising” to your digestive system! So be sure to chew each mouthful of food 20-30 times before swallowing, to allow your digestive enzymes to start working on breaking it down.
If you’re prone to indigestion (some telltale signs being bloating, burps and toots), consider packing a digestive enzyme supplement for your travels. Taking digestive enzymes before meals can assist your body in breaking down food that it has trouble digesting and absorbing, allowing you to have a much smoother vacation! Look for a supplement that has “full spectrum” enzymes, meaning that it can break down all macronutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Sunning For those who adhere to the philosophy that a suntan is the necessary proof that they went away, read on! Along with the benefit of vitamin D, catching some sun also comes with the risk of skin damage from the UV rays, which could lead to skin cancer down the road. Protect your skin by applying toxin-free sunscreen to exposed areas, and minimizing sun time during midday. You can also prevent against sun damage by nourishing your skin from within; munch on the chopped veggies and nuts that you packed in your bag for a dose of vitamins C and E, both of which are protective against UV damage (Godic, 2014).
If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough fruits and vegetables on your travels, consider taking a multivitamin to ensure your bases are covered. Look for a food-based product for extra nutrition that’s easily digested. And if you plan to imbibe while on your vacation, be sure to alternate each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water. This will keep your skin and body hydrated to reduce the risk of sunburn, along with making sure you can also enjoy the next day of your vacay!
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Originally written for Healthy Directions magazine.
Bostock, S., Crosswell., A., Prather, A., et al. Mindfulness on-the-go: Effects of a mindfulness meditation app on work stress and well-being. J Occup Health Psychol. 2018 May 3. doi: 10.1037/ocp0000118.
Diop, L., Guillou, S., Durand, H. Probiotic food supplement reduces stress-induced gastrointestinal symptoms in volunteers: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Nutr Res. 2008 Jan;28(1):1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2007.10.001.
Godic, A., Poljsak, B., Adamic, M., et al. Role of antioxidants in Skin Cancer Prevention and Treatment. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2014; 2014: 860479. doi: 10.1155/2014/860479.