7 Tips For Healthy Travel

planeIt’s that time of year when traveling is a part of most families’ holiday experience. Whether it’s by plane, train, or automobile, staying healthy while traveling can bring its share of challenges.  Early last month I flew out to Arizona for some additional craniosacral training and while I was enjoying one of my favorite past times of people-watching, it occurred to me that I take for granted all the tricks I’ve learned along the way to ensure a healthier traveling experience.

While on this particular trip, I didn’t follow a few of my own tips and felt less than stellar for most of my training, that experience made me realize how just important these tips are. So if you’re traveling to visit family and friends this holiday season, here’s a few tips to ensure your holidays stay happy and healthy.

Get clear about your priorities

While we all want to be economical during our travels, sometimes saving $30 to tack on extra travel time either by not flying direct or avoiding toll roads, is just not worth it. I’ve traveled enough to realize that if I can buy a direct flight for $20 or $30 more, it is well worth it. Traveling can be stressful and exhausting as is, so why make that experience last longer if you don’t have to? It’s all about priorities. If health is your priority, the minimal cost of a direct flight or shorter drive by paying for tolls is a small price to pay.

Take Some Mini Moments

There are lots of unknowns and opportunities for stress to occur during traveling. But there are also lots of opportunities for mini moments to take a break for mindfulness. Standing in line for security check, waiting for your rental car, or taking a few extra moments in the bathroom. Mini moments can consist of deep breathing, a quick body scan, grounding, or whatever mindfulness practice you already have in place. Turn those obligatory wasted moments of time into powerful moments to resource you.

Get Some Rest

While ensuring you’re well rested the day before traveling is important, getting a good night’s sleep while away can pose more of a challenge. Being in a new environment comes with its share of challenges, including difficulty falling asleep and possibly adjusting to a new time zone. If your sleep is already poor or suboptimal, that can be exacerbated during travel. One way to ensure getting restful sleep and/or adjusting to a new time zone is taking 1mg or 3mg of melatonin before bed. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by your body that causes sleep so supplementing for the short-term can help to make your traveling a more restful and pleasant experience. Or at the very least, you’ll be more rested and better able to deal with any stress that does occur.

Support Your Immune System

Lack of sleep and stress are sure ways to lower your immune system functioning, putting you at a higher risk for catching whatever bug is going around. Not to mention, traveling can mean coming into contact with more people, which increases your exposure. In addition to managing your sleep and stress as mentioned above, focusing on good old-fashioned immune support is key to staying healthy during these riskier travel times.

Bring Your Own Food

Traveling is full of convenient yet unhealthy food, making it quite easy to splurge more than usual. A simple way to avoid this pitfall is to bring your own food. While the TSA still doesn’t allow large amounts of liquids or gels (see below), that doesn’t make most food off-limits. Protein bars, veggies, trail mix, or wraps are easy to pack and munch on while traveling. That being said, more and more airports are offering a few healthier restaurants to choose from.

Stay Hydrated

With the changes in screening since 9/11, it is inconvenient to have to buy overpriced bottled water at the airport. But between rushing around, driving for hours on end, or sitting in a metal box breathing recycled air, staying hydrated can be easily overlooked during traveling. The small cups offered in-flight just aren’t enough to keep up your hydration status so, as a rule, I always buy a liter of water once I make it through security so I have plenty of water during my travel. The same is true for driving. Even if you have to make an extra pit stop along the way, staying properly hydrated will lead to less fatigue or headaches later on.

Opt For a Pat Down

The newer millimeter wave scanners used at the airport emit electromagnetic radiation to scan for concealed objects. While these waves only penetrate the skin by less than 1 mm or so, we are exposed to radiation constantly from other forms of technology (think cell phones, microwaves, etc). Until we have decades of research showing that there are no negative health effects from these newer technologies, personally I’d rather not risk it. So if you’re like me and want to err on the side of caution, know that you can ask the TSA agent for a pat down. It does add a few extra minutes to your travel time but I sleep better at night knowing I am trying to reduce my inevitable exposure to radiation, where I can.

What are some of your healthy travel tips? Share below!

 

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