The holidays are in full effect and many of us will be traveling near and far to be with the ones we love. As a frequent traveler, I’ve had many opportunities to reflect and notice what’s required to make my time away from home meaningful and as healthy as possible. Whether you are taking a vacation or visiting family and friends, here are some ideas to stay healthy and balanced while making the best of that well deserved time off!
Hydrate: I cannot emphasize it enough: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Going somewhere warm? Hydrate! Going somewhere cold? Hydrate! Dehydration can happen in any climate and cause a number of symptoms that can make your trip less than enjoyable (such as fatigue and constipation). While traveling, we are usually off our normal routines and running from one place to the next, making it easy to forget to get our water in. Additionally, if alcohol will be a part of your holiday celebrations, you should be drinking even more water than usual to account for the dehydrating effects of alcohol on your body and skin. Get a head start by drinking 16 oz of water immediately upon waking, before you get distracted or busy. Pack a reusable, BPA-free water bottle to carry around on your trip and continue to fill it up throughout the day. Make note of how many times you need to refill it to reach your daily water quota (the standard 8 x 8 oz glasses is a good start, but you may feel better drinking even more), and designate times throughout the day as a reminder to refill, in order to meet your quota.
Sleep: Sometimes while traveling it’s easier said than done, but getting in enough zzz’s will help keep you balanced and energized to take on the day. Just as much as exercise and nutrition are important to our health, so is sleep. Optimal working, learning, creating, moving, and socializing rely heavily on a good night’s sleep. Taking some time to meditate and clear your mind before falling asleep can help deepen the quality of sleep you are getting throughout the night.
Maintain Your Skin Care Routine: Air travel requires some planning with items such as skin care products. Knowing the rules ahead of time can save you a lot of time and headaches, or worse, from having to toss your beloved products at security. Once you’ve learned what you can and cannot pack, determine your most vital skin care products, remembering you are packing for a destination that may have a very different climate than what you are used to. Try bringing your favorite travel sized cleanser, toner, moisturizer with sunscreen, eye treatment, lip hydrator, and hand and body lotion if possible. Paring down when packing is important, but try not to eliminate the products that will help keep your skin healthy while up against the elements of travel.
Eat Regularly: Packing healthy snacks to have on hand throughout the day can save you from those catastrophic blood sugar crashes, mood swings, and mid-afternoon dips of fatigue. Take the time to find local restaurants, supermarkets, and health food stores that can accommodate your dietary needs. It is worth the extra effort to make sure that your body is getting the foods it needs. Also remember that vacations and holidays tend to be full of foods that we’re not used to eating on a daily basis and this can mean trouble for our digestive system. Incorporating foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole food snacks can help to minimize any digestive distress.
Exercise: Feel like you are way too busy to exercise while traveling? When there is not 30-60 minutes to spare at once, try breaking it up throughout the day. For example, a 10 minute power walk in the morning, afternoon, and evening with 5 minutes of toning exercises like yoga stretches, sit-ups, lunges, and push-ups (which can be done anywhere with no equipment necessary) can help keep our blood flowing and metabolism going.
And last but not least…
Let Go of Expectations: We usually have in mind an idealistic picture of how we would love a vacation to turn out, but realistically there are many bumps along the way that can pop up and derail our plans. Flights get delayed or canceled, inclement weather happens, people get sick, food gets burned, hotel accommodations can let us down. The best thing to do in this situation? Make a conscious effort to go with the flow. Of course we naturally want to react and feel angry, disappointed, sad, or frustrated, but what will really help us get from plan A to plan B is staying calm and making appropriate decisions about what the next best step is. The hormonal cascade set off by stress wreaks havoc on our health. Figure out your options, choose a direction, outline the steps you need to take, and ask for help if possible. Your focus should simply be to get things back on track so that you can carry on with your trip. You can wait until you return home to follow up with the appropriate people and businesses should you need to further process your feelings, contact management, etc. For now, just breathe, try to relax, and focus on how to get back to those meaningful moments that you get to share with others this time of year.