Healthy Travel Tips
By Dr. Amy Mercovich
Who doesn’t love a good vacation? Personally, my calendar doesn’t look right unless I have at least one trip on it within the next several months.
Whether you are road tripping with the family, taking a girls’ or guys’ weekend getaway, or flying to an exotic beach for a week, there are easy plan-ahead steps you can take to keep the travel time as healthy as possible. That way you can enjoy the trip in a body that isn’t bloated, sluggish, dehydrated, and stiff.
Healthy Snacks and Tips for Plane Travel
Small containers of raw nuts, seeds, dried fruit (aka “trail mix”)
Please make it yourself or get one that contains raw nuts and not nuts cooked in oils (Trader Joe’s sells great trail mixes, especially if you avoid the ones with processed sugar/fat “fake foods” such as yogurt-covered things and chips that are supposed to taste like white chocolate or peanut butter.) Stick to REAL ingredients that you know what they are, and preferably raw.
Pieces of whole fruit – apples, oranges, mandarins, bananas
Crackers and slices of (nitrite/nitrate-free) deli meats and cheese – gluten free crackers, if needed. You’ll feel very sophisticated eating this with a glass of wine on the airplane.
Healthy, homemade sandwiches or wraps with lots of veggies in them (it’s definitely easier than it used to be to find healthy sandwiches and wraps at the airport but you may not have time to purchase them OR you may need a gluten and/or dairy free version which is easier to make at home)
Snack bars, Granola bars, Protein bars, Kind/nut bars – yes, these are as sweet as a candy bar but I feel better about eating these than a candy bar (and they are way cheaper if you purchase them anywhere but the airport)
Small squeezable packets of peanut butter or almond butter
If you are an almond butter addict like me, you will find something to eat it with…. Banana, pretzels, crackers, celery and carrot sticks, an apple. NOTE: these pb packets need to go into your liquid and gels clear bag for getting through security
Recipe: Oats-PB-Chia Breakfast “Ball Jar”
In a 2 cup size jar with a lid, place:
¼ cup rolled oats
1 Tbl chia seeds
1-2 Tbl powdered peanut butter
1 Tbl unsweetened cocoa powder
Optional: powdered sweetener such as sugar, coconut sugar, or stevia packet
Once through the security checkpoint, you can add 4-6 oz of hot water, stir, and wait about 10 minutes for the oats and seeds to soak up the liquid OR add 4-6 oz of cold almond milk (which you might find in the cooler at Starbucks) for a colder, but creamier option.
Slice a banana on top and enjoy! (Note: a plastic spoon can be used as a knife to slice up a banana – it works!)
*Yes, you are allowed to bring a glass jar through security BUT do NOT add the liquid to the jar until you are through the security checkpoint.
Healthy Snacks and Tips for Car Travel
The sky’s the limit for packing because there is no security check to worry about – just car space, cooler space, and your health.
Pack all the good stuff…. Fruit, veggies, hummus, yogurt, sandwiches/wraps/Paleo-style rolled up meat and cheese, jars of peanut butter or almond butter, pretzels for a salty, crunchy thing to dip into the nut butters, trail mix, lots of water.
I have heard from a couple of Practice Members that they like to chew on sunflower seeds that still have the hull on them because it takes a long time to eat one and spit out the hull. This isn’t one that I have tried yet, but if I was taking a long, solo car trip, I would try it to help prevent boredom and to stay alert. The bonus is that you are eating a real food with nutrition AND you probably aren’t over-consuming calories mindlessly since it takes so much work to eat each seed.
Wear loose, comfortable clothes in lots of layers. I always wear a bottom layer of leggings and a skirt or dress so that I can take off the leggings when I arrive in a hotter place. On top I wear a t-shirt or yoga top covered up by one or two other layers, maybe a long sleeved t-shirt and a tunic wrap or fitted hoodie or jacket. (See photo).
Consider your spine (back and neck)
Always bring something to place in the small of your back (the lumbar curve of your spine) when sitting either on a plane or in a car. I usually bring a giant scarf that I roll up and place behind my back, but I have been known to stick a small purse back there when in a pinch. If you plan ahead, you will be more comfortable sitting in those ergonomically UNfriendly seats.
If you will be sleeping in the car or on the airplane, consider the comfort of your neck. I like to use one of those “U” shaped pillows to support my head if I fall asleep on the plane. On a long car trip, I bring a larger bed pillow that I can prop up against the door of the car or use just like I would in bed if I can recline the seat enough to lie almost flat.
Other tips to make travel healthier or just more fun
Drink lots of water – it will keep you hydrated and will force you to get up and stretch your legs in flight or to stop the car and get out. This is good for your circulation, alertness, GI tract, and spine.
Use noise canceling headphones on the plane. Yes, they are a bit pricier than regular headphones but they are “game changers” for helping you to be able to sleep on a plane (or to maintain your peaceful bliss despite crying babies and loud talkers).
Use your travel time to learn something new, read a novel that is on your list, catch up on podcasts you enjoy, or listen to an audiobook. Especially if you are the one who has to drive, this is a great way to make the time go faster – audiobooks and podcasts. I get excited thinking about being able to listen to an entire book on a trip! I guess that’s just me… but, it helps to pass the time and keep me alert. (If you are a passenger and are reading a book/e-book, remember to hold your book or tablet up to your face to keep your neck in good alignment.)
If you are traveling to a sunny place, remember to bring a sunhat and sunscreen!
No matter where you are traveling, bring good walking shoes or sneakers. Walk, walk, and walk some more. It’s good for your mood, to explore a new area, to breathe fresh air, and to move your body. I also bring a small backpack in order to carry a few personal items and money instead of a purse that has to go on a shoulder. The backpack is more spine-friendly and comfortable for all that walking.
No matter where you are going, have fun, keep the “big picture” that life is precious and needs to be enjoyed one day at a time, hug your loved ones, stop to smell the roses, go with the flow, don’t take life (or travel) too seriously…can I get any more cliches in here…stay in alignment and support those lateral spinal curves. Now Go!