7 Tips For Healthy Holiday Travel
After a five week world tour launching my new film Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2 across six countries in fifteen cities, it's good to be standing still in one place. My family and friends would agree that Travel is my middle name. I am constantly on the move. I frequently live in hotel rooms. I gave up my apartment in Sydney four years ago and my furniture is still in storage.
The biggest challenge I have in all this travel is not the long lines at airports or the inevitable delays. It's not being away from family and friends, and it's not jet lag. It's staying healthy and staying motivated to stay healthy. Given that we are in the middle of the "silly season," as we call the holiday season down here in Australia, I thought you may be interested to know some of my tips for how I do my best to maintain my sanity and health all at the same time while smiling at TSA agents! Here are my Seven Tips to Survive Holiday Travel:
1. Prepare and organize.
Traveling comes with predictable challenges, mostly from being out of your own controllable environment. One of those is the challenge of finding fresh, wholesome plant-based food, either in an airline terminal, onboard a commercial flight or while driving down a highway. You can beat the system with a little advance nutritional planning. My favorite is to prepare a super healthy and delicious trail mix of goji berries, coconut and almonds. I recently did an 8-hour hike in the Zion National Park in Utah (talk about food deserts) and carried this mix along with some fresh fruit. Never had more energy in my life!
2. Water yourself.
Water is big. When you're traveling don't order a soda or bottled juice (unless you can find an HPP juice, as other bottled juices have been heat-treated to kill bacteria). Instead, drink as much water as you can. You can't bring any liquid through the security checkpoints at airports unless of course you're lucky enough to be travelling in Australia where we can still do that, but you can buy bottled water once you're inside. It's also free onboard. Worried you're going to feel too famished during your journey? Drinking lots of water not only hydrates you, but it also makes you feel less hungry (sometimes thirst is mistaken for hunger)! Plus, when you get off the flight (or out of the car) you're going to feel lighter, more energetic, and better about yourself than if you'd eaten a lot of junk along the way.
3. Keep moving.
When you're on holiday you're going to find yourself in a new place, possibly without your own transportation. This is a great excuse to walk as much as possible. I'm always looking for ways to walk more. When I'm waiting for a flight at the airport, I walk the terminal, figuring I will be sitting soon enough, and long enough. The same goes for any destination: when you visit a shopping mall, try parking as far from the entrance as possible. When you're in the mall, make a pledge to use the stairs, not the escalators. And use technology to help: I find that a simple pedometer device keeps me aware of the amount of walking (or lack of it) I'm doing, and makes it a kind of game to increase my number of steps.
4. Avoid alcohol.
I don't drink alcohol. I find that when I do, I don't make good choices about what I'm eating. If you do choose to imbibe, skip alcohol in flight and save it for a celebration at your destination. Flying and alcohol are both dehydrating, which equates to an extremely dehydrated YOU. If you're going to have a drink, be careful what you have with it. The guard usually comes down when you have a glass of wine or a cocktail, and that means salty nuts or crisps or cheese can start looking like sensible choices. Be aware of this when you're having a drink, and don't mindlessly add a lot of useless calories.
5. Be your own personal trainer.
When you travel you immediately muck up your daily routines, meaning your normal schedule for exercise goes to the wayside. You don't have your favorite gym nearby or the place where you like to run, walk, or bicycle, but that's okay. It's inconvenient when you're on holiday, but any exercise you can manage is far better than nothing. Besides walking, you can do a whole bunch of exercises anywhere using your own body— leg lifts, pushups, or sit-ups. Dancing vigorously to music in your hotel room for a few minutes (please draw the curtains) can do wonders.
6. Make a mental road map.
Everything I've mentioned here—from deciding to drink water to making sure you get in enough foot work—will go a lot smoother if you think about it first. This makes you in control, acting rather than reacting. It helps you avoid feeling a little disjointed and jostled by all the stress of traveling. Rather than looking through a menu of bad food on the aircraft or at the turnpike rest stop in order to decide that it's not for you, make those decisions ahead of time and 'see' your day of trail mix, water, and breaks for stretching. You'll be surprised how much easier it is to make the journey.
Make sure you build some recovery time into your schedule, whether this is when you are at your destination or post-travel. If you do find yourself caught in traffic or in a delay, take some deep breaths, and realize that 99% of the time it is outside of your control, and getting stressed won't do any good. Just by being conscious of that actually can lower the heart rate and delay the frown lines. Now that the film tour is over, I'm looking forward to spending time in Sydney, going to Bondi Beach for some nice long walks, and getting some much needed sleep – emphasis not on the beach but on the sleep!
Photo courtesy of the author