Healthy travel is truly a balancing act. Although you might want to experience all the local favorites a new city has to offer, you also want to make sure you're adhering to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. That's why when it comes to travel, planning is everything—in addition to the hotel and airfare, you might want to look into menus and amenities for a true well-rounded trip.
At this year's Destination Wellness event, we invited three industry leaders to the Westin Sarasota in Florida to discuss what healthy travel really means, as well as how to navigate new places without compromising your own exercise and eating regimens. Although each of these panelists offers unique tips on how to maintain healthy routines while on the road, one thing remained clear throughout the conversation: While it's important to stick to your routine, it's also important to have some flexibility and truly experience the new place you're in. After all, optimal well-being is all about balance. Here are some highlights from the informative panel, starting with three healthy travel hacks that will keep you energized and happy:
1. Step off the plane and move.
NYC-based fitness expert and celebrity trainer Rebecca Kennedy believes that getting your joints mobilized is crucial after a long travel day. That doesn't mean you have to hit the gym as soon as you check in to your hotel, but some sort of movement is essential. Her healthy hack? Wear athleisure or workout clothes on the plane, or bring an outfit in your carry-on. "No matter where I am in the world, I'll always keep a pair of running sneakers or workout gear and go for a run or walk," she says.
While going for a run is a great way to explore a new area, Kennedy believes even walking to find a new coffee shop or yummy restaurant can help you explore and get your body moving at the same time. "I'll find my coffee place; I'll find dinner places to make reservations… It's a nonnegotiable for me," she adds.
2. Regulate your meal timing.
According to registered dietitian and certified personal trainer Whitney English, RDN, syncing up to the new time zone you're in is essential for healthy travel. The best way to help your body adjust, she says, is through regulating your meal times. "When you eat might be as important as what you eat. Our food is really tied to our circadian rhythms," she states. So if you're feeling a bit hungry when you land but it's the middle of the night in a new country, it may be best to have a light snack rather than a filling dinner. While it might be dinner time at home, you'll want to sync your body to the time zone of the new country as soon as you can.
That said, she's a big supporter of intermittent fasting while traveling, but she acknowledges that you might not be extremely militant about your eating windows—and that's OK! "You should enjoy yourself and not be too strict wherever you go," she notes.
3. Catch the morning light.
Our circadian rhythms are crucial for getting us acclimated to a new country, as our bodies are meant to process food for energy during the daytime (which is why a bad case of jet lag can sometimes make our guts feel especially out of whack). Another way to keep our circadian rhythms in check, according to the New York Times bestselling author of Genius Foods, Max Lugavere, is by exposing our eyes to natural light. That said, his healthy travel hack is to get outside in the morning, and get some sun in your eyes.
"Light is nature's caffeine," he says. "It energizes you in such a powerful way."
Tune in to the full podcast episode to hear more about the best ways to navigate meals on-the-go, as well as the one thing we should never travel without.