Summer travel may be winding down as the last few weeks of the season approach. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t still time to get one last trip in before you and the kids prepare for the school year. So how do you ensure you stay healthy while traveling?
Whether you’re headed to Washington, DC or from, one thing’s for certain: The point of a vacation is to relax and enjoy yourself. And nothing defeats that purpose faster than coming down with a nasty cold or virus–or just feeling awful from too many unhealthy binges.
The good news? There’s plenty you can do to reduce your chances of getting sick and avoiding weight gain when traveling. A little planning goes a long way to keep you healthy while on the road and prevent a call to Doctors To You.
Here are a few tips…
How to stay healthy while traveling? Think ahead.
As nice as it is to get away from daily life, traveling can not only take you away from the stressful parts of your daily routine but also the healthy habits you’ve worked so hard to pick up.
“Whether you’re vacationing for three days or three weeks, it’s important to work to maintain a good balance between eating right and exercising. You’ll thank yourself later.”
~Dr. Ernest Brown
However, there are a number of things you can do as you prepare your trip that will ensure you’re in an environment conducive to being and staying healthy:
1. Research airport restaurants.
When you make a last-minute decision to eat at the airport, your instinct may be to go to the first place you encounter–not the healthiest one. A little online research in advance may reveal better places to seek out once you arrive. Many airport websites have directory listings of their shops and eateries. A quick glance can give you an idea of what to expect when you arrive. This is a quick and easy way to get your trip started right in order to stay healthy while traveling.
If you prefer, give yourself plenty of time to pack a healthy meal before heading to the airport instead. A turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread, sliced veggies with hummus, mixed nuts and low-fat yogurt (don’t forget the spoon) are convenient and nourishing choices.
2. Pre-select a window seat.
Who doesn’t love a window seat? You get to enjoy the view and, once seated, you won’t have to move to let others by.
Well here’s something else great about window seats: It’s likely they’re also cleaner. Due to the unfortunate fact that passengers often touch aisle seats for balance when going to and from the bathroom, aisle seats tend to carry more germs than inside seats. (Those hands aren’t always so clean).
3. Pre-select healthier airplane meals.
Most airlines offer meal options that are low in sodium or fat, gluten-free, etc. You can usually make these choices in advance online. As always, giving yourself enough time to pack your own healthy food is another way to go.
4. Choose a hotel that meets special needs.
Many major chains offer rooms with improved air quality for those with allergies, asthma and other respiratory problems.
5. Surround yourself with healthy food options.
If you’ll be visiting an area with that great Thai place you’ve been meaning to check out or that one vegetarian restaurant, why not book nearby accommodations? You can also be sure to pick a hotel near a grocery or convenience store for even more options.
6. Choose accommodations equipped with a kitchenette.
Eating and ordering out may feel like a much-deserved luxury while you’re on vacation. But always dining out may not make for the healthiest food choices. Another quick tip to stay healthy while traveling is to plan ahead to have the option to cook–or at least have a place to refrigerate healthy snacks. This can certainly lead to more healthful meals.
7. Have the mini-bar emptied out.
If you know you won’t be using the mini-bar, rid yourself of the temptation in advance while simultaneously giving yourself some fridge space for something healthier. Simply call ahead and ask hotel staff to empty it out before you arrive.
8. Choose a hotel with a fitness center and/or swimming pool.
You don’t have to lose your workout routine just because you’re taking a holiday. Instead, plan realistic times during the day when the facilities are open, and you might actually use them.
If you’re a member of a chain gym, like Gold’s or Lifetime, see what hotels are near the city’s local franchise. And don’t forget: As with every gym, be sure to wipe the equipment with sanitary cloths before and after each use.
9. Stay in a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.
Even if you’re not a runner or walker per se, staying somewhere near sites you’ll visit could mean getting healthy exercise just from all the walking.
10. Plan travel times realistically.
It’s understandable that the 24 hours leading up to your trip are hectic ones. You may be dropping off an extra set of keys to a house-sitter, buying last-minute items you’ve forgotten to pack and dropping the dog off at the kennel just before rushing to the airport.
When you cut everything so close to the wire, you arrive to the airport hungry, dehydrated and flooded with stress-induced cortisol, which makes you more prone to weight gain and more vulnerable to illness.
Planning enough time to get everything done before your trip means you’ll not only have plenty of time to get through security but also ample time to freshen up, replace that bottle of water they made you throw out and to take a deep, relaxing breath.
Stay tuned for our next part of the travel wellness series where we discuss Healthy Must-Haves for Your Carry-On.