With limited options, lengthy delays, stale air and contact with so many people, travel - whether by car or by air - can wreak havoc on our healthy routines and daily rituals. International travel can be especially tricky as long days in airports and being cramped in small spaces aboard planes with limited access to healthy food options and restricted movement often leave us feeling drained by the time we finally arrive at our destination.
Since our love for travel greatly outweighs any of these potentially negative factors, we have developed many of our own healthy travel tips over the years so that we can feel refreshed and ready to explore anywhere our yoga takes us.
10 Tips for Healthy Travel:
1. Plan Your Menu
Finding healthy food choices during long days of travel can often be difficult, particularly when you are forced to spend long days in the airport or on an plane. To stave off hanger, be sure to include some of your favorite snacks as you pack your carry on bag. Individual packets of peanut butter, whole fruits, bars and granola/trail mix are good options for snacks to keep you going between meals. On a recent flight, we watched a woman one seat over pull out a take away box from Whole Foods, in which she had a freshly prepared meal from home (we asked, and yes, we were jealous as we ate cardboard chicken from the airplane) in a container that could easily be disposed of. The more you can prepare ahead of time, the more likely you are to avoid panic as you face inevitable travel delays well fueled with nutritious food.
2. Keep Moving
No matter your form of travel, make it an intentional part of your plan to get up and move about on a regular basis. Airplane seats and turbulence can sometimes make it difficult to get up and move about regularly while in the air, but if you're creative you can practice yoga while you fly to keep blood flowing and prevent your body from tightening up while in your seat. If you're on a road trip, remember that the journey is just as fun as the destination. Make some planned (and even better are unplanned!) stops along the way to check out parks, cities, etc. along the way. There is nothing better than exploring a yoga studio in a new city and some of our most memorable moments from traveling have happened during unplanned stops along the way. Keep yourself active during your trip and you'll feel more at home in your body when you finally arrive at your final destination.
3. Wardrobe Changes
Nothing spoils the opportunity for spontaneous adventure like spending extra time digging for appropriate clothing. Think you might find an airport yoga room or a yoga studio on the road as you travel? Pack a travel mat and be sure that if you aren't already wearing yoga appropriate clothing (we're pretty sure yoga pants were also invented for travel) it is easily accessible in your carry on so that you're ready to play. Even in our daily routines, we rarely leave home without at least a few pieces of workout appropriate apparel, just in case the gym, a trail or a yoga studio happens to be easily accessible along the way.
Along the lines of keeping yourself moving, travel in its purest form allows for endless exploration. Stuck in the airport? Put down your smartphone, grab your carry on, and see what you can find! Sometimes it really only is an endless row of fast food restaurants, but between interesting people and random finds in airport shops, we're rarely disappointed when we remember the spirit of adventure. Road trips allow for even more exploration. While spontaneity is always approved, be sure to check out the area you're traveling before you go so that you'll be in the know. Also, ask locals for advice on any not to be missed locations along your trip. Locals always know best and are often happy to point you toward their favorite spots.
5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Pay attention to what goes in and on your body as you travel to avoid dehydration. Most airports have water bottle filling stations now, so pack your favorite water bottle and refill after security to avoid the cost of purchasing water as you travel. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you drink at least a liter of water every 4 hours (this will also help with our second tip as it will keep you on the go to the bathroom). Be sure to pack a super rich moisturizer for your face and hands, particularly if you're traveling by air as the low oxygen level on the plane can cause skin dryness and irritation.
6. Legs Up
Airport carpet may not seem very inviting, but in the middle of long days of travel nothing feels better than finding a quiet spot to put your legs up the wall. The benefits of this pose are seemingly endless, but can help ease stress and reverse blood flow from extremities to name just a few. This is one of our favorite ways to wind down in the hotel room at the end of a trip and can help you relax when you find yourself suffering from jet lag upon entering a new time zone.
7. Stay Awake
Staying awake at the end of international travel can be difficult, but trust us, it's worth it. Keep yourself going until at least 8pm in the new time zone. Your body will fall in to a new routine more quickly than if you nap, and the adrenaline of adventure will surely carry you through most of the first day. Adjust your body to new meal times and sleep times as quickly as possible so that you are well-rested and can fully enjoy your destination.
No matter how you feel as you travel, don't forget that a smile is understood in every language. No matter how well you plan for your trip, there are likely to be a few hiccups along the way. How you handle the unplanned moments will set the tone for your trip. Don't forget that the journey is almost as much of the trip as the destination. Instead of frustration at cancelled flights, keep the smile on your face and work with the airline to fine a new plan. As tempting as it is to succumb to frustration, remember that it's out of your control. Which brings us to our next tip...
With the smile, don't forget that the breath practice that grounds you on your yoga mat can also ground you as you travel. If you are feeling the effects of a long day, find a quiet spot in the airport or at a rest stop and focus on your breath. Try a simple 4 part breath: inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts. You'll be amazed at how quickly you are able to reset yourself and you and your travel companions will be much happier.
10. Do Your Research
Last, but not least, do your research. This can apply to all aspects of your trip, but a little bit of preparation goes a long way. If you have specific dietary needs, be sure to research restaurant possibilities along your route in advance. It's often nice to know that a quick detour can provide you with what you need to make the rest of the trip more manageable. Check your hotel for a fitness center, gym or pool or your Airbnb lodging for proximity to parks and yoga studios so that you can keep up with some of your normal routine. We almost always know where the nearest Whole Foods is and are also pros at spotting possible free wifi locations from a mile away. Know what you need before you leave for your trip and make sure you've planned for necessities so that the rest of the trip can allow for stress free exploration.