Stay Healthy and Happy on the Move—Tips to Reduce Travel Stress
by Catherine Morris | August 13, 2020, updated about 1 month ago
It's been a hard few months. Summer is here, and many of us are looking forward to, or at least longing to be, travelling again—even if it’s only a few hours drive from home. As restrictions ease, travel will look different, but many of us are finding ways to get out there, reconnect with loved ones, and explore.
Staying healthy while you vacation has never been more important. There's a lot you can do before and during your trip to make sure your immune system is supercharged and performing at its peak, remaining vigilant for any germy-surprises.
Before Your Trip
Imagine if you put as much energy into preparing your body for travel, as you do packing and planning the actual trip—
Does this sound familiar? You plan your trip, you research places to stay, things to do, and what to eat. Your bags are packed, the kids are ready, and the dog sitter is in place. Then, you arrive at your destination, and you’re exhausted.
It doesn't take too much effort to prep your body before you get in the car and go, and if you do, you'll be able to skip a lot of the start-of-vacation fatigue a lot of people feel.
1. Optimize your eating
We all know the basics of a good diet—fruits, veggies, good quality protein—but sometimes we’re terrible at tracking all of that. So pre-trip, concentrate on energy-boosters, stress-relievers, and antioxidants.
B vitamins and iron help keep you going. B12 in particular increases energy and can boost your mood. Fish and lean meats are great sources of B12. Trying to get in all-the-vitamins and antioxidants? 'Eat the rainbow’—blueberries, raspberries, oranges, and kiwi are all ‘jam’ packed with vitamin C.
All this kindness to your body will help when you’re stressing because you can't find your hotel booking information, and you recently discovered that your cat's left you a bon voyage ‘gift’ in your luggage.
2. Pack a natural first aid kit
I'm no slouch at travelling and, in all my years of globe-trotting, I’ve learned that a portable natural first aid kit is a must. You'll want to cover all your bases, so here's a quick rundown of my top choices for common holiday complaints—
- Baking soda: a small packet of this stuff fits easily in your case, and can be used to treat sunburns, insect bites, rashes, and stomach upsets. Heads up—wrap it properly. You may not need to deal with the TFSA any time soon, but white powder all over your clothes is a bad look.
- Oregano oil: Generally found in tiny bottles and taken in drops, oregano oil doesn't take up much room, but its small size disguises its mighty infection-fighting qualities. Don’t get sick on vacation, take oregano at the first sign of a sniffle or cough and you might save yourself a few days in bed. It's also handy for foot fungus (it happens).
- Aloe vera gel: Soothes sunburns, cuts, insect bites and stings, and is a natural after-sun ‘lotion’.
- Ginger: Is a must-have if you suffer from motion sickness. Sniffing ginger essential oil while travelling on a bumpy road or stormy sea can keep nausea at bay. It's also effective for morning sickness if you're travelling while pregnant, and helps ease virtually any upset tummy.
You've arrived at your destination, what now?
1. Get some sleep
Get good quality sleep! Don’t overbook yourself. Find time to catch up on rest. It's easier said than done when you want to go see and do, but you can maximize your chances by finding a good sleeping space. You want somewhere that is cool, dark, and comfortable.
Travelling to a different time zone? Adjust quickly by eating when the locals eat, and going to bed when the sun goes down. Timing—of eating and sleeping—is profoundly important to keep your systems running normally. If you're suffering with jetlag, melatonin can help give your body what it needs to adjust.
2. Avoid greasy food
You want to relax, enjoy local cuisine, and let your usual healthy eating regime slide a bit—of course you do! You’re on vacation.
Unfortunately, food on the move is frequently not good food. On road trips, dietary choices often narrow down to greasy fast food, or gas station fare.
Pack a few essentials for the journey before you go—healthy portable foods like fruit, nuts, whole food protein bars, and high quality jerky are all choices that will keep you going until you can stop and have a proper meal.
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, research your dining choices so that you're not wandering the streets at 9pm, hungry, with irritable travelling partners. This is particularly important if you have someone with allergies or food sensitivities in your group. I pick small restaurants over big name chains as they're more likely to use fresh, local ingredients—which is the pinnacle of destination food.
3. Move that body!
Wherever you end up, there are plenty of ways to get exercise while having fun. Explore by going on a long walk, hike up a mountain, or go swim in a local lake or ocean. Most places have easy-to-book attractions like horse-riding tours, and yoga retreats. Studies show that exercising in nature yields huge mental and physical benefits, and vacation makes moving fun.
If you are someone who must get in a structured form of workout every day, avoid taking hours out of your vacation to hit the hotel gym, and try High Intensity Incidental Physical Activity , which is a fancy name for getting out of breath for a few minutes—it will save you valuable vacation time. If you’re creative, consider banging out a few push-ups during a layover, running up and down the motel's stairs, or pushing heavy suitcases around as a supplement for a formal workout.
4. Live in the moment
Hey, you’re on vacation, are you relaxed yet? How about now? Now?
Maybe you’re not good at turning-off and tuning into the chill zone. Don’t worry, lots of people struggle with that. Some people find that a few easy yoga poses every morning (a well-documented stress reliever) or downloading mindfulness meditation apps really helps them ‘get there’.
If you're vacationing somewhere picturesque, let your surroundings do the relaxation heavy lifting. Green spaces are wonderful medicine, and a dose of nature therapy is known to improve moods.
Your mental health is as important as your physical health, and everyone needs a break from routine from time to time. No matter what your holidays throw at you, try to live in the moment, explore, be safe, and, did we mention have fun?
Need help with diet tips, getting better sleep, or reducing stress? Which Doctor has a range of nutritionists, health coaches and therapists in our network. Check out their services and book a session today.
Look up the Covid 19 restrictions of the communities you plan on travelling to, and always practice exceptional hygiene. Travelling during the pandemic is a risk that is assessed by the individual and the communities they may wish to visit. Which Doctor is not promoting, nor recommending travel at any given time.
Catherine Morris is an award-winning journalist with a bad case of wanderlust and a passion for all things health and wellness. Originally from Northern Ireland, she worked as a news and feature writer for media outlets in the UK, South Africa, France and the Caribbean before settling in Canada. Catherine now lives in Alberta with her husband and rescue mutt and spends her time happily exploring the great outdoors with both.