In 2016, I flew to Salt Lake City (12 times), LA (3 times), New York City (10 times), San Francisco (2 times), London (3 times), Cape Town (3 times), Miami, Boston, Tulum, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Italy, Sicily, Amsterdam, Rio, Sao Paolo, Fortaleza, Madrid, and Berlin. All this during a year when I decided not to travel as much as I normally do and to spend the summer in the U.S. training for a 4-day half-Ironman triathlon.
I started working and living life on the road in 2013 when I ran an agency with two amazing women with similar global mindsets. In my four years on the road, I’ve learned a lot about healthy living, adopted new regimens, and am making smarter decisions everyday to be the healthiest nomadic hustler I can be. While health is very personal, allow me to lay down a few tips and tricks from my lifehacker’s guide to traveling…
Avoid red-eyes. No surprise here! Health starts and stops with sleep. Today, many long-haul, transatlantic, and transcontinental flights have both plugs and WiFi. This is a gamechanger because you can get a full work-day in for a minimal WiFi fee instead of foregoing a good night of sleep on a red-eye. That’s a lot of bonus points for both your productivity and health — two things that travel traditionally takes its toll on.
Get Your Greens On: Eat something green at every meal. Sure, it can be hard to ask for spinach while being served baguettes and camembert (avec salade, s’il vous plaît?) but almost every country does in fact have green vegetables, so you just have to use your modern hunter-gatherer skills.
Tip: Use an app like Foursquare and search for “Green juice” or “Smoothies” once you arrive in a new city. I also find local yoga teachers to be particularly helpful in locating healthy fare. In Madrid, a city known for its rice, potatoes, cheeses, and breads, I found one of the best green smoothies I’ve ever had in my life.
Upon arrival, visit your local grocery store and stock up on your favorite healthy staples like kale/spinach, nut milk, avocados, and local fruit and veg. Make meals at home once or twice a week instead of eating out every night. This isn’t easy to do in a hotel room, which is why I always prefer to stay with friends or book an Airbnb.
When you’re traveling between places, it’s likely you’re sitting down for long periods of time and not fitting in your daily gym routine. So take extra care to avoid all the things you know you should be avoiding anyways like added sugar (including alcohol), dairy (if you’re lacto-sensitive), and heavy carbs (wheat, rice, corn, pasta, and white potatoes).
If every airport in the world were like SFO, we’d be in a better place while traveling. Pack healthy snacks for traveling like DIY trail mixes with pumpkin seeds and brazil nuts or protein bars with less than 10grams of sugar (MacroBars are my favorite). Or even better? Fast. I love snacks (particularly Barnanas, Krave Jerky, and Brami Beans) but if you’ve got the self control, fasting while flying is a great option to give your digestive system a break and help combat incoming jet lag.
Ground Yourself: Dismiss the pressure to do and see everything the way a tourist would when you’re in a new city. Travel is exhausting so pick at least two nights per week to “ground yourself” (our parents really did know best!). If you’re feeling social pressure, tell others you’re busy (they’ll believe you) and take time to go to yoga or the gym and ground. Some of my favorite nights in New York City are spent saddled up at the Whole Foods salad bar with my iPad.
Meditate: The mismanagement of stress is the root of all evil. And travel in itself can be really stressful! Cancelled flights, lost luggage, and obnoxious security personnel are all just a part of the ride. So sit back, relax, and don’t try to control what’s out of your control. (Easier said than done!)
Emily Fletcher, my meditation teacher and founder of ZivaMIND says that you should do get in extra meditation sessions when traveling (.e.g upon take off and landing) to account for the fact that traveling faster than our bodies naturally can (i.e. planes, trains, and automobiles) takes its toll on our adaptive energy (our body’s natural ability to react and adapt). For meditating, I either use a self-timer like Equanimity, or enjoy guided meditations from the Calm app.
Exercise: After diet, sleep, and stress management, exercise has the greatest impact on your health while traveling. Don’t make excuses, make room for your sneakers and your workout clothes. If you’re on a tight schedule, sneak in a 30-minute run, 20-minute yoga stretch, or try a 7-minute workout app. Look at travel as an excuse to try new physical activities that you normally wouldn’t. For example, whenever I am in LA, I love going to Platinum Pilates in LA. Go on a #wanderrun to explore You can also use the MINDBODY app to look up local yoga and fitness studios.
Comfort: My favorite brand to wear when traveling is ADAY. Their technical clothing is so comfortable you feel like you’re in pajamas but also sleek enough that you don’t look like an American college student. Once you land, ADAY’s pieces work equally well at the gym as they do in the office or out for dinner. Their Up in the Air jacket is perfect for just that.
Bring Your Greens: If you’re traveling to places that don’t have a cold-pressed juice bar on every corner (like most of the world outside of LA, NYC, Cape Town, London, and Berlin), I recommend packing a travel-size jar of green powder (like Amazing Grass’s, which is sweetened with cacao) and a mini Magic Bullet or — if outside the USA — a Blender bottle. I then blend the green superfood mix (which ensures I get my greens in for the day) with nut milk or water and medicinal mushrooms from Four Sigmatic to boost my immune system.
Hydrate or die: Instead of dumping out your water before security, chug it. Drink as much water as humanly possible. All the time. The air inside of airplanes can be very drying, especially for your face and hands. Travel with your own water bottle, like a Swell or SOMA and refill it before getting on the plane (in the lounge or in the filtered refill fountains), and don’t be shy to ask for refills as many times as you want while on the plane. I bring natural oils on the plane for my hands and for my face, I treat myself to one face mask per flight. My favorite is Andalou Naturals’ Instant Hydration Hydro Serum Facial Mask.
Improve your sleep: Whether you’re crashing with friends in a noisy NYC apartment, sometimes sleep conditions are less than ideal. Invest in a comfy sleep mask (this is my fave) to block out the light, earplugs to block out noise, and a pillowcase (if you don’t end up needing it, this can double as a laundry bag!).
In conclusion, nothing in this post should come as a surprise to you. There is no “magic” formula to staying healthy. But there are tools and learnings that I’ve shared to help you get the sleep you need, manage your stress, and increase your hydration on a daily basis. After that, you want to be and feel your best when you’re on the road so that you can spend as much time soaking up the sunshine in new places and spending time with loved ones.
The trick to staying healthy while traveling is to make your health and wellness a daily habit, wherever you are in the world.
*For supplement recommendations, which needed to be removed from this article, please reach out to the author.
Originally published at medium.com