Expert food and travel writer Yasmin Fahr spent four years traveling the world as a hotel inspector for Forbes Travel Guide. It didn’t take her long to realize that she needed to find ways to feel good while doing what she loved.
Below are her tips for what to eat, drink and do to keep your body feeling happy and healthy. Or, at least to balance out the eating and drinking when on vacation. Check our her travel guides on LokaPack to help plan your next adventure.
Eating, drinking and creating memories tend to be the things people love most about traveling and vacation. The downside of travel, though, is that it is taxing on the body. When you add up the hours spent sitting in traffic, airports and airplanes, plus the stress and annoyance of security these days, it makes sense.
Plane Food: Avoid at All Costs Do not, I repeat, do not eat the plane food. Nibble on a fruit plate or more water-based vegetables if you’re hungry, but anything heavy with a cream sauce, carbs or meat is going to make you feel more bloated and lethargic when you get off the plane. You know how your water bottle gets twisted and suctioned in in the air? That is partly happening to your insides as well. It is a lot harder for us to digest food in the air, which is one reason why you want to eat as much water-based foods as possible (or avoid eating for shorter flights). Drink lots of water, probably way more than you think you need to and, while this is no fun at all, avoid drinking alcohol. You are already going to be dehydrated on the plane and alcohol will only make it worse (as in when you can barely squeeze on your shoes because your feet are so swollen). For really long flights, try having a substantial and health-focused meal a couple of hours before going to the airport so that your body can get a head start on digesting it, and you won’t be hungry on the plane. Do your body a favor and don’t make it harder on yourself to recover from the stress of travel.
BYOTB: Bring Your Own Tea Bags Chamomile, mint (good for digestion) or something calming to have when they bring around hot water is a great option to keep you relaxed and hydrated. (Make sure to check local country laws about tea as you might need to declare them or throw them them away before deplaning.)
Make Your Space Nice Bring lavender essential oils or anything that calms you down. Dab some on your pulse points and around you (I often offer them to my neighbors). People give off a lot of anxiety and nervous energy on flights, so it’s nice to create a more relaxing environment in what will be your home for the flight. Also, use antibacterial wipes or gel for the seat buckle, arm rests, tv and pretty much anything around you that you touch. If you really want to go all out, use a wipe to clean off the seat (I’ve never gone that far but I have seen people do it).
Eye Masks and Wraps Bring your own eye mask (cashmere or something nice is always a good idea) and a warm shawl or wrap because planes are cold, especially problematic in the summer when you’re wearing less clothing.
Switch Time Zones On the plane, set your watch and mindset to the destination time zone. If it’s night there, then put on your eye mask, dab the lavender and get some sleep instead of watching that bad rom com.
Get Up Hopefully, you’re drinking enough water so you have to get up to go to the bathroom and move around. Stretch, tap your body and walk up and down the aisles to get the blood flowing .
Beat Jet Lag Whenever you land somewhere with a significant time change, like Asia or Europe from the states, the first thing to do is exercise. This helps your body adjust and gets the blood moving. If your hotel happens to have a sauna or steam room, even better, jump in there and sweat it out post workout. A hot shower or bath can also help, especially right before bed, so to relax you. If you can spend time in nature, either in an ocean, park or something where you’re interacting with and touching the earth, then do that as well.
Move That Body Yoga in the room, a run in the park, 20 minutes on the elliptical in the hotel gym coupled with lots of walking will keep your body feeling good during the entire trip, especially if you are someone who likes to enjoy the local food and drink. Doing this every day, preferably in the morning so you get it out of the way, will keep you on track.
Easy, Peasy Lemon Squeezy If you are traveling domestically, then you can pack lemons in your carry-on for your hotel room. Otherwise, search for a local grocery or corner store and get some for the trip (it is a lot easier than you would think). Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning helps clear your system and feels really good. Store plastic or metal straws in your suitcase to drink them in the hotel room to protect your enamel as the lemon is acidic on your teeth but alkaline in the body. Need a knife? Secure a plastic knife, ask the hotel for a real one or use the wine key in the room (make sure to clean it off well before).
Coconut Oil Pack a travel-size coconut oil in a secure container to use on your skin instead of the hotel lotion (some are packed with chemicals). Plus, you can always use it for oil pulling as well. can be incredibly helpful as it is hard to know what is in the hotel-provided lotions. Plus, if you are someone who does oil pulling, this comes in handy (Ty to use a spoon or something clean to scoop it out if you are using it for oil pulling and the body). If the air in the hotel room is really dry, then you can see if the hotel has a humidifier (more common in Europe and in the US midwest).
Fruits and Nuts Keep healthy snacks in your room to avoid getting hangry and binging on chocolate or other unhealthy snacks in the room. Most rooms will have minibars in case you want to keep things cool — just make sure to check with the hotel that they are not weight sensitive (some hotels track what has been removed by the weight and will charge the room if it is removed for longer than 60 or seconds). But, if that is the case, most hotels will (read should) tell you that during the check-in process, otherwise, you have grounds to argue to remove any charges.
Learn to Let Go You’re not going to be as comfortable traveling as you are at home because you don’t have all of your “things.” And, let’s be honest, you might have forgotten to pack some of those things that you thought you needed. The best mindset to adopt is to let it go. Accept that this is not your normal routine and stop stressing about it. Learn to enjoy the fact that you’re on vacation and having a break from your normal life.
Do I always follow my own advice? Nope. And that’s okay, too.