Well-Being//

How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

"Depending on flight time, my goal is to finish two bottles of water by the time I land."

Song_about_summer / Shutterstock
Song_about_summer / Shutterstock

HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE. Flying dehydrates us. Stay hydrated by sticking to H2O. The first thing I do when I get through airport security is head to the nearest filtered water fountain. Many airports now have filtered water fountains designed for refilling your water bottle. If you can’t find one, Starbucks also has filtered water. I try not to buy plastic bottled water because BPA, phthalates, and other plastic additives have been linked to fertility and reproduction problems, blunted immune function, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. I have a Fab Four Smoothie on the way to the airport in my stainless steel blender bottle. Then I put the empty bottle through security, give it a quick rinse on the other side, take out the blender ball, and use it as my water bottle. Depending on my flight time, my goal is to finish two bottles by the time I land at my destination. This usually saves between eight and ten dollars on plastic bottled water. (Plus, where do you buy that water? Usually at the newsstand, which is full of junk food and candy.) When you get to your destination, you can use your stainless steel blender bottle to make a Fab Four Smoothie. If you don’t want to use the same bottle and don’t mind carrying two bottles, a Hydro Flask, Corkcicle, or Yeti is a great way to stay hydrated on a flight.

TIP: Sit in an aisle seat. It sounds silly, but I’m serious! If you run out of water, you can easily pop back to the galley to ask the flight team for more, and it’s good to get up and move once or twice. Also, use an app or note in your phone to track how much water you’ve drunk that day. It helps reframe your focus.

I avoid soda (including diet), fruit juices, energy drinks, sugary coffee drinks, more than one cup of coffee, and especially alcohol when I’m flying. Alcohol is one of the biggest temptations at the terminal and on the plane. It’s especially difficult to resist when you’re traveling with friends or colleagues who like to drink when they fly. But alcohol dehydrates, sparks cravings for greasy food, causes bloating and puffiness, spikes blood sugar, and can give you headaches and hangovers. (It might even cause you to miss your flight.) If you’re traveling for work or just on the go, don’t drink at the airport or on your flight. Instead, make the body-loving decision to stay hydrated with water. Sparkling water works, too. My preference is Mountain Valley or Sound sparkling tea, which is tea-infused sparkling water. I love this brand because they have glass options and they don’t use any artificial flavors, which can be made from ingredients that are actually inedible!

Staying hydrated sounds like common sense and the most basic piece of advice, but adopting this one change quickly adds up and results in a more balanced you the moment the plane touches down at your destination. Commit to making the healthier decision your new habit and save having a drink for a special travel occasion like a fun vacation, bachelorette party, weekender, or anniversary trip.

KEEP YOURSELF BUSY. Work never slows down for me. I don’t have the time or luxury to take a break for the hours I spend at the airport and in the air. At any given time, I have a dozen client nutrition plans to write, scores of emails and texts to respond to, and deadlines to meet for my editors and partners. I like to keep working when I fly. For me, nothing makes the whole process go by faster. But a lot of my Girl on the Go clients end up doing the opposite, which I completely understand. We all need a mental breather sometimes, and a good movie or show to take our minds off things. The problem is that many of my clients develop bad habits around their plane relaxation time, like eating an entire bag of gummy bears and drinking three glasses of wine.

Marlene, age forty-five, is a successful financial executive who constantly travels for work. She often flies after long, exhausting days of meetings, so she developed a habit of indulging in several glasses (and sometimes a bottle) of wine between the airport and plane. “I don’t know why I do it,” she told me. After our meeting, I had a guess. She was a type A overachiever and had a million different things on her plate. In addition to a relentless work and travel schedule, she always had to be learning some new skill or bettering herself somehow—she was trying to teach herself a new language, studying art history like she was back in school, and forcing herself to work out every morning at 5 a.m. She was overscheduled, and the wine helped her unwind. The problem was that led to snacking, poor food choices, and weight gain. So I gave her permission to not achieve all the time. She needed a break from that part of her brain, so we decided reading a fun book was going to be her new habit at the airport. Like a lot of us, she hadn’t had time to read a real book in a while, and she wanted to do it. Within days of her next work trip, she was hooked. She would become engrossed in her book, look forward to getting a chapter or two in before boarding, and in the process her airport drinking habit began to fade. In three weeks, she lost the five pounds she wanted to ditch before her birthday, too.

Do what works for you. It could be reading, answering a few work emails, crossing something off your to-do list, like a thank-you note, or even meditating. And if it’s watching a movie or TV show, that’s fine, too. Just commit to making body-loving choices along with it.

From BODY LOVE EVERY DAY by Kelly LeVeque. Copyright © 2019 by Kelly LeVeque. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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