Good Habits On The Go: Health Tips While Traveling
I had been flexitarian (an on and off vegetarian) for years but decided to go plant-based Day 1 on a trip to Tokyo. I made the commitment enroute to a foreign land to be more intentional in my choices.
1) Fuel smart
In prepping my itinerary, I researched meal options from the plane, airport and our destination. HappyCow.net is a good app to help you find veg-heavy eating spots. Plot out where you plan to eat before leaving so you can maintain healthy habits away from home. Seek out local markets for access to fresh fruits and vegetables and eat like a local. Or, choose ready-made salads or fruit bowls in natural foods stores and groceries.
The best plant-based cuisines are usually Mexican, Asian, Mediterranean or Middle Eastern. Julie Morris, author of Superfood Cuisine, shared, “Always bring insurance when you travel — aka superfoods (extra nutrient-dense foods). You never know what kind of accessibility you’ll have to a good, healthy meal, so pack food like chia seeds for healthy fats and fiber and dried goji berries to cover basic micronutrient needs and support the immune system.”
As a budget-backpacker in Europe, I toted along garlic bread or rice cakes with peanut butter so I could afford treats the place has to offer, like churros.
On longer stays when eating out daily is not feasible, staying at a place with a kitchen enables you to prepare healthy meals using local ingredients. No kitchen access? Assemble your own soup, salad and sandwich combo using what you see at a nearby store. You may just discover the perfect interesting pasalubong or souvenir to relive the experience at home.
2) Stay active
No matter where you’re going, wear sensible shoes and embrace the pedestrian life. You’ll save on cab fare and soak in the culture instead of just zipping through.
For rainy days in, hit the hotel gym, download a workout app or move through a YouTube yoga vid in your hotel room; for sunny days out, jog through a motivating playlist, take hiking/biking tours, or try homegrown fitness offerings such as martial arts or dance classes. You just might continue that Spanish flamenco or Brazilian jiu-jitsu you picked up when you get back home.
Traveling is dehydrating. Resist the urge to indulge in drinking calories and keep your immunity up by having a reusable water bottle with you at all times. Drink at least a cup hourly. Just be sure to clean your bottle regularly and thoroughly, too. And, don’t forget to pack an emergency banana, which both hydrates and nourishes your body.
A pocket alcohol spray bottle helps keep hands and surroundings clean. As soon as you board a plane or vehicle, or touch that grocery cart, whip out the wipes and go over all areas you’ll touch to prevent the spread of germs. These are places that don’t get cleaned often and you may not have the medical attention you require in a foreign place should you get sick on the road.
If you’re jetting off to a place across the globe, strategic sleeping is the way to go. Days before your trip, try to move up or down your bedtime based on the time difference. As your departure nears, keep adding hours incrementally every night, moving you farther away each night from your normal bedtime. Planning ahead is always the best plan. In this case, it can ease the toll a different time zone on your body.
Traveling is stressful and rough on the body even if you don’t shift time zones, so rest whenever you can to conserve your energy.
Rich Roll, Ultraman triathlete and author of Finding Ultra, advised, “With today’s GPS-enabled smartphones it’s never been easier to be prepared to maintain healthy eating habits on the road. With a modicum of forethought, it’s a snap to locate the closest health food market and vegan-friendly eateries in the vicinity of your out-of-town whereabouts.”
Happy, healthy travels!
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