Dr. Jill’s Top Ten Healthy Travel Tips
Do you struggle with staying healthy when you travel? From lack of healthy food options in the airport to being seated right next to the one person who is coughing in your face, there are many perils to your health. If you are like me, you want to be able to travel but remain uncompromising in your health when you do so! That’s why I’m putting together a list for you of my Top Ten Travel Tips! I’m quite a planner and the number one thing you can do is think ahead and take these few steps to make your trip a success!
Before you leave, your best bet is maintaining a baseline of adequate sleep and a strong immune system, nourished by minimal processed foods and sugars, and stress management. If your immune system is suppressed before you take off by long-work days, poor sleep and junk food, you are setting yourself up for picking up a bug when you leave. I always take a high dose Vitamin D3 before I hop on the plane to further enhance my immune system’s ability to fight off any pathogens (see #8 for more).
Before you leave check out various options for hotels or rentals where you will be staying. If you are staying in a hotel, request a small fridge and/or microwave in your room so that you can bring or prepare some of your own healthy meals. Most hotels will accommodate you for medical necessity if you have gluten-intolerance or other food allergies. Check to see where the nearest Whole Foods or natural grocery store is located. Many will offer deliver service right to your hotel. I’ve recently used Instacart.com in all major cities to have my fresh organic groceries arrive to my hotel the same time I to. If you are staying for a week or more renting a condo or room with kitchenette is the best option purchasing and preparing healthy unprocessed meals. You can also use online retailers like Vitacost.com and ship dry goods directly to your hotel before you arrive as well. For longer trips where there is no access to a healthy grocery, I frequently have coconut milk or other healthy non-perishable food items shipped directly to the hotel where I’ll be staying.
2. Pack food
They say, “Fail to plan and plan to fail”, for a reason, right? Before traveling, pack items, like packets of nut butter, shredded coconut, nut and seed mixes, dried jerky, or packets of wild salmon and sardines in your carry-on. Don’t count on the airport to have the healthy foods you need. If you’re like me a plastic container of wilted iceberg lettuce and half-rotten cherry tomatoes just doesn’t hold any appeal. Planning ahead and making sure you have food with you is especially important if you have celiac disease or severe food allergies. There are very few airports restaurants that cater to those of us who demand whole organic unprocessed options. Even if you find a sit-down restaurant or grill, they are likely serving you farm-raised chicken or salmon and not the pastured or wild-caught varieties.
I frequently take some frozen, premade meals, like baked organic chicken, red peppers, broccoli, chives, garlic, ginger, basil and sea salt, drizzled with organic olive oil. You can freeze them, like I do, in recycled jars. They pack very nicely in your checked luggage with an ice pack will remain frozen or cold until you arrive at your destination to put them in the fridge. Once there you can heat them up anytime for an instant healthy, home cooked organic meal.
Another trick I use is packing pre-made instant smoothies in a baggies. I use the small ziplock bags and prepare my morning recipe of 1.5 scoops Thorne Vegalite protein powder, 1 scoop of L-glutamine powder, 1 scoop of Amino Complex, 1-2 teaspoons of organic cinnamon powder, 1 tablespoon of Upgraded Collagen powder, and ¼ teaspoon of Klaire Labs Ther-biotic Complete probiotic powder. If I’m traveling for more than three days, I’ll pack my trusty NutraBullet for delicious morning smoothies in my hotel room. If it’s a short trip, I’ll use my Blender bottle and shake it up with ice, water and coconut milk for breakfast.
(If you want to purchase my smoothie recipe ingredients from Thorne here’s how)
It’s essential to make sure you get 7-8 hours the night before you travel. I specifically avoid scheduling my flights prior to 10am so that I can get adequate sleep the night before and have my morning routine before a big trip. While you are gone make every effort to maintain good sleep hygiene and get 7-8 hours per night. If you must have a sleepless night, take a quick nap to catch up. If you are traveling overseas or crossing time zones, try melatonin 3-6mg one an hour before planned bedtime beginning one day prior to leaving and continue for one to two weeks after you return home. Melatonin is excellent remedy to help you adjust your circadian rhythms for the new time zone.
Still not sleeping? Check out my 12 Tips for Banishing Insomnia here!
Many people are very sensitive to wi-fi in the environment. If you live in a condo complex or apartment, you may notice the effects from the many other wi-fi signals around you. At home, be sure to put your phones and iPads on airplane mode at night if they lie on your bedside table. If you are in a plane with wi-fi, as most have nowadays, then you captive in a long metal tube which large wi-fi exposure as you fly. Hydrating at a cellular level can keep you from feeling symptoms, like fatigue, headache or brain fog from this exposure.
I recommend drinking 1 liter of filtered water prior to boarding and 1 liter for every hour you are on the plane (you might want an aisle seat because you will be using the restroom 🙂 Drink another liter once you land. I also recommend taking Coenzyme Q10 200-400mg prior boarding the plane. In addition, the plane is grounded but you are not unless you are touching the metal of the frame. Try taking off your socks and shoes and putting your bare foot on the metal seat base in front of you during the flight. This way you are grounded along with the plane as you are flying. It’s pretty simple with potentially profound benefit… just make sure you are wearing clean socks or you might just have one unhappy neighbor!
Yes, coffee! If you read my blog, you know I’m a fan. Click here to read my article on Bulletproof™coffee and my specific coffee travel tips. I recommend avoiding caffeine during the flight itself so that you are not dehydrated. Once you land, you can drink a cup of you prefer. Avoid instant coffees as they are more likely to cross-react to gluten for those of you who are gluten-intolerant. They are also more processed and more likely to contain pesticides and mold toxins. I also have a small portable tea kettle and french press that I can take along if needed!
Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean you are excused from moving your body! Start your day with yoga, take a walk, go for a jog and explore the city or surroundings! I always pack my running shoes, sunglasses, Garmin watch and workout clothes so that I am ready for any adventure. Don’t forget your bathing suit if you swim! Most hotels offer fitness centers and a pool where you can stretch, swim laps, lift weights or use the treadmill. I find one of the best ways to explore the location I am visiting is to go for an early morning jog and see the nearby sites. Stop in a local café for a coffee or tea and ask the locals what the best sites to see are. Usually the hotel concierge will be able to advise you of jogging trails or best paths to take to avoid heavy traffic. If all else fails, make time to stretch and do sun salutations on a mat in your hotel room… and no need to bring your own. Hotels, like the Westin will bring a mat, fitness gear, even tennis shoes to your room if you’ve forgotten yours!
While we can survive days without food, pure clean water is essential and without it we would not survive long. Purchase several liters of water before you get on the plane and once you debark, be sure to pick up another. If possible, carry a glass or aluminum re-fillable water bottle to avoid the BPA in plastic bottles. This will save you money and time and can easily be refilled at any public drinking fountain. In your hotel room, be sure you have plenty of bottled water on hand so that you are not drinking out of the nasty bathroom faucet. This can be delivered to your hotel before you arrive if you are staying for a few days. Most hotels also have a lobby sundry shop where you can purchase water, as well. Don’t forget to use the filtered water to brew your coffee and tea in your room. One of my favorite tips for hydration is using electrolytes added to my water. You can purchase travel electrolyte packets from Emergen C ElectroMix and pour them into your water bottle for extra potassium and magnesium.
Perhaps the most powerful immune supporting vitamin is none other than Vitamin D3. If you feel the onset of a cold or flu bug, you can take high dose Vitamin D3 (25,000-50,000IU daily) for 2 or 3 days to knock out the virus out. You can also take that dose one time on the day you travel to help your immune system fight anything it might encounter. Warning: Do not take this dose of vitamin D3 for longer than 3 days as you may become toxic, since vitamin D is stored in fat tissue.
Be sure to pack any other supplements that you take regularly. I recommend getting snack-size Ziploc baggies. To differentiate your morning and evening pills, get the snack baggies with fun graphics, like moons and stars, so that you can easily differentiate your day from evening pills. Pack your pills for the number of days you will be gone and put all of these small individual prepared baggies in one large quart-size bag and toss it in your carry-on or checked luggage. You could use one of the 7-day pill organizers, of course, but if you’re like me that reminds me of granny AND my pills don’t come close to fitting in those tiny boxes…
If you have prescription medications, it is best to keep this in their original bottle with instructions from the pharmacy. Check airline guidelines for international travel as some countries have restrictions on what you can carry in. If in doubt, ask your doctor to write a note that you can carry through security that you are allowed to carry food or vitamins due to medical necessity.
9. Travel Remedies
Expect the unexpected is a good motto to have when traveling. Here’s a list of things you may want to pack in case of illness:
- Boiron Osccillococcinum – I take one vial prior to boarding plane to prevent flu. You may also take 1 vial up to 3X daily for acute flu symptoms.
- Boiron ColdCalm and Sinusalia – use these tabs for natural symptomatic relief of cold or flu symptoms. Take 2 tabs every 2-3 hours or until your symptoms are gone.
- L-Lysine – Take 4-6 grams daily for acute outbreak of stress-related cold sores or 1 gram daily to prevent outbreak.
- Upgraded charcoal tabs – I don’t leave home without these fantastic binders. Great for exposure to harmful chemicals or if you suspect you might have food poisoning. Also helpful if you ate something you shouldn’t and experience gas & bloating or diarrhea. Take 500-1000mg with large glass of water two or three times daily as needed.
- Magnesium Citrate – the dirty secret no one likes to admit is that many people experience constipation when traveling. Take enough so that you continue to have regular 1-2X daily bowel movements while traveling. A typical dose is between 250-750mg at bedtime.
- Vitamin C – Extra vitamin C is helpful to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. I suggest taking a little extra when you travel. It also has a nice anti-histamine affect if you experience allergies.
- Hyland’s Motion Sickness tabs or Sea Bands are essential if you suffer from motion sickness during travel.
10. Travel with comforts
Have a favorite pillow? A soft, snuggly sweatshirt or throw? How about your favorite relaxation playlist? Don’t forget to pack a few things that make you feel comfortable on the plane or once you arrive to your destination. My essentials are a travel blanket to roll and put behind my back for lumbar support and my husband always carries an inflatable travel neck support, like this one. In addition, it’s a good idea to wear layers since airplane temperatures vary and the climate of your destination may vary dramatically from home. Pack an extra pair of socks, underwear, toothpaste, and other essentials in your carry-on in the slight chance your checked luggage is lost or delayed. My favorite part of airline travel getting to enjoy a good read, guilt free… so don’t forget to pack your favorite book or download one on your iPad before you go. Unless you are prepping for a big presentation, relax and let yourself enjoy the flight, work-free and guilt-free! I like to use the time to prayer or meditate, too.
With a little planning, even those of us with food restrictions or health issues can have a great time! Hope you found my top ten tips helpful… and Bon Voyage!