013 – How to Travel without Trashing Your Health
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This show was inspired by many of my peers, colleagues and you – Ella’s “Fellas” and “Bellas” – who have asked for healthy travel tips.
I typically make 2-3 trips per month, which adds up to dozens of flights per year. It can take a toll. As I have racked up some miles over the years, I have picked up some tips and tricks for reducing the stress on my body, the self-sabotage that can accompany travel, and some “preventative measures” that help keep me sane, fed and (relatively healthy) on the road.
Whether you travel once a year or weekly, I promise there will be some tips here that you haven’t heard.
Let me know your best tips for travel in the comments below – I want to steal them, obviously.
In this episode:
1. Choosing a hotel
- What I look for: proximity to good food sources (including grocery stores) and a good green space to walk or run around and a fitness room (more on that later)
- I request a refrigerator and a blender – you’d be surprised how many hotels will provide this. Even if there’s a small fee, it’s much more cost effective than buying every meal at a restaurant.
3. HYDRATE! This is not something I save for the airplane. I actually pay more attention to my water intake 3 or so days before I fly. I’ve learned over time that because it is so easy to get dehydrated when you travel, and that making an effort to get in my 3L of water daily before a trip helps, well, everything.
4. What I take with me:
- Activated Charcoal – best hack ever! I take two before bed if I’ve had alcohol, a heavy restaurant meal or if I am at all queasy. These are a must-have, especially if you’re traveling somewhere exotic or with not-so-clean water. Learn more here. [Activated charcoal can interfere with medication. Because it’s so absorbent, it can flush those out, too, if taken within a close timeframe. So, if you’re on regular medication, ask a medical professional or do your research first.]
- Magnesium – keep those bowels moving while you travel! This is natural, gentle and NOT a laxative. Take at night with at least a glass of water for best results. I recommend Mag 07 Oxygen Digestive System Cleanser
- Mini-blender – I’ll bring a small container of protein powder, pack a small, travel blender like this one, and grab a banana off the Reception desk and Voila! – a nice breakfast or lunch on the go
- Compression Socks – I discovered compression socks after a particularly grueling Half Ironman race. I hobbled into the running store and tried them on. I had to buy them because I was physically incapable of taking them off. Thank goodness. I now wear these on flights because they increased circulation and reduce swelling. They also reduce the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) if that’s something you worry about as a frequent flier.
5. What I take with me: FOOD
- If your goal is to avoid “travel sabotage,” it is absolutely mandatory to pack your own snacks. Airport food is rarely going to contribute to your health and wellness efforts, airplane food never will. Ever. Now, I’m a girl who likes to eat, so this is how I “pack” for a flight (or road trip for that matter):
- I prepare easy-to-bring snacks… I’ll carry things like nuts, KIND bars or Quest protein bars. BUT, more importantly, I slice up a bunch of “water-based” foods to carry on with me. Why? You already know these fresh fruits and veggies are good for you, and I want the high water content (nutrient-packed hydration – yea!) and I want to snack whenever I want to. Fresh food is much harder to come by as I am sprinting through airports, so I slice up some baby carrots, cucumber, apple, etc and make little baggies. Then I pour some sea salt and seasonings in there and away I go!
- Other snack ideas: jerky, bison bars, almonds, walnuts, pecans, nut butter, hummus, hard boiled egg, salad, leftovers in a disposable container. Remember, TSA is ok with you bringing food, so don’t shy away from it!
- Water…bring a reusable water bottle. Drink it not the way, empty it before security, refill at the hotel – the hotel gym often has a water tank ($$ saver!).
6. What I DON’T do
- I literally NEVER eat airplane food. Evah.
- I don’t buy snacks in the airport unless I am really in a pinch. Then I go hunt down the foods that I have mentioned, like KIND bars, banana, apple, plain nuts, hard boiled egg and even hummus.
7. During the flight
- Take out your contacts for the flight, especially for long flights. Airplanes are extremely drying, and this is a little known tip for healthy eyes. I bring my case with me (pre-filled with solution), and just pop them in for the flight.
- Drink water: have I mentioned this? Experts recommend 12 oz for every hour. I bring an overpriced gift shop bottle on board and don’t rely on the flight attendants to keep me hydrated. When they offer, I always ask for a can of club soda.
- Get up! No, you shouldn’t hang out in the aisles, but get up once an hour for increased circulation, less stiffness and swelling. It’s not about duration, but frequency, so just move a bit every hour.
8. Make the Best of a Long Haul Flight
- If (and probably only if) you’re sitting in the bulkhead (first row behind the “wall”): Occasionally put your feet up the wall to help drain the blood from your feet to help with swelling.
- Compression socks!
- Two other things people swear by are noise-canceling headphones and eye masks (not just for sleeping but for just chilling out for a bit).
- Podcasts! Educate yourself on any topic you can think of, or just spend your flight with Ella in your ears. What fun! Download a bunch before you go. This is prime learning time.
9. Advanced / Weird Stuff
- Consider fasting if your flight is under 4 hours. Just drink water and chill. This is a little easier on your body, but entirely depends on the context of your day.
- Grounding / Earthing: when you make direct contact with earth surface, you are connecting with Earth’s electrons. Think about this from Dr. Mercola:
- Modern rubber and plastic-soled shoes act as electrical insulators and therefore block the beneficial flow of electrons from the earth to your body.
- Studies have shown that earthing or grounding improves blood viscosity, heart rate variability, inflammation, cortisol dynamics, sleep, autonomic nervous system (ANS) balance, and reduces effects of stress.
- Earthing decreases the effect of these potentially disruptive electromagnetic fields.
When you travel, especially if you’re crossing time zones, making skin-to-earth contact for even 10 minutes can have beneficial, rejuvenating, balancing effects. Read this post or this one to learn more – or watch this video.
- QLINK: OK, this defintely falls in the “Advanced” category. Mostly because it’s weird, but if I call it advanced, it lends a certain credibility, no? Anyway, I wear a cool little QLINK device a lot of the time, and I always wear it when traveling. What the heck is a QLINK? According to them, the QLINK products provide “SRT3 technology” that:
- Reduces the effects of electromagnetic radiation
- Strengthens your resilience to the effects of stress
- Increases your energy and stamina
- Reduces the symptoms of fatigue and jet lag
- Enhances mental performance and alertness
- Is backed by 25 years of Research in leading universities
- And possesses sleek & fashionable design!
- If that’s not enough to intrigue you, Olympic athletes, Anthony Robbins, and Madonna swear by theirs!
OK, so that’s not really how I got on to these. I actually read a review by a blogger that I really respect, and decided what they hey-hey, I’ll give it a go. And, I like it. You, of course, can read up here on the research, and here about EMF and travel, and then decide for yourself.
- In-Flight Radiation. Bummer. Airplanes a source of radiation? This may be news for you, since it isn’t widely discussed. Yes, the plane ride itself gives as much as 1,000 times the radiation of the airport body scanners.
Should you panic? Negative. There is no evidence to indicate that the low-level exposure that will be received on a single round-trip flight will pose any harm to you. However, if you fly a lot, the stress on your body can add up in a way that you might not even realize, so it’s great to have the information. Some radiation-reducing techniques include:
- Eating chlorophyll-rich foods: Seaweed, kelp, spirulina, and chlorella contain rich minerals, including iodine, reduce the amount of radiation that may harm body tissues. All of these also contain potent antioxidants to prevent free radical activity.
- Drink water! Yep, again. Water supports the flushing of ANY toxin from your body, including this one.
- Learn more in this post about Natural Tips to Protect from Radiation when Flying or this one about Airplane Radiation Risks here
I hope this is helpful to you, and if you want to learn more, you can check out the experts.
- Ben Greenfield Fitness post on Healthy Travel Tips
- Mark’s Daily Apple post on Primal Road Trip Tips
- Where I get most of my supplies for the best prices (and free shipping!): Vitacost.com (sign in for $10 off your first order with that referral link) and Amazon