Travel is so valuable. It puts you out of your norm, bringing a new perspective to your day to day tasks. It brings inspiration. It brings work opportunities. But with a change from daily life comes the hurdle of maintaining a health routine in a different environment. It’s not impossible but it does take planning and to be honest, for most of us it’s more important to remember the passport or to make sure someone is coming to walk the dog than get this sorted out. Our health becomes optional when it should be a priority. Once your health is gone, travel is no longer an option.
Over the past few years, travel has become a regular part of my work. During my peak travel season, I’m at the airport every other week or every two weeks. I didn’t used to travel frequently. I used to be incredibly stressed when I traveled (and honestly suffered devastating flight anxiety for years). But as it’s become part of my life I feel like I’ve figured a few things out.
Here are five ways I’ve worked on my wellness routine for travel:
1. Figure out what’s essential to keep you well:
There are typically one or two key actions that keep us centered and healthy. Once those fall by the wayside, your health falls apart. For me sleep and food are essentials. If I’m short on sleep and I haven’t had lunch I’m good for absolutely nothing (I’m also snippy and have a low tolerance for anyone’s sass. You’ve been warned.). For others it might be going for a run or meditating. Figure out what your essential actions are but don’t let it be more than a few things. It’s not realistic to maintain everything when you travel. Be kind to yourself and figure out the bare minimum.
2. Find stress pain points… and fix them:
Part of wellness is managing stress. When your body is stressed you’re more likely to become ill. While you can’t control the inevitable flight delay (get it together LaGuardia!), you can figure out how to stop the stress points you can control. I feel most stressed when I don’t have access to the information I need. To counteract that, I bring backup power blocks to charge my phone without having to rely on outlets. I also put all the details I need in my iCal or Notes so I don’t have to dig through emails: addresses, flight options, where I’m meeting people etc. Think about what scenario makes you most stressed and how you can make it better.
3. Protect your rest and rejuvenation time:
Depending on your personality type, you might need more rest time than others… especially if you’re at a conference or visiting family for the holidays. While the space you’re in may not be the most relaxing, you can bring things to improve it. A white noise machine can help with outdoor noises you’re not used to and so will earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. An eye mask will help with light, or if you’re like my brilliant friend, so will a claw hair clip to keep curtains tight in a hotel room. And while all of us might not be the type bring a candle or diffuser, you can get bring an essential oil roller ball with a relaxing blend like lavender.
4. Bring what you need to make wellness happen so you have no excuses:
Once you’ve figured out your essential wellness actions and your biggest stress pain points, figure out what you can bring with you to fix it. I keep a travel list on my phone so I can use it each time without having to rebuild the list.
Here are some packing ideas:
- Water bottle: Skip the airport markup and make an environmentally conscious decision. Staying hydrated will stave off headaches but also be your best friend if you’re flying which can be very dehydrating. A good water bottle will also let you blend any additional wellness add ins: instant coffee (east coast to west coast necessity for early risers), an adaptogen, or a green powder.
- Supplements and medications: From melatonin to allergy pills, having a few on hand in your immediate bag will get you what you need, ASAP. I like this Alessi box since it’s flat on one side, taking up only a small amount of space.
- Bento Box: If you like to bring your own food or like a hard case for storing other items like lip balm and hair ties, a bento box is organized and keeps things squish free. This one comes in a ton of adorable colors and is microwave and dishwasher safe. My personal favorite snack items are Perfect Bars (it’s filling and balanced- it even includes seaweed but I swear you’d never know it), dried fruit like mango, pretzels, nuts, something fun like Annie’s bunnies, apples and snap peas. And if you ever want to feel terrible about lunches you’ve packed in the past, look up bento box lunches on Pinterest.
- Workout gear or loungewear: both important
- Noise canceling headphones or earplugs or white noise machine
- Eye mask
- Hand sanitizer or wipes
- Chargers/power blocks
- Itinerary print out if you lose your phone
5. And lastly… Just wash your hands please:
Here’s the biggest secret for not getting sick. Wash your hands. It IS that simple. The most effective way to ward off a cold or bug is just to wash your hands frequently and sanitize what you’re touching. It’s okay to resort to hand sanitizer if you can’t get to soap and water and I definitely encourage wiping your phone (or the seat on an airplane) with disinfectant wipes.