Traveling can be stressful- airplanes, transfers, people who seem to have never left their mother’s basement. Add foreign foods, bad coffee, and exposure to almost every germ known to man, and you most likely have the perfect storm for exhaustion and sickness. But traveling doesn’t have to suck.
The next several posts will be capturing our trip to Australia, but I’ll also tie in some best practices for health and wellness from our trip down under (and I've’ve become quite the travel authority on traveling in my everyday life, too). A critical part of overall wellness goes far beyond making sure you eat the right macro and micro nutrient ratios. It’s about taking adventures and learning to love life (this is the THRIVE part of Ignite.Nourish.Thrive.). So while we’re in Australia, I’ll be sharing our adventures as well as about how to be well, eat real foods, and make this lifestyle work from the other side of the world.
Sydney is a beautiful city. Well, the 8 square blocks that we stayed within for the two days we were there. But those 8 square blocks- beautiful. We rolled into our hotel at about 10am in the morning probably looking like death (and possibly smelling worse). 24 straight hours of traveling will do that to you. Luckily we were able to get early check in to take a shower and change clothes.
My favorite part about Sydney was the food (no surprise there). We stayed in an area of Sydney right off the harbor called The Rocks. The area was built into some natural bluffs, so there were steep hills and hidden staircases everywhere.
And with any quaint, tourist infested area of any city, there was an abundance of food. Pubs, pizza parlors, coffee shops, chocolatiers, gelato, coffee, steak houses, fresh seafood, and Asian fusion. I don’t know that any of it was distinctly Australian, but it was distinctly delicious.
We toured the Sydney Opera house.
Took a Harbor Cruise.
And walked across the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
A lot of Sydney was a blur because we were still recovering from our mega long trans-pacific flight. And it terms of setting the bar for our health for the trip, the Buck (or Wombat) stopped there. As I’ve detailed in previous posts, I have food intolerances as well as a sensitive immune and stress system, so traveling can and will wreak havoc on my body. Below are my top 5 critical travel behaviors. These can be applied to everyday life as well as travel:
Get Plenty of Sleep. This one goes without saying, but there are a couple of items to note here. The first is to get enough (duh) and somewhere in the neighborhood of 7-8 hours per night is great for most people (some need more, some need less). You’ll know when you’ve had enough when you awake refreshed. Now, I know that isn’t always possible especially when you’re traveling abroad and want to make every moment count. The second part of this is re-setting your sleep cycle to local time. Our bodies rest best when it’s dark and quiet out, and this is how our natural rhythm will tend to set itself.
But sometimes these two sleep principles don’t go hand in hand. For example, when we arrived in Sydney it was 8am local time (we had been traveling for over 30 hours by that point). It took everything we had to not fall into bed and sleep the day away. But because I was super concerned with resetting our sleep cycles, we went out sight-seeing and powered through the day (with a little help from some coffee shops and chocolatiers). But we gave in and went to bed at 7pm. And although we were really tired, we were both wide awake at 3am (10am our time). There was a temptation to get up and watch TV or read, but we stayed in bed for an hour until we fell back asleep. And when we awoke at 8am the next morning, our cycles were basically reset. From there, we’ve been very intentional to get enough sleep every night.
I know we all want to party like rock stars on vacation, but if we don’t sleep our Moves like Jagger will start to resemble Moves like Miley.
Drink Lots of Water. This one doesn’t need very much explanation. I’m a fan of indulging on vacation, but skipping on the water will make you dehydrated, tired, sick, constipated, crabby, and give you wonky cravings. I usually try to find a convenience store and buy a gallon (or more depending on how long I’ll be in one spot) and another water bottle to carry with me and refill. Depending on where you are, you could even use tap water to fill up the water bottle on the cheap. You’ll want to do some research, though, on the tap water quality. A simple Google search should provide enough information for you to make a decision.
Take Fermented Cod-Liver Oil/Butter Oil Blend. Alright, I think this may be where some people jump ship, but hang with me for a second. First, to be clear, you can get it in capsules and it will not make you burp fish oil all day. Second, this stuff is basically an elixir of the gods. It’s a fermented food, so it will help to strengthen your gut which means you’re more resistant to getting sick. It also has copious amounts of Vitamin D (and A&K, which help your body absorb it). Vitamin D gives you energy, helps regulate your sleep, keeps you from getting sick, and will help manage and reduce sunburns. And as a bonus, this particular supplement could help clear your skin and make your nails and hair grow.
But as always, source matters. I can only recommend getting this from Green Pastures (available on Amazon or at Green Earth Grocers in Edwardsville for my Southern IL peeps). Green pastures uses quality ingredients and does not heat the oil during fermentation ensuring the nutrient quality is retained. I should point out, though, that this is not a good source for Omega-3 like most fish oil (I personally don’t take any fish oil, but I can cover that at a later date).
Take Digestive Enzymes. I know this one sounds gross, but I am totally in love with these supplements. They also come in pill form and should be taken with food. These little buggers help break down your food and absorb nutrients. When we’re stressed (and hey, like we covered, traveling can be stressful) food becomes only a vessel for calories rather than a life giving sources of nutrients. Also, for those of you with food sensitivities, this can help you tolerate more foods. I find if I ingest small amounts of gluten and dairy while on digestive enzymes, they do not have quite the number of ill side effects. But three words of caution on digestive enzymes:
a. Test them before you get on vacation (like- several weeks out) because they will impact your digestion.
b. This is what works for me. We all have different bodies, so just be cautious if you’re using them to help manage food intolerances.
c. Taking digestive enzymes is not a free pass to eat like garbage. Garbage food is still garbage food.
You can find digestive enzymes on Amazon- NowFoods Super Enzymes are good quality and have a great reputation.
Get in Some Smart Movement. When a vacation involves quite a bit of beach time, bar time, or driving/flying, we forget to move. This doesn’t meant that you need to go on a 5 mile run or CrossFit every day (you can if you want to), but vacation is a great time to get back to something most of us don’t do nearly enough in our everyday. Vacation is a great time to get back to walking. Walk on the beach, explore a city, or go for a hike. Walking is a great way to save money (cab fare is redonkulous) and catch more sights (you see more going 2 mph than 40). Plus, getting in some solid natural movement will help you feel a little less guilty about that double scoop of gelato.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but using the above 5 behaviors in conjunction with a fun and relaxing week will help you stay healthy, happy, and ready to take on the world when you have to get back to it. Do you have any go to health or wellness tips that keep you healthy when you’re traveling? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!