I love to travel. But I hate to travel. Airplanes are petri-dishes teeming with germs. Time zones wreck havoc on the body, and jet lag is your friend for a few days. Then sleep deprivation equals a weakened immune system and susceptibility to cooties.
Eating out several times a day means trying to guess what might be hiding in your meal, and temptations that are hard to avoid when dining out with a group.
There are also other unforeseen and usual challenges, like a recent tavern we went to that didn't even have silverware. This made eating a bun-less burger quite the challenge. The kicker? Only shredded lettuce, not even a large leaf to work with. Really, who doesn't have silverware?
Since changing my diet and eating mostly within a Paleo framework, and tweaking my lifestyle to include more meditation and self-care, I have been able to ward of the cooties a lot better than before.
However, there are so many uncontrollable germ factors on the road.
So here are my top 5 tips for sticking to your dietary needs and staying healthy when traveling:
1. Always bring some travel-safe food with you. When you reach a point and you are starving, but have no plan, then you are most likely to grab whatever is available. And what's available may be just the type of food you are trying to avoid in order to stabilize your health and/or weight, or avoid food intolerances.
- sardines (though I don't recommend busting these out on the plane - your comrades may not like you too much)
- canned oysters (some come with easy open tabs like a sardine can)
- hard boiled eggs
- Nick's sticks
- smoked salmon sticks or you can buy in small packages at the grocery
- nuts and seeds or if you need a "trail" mix, add a small bit of raisins, dried cranberries, and raw cacao nibs (check labels on dried fruit, though, as some brands add high fructose corn syrup)
- baby carrots and/or pea pods
- tuna in a pouch or ready-to eat can - you may need to ditch the accompanying crackers but just read the ingredients
- pre-cooked chicken strips (find one with the least amount of additives)
- if at an airport, find a plain side salad and request a vinaigrette dressing (will be the lesser of the evils). You can add any of the above proteins to it. I buy sardines and oysters in olive oil so usually don't even need dressing if I use one of these.
2. Drink plenty of water (and request aisle seat if flying). This way you can drink plenty and don't have to disturb anyone when you pee and stretch, pee and stretch... or in my case, I only have to bother the husband because he will NOT give up his aisle seat.
3. Eat and sleep well BEFORE you travel because either you will be over-tired from the journey, more stressed than usual because that is what travel does, or on a petrie-dish germ filled plane.
4. Take some precautionary immune-boosting herbs such as Echinacea and/or Goldenseal, or better yet, chew a raw garlic clove (yes, gross, but is nature's antibiotic).
5. If you are hotel-ing it for a few days, request a room with a fridge and visit a grocery store. You can stock your own breakfast and even lunch if you can. This saves not just your money, but also your sanity as eating out can be a huge trigger.
A good example... I found myself in Moose's Tooth in Anchorage, the most awesome pizza joint. Since I can't have wheat or dairy, and don't really care for standard gluten free crusts due to the insulin spiking effects, the whole pizza experience doesn't work for me anymore. It smelled soooo good, and fortunately for me, cravings are a long gone issue so I can enjoy the smell but then choose something else. But for someone starting out, this is a HUGE trigger.
Ok, so I lied – here are tips 6 and 7:
6. Use a natural sleep aid the first night at your destination. Because really, who sleeps well the first night when you have to remember where the bathroom is at 3am? For a natural sleep aid you can try melatonin, valerian root (more of a nerve relaxer / anti-anxiety), or my personal favorite is a product called Serotonin FX made by The People’s Chemist.
7. Finally, if you are flying, get to the airport early. I know this seems like a "duh", but your body responds to travel stress. If you can take your time, and practice your deep breathing while waiting at the gate, you are saving your immune system to deal with other invaders instead.
What are your best travel tips? Please share below!