Staying Healthy While on Vacation

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Summer VacationJuly is a big travel month so I thought it would be a good time to remind you (and encourage you!) to spend a little extra time including “health” as part of your vacation planning this year. Just by giving a little extra thought to how you can maintain your healthy routine while on the go will reap you huge health rewards during your travels.  Just think – you can keep your hormones, blood sugar, and gut health happy, as well as maintain your weight and activity level!  Who'd have thunk you could still do that on your vacation!

Here are 4 important areas to focus on while planning your next trip. Again, it is fairly easy to keep up on your healthy habits if you just plan ahead!

Eating healthy while in a hotel or on the go

This is a big one, and a lot of people do gain weight because they eat and drink a lot of junk while on vacation. Sometimes when we are not in our regular controlled environment, it's as if we have a different set of core values.  This is a great time to re-visit your Inspired Health Vision System if you are in one of my programs already.  I recently wrote a very comprehensive article on “How to Eat Healthy and Control Your Blood Sugar While Traveling that you should read if you missed it earlier. Very detailed, with lots of great suggestions including my 4 primary tips to eat healthy while on the go: Plan ahead, bring your kitchen with you, eat smart, and keep your routine.

Travel FoodWhen I travel I will often bring healthy snacks with me (nuts, seeds, and sea veggies), but I would have also  already scouted out a local organic or health food store in the area where I’m staying. Once at my destination, I hit that store and pick up my fresh greens (lots of them!), fermented cheeses, maybe some sauerkraut (probiotics are particularly important while you are traveling), organic green drinks (or sometimes I will bring my blender and make my own), along with other staples.

I always ensure I have a fridge in my hotel room (I actually have a portable cooler that plugs into my car so I can have my healthy refrigerated foods literally on the go). Check out this video posted in my Unstoppable Health Facebook Community to see some of the healthy foods I easily picked up locally during a recent trip.

And don’t stop your routine when it comes to supplements!

  • Pack your daily probiotic, digestive enzymes, and other supplements to ensure you have good digestive support (especially if traveling to a country known for bacteria-related health issues). Don’t leave out the vitamins and antioxidants you normally take; when traveling your immune system may get hammered by a lack of sleep or other exposures.  You especially want to keep up your immune health support when away from home.
  • Talk to your doctor or practitioner about other suggestions relating to the location you are traveling. You may need some antiviral support.  There are even supplements to help with high altitude destinations.
  • Prepare for sleep disruption: In addition, and I’ll mention this below, if you are crossing time-zones, you may want to pack melatonin or other sleep-inducing supplements to help with the jet lag.

Keep up your usual activity level!

young athletic legs with sharp scarf muscles of runner sport man climbing up city stairs jogging and running in urban training workoutJust because you are on vacation doesn’t mean you have to be a banana slug at the pool. Again, planning will make the difference here. PLAN to pack your gym clothes! Then you can’t use the excuse that you don’t have your athletic shoes. PLAN on staying at a hotel with a gym. PLAN on bringing some small exercise equipment with you, like resistance bands or a jump rope.  PLAN to be somewhere that you can walk or hike.

If you are a runner like I am, you can go online and search on running trails in the vicinity of your planned destination. It is fun to visit trails in a city you haven’t visited before, and, in fact, I’ve been to some locations where you actually get in some great sight-seeing along the trail, as well as a good run.

If you aren’t a runner, plan to do some burst training to get your body moving (without having to spend a lot of time away from your family and vacation activities).

And when you are planning your travel itinerary, just PLAN on walking more and taking the cab less! Walking is a great way to see the sights and explore a new city.

Oh, and make sure you also don’t overdo it by over-reaching on a new fitness challenge you might not be ready for! Going to climb that 10 mile hike up that very steep mountain? Hmmmm. Always plan such things in advance. TRAIN for what you are going to try on a future vacation. If you have existing medical conditions, check with your doctor before attempting high-energy, high altitude, or high-risk activities! And make sure you attempt your adventure with a respected company that provides the appropriate equipment and safety procedures. High altitudes in particular require adjustment when doing any type of physical activity.

Conquer the jet lag and get a good night’s sleep!

Ahhhh, sleep. It is always so difficult for most people to sleep that first night in a strange bed and location. So it’s a good idea to pack some melatonin supplements. Melatonin is a hormone that your body actually produces naturally to help you sleep.  You might also want to pack an eye mask and earplugs. Even on vacation you want to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep if at all possible.

Between staying up late, eating late, and possible jet lag, your body may get fatigued, yet you may still experience insomnia! Your circadian clock can get out of whack, especially when traveling eastbound. The rule of thumb is that it takes about a day to recover from every time zone you cross during your travels.

Here is a recent article on how you can improve your sleep.   Take note of some of the supplements that are suggested which can help with sleep. Also important are the many things you shouldn’t do that will impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep, including:

  • Don’t eat 3 hours before bedtime  – it may be hard to do while partying on vacation, but if your body is busy digesting that heavy late-night meal, you may find it difficult to drift off.
  • Don’t exercise before bedtime  – so maybe the late night disco wasn’t such a good idea!
  • No cortisol surges before bedtime  – cortisol is your stress hormone.  If your usual nighttime ritual is a warm bath by candlelight to relax you and lower your cortisol, keep up the ritual with the warm bath, at least.  Maybe even bring your Epsom salts!
  • Too much alcohol  – contrary to popular belief, alcohol does not help you sleep.  It may knock you out initially, but you will likely wake up at some point and then have trouble getting back to sleep!

Pack a travel first aid kit

Along with the other things you'll be packing, be prepared to include a first aid kit with items that will help with everything from blisters to an upset stomach.  If they are in glass bottles, you can wrap them in pieces of flannel.  Even if you don't pack everything, knowing where you can go to get these items if needed will also help.  While this isn't an exhaustive list, these are things that may be more commonly found.  Also remember to pack bandages, some vitamin C powder, scissors, tweezers, and an instant-read thermometer.

  • Eucalyptus essential oil: A potent antibiotic and antiviral, eucalyptus is excellent for treating colds and sinus infections when used as a steam inhalation.
  • Witch hazel extract: Distilled witch hazel has reported astringent, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties, useful for treating insect bites and skin irritations. It’s also an excellent base for diluting essential oils for topical application. Do not take it internally.
  • Herbal insect repellent: Herbal insect repellents work well when applied liberally and frequently.  The Environmental Working Group has a list to search through as you look for one that works for you and your family.
  •  Arnica gel or cream: Arnica flowers have anti-inflammatory and circulation-stimulating properties; the gel or cream may help relieve sore muscles, sprains, strains, and bruises. Do not apply arnica to broken skin.
  • Lemon essential oil: Uplifting, clarifying lemon essential oil can be used as aromatherapy to help dispel mental fatigue. It is also antiseptic, but should be diluted before being applied to the skin.
  • Calendula/comfrey salve: With calendula’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and comfrey’s ability to help heal wounds, this salve is perfect for minor cuts and scrapes.
  • Ginger capsules, tea bags or crystallized ginger: The antispasmodic and gas-relieving properties of ginger soothe digestive upsets. Ginger also has been shown to relieve motion sickness better than Dramamine, the conventional drug treatment.
  • Peppermint essential oil and tea bags: Peppermint soothes an upset stomach, eases congestion from the common cold, and curbs itching from insect bites. If you have sensitive skin, dilute peppermint oil before applying. Peppermint tea may aggravate heartburn.
  • Lavender essential oil: Multipurpose lavender has sedative, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It’s helpful for anxiety, insomnia, headaches, wounds and burns. Most people can tolerate lavender essential oil applied directly to the skin. Do not take more than 1 to 2 drops internally.
  • Chamomile tea bags: Gentle enough for children, chamomile tea promotes relaxation, relieves indigestion and, applied topically, soothes skin irritations.
  • Aloe vera gel: Cooling and healing, aloe vera soothes the inflammation of sunburn and mild kitchen burns.

Enjoy the moment, have fun, and reconnect!silhouette woman beach

Finally, even though it may sound obvious, you want to enjoy your vacation, enjoy the beauty and adventure of being in a new place, and enjoy your traveling companions.

Don’t let stress overtake the moment!

Make sure you plan some downtime in your itinerary. Don’t forget the basic things that can cause your cortisol to go haywire (did someone say sugar?), as well as those things that can take cortisol down a notch or two, such as deep breathing, reflection, and grounding yourself in nature.

When I travel for business, I sometimes find I am over-scheduled, which can be very stressful. So that is when I take a half hour and go for a walk, somewhere green if I can find it, such as a local park. Just taking that short break, getting a little relaxed movement in my day, and connecting with a bit of nature, makes a huge difference in my stress level. Here are some other de-stressing ideas. I am also a HeartMath coach, as many of you know, and I will often use my HeartMath app on my phone to make sure I am focused on positivity, deep breathing, and centering calm.

So enjoy your vacation!  Let me know what YOU do to make it a healthy one! Join my Unstoppable Health Facebook community, and share your thoughts.  You’ll have a lot of fun hearing from others, as well, plus you might get some ideas for your next vacation.



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