10 Healthier Choices for Happier Travels
As a Holistic Nutritionist and a lover of exploring I'm naturally very passionate about healthy travel. I have such a great routine at home and know all of my go-to foods and where to get them in my familiar cities. When traveling elsewhere it's a bit more of a challenge. It's super important to me to continue eating nourishing foods while also continuing to nourish my mind so I can feel my best, and be my best me.
So I rely on my pre-travel plan that sets the healthy vibe for my travels. In the days before my trip I up my green intake, and increase my water. I cut back on the salt, and avoid eating out to prevent the dreaded bloat. I make it a point to tend to my skin, using serums and a heavy moisturizer so I glow when I get off the plane. This preps me mentally and physically so I'm set up for the journey ahead!
This list is about helping you be in control in a new environment while allowing for the spontaneity of travel that makes it so appealing.
Are you an aisle or a window seat?
Personally, I'm an aisle seat. I'm usually too excited thinking about the destination to actually fall asleep. Also, the New Yorker in me finds it hard to sleep around strangers. Instead I use this time to hydrate which naturally requires many bathroom visits, and by knowing that I'm an aisle seat I can avoid waking my neighbor during my many visits to the restroom.
If you have no issues sleeping, pick the window. I recommend sleeping as much as you can. Don't worry about getting too much sleep because most likely you'll still be tired after you arrive to your destination. Plane travel is extremely taxing and stressful on the body, your mind is working in different ways than normal while you're navigating your way through and from the airport. You're taking in a lot of new scenery, perhaps trying to speak another language, and reading maps. If you can stock up on sleep while traveling, you'll be able to navigate all of these things better, and make better choices.
*If you're a window seat, wear a scarf on the plane to double as a pillow. I find the travel pillows to be too much of a burden. Keep your hands free, and leave the worry at home.
Avoid the caffeine and alcohol while in the air
Staying hydrated is a seriously thing. In fact, if there's one thing to take away from this piece, it's to remain hydrated. Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol, or at least one for 1-2 days prior to your trip. If not, definitely avoid them on travel day. Both of these are extremely dehydrating and your goal is to start your trip in a good place physically.
Airplane humidity levels can drop 20% lower than what you're used to in your home, and even more on longer flights. Hydrating helps with common jet lag symptoms like nausea, headaches, brain fog, constipation, and overall laziness.
Eat for success
We're all bio-individuals so what we need nutrient wise will vary from person-to-person. That being said, we want to set ourselves up for success. This starts by knowing what works for your body.
Before your trip start to notice how you feel if you don't eat for a few hours between meals. Play around with breakfast and experiment with high carb breakfasts like oats, and then on other other days eat two full eggs with avocado and skip the toast. See which ones make you feel more energized and enables you to think think more clearly. Notice when you get hungry after those meals.
Most likely, you'll be feeling great after the high fat meal. Don't be afraid of fat, it is essential to regulating your hormones and insulin levels- aka your blood sugar. When we can keep these leveled we’re able to have more energy, less mood swings, greater concentration, and more satiation! You'll start to not crave the fast pick-me-up sugar heavy treats because you simply won't need them.
Stick to fat, protein and veggies and you'll be able to focus more attention on sightseeing and enjoying the city.
*If you know that you'll need some emergency snacks during the trip pack some raw nuts, and stick to the five ingredient or less rule to ensure you're only eating whole foods. The lower the sugar the better!
Learn to forage
We humans are natural hunter-gathers. For over 90% of our time on earth we have been foraging. Agriculture only became a thing about 10,000 years ago, which in the 200,000 years humans have been on earth, it's a measly number. This means we as humans have barely evolved so hunting/gathering is still engrained deep within us, and I like to play a little game called "urban forager".
If you can find a local market at your destination it will make this process a lot easier. If that's not an option, don't worry!
When in a place like an airport or train station, do a lap before making any food decisions. I like to check in with myself to see what's going on. What have I been eating a lot of? How am I feeling energetically? Will I be on-the-go for the next few days to come, or will I be able to have more control over the foods I'm eating? I use these questions to guide me in the right direction.
The most amazing thing about our body is that is always knows what's best for us, and it does it's job perfectly. We don't have to tell our heart to beat, or our lungs to inhale. It's really remarkable.
When we can tune in to what is really going on we'll be given the answers. Which leads me to the next tip...
Ying & Yang it
Traveling is very contracting to our bodies which means that the body becomes tight. A salty and animal heavy diet also contributes to a contracted body which results in sluggish energy, bloat, heaviness, and mental fogginess.
Our bodies are always striving for balance and in a contracted state it wants expanding foods. This is why we crave candies and ice cream while we're traveling. Eating foods heavy in refined sugars will bring us to the other side very quickly but will leave us with low energy, anxiety, insomnia, and loss of concentration.
The idea is to play with this ying/yang balance that is ever changing. Avoid foods that are on the extreme ends of the spectrum and stick to whole foods like fats, vegetables, light proteins, fruits, and nuts.
While we want to keep the balance of ying and yang as much as possible in the day-to-day, what's a trip to a new place if you can't enjoy the local food?! The idea here is to be mindful about it. For example, I'm a New Yorker living in LA, so when I’m back home, I indulge in pizza, pasta, and bagels. Enjoying the locales specialty is part of traveling. You're supposed to indulge on vacation, so go ahead and figure out what's most important to you.
Plan but not too much...
I do this by figuring out my must-see and must-do list and planning accordingly. I sit down (usually before my trip), I pull up “GoogleMaps”, and plan the days by location. After I have a general sense of the different areas, I'll turn to Instagram. I start searching the specific spots like museums and monuments and I gravitate to whatever photographs speak to me and then see what that user was up to in the area. Maybe there's a market nearby and I'll note that I can buy a bag of apples and nuts to keep with me for a few days.
Instagram is an amazing tool, in-fact while planning my trip to DC I found With the Locals! IG has really brought our world together. Don't be afraid to leave a question in the comments or DM users, people are happy to help!
While having a general idea of the things you want to do and see, be sure to leave some room for that coffee shop you stumble across, or that park bench that happens to be open that allows you to people watch. This is what traveling is all about. Allow for the unfamiliar to happen, this is how we grow.
Carve out time for you
While traveling, It's super important to take care of yourself mentally. There is so much going on around you and we sometimes don't realize how exhausting it is! It usually takes us snapping at our travel buddy to realize something is off. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do every activity with the people you’re traveling with.
In order for me to really enjoy and be present in a new place, I carve out time for me. When I was traveling in Italy with a girlfriend, we had spent four days doing everything together and I was starting to get worn out mentally.
In order to slow down and center, I wake up before everyone else and go outside. If appropriate, I'll find a place to do some sun salutations to get my blood flowing and mind connected with my body. Granted, certain atmospheres don't allow for this, so I'll find a nearby coffee shop and enjoy the walk. For me, traveling is more than just sightseeing but about understanding the local culture.
I once signed up for a photography walking- tour in Buenos Aires that was lead by an American who had lived there for years. We went to a giant local Flea Market and I photographed the vendors in sales mode, a woman painting, and a group of men who were just hanging around enjoying one another. It gave me the most beautiful perspective of the way the locals lived. That day, the culture of Buenos Aires clicked for me.
Enjoying my new surroundings puts it all in perspective and I can go out into the world feeling centered and grateful and be a great travel companion to my friend!
Own your shit
Stepping up and owning your needs is the key to staying grounded in a new place. Getting comfortable with not feeling bad about making special requests in restaurants or asking for that extra blanket on the plane was a game changer for me. In fact, it's quite empowering. When you're able to be true to yourself, you're tending to your deepest needs. This builds self-trust, and self-love, and allows you to show up fully for yourself and those you're traveling with.
*If you have dietary restrictions learn to say (or write down) the foods you can't eat in the respective language. Servers are happy to oblige as long as you ask nicely and this will avoid any surprises as you take your first bite.
Treat yo self
By having an item that you wear that makes you feel amazing it encourages you to be seen, and feel great. It also signifies that what you're doing is special. I have a beautiful silk scarf that is very dear to me that I bring with me on trips to use as a belt, a neck scarf, or even a turban. It's a signature piece that I only showcase on special occasions. Traveling is one of those times, so treat yourself and enjoy the moment! Coincidentally, you'll make healthier choices because of the dopamine you're releasing which mentally, we interpret as a sense of higher self-esteem which has a plethora of positive effects.
By preparing for a trip and honoring your lifestyle mentally, emotionally, and physically you'll be open and ready to embrace all the beauty and excitement in the differences of new cultures and locales.
Shauna Faulisi is a Holistic Nutritionist, Influencer, and the creative director of Soul Wellness Method. SWM is a private coaching practice and blog that ‘s meant to provide inspiration to anyone who is looking for more wellness in their life. She's a native New Yorker and now lives in the land of health & wellness, Los Angeles. You can join her on Snapchat @soulwellnessmtd for healthy tips, her favorite cool spots and travels, entrepreneurship, and random thoughts. You can also connect with her on Instagram @soulwellnessmethod & her blog soulwellnessmethod.com