Life

6 Travel Tips for Wellness on the Go

3 min read

Need some ideas for staying healthy during holiday travel? We have you covered with these expert-approved tips.
Need some ideas for staying healthy during holiday travel? We have you covered with these expert-approved tips.

‘Tis the season for long TSA lines, connecting flights, and traffic-filled road trips—all in the name, of course, of family gatherings and general merriment. But while the destination is always worth the travel-related headaches, take it from us: One of the best ways to make it all feel a bit more manageable (and keep stress to a minimum) is to prioritize your wellness while in transit—and even after making the trip.

So what does that look like? Consider the travel tips below.

If you’re flying, make hydration (and moisturizing) even more of a priority.

Did you remember to stash a reusable water bottle in your carry-on? We probably don’t need to remind you that drinking enough water is important no matter where you are. But the air in planes is particularly dry: While the humidity in most standard homes, for example, is well over 30 percent, planes usually clock in around 20 percent. The World Health Organization notes that while this can aggravate dry skin and cause discomfort in your mouth and throat (1), there’s no indication that low humidity can aggravate dehydration. That said: The organization does advise being wary of drinks that have a diuretic effect, like coffee. (And even if it isn’t necessary, remembering to hydrate with more H2O isn’t a bad idea.)*

Be wary of airport snacks. (In fact, consider packing your own.)

Even if your options are fairly limited, try to steer clear of any empty calorie treats: That is, items like soda and candy that are high in calories but offer virtually no nutritional content, says Mastaneh Sharafi, PhD, RD, our resident nutritionist and Sebior Director of Scientific Affairs.*

Her snack of choice? “I always pack healthy snacks like nuts and dried fruits,” she says. (Pro tip: In a pinch, usually airport newsstands offer bags of nuts and trail mix.)

Have a virtual toolkit of relaxation exercises at the ready.

Plane delays and bumper-to-bumper traffic are aggravating. But since they’re beyond our control, the best we can do is know how to mitigate our stress in the moment—whatever that kind of self-care looks like to you.

Breathing exercises are shown to be effective for some people, for example (2). We like box breathing, because it’s easy to remember: You simply breathe in for 4 counts, hold your breath for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts…and repeat until you feel better.

Not so good at slowing yourself down in the moment? We feel you—and this is where guided apps like Headspace come in handy, since you just have to follow their instructions. The point is to reflect on what wellness tips have worked for you in the past and lean on that during your next trip.

Take a stretch break.

Let’s say you’ve been in the car (or on a plane) for four hours. Does anyone actually enjoy the feeling of having their neck crammed up against a window and/or their butt falling asleep? Even if you’re in a hurry to get to your destination, pull into a rest stop and give yourself a 10 minute break to stretch and walk around. In addition to helping work out any kinks in your body, stretching may help you to potentially relax a little bit (3).*

And when you get there…

Take time to exercise if you can.

Even if it’s just skipping out on 30 minutes of family time to take a walk around the block or zipping through a quick yoga routine in your hotel room, moving your body can help you decompress and maintain a semblance of your routine—which travel has a tendency to throw off. And if your fam is stressing you out, all the better: Lots of research points to the relaxing effect of walking (4).*

Maintain the essentials of your routine.

That is: 7-8 hours of sleep, a nutritious breakfast as possible… you know the drill. None of this is rocket science, but we tend to lose sight of the basics when we’re thrown into the holiday merriment—even more so if jet lag is a factor. Our POV: When you’re taking care of yourself, you’re that much more likely to have a wonderful time—and isn’t that why you made the trip in the first place?*

References:

  1. Cabin Humidity and Dehydration. (2011, November 11). Retrieved from World Health Organization
  2. Ma, X., Yue, Z. Q., Gong, Z. Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N. Y., Shi, Y. T., … Li, Y. F. (2017). The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing… Frontiers in psychology, 8, 874. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874
  3. Corey, S. M., Epel, E., Schembri, M., Pawlowsky, S. B., Cole, R. J., Araneta, M. R. G., … Kanaya, A. M. (2014). Effect of restorative yoga vs. stretching…The PRYSMS randomized controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 49, 260–271. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.07.012
  4. Morita, E., Fukuda, S., Nagano, J., Hamajima, N., Yamamoto, H., Iwai, Y., … Shirakawa, T. (2007). Psychological effects of forest environments… Public Health, 121(1), 54–63. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2006.05.024

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Meet our Experts

This article features advice from members of our Science Team.

Science Thumb — Mastaneh

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi, PhD, RD, Senior Director, Scientific Affairs

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and is a Registered Dietitian. She received her training from Penn State University and University of Connecticut where she researched dietary patterns, chemosensory perception and community nutrition. Her dietetic work is focused on promoting healthy eating habits by translating the science of nutrition into practical information for the public.

Science Thumb — Mastaneh

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi, PhD, RD, Senior Director, Scientific Affairs

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and is a Registered Dietitian. She received her training from Penn State University and University of Connecticut where she researched dietary patterns, chemosensory perception and community nutrition. Her dietetic work is focused on promoting healthy eating habits by translating the science of nutrition into practical information for the public.