Chances are this holiday that you will be doing some traveling to see friends and family. I know for myself that when I travel, I don’t particularly feel my best. I have difficulty sleeping on planes. I tend to get really gassy while flying (TMI, I know, but it is true!) and all of that recycled air often makes me feel nauseous. In our house, we travel a lot, and have come to find ways to make the journey a little healthier and more pleasant. Here are some tips:

1.     PLAN AHEAD! I always tell my husband that if I were smart, I would create a Whole Foods type mini mart in airports. I get so frustrated every time I fly because of the terrible choices there are for what to eat at airports! It has gotten even worse now that many airlines don’t even serve hot meals anymore and though they were never that great, they were definitely more filling than the dry bread with a slice of turkey and cheese that you purchase for $7! So I avoid my frustration all together and plan ahead. Since there is no Whole Foods in the airport, why not make a stop before you go? If you have kids, chances are you have packed food for them, so why not include food for yourself, too? Buy something that can go for hours at room temp (not a great time to choose sushi). I usually like to pack a salad with grilled chicken or hummus, a bag of raw veggies to munch on, nuts or seeds, a piece of fruit and a natural energy bar or two. (For those of you that hate energy bars and think they are too dry, try a Perfect Food Bar which can be found at Whole Foods. All of the flavors are delicious and though a raw food, will be fine for hours at room temp). If you just don’t have time to pack a meal, there is an awesome, new, free phone app called “Gate Guru” that helps you locate what food is available in the airport and where so you can find the healthiest option. Not only do I bring what seems like a lot of food but I always pack extra snack things like Turkey Jerky, wasabi peas, a second kind of energy bar or ball (I also love Betty Lou’s nut butter balls which can usually be found at your local health mart and are a tasty low-calorie, high protein snack) which brings me to my next tip…

2.     PLAN FOR DELAYS! There have been many flight delays, layovers and unexpected hold ups when we travel, especially these days with all of the heightened security. This is why I always pack extra snacks and food. You just never know when you are actually going to get to your destination and a quick run to Jack in the Box at 2 am on the way to Gramma’s for Christmas is just not a good idea. You won’t feel good, you probably won’t sleep well (particularly if you have changed time zones anyway!) and after being cooped up in a car or airplane for hours at a time, it definitely won’t be good for your body.  Yes, it is extra baggage-but better the baggage be in your bag and not on your bum!

3.     SAVE ON GAS! As I mentioned earlier, both my husband and I have noticed we are much more susceptible to getting a stomach-ache and being gassy, when flying. I still haven’t quite figured out what exactly happens to cause it but my guess it is the air pressure and elevation are at play. I am already someone who is sensitive to both dairy and caffeine and though I have them in moderation, I completely avoid them now when flying. It just isn’t worth the repercussion of the way I feel. So if you know that you are sensitive to a food or beverage that is acidic, carbonated, caffeinated, alcoholic etc…best to avoid it all together to have a more enjoyable journey which will also leave you feeling better when you arrive at your destination.

4.     REST UP FOR TRAVEL! I am definitely someone guilty of staying up late the night before going on vacation. I guess I figure I have my whole trip to catch up on some zzz’s but usually I set myself up for a very unpleasant ride. It is worth packing a little earlier to get a good night’s sleep for the next day of travel. You never know if your flight gets delayed and puts you in to your destination at 4 am, the morning of Christmas.  It isn’t worth being Scrooge on Christmas day and if you are like me, I can’t sleep a wink on flights usually, so often my day of travel is one where I get less sleep. Speaking of sleep…

5.     AVOID AMBIEN! There are a lot of people who take sleeping pills while traveling. Fortunately (and unfortunately) for me, they have an opposite effect on me, so not only am I awake the entire trip (sometimes through 15 hours of flying!) I get extremely groggy and ill feeling. Ambien has many side effects and is not good for you so if sleeping pills are a must for your trip, try an herbal on, which you can find at your local health food store or Pharmaca. (If you have not discovered Pharmaca yet, you should check and see if you have one nearby. It is a fantastic CVS type Pharmacy with holistic supplements and herbal medicine as well as all kinds of great healthy snacks, environmentally friendly gifts, cards…etc…think CVS gone healthier and green!)

6.     HYDRATE OFTEN! These days we can’t bring water into airports anymore so it is even more difficult to stay hydrated while traveling. I highly encourage you to buy the biggest water you can find for you to drink while flying. If you will be waiting around before the flight buy one for the wait and another for the flight. Yes, it is true that they serve water on the plane but not often enough and sometimes they make it very difficult to get more than one small glass, especially when there is turbulence or a full flight. Hydrating is so crucial for staying healthy and making your trip a more enjoyable one. It will also help fight off any headaches you may otherwise get from all of that recycled air and altitudes. If you don’t want to spend the money on water, bring an empty bottle to fill once at the gate at a water fountain.

7. BRING BREAKFAST! In addition to loading my carry-on up with protein bars, nuts and various snacks, I also always pack some protein bars and nuts in my luggage, in case I will need it once I get to my destination. For example, if my husband and I are staying at a nice hotel and we wake up hours before our first meal, it is definitely better to eat a small something shortly after waking, rather than waiting the several hours until breakfast. (I will save my thoughts on the detrimental effects of hypoglycemia on your health for another post but hypoglycemia is what happens when we go too many hours without food and cause terrible health problems like diabetes among other things). If you are staying with family or friends and they serve something you don’t eat, you will be glad you had back up. Plus, a protein bar here and there for breakfast will keep you from splurging daily on pancakes and sausage.

8.     STAY ACTIVE! Whether you are going to a very cold place or to lie around on a tropical beach, make sure you get some exercise. Take long walks, go for a hike or jog. If you are somewhere cold, there are plenty of exercise videos you can find on YouTube or the exercise channel on tv. Wherever you are, make the decision to get some activity on the agenda during your trip.

9.     AVOID THE HOLIDAY SPLURGE AND STARVE CYCLE! All too often when people splurge on a big meal over the holidays, they feel the need to skip a meal later that day or the next day. Again, without going into it here, skipping meals can cause hypoglycemia which is far worse for your body than eating again and because of the wait, the next meal you do eat will store as fat. If you indulge here and there, enjoy your treats and stay on your regular schedule of eating every few hours.

10. ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAY TREATS! It is nearly impossible to avoid special treats during this special time of year and should be enjoyed by all. However, be conscious about it. If you are eating every meal out at a restaurant on vacation, the proportions will definitely be large, so try sharing your meals or asking for a smaller portion. Whatever you do, try not to clean your plate.  As I suggested in my Thanksgiving post (Healthy Holiday Habits) choose what is especially worth the sugar and calories and cut out the things you really don’t need-maybe the bread before dinner or that second or third cocktail. You want to look back on your holidays as a wonderful time of friends, family, and fabulous memories and will successfully be able to do that if you watch the way you eat and drink, and do your best to incorporate some of these helpful travel tips.

I wish you happy, safe and easy travels!