Healthy Holiday TravelsPosted: December 9, 2011
As you read this, I’m in Philadelphia, about to watch my awesome friend Alli get married. Congratulations Alli & Will! I’ll be here for a few more days, then I’m heading up to Rhode Island next week to have a very early Christmas with my family. Lots of travels… and I know I’m not the only one who’s going places this winter. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever stayed put during the holiday season – we used to have Christmas with my grandparents on my Dad’s side, then New Year’s with my family on my Mom’s side. It is great to be able to see everyone you love all within the span of about a week, but traveling (especially at this busy time of year) can sap us of energy and leave us feeling drained.
How do you cope with your holiday travels? Will you be going by plane, train, bus, or car? Will you be crossing timezones and oceans? Or do you get to stay comfy and cosy at home this year? I’d love to know what your plans entail in the comments section.
Top 10 Healthy Travel Tips
- Distract yourself. This is my number one tip because, let’s face it, traveling sucks. Can you honestly say you enjoy it? Of course, once you arrive, it’s wonderful! But the getting there… that is a challenge. So the only way I can get through it without strangling an innocent bystander is by putting on my headphones (noise-cancelling are the best) and listening to playlists, podcasts, movies, etc. Buy as many books and magazines as you can justify in the airport or train station shop. Treat yourself like an annoying toddler and carry a bag full of fun stuff to keep you occupied while you travel. Anything to keep your mind from focusing on the many headaches that come with a long Christmas journey.
- Bring snacks. This started for me out of sheer necessity, since I am unable to find adequate foods in airports or on trains that cater for a restricted diet. But even if I didn’t have to avoid eggs, dairy, or soy, I’d still bring my own snacks when I travel. It’s healthier, cheaper, and more convenient. Plus you can bring foods you actually enjoy eating rather than stuffing yourself with junk that you will regret later. Make the Mini Christmas Pudding Bites (recipe at the end of this post) and bring them with you!
- Skip the alcohol. I know that traveling is stressful (see number 1), but alcohol, especially when flying, will only make you feel worse. If you are an anxious flyer, bring a few bags of your favorite calming herbal tea (chamomile or lemon balm are great) and buy a cup of hot water at a cafe or ask for one on the plane. Sip it slowly while you zone out to something funny or relaxing on your headphones.
- Don’t skip the water. What’s worse: headaches & dry mouth & fatigue & nausea OR getting up to pee a few times on the flight? Exactly. I’m that girl who insists on sitting by the window but will make you get up so she can use the bathroom at least twice. Sorry! I like to see what’s going on out there 🙂 Water is crucial when traveling, especially by plane. Best option: bring an empty aluminum or glass bottle from home and fill it when you arrive. Next best: buy a huge bottle of water, the biggest one you can find, once you’re through security at the airport.
- Frequent movement. Use those bathroom breaks as an excuse to stretch your legs and get some exercise. Do some light stretching while chatting to the flight attendants in the back. If you’re on a long car journey, go for a 5 minute walk around the parking lot on a rest stop. On a train? Wander through the carriages (as long as you’ve got someone watching your stuff of course). Those little movement breaks will keep the cabin fever and stress at bay.
- Avoid jetlag. If you’re traveling across timezones, there are two ways you can get your body to adjust a bit quicker. 1) Get as much sunlight as possible to keep you awake. Keep the curtains open if you have to be indoors but try and take a walk outside without sunglasses on if possible. 2) Do a bit of exercise on arrival. After a long journey, your body probably has a lot of toxins and energy built up, so it’s best to get rid of that with light movement. Jog, do yoga, swim, or run if you have the energy!
- Up the fiber. Sitting for extended periods of time can really, ahem, slow things down. But getting tense and stressed out about travels tend to… speed things up. Fiber can help to bring your elimination back to a normal pace – but I don’t mean taking laxatives or fiber supplements. Simply eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Dried fruits are the next best option, but definitely choose the varieties that don’t contain added sugar (they’re sweet enough on their own!) – and don’t eat too many! Remember that dried fruits may look and feel smaller than fresh fruit, but they still come from the same place…. would you eat 10 apricots in one sitting? Well then don’t eat 10 dried apricots!
- Pack a pantry. Are you a particular eater? Do you avoid certain foods or have a restricted diet? Then you should probably travel prepared! These days, when I’m traveling somewhere, my suitcase consists of about 3/4 clothes & shoes, 1/4 foods & drinks. For example, I’ll make up a big batch of my own granola before I leave and pack it in a ziplock bag. I’ll also stock up on the smallest containers of almond milk or rice milk I can find. Maybe I’ll bring some individual pouches of milled flax. Unsalted nuts & seeds, a bag of quinoa or buckwheat flakes, some brown rice protein powder… anything that travels well.
- Ship ahead. Sometimes, sending a box ahead of your journey works out to be cheaper (and lighter). This is only the case if you’re flying and might be charged with heavy or extra luggage. I tend to do this when I’m traveling across the Atlantic around Christmas by sending my family’s gifts ahead. It’s pricey but generally less than what airlines are charging for baggage these days. And one less thing you have to worry about on your travel day.
- Get festive. It’s the holidays – moods are heightened. We’re either really joyful or really grumpy. Why not spread the good cheer and enjoy it – it only comes around once a year after all! Crank up that holiday tunes playlist, load up your ipod or ipad with your favorite Christmas movie, wear ridiculous candy-cane-shaped earrings… whatever gets you in the spirit.
Mini Christmas Pudding Bites
Makes 12-15; completely raw!
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1⁄2 cup dried figs, stems removed
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 cup dates
- 1⁄2 cup dried cherries
- 4 tbsp carob powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1⁄2 cup shredded coconut
- Water as needed
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and well-incorporated. Add water a teaspoon at a time to make the mixture stick together more.
- Scoop out small portions of the mixture with a teaspoon and roll around in your hands to create a small ball. Continue until all the mixture is used up.
- Place in an air-tight container and refrigerate. Keeps in the fridge for up to a week.