I took an unscheduled break from blogging the week before last when my husband and I took a last-minute trip back to the mainland to see our family. It was the perfect trip to end our whirlwind post-deployment period, and now that life is semi-back-to-normal it’s nice to be able to reflect on our vacation days as time well spent with our loved ones.
No matter what the purpose, though, travel can be stressful. Even if your travel days don’t look like mine (ahem, 10 plus hours on planes and in airports), flights and schedules and early wake-up calls can be hard on the body and on the mind. I have a few tricks to help ease any discomfort that travel may bring about and keep healthy while on the fly:
Snacks – Get serious about packing snacks. Even if you’re not following a strict diet, it can still be hard to find wholesome foods in an airport, PLUS you never know when that layover you’re counting on at dinnertime will get cancelled. Some of my favorite snacks include nuts and nut butters; water-rich fruits and vegetables like apples, oranges, carrots, bell peppers and cucumbers; hard-boiled eggs; tuna packed in olive oil; fruit and nut bars; dark chocolate; herbal tea sachets; kale chips, plantain chips, and other dehydrated veggie chips; and jerky, although avoid varieties that are overly salty. (This and this are some of my favorites.) On my most recent trip I packed all of my snacks in a soft lunchbox, and it worked perfectly – it kept everything together neatly in my larger carry-on bag, protected the fragile snacks, and insulated anything I wanted to keep cool for a short amount of time (i.e., the eggs or veggies that I knew were going to be eaten right away, etc.).
Rest – If your trip involves crossing several time zones like my recent flight from Hawaii to the Midwest did, try and align your rest schedule with the time zone you’ll be flying into. It’s almost impossible to avoid jetlag entirely, but if you can get as much sleep as possible on the plane you will at the very least help to alleviate some of the stress your body is under. For successful plane sleep, I employ the help of a light-blocking eye mask, some headphones and music or a playlist I can zone out to, a scarf that acts as a blanket and, if I’m desperate, a big glass of red wine.
Hydration – You know the drill. Drink lots of water. Every time the flight attendants come by with the drink cart, take some water. Better yet, bring your own reusable water bottle and cut down on waste while obtaining a greater volume of fluids at a time. Avoid alcohol and extra caffeine, as these can be dehydrating in the already dehydrative airplane cabin environment.
Hygiene – I always pack my little bottle of Thieves essential oil for flights, as the potent combination of herbs and spices makes for a powerful anti-bacterial, anti-viral shield. I dab a little bit behind my ears, kind of like perfume, to keep germs at bay. It’s also a good practice to wash your hands frequently and wipe down any surfaces on or around your seat. And call me crazy, but one of my favorite and most weird tricks has been to fly with one of those medical masks – slip one on once you’re settled in your seat and it serves a myriad of purposes: a) if you want to sleep uninterrupted, this will keep your seatmate from making conversation b) again, if sleep is your goal, you can rest easy knowing that no one can see your mouth hanging open c) the mask helps to hydrate the air you breath, keeping your oral and nasal cavities moist in the dry, air-conditioned cabin environment d) the cover over your mouth and nose may offer protection against airborne germs. Yes, you may feel silly, but I think the benefits outweigh the detriments.
Movement – All of that sitting does not do a body good. If you have a significant layover on your trip, use that time to walk around the airport, stretch, do some lunges and air squats, and get the blood flowing around your body. If you’re stuck on a plane for a long leg, drinking a lot of water will give you an excuse to get out of your seat frequently. Change your sitting position if you can, get up and stroll the aisles if the fasten seatbelt sign is off, and stretch your ankles and calves whenever possible.
Traveling is one of my favorite parts of being alive – experiencing different cultures, trying exotic food, meeting new people, and seeing new environments help to change my perspective and widen my worldview. It’s definitely worth the sometimes-difficulty of a transit day, particularly when I know I’ve packed a bar of dark chocolate.
Did these travel tips help you at all? Do you have any of your own to share? What was your last travel experience like?
This post contains affiliate links.
Image from Unsplash.Com