Healthy Travel Tips
Updated: Dec 3, 2019
I don’t know about you, but staying vibrant and energized for an entire trip can be a struggle for me. I can easily ignore my food sensitivities, not get enough sleep, etc., when I’m focusing on experiencing a new place. This can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress on my body, and in turn, symptoms like dry skin, adrenal fatigue, and a suppressed immune system can result. The following tips I’ve included are specific ways I strived to stay healthy on our 30 day trip around Europe and what I wish I would have followed even more closely looking back!
Pack nutrient dense snacks
I recommend bringing snacks like Epic bars, Bulletproof bars, dried fruit, raw nuts, etc. These snacks will energize you and keep you full longer than snacks loaded with refined sugar and carbs. And trust me, packing snacks that you know are safe for you to eat are such a relief when traveling in an area where you cannot read the ingredient lists! We occasionally used the Google Translate Camera to scroll over ingredient lists that were not in English (It's not the best, but it helps!).
Bring supplements to boost your nutrient intake
I recommend bringing a multi-vitamin that you take once per day, some immune boosting supplements, and even some green powder/tablets like these by Amazing Grass. Fresh fruits and vegetables (God’s multi-vitamin gift to us :)), are not always readily available when traveling, so supplements can provide the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function optimally. I also recommend bringing digestive bitters for any heartburn, nausea, or stomach pain. For digestive support, bring your favorite digestive enzyme and probiotic. I recommend a probiotic that has been proven to survive without refrigeration such as Silver Fern Brand or Probiogen.
Support your detoxification pathways
There are so many harmful chemicals used in hotels and planes that are difficult for our bodies to detox, and it is so important that they do! To support this detoxification, try eating foods like beets, garlic, apples, walnuts, and anything fermented. If you have sensitive skin, this can be extremely beneficial. I personally have a lot less contact dermatitis breakouts when I eat more of these detoxing foods.
Buy ingredients to make your own meals
If your Airbnb-ing (or staying somewhere with a kitchen), I highly recommend buying ingredients to make meals. We typically bought eggs, a loaf of gluten free bread, butter, avocados, and some apples for breakfast. And when we stayed in a town with gluten free baked goods (which is actually fairly easy to find in Europe!), we got a few things for the week there as well. We saved our leftovers from dinner (if we had any) for lunch the next day, and that saved us a lot of money, or we just made sandwiches. Making dinner once in awhile is fun too in another country when you can shop for some fresh local ingredients and make your own homemade meal. We loved doing this in Italy where there is so much good pasta, sauces, cheese, and meat to make your own meal!
Research healthy grocery stores and restaurants ahead of time
This is such a relief when you're in a rush to find food and don’t have wifi to find “the nearest gluten free restaurant”. This can save you so much time when you actually get to your destination, and you can rest easy knowing where the good restaurants are. I recommend forglutensake or findmeglutenfree if you are gluten free. Trip Advisor reviews are easy too, as you can just type in your specific food sensitivity or diet and see if anyone else has been there with the same need. My blog posts on specific places also include restaurants I recommend in each city I have been to (mainly gluten free, dairy free, and sometimes AIP).
Choose lodging that includes breakfast you can eat
If you like to stay in hotels over Airbnbs, hostels, etc., make sure you can eat the included breakfast (that most hotels have). This can save you a lot of money, and breakfast is such an important meal! And if you enjoy staying and eating at your hotel's restaurant for other meals as well, definitely make sure they have options for you.
The main thing I focus on when I notice I'm getting hungry is “have I had enough fat today? Have I had protein? Have I had carbs?” And since I’m not a calorie counter by any means, I simply just strive to eat as equally as I can of those 3 macronutrients and call it good. As a general rule, aim for 40% carbs, 30% fat, and 30% protein. I know that my body needs mostly fat and carbs to stay energized, but I do need some protein as well. For example, one day I was so hungry, even though I had eaten a lot of pasta, sweet potatoes, avocado, granola bars etc., and I noticed that I had not had a quality source of protein all day. The next day, I started out with a big omelette and felt full a lot longer! So the biggest advice I have for balancing your diet while traveling is to get to know your body, even if it takes awhile. Whenever you feel yourself getting hungry, ask yourself what you're craving and why. The next day, make little improvements to balance each meal even more and you’ll start to see an overall improvement in your energy levels, digestion, etc. This goes for everyday life too, not just travel!
Learn how to say your food sensitivities in the other language.
Celiac disease, for example, is becoming more prevalent all over the world, so it is likely that people will understand if you take the time to learn how to say it in their language. In Italy, just put the word “senze” in front of whatever food you are sensitive to, and they will usually understand :). We got used to saying “senze glutine” and “senze lactose” a lot. You can even print off a card in their language that explains it.
Set aside time to relax!
However you relax best, set aside time to dot it. Whether that’s sleeping in, spending half the day at a coffee shop, stretching at night, etc. Travel can cause extra stress in a variety of ways. For example, chemicals used on planes and trains, detergents used to wash hotel sheets, and changes in sleep patterns can cause extra stress on the body, making rest even more necessary when traveling.
Wear good shoes
This sounds obvious, I thought it was too until I wore boots that I thought were "good." It turns out that leather boots stretch out a ton when you walk miles and miles in them, and I ended up straining my achilles badly on our trip. I actually had to rest inside for two full days in Florence, Italy in order for it to heal! If you are going on a trip where you will be walking a lot, invest in good tennis shoes. It is really common for travelers to strain their achilles and end up not being able to walk easily. Good shoes, even if they aren't stylish, are probably the most important thing to pack!
Wipe down the airplane seat area
Even if you're not a clean freak, it's a great idea to sanitize the plane seat you will be spending a lot of time in (especially on a long flight overseas). I like using a natural brand of wipes too (like EO) because there are so many nasty chemicals used to clean planes!
Pack essential oils
I brought five kinds of oils with me to Europe. I brought Peppermint for stomach pain, muscle pain, and headaches. White Angelica (a Young Living blend) for stress relief and as a natural perfume (it smells so good!). Thieves for immune support; I rubbed a couple drops on the bottom of my feet before flying, or when I felt a sickness coming on. I also brought the "Digize" blend from Young Living to rub on my stomach when having digestive discomfort (Jacob and I swear by this stuff). Lastly, I used Frankincense to keep my skin looking rejuvenated (put one drop in my lotion in the morning). I mainly use Young Living oils (message me if you want to order any), but I also like to use oils from Thrive and Ancient Apothecary.
With all that said, enjoy local foods and immerse yourself in the culture! Eating is a wonderful, cultural experience in many countries, especially Italy, that you do not want to miss out on. Be cautious of your food sensitivities and know your body’s limit, but do not let that stop from relaxing and enjoying your time. There is so much to learn from other people and other cultures. Happy traveling!