The topic of staying healthy while traveling is complex. The type of trip, destination and other factors play a role in how you stay healthy, what items to bring to maintain health and things to watch out for. We’re talking in general today – maybe another time we’ll discuss jet lag, overseas travel, traveling with kids or family and other more specific issues.
This week I’m in Minnesota visiting my parents. My sister and I took the trip together, leaving our significant others and dogs behind. This trip is basic, no fancy location, no hotels, no unique destinations or reading maps. Trips home, like this one, have different kinds of challenges. The key to staying healthy and happy on trips like this can be divided into three main groups.
Different routines and time zone differences can make sleep a challenge. Here I’m staying up later than usual, but luckily am able to sleep in a little later too. The challenge has been crazy humidity (luckily I’m in the basement) and sharing a bed with my sister (a small bed at that). The upside is the days have been busy, so I’ve been tired, and it’s quiet here so I’m able to sleep soundly.
Regardless of the situation, the key to feeling good while traveling, even if just “going home” for the weekend, is sticking with your normal routines as much as possible and getting enough sleep.
Do as I say here and not as I do, sticking with your regular eating habits is one of the major keys to staying healthy and happy while traveling.For those with go-with-the-flow eating habits, this won’t be hard to do but for anyone with dietary restrictions or who eats very specifically at home, travel can be really hard. This week, I’ve been indulging in root beer floats, rhubarb pie (ala mode of course!), poppyseed cake (again ala mode), coffee anytime of day, french toast, breaded fish, candy, sandwiches, muffins, beer bread and chips. I should add, in my regular eating habits, I am gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free (unless I’m off the wagon like I have been the last couple weeks).
I have done well to eat relatively healthily during mealtimes because I know desserts and treats are inevitable at least once throughout the days. My sister requested a pie and it’s my dad’s birthday, so we have cake. It was also my grandma’s boyfriend’s (man-friend I think she prefers) 77th birthday so we had cake there. It’s also been hotter than hell with crazy humidity, so 4 o’clock coffee time, where my dad gets away from his welding business for 30 mins to socialize, rest and have an afternoon snack, has turned into ice cream and chip snack-fest. None of us are hungry anymore, but somehow the food keeps coming and my stomach is not happy. I can’t handle dairy, yet of course I’m eating ice cream with my cake. It’s my own fault, my narrow food preferences (requirements) are not fitting in well.All you can do is do the best you can. Or throw all requirements to the wind and eat what you want for a few days. The beauty is it’s your choice, but you must understand the consequences.
My problem is I enjoy all these foods – love them actually. It’s fun to eat them and indulge and just enjoy the memories wrapped up in making fish after a day of fishing or snacking on licorice in the boat. Sometimes this nostalgia wins, as it is this week. However, we still have to be smart and make good decisions for our bodies where possible. Energy, bloating, gas, the feeling of fullness and lethargy are all directly wrapped up in food choices, so choose wisely (or don’t – it’s up to you!).
Trying to do too much will leave you exhausted. Doing too little might lead to boredom or a feeling of guilt that you didn’t fully utilize your time to explore and do new things. Keep your activities manageable and ensure your expectations are realistic for your situation. My week (Tuesday early a.m through Saturday a.m.) has included arrive in MN mid-morning (after super early wake-up time in CO), lunch with mom and grandma, two-hour drive to parents’ house, couple hours of work/rest, VFW for dinner, bingo, home late, Wednesday do some work, bike ride to town for coffee, little more work, grandma’s for cake, mini-golf, go-kart racing, dinner, home late-ish, Thursday town to get fishing licenses, walk to grandma’s, lunch at Just Like Grandma’s, fishing all afternoon, clean fish, clean ourselves, casino, home late, Friday early morning breakfast with cousin at grandma’s, work, golf, wake up Saturday, pack up, drive two hours to cities, lunch, airport, home. Lots of activity. Although we did have some down time some of the days to get work done, it wasn’t as productive or lengthy as it could’ve been to keep up. But I got done what I needed to get done, and still did a lot of fun stuff that I don’t do often, like fishing, golfing and playing bingo. While it feels busy, I’m glad we kept active rather than having too much down-time. Activities for us leads to a lot of laughs and fun, so it’s definitely worth it. For others, this kind of schedule and busy-ness could lead to stress and worry.
The whole idea here is just to take care of yourself. Sleeping enough, eating similarly to usual and keeping an achievable schedule will help you stay calm, have fun, feel good and have a great trip.
Share your experiences: Any fun summer trips planned? And how else will you keep yourself healthy and happy while traveling?