Traveling can be a popular and much-needed way to destress, especially as the days start to turn warmer in southern locales and spring breaks come around—but vacation time can conflict with those recently set New Year’s resolutions. Goals to eat more vegetables, get more sleep, and exercise daily can fall by the wayside as the allure of poolside piña coladas and nightly dessert proves too desirable. Enjoying a trip, however, doesn’t have to mean giving up on your healthy diet, movement-focused life, or stress-free goals for the year. With the right tools, making decisions that aid your present and future self doesn’t have to be difficult. Here’s how to make sure you stay healthy while traveling.
Save Your Sleep
If diet and exercise are at the top of the pyramid for a healthy lifestyle, sleep is the crown on top of the pyramid—it’s that important. Sleep is vital for maintaining a healthy weight and proper metabolism, reducing mood issues like irritability and anger, avoiding cardiovascular problems like hypertension and arrhythmia, and boosting the immune system. The National Sleep Foundation currently suggests that adults aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night while teenagers get eight to ten, as based on the findings of 320 studies.
Quality sleep matters, too. Unfortunately, both quantity and quality can be hard to manage while on vacation and especially while traveling. To combat the challenges associated with sleep and travel, try these tips:
- Just because it’s vacation time doesn’t mean your sleep schedule should change. Maintaining your typical sleep schedule can help to adjust to new time zones, too. For example, if you typically rise at 7 a.m. and go to bed at 10 p.m., aim to stick to your regular schedule. This can be challenging when you arrive at a new location in the morning and have to stay awake the rest of the day, but doing so can be worth the rest of your vacation time.
- Take a 10-25 minute nap. Going much shorter than this likely won’t have any benefits while going longer can leave you feeling groggy upon waking. To ensure you wake up feeling re-energized, drink an 8 oz. cup of coffee, Yerba mate, or other caffeinated beverage before taking a nap. When you wake up 20 minutes later, the caffeine will be about to start its magic. If you can’t fall asleep, then simply laying down can be beneficial.
- If a red-eye flight is in your future, I empathize. There are, however, ways to take advantage of flying time as sleep time. Wear layers to the airport to accommodate for varied temperatures inside the cabin and pack along socks, too—there’s nothing that bothers me more than cold feet. Packing a blanket and neck pillow are useful, but one cheap tool beats them all: the sleep mask.
A healthy diet includes plenty of vegetables and fruits, herbs and spices, lean proteins, starches, and healthful fats. However, food is fuel for both the mind and body so treating yourself with a scoop of locally made gelato or a slice of world famous cake is also living a healthy, balanced life. This means that eschewing all treats during your vacation might not actually be the healthy choice after all. Here’s a quick guide for eating well while traveling.
- Pack snacks. Rather than stop at the nearest convenient store or fast food joint when hungry, take along a few snacks to satisfy a growling stomach between meals. Think hard-boiled eggs, pre-cut vegetables, fruit like mandarin oranges or bananas, a tin of sardines, or a homemade trail mix.
- When eating out, look for menu items that offer lots of vegetables. Chances are, these are meals naturally higher in fiber while being lower in trans fats, poor quality protein, and higher calories.
- If possible, book a room or rent a house with a kitchen or even a kitchenette. When you arrive, head down to the local grocery store and pick up some staples—like fresh fruit, eggs, coconut yogurt, or oatmeal—to make breakfast or small meals. You’ll be less tempted to grab that cinnamon roll from the bakery down the street or order room service at 11 p.m.
Chronic stress is a harbinger of diseases, including high blood pressure and heart disease. Unfortunately, stress can be felt even on vacation when the mind races with thoughts of forgetting passports, bathing suits, and a phone charger. Here’s how to cope:
- Bring a journal. Look for one small enough to fit into a backpack or purse. As you feel anxious thoughts begin to arise, take out your journal and record how you’re feeling.
- Lavender essential oil is just one type of essential oil that can aid relaxation. I like to bring a small vial in a plastic bag suitable for flying with. Bonus: it masks unpleasant airplane aromas!
- Exercise. Waking up and practicing a yoga sequence, going for a walk, or lacing up your running shoes and taking a jog are all great and easy ways to stick to your New Year’s resolutions while still enjoying your vacation. If possible, join a local yoga class or try out a new-to-you movement like tai chi or rock climbing.
How do you stay in alignment with your goals while traveling? Let us know in the comments below!