By Lindsay Christensen
Nutritionist @ The Pratt Clinics
In Part 1 of this two-part blog series, I discussed how to support your health when traveling via airplane. Here in Part 2, I’ll discuss strategies for biohacking your hotel room, eating healthy while traveling, and other methods for staying fit so you can enjoy your travels to the fullest!
Biohack your hotel room
You’ve finally made it to your destination and have checked into your hotel room. What a relief! However, there are some simple things you can do to make your hotel room, Airbnb, or wherever you’re staying, healthier for you and your family.
Bring a portable air cleaner
If you suffer from allergies or are traveling to a place with poor air quality, consider bringing a portable air cleaner. The white noise produced by the air cleaner may also help you sleep better in your new location.
Unplug the alarm clock (and anything else on the nightstand)
If you read my blog series on EMFs, then you know that EMFs emitted from electronic devices can significantly disrupt your sleep. Travel already does a number on your circadian rhythms, so anything you can do to prevent further sleep disruption is well worth the effort. Whenever I travel to a hotel, I unplug the alarm clock and any corded phone on the nightstand next to the bed. These devices emit EMFs when plugged in, which can hinder restful sleep. Instead, use your smartphone on airplane mode as an alarm clock at night.
Eat a healthy diet
Eating out frequently while traveling is not only expensive, but also unhealthy. Restaurant foods tends to be high in refined carbohydrates, processed seed oils, non-organic meat, and conventionally-grown produce harboring pesticide residues. While you should feel free to enjoy restaurants here and there, I highly recommend trying to source healthy food for your other meals while traveling.
Pack healthy snacks
Whether you are doing a road trip or flying, packing some healthy snack options is a great idea. Chopped veggies (carrots, celery, bell peppers, etc.), apples, berries, hummus, nuts and nut butter, homemade trail mix, bars (Lara bars and Bulletproof collagen protein bars are my favorites), and grass-fed, organic jerky (try Paleo Valley beef sticks, The New Primal jerky, or Wild Zora bars) make for convenient, healthy, and delicious snacks.
Find healthy food wherever you go
Before you arrive at your destination, I recommend scouting out the nearest Whole Foods, co-op, or local health food store so you can get a healthy meal and stock up on food for later. If I’m staying in a hotel with a kitchenette or mini fridge, I’ll often get a small rotisserie chicken, some salad greens and veggies, and fresh fruit and stick them in the fridge to have on hand for a quick, healthy meal.
When you decide to eat out, try to select a restaurant with healthy options. I’ll frequently preview restaurant menus online before deciding where to go, as I like to go to restaurants with gluten-free and organic options as much as possible. If you are gluten sensitive, the Find Me Gluten Free app can help you locate establishments with gluten-free options. The Happy Cow app finds vegetarian and vegan restaurants near you; while I’m not vegetarian or vegan, I’ve found this app useful for directing me towards restaurants with options that are above-average on the healthiness scale. I also like to Google “restaurants with local and organic food” for whatever destination I’m visiting, as the options at places that fit this description are often relatively high-quality, tasty, and healthy.
As a rule of thumb, try to choose meals that are primarily vegetables when eating out. Decent protein options at restaurants include turkey, lamb, and bison, as these meats are more likely to come from grass-fed animals and to be free of antibiotics and hormones. I recommend avoiding fish at restaurants unless it is wild-caught. If options are limited, I’ll often choose to have a large salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing and some protein.
Camping and backpacking
I do a lot of camping and backpacking and initially struggled with finding healthy options. After much research, I’ve put my “seal of approval” on the whole foods-based freeze-dried food options from Mary Jane’s Farm and Wild Zora. When I’m car camping and can bring along my cooler, I like to pack grass-fed ground beef for making burgers or taco meat, Siete foods tortillas, hearty vegetables that stand up well to transport such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes, brussels sprouts, and healthy oils such as coconut oil and olive oil. I’ll typically cook my food in a cast iron skillet over a fire (if there’s a fire pit with a grate) or on a portable Coleman stove.
If you’re road-tripping or camping, another option is to make food ahead of time and store it in a cooler. I like to use glass and stainless-steel food containers to store pre-made food. I do a lot of road trips and have found my Yeti cooler to be indispensable for keeping food cold. It keeps ice frozen for approximately 3 days, which longer than the average hard-sided cooler.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated while traveling! Airplane travel is especially dehydrating. Since tap water tends to contain levels of pollutants not conducive to optimal health, I recommend bringing along a portable water filter such as a Berkey travel filter. Store your filtered water in a glass or stainless-steel water bottle, rather than a plastic one.
Support your immune system
While traveling, wash your hands frequently to keep infectious microbes at bay. I suggest using natural soap and carrying some botanical-based antibacterial wipes such as CleanWell wipes.
Should you happen to pick up a bug, taking Biocidin at the first sign of illness can prevent things from escalating. Xclear xylitol nasal spray is also great for keeping your nasal passages and sinuses clear and healthy.
Support your gut health
Circadian rhythm disruption and exposure to different food and water can cause digestive system dysfunction while traveling. When your digestive system feels off, it can be hard to enjoy a travel experience to the fullest. To alleviate digestive issues, I recommend taking a probiotic while traveling, particularly one that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, such as ProbioMax Daily DF. You may also want to bring along some activated charcoal; this can be a godsend in cases of acute food poisoning or ingestion of foods that upset your stomach, such as gluten.
Traveling across time zones, or even just sleeping in a new place in your usual time zone, can disrupt your sleep and cause undesirable downstream effects such as low energy. Optimize your sleep wherever you travel by practicing good sleep hygiene.
- Maintain a regular sleep/wake schedule throughout your trip, as much as possible. See the section on “circadian rhythm disruption” in Part 1 of this blog series.
- Sleep in a completely dark room. If you are in a hotel, hopefully you have room-darkening shades. It may be wise to bring an eye mask with just in case your room lacks blackout shades.
- Wear blue-light-blocking glasses for at least an hour before bed to minimize blue light exposure and promote melatonin production.
- If you need extra sleep support, a low dose of melatonin taken approximately 2 hours before bed can help.
Don’t forget to move!
Sitting for long periods of time on a plane or in a car can lead to a stiff, sore body. If your vacation gets you out and about doing physical activities, great! However, if you’re on a more sedentary trip, such as a business trip, don’t forget to fit in some exercise. Hit the gym at your hotel, get outside for a run in the morning or a walk on your lunch break, or do some simple body weight exercises in your hotel room. Check out Ben Greenfield’s videos on how to efficiently work out in a hotel gym if you need some workout ideas.
To alleviate stiff, sore joints and muscles after extended plane or car travel, use a portable foam roller such as the Brazyn Morph Trek foam roller.
I hope you’re feeling inspired to up your travel game after reading this blog series! Will you try any of the healthy travel tips I’ve suggested here? What are your favorite travel hacks? Contact me here at The Pratt Clinics.