With the holiday season upon us, people will be traveling more over the next couple of months to spend time with family, or to go on vacation and skip the family functions altogether. Either way you choose to do the holiday season, you will most likely be spending more time traveling in a car, train or plane. Traveling, while exciting and fun, can increase our stress and decrease our daily exercise. Not to mention, being out of your regular routine can affect your sleep, hydration and even bowl movements. These health factors are greatly affected by travel, especially when traveling internationally, to a different time zone, or to a different altitude. The good news is that there are small practices that we can do to not only protect our health, but to optimize our health during this busy season. During your travels this holiday season, use these tips to stress less about your health and fitness routine and rest, relax and enjoy all that traveling has to offer!
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Stay hydrated using electrolytes. Staying hydrated is one of the most essential practices we can do during travel to keep us feeling awake, alert and healthy. Not drinking enough water can lead to headaches, poor sleep, overeating and overall fatigue. Drinking plain water is fine, but adding electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and magnesium can significantly up your hydration. There are tons of electrolyte packets on the market that are a great addition in your water bottle; however, look for ones with low sugar, or ideally no sugar at all.
Get your steps in. Travel usually means you will be sitting — a lot. If you’re traveling by car, make sure you are taking a brief stop every hour to get out and stretch your legs. Park the car far away from the rest stop and walk to the restroom or coffee shop. If you’re in the airport waiting for your flight, put on a podcast and walk laps until it is time to board the plane! The more steps you can get in, the better — especially if you don’t have time for a full workout session on a day of travel.
Pack resistance bands. Resistance bands are the best fitness accessories for travel because they are light and compact, and take up virtually no room in your suitcase. Bands can be used in your hotel room, outside or anywhere to crank the resistance up on a bodyweight workout. There are plenty of very affordable options online that you can order and have delivered before your next trip!
BYOS. Bring your own snacks! Whether you’re going on a road trip or taking flight, packing protein-filled snacks is a great way to avoid the gas station junk food temptation during your travels. Protein bars, beef jerky and trail mix are all very shelf-stable and easy to pack without worrying about them spilling, melting or needing to stay cold. Having healthy snacks on hand is a great way to stay satiated and avoid the pricey airport foods at your next layover.
Check out a local class. Take some time to schedule a class in your destination location! Many chain gyms offer a day pass, and boutique fitness studios may have a drop-in rate for yoga, Pilates, high-intensity interval training or a functional fitness class. The new environment will be something new, exciting and outside your norm- which usually leads to a great workout! If your family is up for it, try to get a group activity planned during your visit. This could be a family walk after dinner, a hike or going to a trampoline park with the kids.
Take your daily supplements. Don’t forgo bringing your nightly magnesium supplement or morning greens mix on your trip. If all else goes by the wayside, at least you will feel better knowing you stuck to your daily supplement routine. This habit might be small, but it makes a big difference in the way you feel. Vitamin C is also a great supplement to take during travel to help protect your immune system.
Enjoy. Finally, enjoy yourself! Enjoy the break from your normal routine and have some fun. Keep in mind that there are lots of ways to have fun on your trip without coming home feeling unrested, dehydrated and sluggish, and these tips will help you do just that. It is possible to enjoy delicious foods and making memories with family and friends, and still optimize your health and fitness this holiday season.
Mara Casler, of Aurelius, is a certified nutritionist through Cornell University, and holds a bachelor’s degree in fitness development and a master’s degree in recreation therapy from SUNY Cortland. She is a triathlete with a passion for weightlifting, hiking with her dog Oakley, and helping people become the healthiest version of themselves.