This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sun Life Financial. All opinions are 100% mine.
Over the last 15 years, we’ve traveled to six continents. In that time, we’ve found that travel can be many contradictory things at once: enlightening, inspiring, fun, relaxing and even invigorating. However, it can also be frustrating, tiring, challenging and sometimes, even energy draining.
Unfortunately, early morning and late night sightseeing often means reduced sleep quality and travelers tend to consume more exotic (and decadent) foods than they do at home. Couple that with extended periods of low activity like extended plane rides and we can see that travel can be both exhausting and demanding, and even take a toll on both mental and physical health.
The more we travel, the more we find that we need to make sure that we take care of ourselves both on the road, and when we’re still at home.
As frequent travelers, a big part of staying healthy for us is taking care of our health when we’re not traveling. That way, we’re starting from a healthy baseline, and the health challenges of traveling are a little less of a problem. If we hit the road rested, fairly fit, and in good mental health, we’re going to be able to deal with airport stress, skipped meals, sleep disruptions, and other travel challenges much better.
Wondering how to stay healthy while traveling? Here are our top healthy travel tips to stay rested, focused and in top shape on the road.
15 Healthy Travel Tips
Make exercise fun when you travel
If you love sight seeing, rent a bicycle instead of taking a taxi, or if you’re touring a waterfront city, float around on a kayak and see it from the water. The choices are endless. Whatever you do, try to make it fun, and you’ll be much more likely to stay fit on your travels.
We love to walk when we travel. It’s a great way to get some exercise, plus it lets us discover things we would never have found from inside a car. You can opt to walk the entire breadth of that beach or walk through the miles of outdoor markets. Just remember to pack good walking shoes in your travel bag as well as your sense of adventure.
Have your workouts ready
Have a repertoire of simple, effective workouts that you can do anywhere. From age old push-ups and sit-ups to stair walking and light aerobics, find the workout that’s right for you.
YouTube is fantastic, as you can find free workouts that you can do anywhere that you have an internet connection. There are also plenty of great workout apps that you can take on the road.
Bring essential fitness equipment
For me, essential fitness equipment includes running shoes, socks and comfy workout gear.
When we road trip, I toss my yoga mat in the back of the car, and I can workout anywhere I have a space large enough to lay it down. I don’t bring the yoga mat when I fly, but I do try to book hotels with a workout room if I can.
Don’t forget to stretch
So many of the fundamentals of travel are hard on our flexibility, including airplanes, increased walking, and travel stress. To counteract this, I take a minimum of five to ten minutes to stretch a few times every day.
Your muscles will thank you! Plus, stretching is a great stress buster.
Have a trusted health community
Whether we’re at home or on the road, it’s important to have a trusted source for health information.
There are so many products, services, and even health and wellness apps that it can be completely overwhelming to find ones that I can trust. It helps a lot to have a community where my health options have been vetted by a company with high credibility.
When Sun Life reached out to us to share some information on their new digital health community for Canadians, my first thought was that this is exactly what I’ve been looking for.
Sun Life’s new online digital health community is just launching to the Canadian public. It’s a place where we can find credible, timely, and informative articles on health, information on local health related events, and it lets us connect with other Canadians as well.
I love the idea of having a single community that’s online and accessible for me no matter where I am in the world, 24 hours a day!
What I find really helpful is the Sun Life Discovery Lab. It’s a marketplace with plenty of innovative health and wellness-related apps, products and services. Many of them even have valuable discounts and special offers, and it’s easy to filter and search for what we need.
There’s a community feel here too, since users like us can find product ratings and reviews from other Canadians. The digital health community focuses on six health topics: fitness and lifestyle, mental health, family health, diet and nutrition, virtual and home health, and ageing and caregiving.
Start the day right
Whenever I can, I start the day with fresh squeezed lemon in water.
It’s a habit that gives me an extra boost of Vitamin C, and makes sure that I start the day off right by drinking plenty of water. If you’re keen, you can add a dash of cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, or grated ginger for an extra boost. When I’m staying in an Airbnb or an apartment with a kitchen, this is a pretty easy habit to keep. When I’m in a hotel, I usually make do by starting the day with a big glass of water instead.
Eating healthy while traveling is one of the biggest challenges we face on the road.
As a vegetarian, my food options are already limited, so choosing healthy meals is sometimes almost impossible when the only veggie option is mac and cheese. Whenever I can, I try to scout out restaurants and menus ahead of time, so I can make good food choices.
We often stay in an apartment or hotel with a microwave and fridge so we can prepare healthier snacks and meals, at least part of the time. That way, when we have the opportunity to try something really decadent, we know we’re not going to suffer because of it.
Pack snacks and a lunch
When we stay at a hotel, we’ll often stop by a nearby grocery store or mini mart, and pick up a simple lunch or snack of fruit, nuts, hummus and crackers, or even premade sandwiches. We then try to find a quiet place to enjoy our impromptu picnic. It not only saves us money, it’s usually much healthier than restaurant options and gets us out seeing the sights faster.
Track what you eat
You don’t need to track every morsel of food, but try to be aware of what you eat, and make compromises if you find you’re eating or drinking too much that’s unhealthy for you. If I eat a huge mac and cheese for dinner one night, I’ll go a little lighter on breakfast fare, and make sure to get some greens for lunch the next day.
If you’re keen and so inclined, there are apps that can help you track what you’re eating like MyFitnessPal.
When we travel, we walk more than normal, so it’s easy to get dehydrated. To counteract this, I try to find an easy source of fresh drinking water, whether that’s finding the closest water fountain or stocking up on bottles of water and leaving the extras in the hotel room. You can stay hydrated by drinking lots of fresh fruit for breakfast, which was one of our favorite ways to stay hydrated in the Galapagos Islands.
Airplanes are the worst for dehydration, as I often get off a plane and feel that the dry airplane air has sucked every ounce of moisture out of me. To counteract an airplane’s drying effect, I bring along a light moisturizer for my skin, and make sure to drink plenty of water.
Find the joy!
It’s so easy to get caught up in must do lists and lose all the fun we should be having on the road.
I need to do a mental reset occasionally to remember to relax and have fun! Sometimes the best advice when you travel with kids is to let them be your fun barometer. If they’re enjoying themselves, chances are we are as well.
Plan to get a good night’s sleep
It annoys me how little value our North American culture puts on sleep.
Sleep deprivation is linked to many chronic health problems, and quality sleep is necessary for physical and mental health, quality of life and even safety. I know that without a good night’s sleep, I’m less productive, grouchier, and simply don’t enjoy life as much.
Bringing a sleep mask, booking a room in a quiet hotel, pulling the blinds shut, and even bringing your own travel pillow can help you get a better night’s sleep.
Don’t neglect your mental health
Travel can be incredibly stressful, especially if you’ve packed your schedule to the gills. I’ve definitely been guilty of pushing myself too hard, and found myself rushing from location to location instead of truly enjoying myself. When you’re away from home, try to be especially aware of when you’re feeling out of sorts.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a lot of folks struggle with sadness, loneliness or even depression when they travel. If that’s the case, the first step is to be mindful of how you’re feeling, and take whatever steps you need to start feeling better.
If you’re overwhelmed by all the people and the noise, take some time for yourself. If you’re feeling lonely, find a place with like minded people to share your story.
Take a minute to meditate
Sure, meditation may be the last thing on your mind as you’re starting your week long vacation in Mexico. That said, meditation can be especially helpful at staying grounded and reduce stress, even if all you can manage is a five minute meditation before bed or first thing in the morning.
Clearing your mind allows you to fully enjoy everything you’re about to experience and helps you start your day off right regardless of the activities you’re about to partake in.
Build in down time
There’s always so much to see and do when you’re traveling (and even at home), that it’s tempting to resist slowing down. Don’t make that mistake, because we all need a chance to rest and recharge. After over 15 years of traveling together, we’ve learned how important it is to take some time to recharge our batteries.
Not only does having some breathing room help us cope with any unforeseen issues that arise but also allows us to digest everything we’ve just experienced.
What health and wellness products or services do you use stay healthy at home or on the road? We’d love to hear your tips!