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travel health tips: female friends waiting in airport

10 Tricks For Feeling Your Best When Traveling

Whether it’s a long road trip, flight, or train ride, travel often leaves us feeling, well, crummy. Due to factors like interrupted sleep (thanks, red eyes!) or endless sweet and salty car snacks, we often arrive at our destination feeling worse than when we left home. 

If you want to weather airport delays, jet lag, processed food bloat, and the like, consider this your go-to guide. We tapped holistic health experts for their best suggestions for keeping your body nourished and balanced while navigating the ups and downs of travel. Have these tips top of mind before your next big trip!

1. Add Electrolytes To Your Water

When traveling, it’s easy to become dehydrated—especially if there’s an airplane involved. “I cannot stress enough how dry airplane cabins can suck the moisture right out of you,” says Nabila Jahan, a board-certified holistic nutritionist with Acupuncture Atlanta

This is why Jahan always travels with electrolytes to add to her water bottle. “Electrolytes maintain your fluid levels and support muscle function, keeping you from feeling sluggish or cramping up,” she shares. 

Jahan recommends opting for an electrolyte powder without any artificial additives and says to sip on your electrolyte-boosted water the whole time you’re in transit.

2. Pack Healthy Snacks

We all know that eating healthy while traveling can be a challenge—and the best way to get around it is to simply prepare for it by packing snacks mindfully, suggests registered dietitian Brittany Werner, M.S., R.D.N., of online nutrition coaching group Working Against Gravity.

Some great options include: 

  • cheese
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • beef jerky
  • string cheese
  • turkey pepperoni
  • dried fruits
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole-grain crackers

“Not only are these foods loaded with good things like healthy fats, fiber, and protein, but they also keep you full longer,” Jahan says. “This means no energy dips or mood swings from hunger.”

You might even consider stashing packets of salt, pepper, and your favorite seasoning blends so you can bump up the flavor of healthier options available at rest stops, airports, and the like. “They can make a huge difference in how much you enjoy your meals, and will not take up too much space [in your bags],” Werner says.

3. Skip Alcohol And Soda At The Airport And On Flights

One common pitfall while traveling is overindulging in alcohol and sugary beverages—and often it starts on the flight taking you to wherever you’re headed. Do your best to skip boozy and sweetened beverages while flying. Not only do they add unnecessary calories but alcohol also contributes to dehydration, which you’re already battling with when in the air, says Chrissy Arsenault, R.D., a dietitian at Trainer Academy. 

“Instead, opt for healthier alternatives like fresh juices without added sugars, herbal teas, or infused water to stay hydrated and energized,” she says. Keeping your beverage routine healthy while en route will set you up for healthier choices when you arrive at your destination.

4. Take Natural Supplements for Relaxation

If you get anxious on planes or stressed out by security lines at airports or never-ending traffic, consider magnesium. “Research shows that magnesium reduces cortisol levels and feelings of stress,” shares Pelz. “It helps with sleep, too.” She recommends trying around 400 milligrams of magnesium glycinate, which is the best-absorbed form of the mineral. 

Some other popular supplement options for navigating travel stress with your chill intact: ashwagandha, l-theanine, and holy basil.

5. Pass on the In-Flight Meal

Speaking of food, you may want to skip that in-flight meal. “Pass on the in-flight meal and use your travel day as a chance to practice intermittent fasting,” says women’s health expert and chiropractor Dr. Mindy Pelz, D.C. “Going 12 to 18 hours without food burns fat, decreases inflammation, and promotes mental clarity, so you will arrive at your destination feeling light on your feet, not foggy and exhausted from cheap, low-quality, preservative-packed airline food.”

Of course, if fasting isn’t for you, take the opportunity to munch on some of those nourishing snacks you packed. 

6. Practice Earthing or Grounding Upon Arrival

Once you reach your final destination, practice some earthing or grounding. “This simply involves walking barefoot on grass, sand, or soil—and it makes a world of difference,” says Jahan. Though these practices were long something humans did all the time without a second thought, they are now utilized as therapeutic techniques to support health and well-being.

In fact, according to a report published in Journal of Inflammation Research, “multi-disciplinary research has revealed that electrically conductive contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth (grounding or earthing) produces intriguing effects on physiology and health.”

The report goes on to suggest that these practices help boost sleep quality, reduce inflammation, and improve overall health. Plus, they are a fantastic way to shake off jet lag and feel connected to a new place, shares Jahan. “If you’ve been stuck on a flight for hours, try it; it might just realign your body’s natural rhythms better than you think,” she says.

7. Get your sleep schedule back on track ASAP

Whether it’s jet lag from hopping through time zones or sheer exhaustion from waking up or going to bed at a weird time to accommodate travel, a messed-up sleep schedule is one of the biggest beasts of fulfilling your wanderlust desires. That’s why you must prioritize getting your sleep schedule back on track when you arrive at your final destination. After all, you want to enjoy wherever you are, right?

A saving grace here, according to both Jahan and Pelz: melatonin: “Melatonin is your body’s natural sleep hormone,” explains Pelz. “You produce it in the evening to tell your brain to go to bed, but when you land in a new time zone, there is a mismatch between your body’s internal clock and the outside world. That’s what causes jet lag. All of a sudden, you’re releasing melatonin in the middle of the day and wide awake at night.” 

Read More: Steal These Health Experts’ Evening Rituals For Better Sleep And Well-Being

Your move: Take one to two milligrams of melatonin before bed while traveling to help your body adjust after jumping time zones or missing out on shut-eye, she suggests.

8. Schedule Some Post-Travel Pampering

A massage feels good any time—and it’s especially heavenly after travel for a few reasons.

The first is simply that massage can help relieve stress. “Massage can activate production of natural ‘feel good hormones’ called endorphins to help reduce stress,” notes licensed massage therapist Annetta Childs, L.M.T., of Choose Massage.

Similarly, it’s a great way to ease physical tension and pain that can pop up during long bouts of travel. “Most people experience pain from sleeping in a hotel bed, carrying luggage, and sitting on an airplane for hours,” Childs says. “Massage can help to relieve sore muscles, increase the range of motion, and reduce pain.”

What’s more, massage can even support the immune system. “Massage helps move oxygenated blood to the body, then stimulating the production of white blood cells,” Childs says. Massage can also help quiet the nervous system and increase circulation. 

In addition to traditional massage, you might also check out deep tissue (a.k.a. bodywork massage), hot stone massage, or manual lymphatic drainage massage, she suggests. 

9. Consider Probiotics

Many people experience gut or stomach problems while traveling, shares Werner. “Symptoms are typically brought on by a series of factors, including stress, schedule changes, new foods, and even exposure to bacteria,” she says. Thankfully, a probiotic may help here.

“Since probiotics’ main role is to boost healthy bacteria and sustain the balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut, taking a probiotic before your trip and while traveling can be a good idea,” mentions Werner. “Probiotics can help lower the risk of diarrhea and improve digestion, which is especially useful when trying new foods, and [encountering] unfamiliar environments!”

Read More: How To Tweak Your Diet And Routine If You Have A Sensitive Stomach

Just don’t put a brand-new probiotic into your system after you’ve left home. Choose one your body and system are familiar with to avoid any digestive upset or new symptoms, Werner suggests.

10. Use Essential Oils for Stress Relief and Immune Support

If you have room in your carry-on for some extra liquids, consider a small bottle or two of essential oils for stress relief and immunity support. Some essential oil brands even make rollers, which are more travel-friendly.

“I always pack some essential oils when I travel,” shares Jahan. “Traveling is not just tiring; it exposes you to lots of germs, too.” Jahan uses chamomile and lavender oils as her classic go-tos for quick relaxation. “Just a few inhales from a handkerchief or a whiff from a portable diffuser really help calm me down.” 

And for supporting healthy immunity? Jahan swears by eucalyptus and tea tree oils. “They are great for their immune-supporting effects. Just make sure to dilute them before dabbing a little on your hands or pulse points.”

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