Long flights, different time zones and jet lag are all part of the adventure when we jet off overseas on a holiday. Over-indulging in delicious local cuisine, sipping on cocktails, constant socializing with family and friends, enjoying divine wine, staying up later than usual and sight-seeing are also part of the adventure but fortunately these fun things outweigh the jet lag pains and make the long flight worth it.
The reality is though that all of this combined can be exhausting and quite hard on your body. Your normal routine at home may consist of five days per week of exercise and generally healthy eating. It’s easy for these things to be thrown out the window when you’re living it up to the fullest on your holiday. I, for one, am guilty as charged.
That said during our travels over the past few years I’ve been trying to find a balance between staying somewhat healthy and also enjoying myself on a long, overseas holiday. I’m the first to admit I tend to go towards the “enjoying myself” end during our travels. If you follow me on Instagram you’ve no doubt seen the numerous photos of burritos, In ‘n’ Out Burgers, kebabs, cocktails and numerous bottles of wine we’ve enjoyed during our trips. I’m a sucker for indulgent food!
At the same time I also feel like I’ve learned to do a few things to maintain some of my normally healthy routine so I don’t feel like a total wreck when I’m back home. Note: the food shown below was NOT all consumed in 1 day!
Here are some tips that have worked for me. Some of these I do while I’m away while others are steps I take when I’m back home to help whip myself back into that healthy routine again.
Before you leave
- Maintain a regular exercise routine and the 80/20 rule when it comes to healthy eating. I’m not a nutritionist by any means so I won’t be going into detail on this one. I’ve just found that if I really focus hard on working out and eating as healthy as possible leading up to a holiday I don’t feel as badly or as guilty when I’m indulging while away. If you’re going on a beach holiday you’ll feel that much better wearing that new swimsuit you just bought!
- Vitamins. Pack a multi-vitamin, a B-complex vitamin and echinacea. This is just something that works for me so it may vary for others. It’s best to consult your doctor or naturopath. A multi is great to take to get any vitamins and nutrients you may be missing in your diet. The B-complex will help with the jet lag and the sluggishness you may experience your first few days after arriving. Echinacea is good to strengthen your immune system which is always a good idea when traveling.
On the plane
- If the option is available pre-order a vegetarian meal. They tend to be healthier than what is being served. If you don’t see this option when you book your flight inquire with the airline. It can’t hurt to ask right? At least you’ll feel like you’re starting your trip off right.
- Skip the booze and soft drinks. Choose water and herbal teas instead. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying I never, ever have a glass of wine high in the sky but I’ve learned over the years to minimize it. The dehydration factor is so high already on an airplane and booze just makes it worse. Or if you choose to relax with a glass of red just make sure you double up on your water intake.
- Bring healthy snacks like almonds or dried fruit to munch on so you resist the temptation to eat the cookies and chips for a midnight snack.
- Take whatever you need to on the plane to make yourself comfortable so you can sleep. Earplugs, eye mask, extra socks, PJs, whatever works for you.
While at your holiday destination
- Get your body adjusted to the time zone as quickly as possible. Check out my tips for Dealing with Jet Lag over on The Trend Tribe. Don’t let jet lag ruin your trip!
- Go for walks. Let’s be honest. How many of us hit the gym at the resort when we’re on holiday? I’d dare to say a very select few. If you do, then consider yourself a big rock-star! For many of us going for walks on the beach, around the resort grounds or opting for walking sight-seeing activities are all good ways to keep your body moving. There are many versions of hotel room workouts on the Internet too if you’re really keen.
- Keep up the vitamins! I’ve noticed a difference in my energy levels if I continue taking my vitamins throughout my trip. Just be sure you aren’t washing them down with a swig of the finest red!
- Balance out the “bad” meals if you can! In other words having crab cake eggs benedict with a double latte for breakfast, followed by a big, juicy cheeseburger and curly fries with a milkshake for lunch, then a grande burrito smothered in cheese with rice and beans topped off with a couple of margaritas and dessert could be going a tad overboard! Why does it sound like I’m speaking from experience here?! So if you know you’re in for a big, gluttonous meal try to have something smaller for your other meals. Get your hands on a healthy smoothie, a green juice or a wheatgrass shot. You can apply the same thinking to adult beverages.
- Get plenty of sleep! This one can be tough especially if your destination is let’s say…Vegas! Some places just beckon you to stay up until the wee hours. If you do, try to catch up on your sleep at other times like with an afternoon nap.
When you arrive back home
- Unfortunately jet lag hits you on both ends of a long trip. Most people find it harder going one way than the other. As I mentioned earlier definitely check out my tips for Dealing with Jet Lag on The Trend Tribe. These will help you get back into the swing of things once you’re home and possibly prevent you from suffering the post-holiday blues.
- Get back into your workout and healthy eating routine pronto! I don’t mean hit the gym at 6am the following day after arriving on a 2am flight but as soon as you can within reason. The longer you wait, the worse you’ll feel. Nothing like throwing yourself into it to kick start the body! You’ll feel better mentally and physically.
- Listen to your body. If you’re not normally a nap person but feel an overwhelming need to take a 30 minute snooze in the afternoon, then do it. Your body most likely needs extra energy to repair itself.
- Increase your echinacea supplements for 3-5 days after you return. Again, I’m not a medical professional but I’ve found echinacea to really help strengthen my immune system before, during and after travel. The last thing you want is to come down with a nasty flu right after a great holiday!
How do you stay healthy when traveling overseas? I’d love to hear what works for you!