Whether it’s for fun or for work, traveling often sounds more glamorous to those who aren’t travelling than to those who are en route. The benefits of seeing new places, meeting new people and having different experiences is worth most of the discomforts, so we don’t complain.
Yet being shoved like sardines on a plane, enduring limited sleep due to delayed or early departures, and minimal access to healthy food can end up affecting your health and energy. Here are some things you can do to stay healthy while travelling and keep the difficulty as manageable as possible.
1. Get sleep the night before you fly.
Sleeping while vertical is not good for the spine and the body doesn’t get a chance to fully repair itself. In addition, a rested body is more fit to combat germs, carry heavy baggage, and cope with travel plan disruptions than an exhausted, vulnerable one.
2. Oil your body.
It sounds kinky but oiling or Abhyanga follows the Ayurvedic wisdom. Travelling increases one’s Vata, the dosha of air and space, which can lead to dry skin, disturbed digestion and elimination, and spacey thoughts—all of which can be problematic while travelling.
The best way to do this is to dry brush your skin and then massage some warm sesame oil all over your body before you shower. When showering, refrain from using soap, and just use a cloth to wipe the skin. Let the heat of the water open the pores as the oil works its way through your skin to bring lubrication to the joints and organs.
If you don’t have much time, you can also just apply the oil after the shower or bath, in place of body lotion. And if you don't have time for that either, then you can just do it while you're in transit. Put some oil on your feet and then put your shoes and socks back on. It really makes a difference!
3. Use Nasya oil for your nose.
I know, I’m sounding very oily right now, but travel dries us out and the nose is the organ that takes in germs through each breath we receive. When we lubricate the inside of the nose, it prevents congesting, which can limit our respiration.
It also combats many germs that might be in the controlled environment. Just moisten your fingertip with the oil and dab it inside your nose.
4. Bring a thermos and some herbal tea bags.
Drink warm water when you can to keep your organs lubricated and functioning. Cold drinks can slow down the digestion, which will affect everything else. Drink herbal teas instead of sodas or alcohol, which will eventually dehydrate your body.
5. Bring a water bottle that you can re-fill.
Many cities have clean water, and many airports and train stations have filtered water fountains. Once you get through security, you are able to fill up your own bottle at these fountains for free. Otherwise, purchase lots of water and fill up your own bottle.
I use a large bottle and try to begin my travel with as much water as possible. Then drink it throughout the trip. You will remain cleansed and refreshed.
6. Pack your own snacks.
When I travel, I usually have packed, fresh-cut vegetables, fruit, my favorite chocolate, and trail mix. Not only does this save you money from buying packaged snacks that have excess salt and sugar, doing so also ensures that you're always ready if you ever get hungry.
7. Pack your own meal.
Instead of purchasing a meal at the airport or on the plane / train, if you have time, pack a whole meal. Train and airport food is not only more expensive, it’s also often not that fresh. The more fresh your food, the higher your energy and ability to conquer germs.
It could be as simple as making a sandwich, or using a Tupperware to pack real food. I have done this with recent leftovers and then packed the Tupperware with local food from my destination for the return trip home.
8. Move Your Body: Tip #1
Take the stairs whenever possible, and unless you have a time issue, skip the moving walkway and walk the whole journey to the other end of the airport or train station. To balance the amount of sitting and standing, move your body as much as is reasonably possible.
(It helps to wear comfortable shoes that support your arches. Leave the flipflops and sexy pumps in the suitcase.)
9. Move Your Body: Tip #2
Do some stretches before you travel. Start with a Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana), then do a side body stretch with the outside arm extended over your head (Parsva Utthita Hastasana).
Then, to get the spine as long as possible, stand with your arms reaching up evenly in the air, lifting the ribcage (Utthita Hastasana in Tadasana). If people end up looking at you, just know that the biggest thing on their minds is their envy that they aren’t doing it, too!
10. Move Your Body: Tip #3
Once on the journey, every hour or so, pause and give yourself a seated twist and a side body stretch. End with the arms raised, hands clasping the opposite elbow and hold for 30 seconds, breathing fully. If it’s a very long journey, stand up every three hours to use the restroom. Even if you don’t need it, just get up and walk and stand for a bit to get your blood moving.
The biggest recommendation is simply to SOFTEN and allow all unplanned circumstances to flow through you. The moment you start to become upset at things not going according to plan, your whole inner being moves towards the stress response. This is when we are most vulnerable to injury and to illness. Travel comes with obstacles and unplanned events; it’s simply part of the package. So try to remain calm, using deep breaths, and trust that any unplanned piece is part of the adventure.
By remaining fit and healthy while travelling, it will be easier to take in all of the positive aspects of your experience to become filled with wonderful memories. Bon voyage!
Image Credit: Loren Peta