How to Have a Whole Happy Travel Experience

20 second summary...

  • Get healthy leading up to your vacation with ample rest, relaxation, and moderate exercise.
  • Load up on nourishing foods, and even some key supplements to prime your body for optimal health while abroad.
  • Be prepared on the plane by packing healthful, satisfying snacks.
  • Beat motion sickness with ginger and pressure points.
  • Minimize radiation damage by avoiding x-rays as much as possible and counteract the effects with astaxanthin and other foods and supplements high in antioxidents.
  • Give your hotel room a quick clean with an all-natural all purpose cleaner if there's a strong toxic smell.
  • Stock up the mini-fridge with whole foods from a nearby health store or farmer's market.
  • Try new foods and experiment with local flavours!

The Details...

Get healthy leading up to your vacation

So many people complain about how they get sick as soon as they go on vacation. This is in part because we work extra hard, sleep extra less, and stress extra more before going away, and once our body is able to get into that parasympathetic mode (ie. calm and relaxed), it finally says “ahhh” and allows itself to fight off all those bugs that have been building up in it for weeks, even months. Another reason is that with the build-up of stress, sleepless nights, poor diet and digestion, and the works, our body isn’t as primed to deal with all the new and wacky things it comes into contact with while abroad. In this case I say the best offense is a good defense. Make sure your body is prepared for the ups and down of travel before you even step on the plane (in fact the plane is the biggest hotspot for icky germs thanks to a lovely cross-section of sick society and that delightful recycled air). For the month leading up to a vacation be extra diligent about your wellness regimen. Food, sleep, de-stressing practices, hydration, digestion – it’s super important to have a healthy, happy body so it’s as strong as possible when you expose it to strange bugs, weird cuisine, and new routines.

Load up on nutrients

In a similar vein, you also want to be readying your body with some added boosters before you jet away. Vitamin D is the elixir of life. It helps with mood, energy, and of course immunity. Not only that, buts it’s a natural defence against sunburns. Countless studies have shown that if you mega-dose with quality vitamin D3 before going somewhere sunny, it will actually help prevent sunburns and sunstrokes. Why? Well often those two annoying side-effects of tropical vacays are due to essential fatty acid imbalances and vitamin D deficiency in the first place. Taking the right EFA’s for your body (so fish oils etc.) can also help. Another important primer for pre-vacation success is strengthening your gut with probiotics. In fact, it’s important to take them with you as well to keep your GI tract as strong as possible as it meets new foods and the various pathogens that come with them.

Be prepared on the plane

Pack food with you! I REPEAT: pack food with you! Not only is airplane food getting more and more expensive and scarce, but it’s gross. And bad for you! Here are some of my favourite snacks for the plane…

Beat motion sickness

Ginger, ginger, and more ginger! Take it in tea form, chew on some ginger root if you can handle it, or take a supplement. Just don’t do those sugar-filled candies. Sugar will kill whatever immune system you have hanging on for dear life during the plane ride, and will send your gut through a real tail-spin too. Peppermint and chamomile tea also help with motion sickness. You can also try this pressure point trick…

  • Press on the inside of your forearm, two thumbs' width above your wrist crease, between the two tendons.

Minimize radiation damage

Firstly, give astaxanthin a try! Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring, but still little known carotenoid that may be the most potent antioxidant in nature, and can help prevent cellular damage from radiation exposure. Carotenoids are the compounds in your foods that give them that vibrant cornucopia of colour - from green grasses to red beets, to the spectacular yellows and oranges of your bell peppers. Not only does astaxanthin give your immune system an enormous boost, but it's also a potent UVB absorber and can help reduce DNA damage. With all that said, it’s no surprise that it can help protect you from the increased radiation you are subjected to while flying, and may even offer protection against any harmful radiation exposure from airport scanners. I recommend taking 4-8 mg of astaxanthin for several weeks prior to flying, and continue taking it throughout your trip. Secondly, avoid X-Ray airport scanners if you can. I mean, I recommend avoiding airport X-ray scanners if at all possible, although I know that's near impossible. 

Sweep your hotel room

Ever checked into your hotel room and noticed that distinctly toxic “cleaning product” smell? Well it’s not just an affront to the senses, but also to your immune system. These toxins can make getting sick that much more inevitable as they destroy your body’s defense mechanisms. I personally take a small travel size bottle of Dr. Bronner’s all purpose soap (or similar castile soap) wherever I go. You can use it as a body wash, shaving gel, shampoo, and of course room cleaner. I wet a cloth with hot water and do a solid wipe down if I’m detecting toxic chemical-vibes in my hotel room. I also use it to wash my clothes when running low of essentials like underwear and socks. Because carry-n is SO worth it and I like to travel light :) 

Stock up your mini-fridge

Another thing I do as soon as I check in is hit up the closest market or healthy grocery store. The salad bar/deli section at Whole Foods is my usual go-to in large cities, but of course a nice farmer’s market is pretty fantastic if you can find one nearby. This way, you’ll always know you have something in the room to sustain you whether it’s an easy breakfast or evening bite when you return “home” from a busy day of site-seeing.

Be adventurous

Vacation is a great time to try new foods and experience the sites, sounds and flavours of a new culture. Try as best as you can to eat foods in their most traditional forms, and be appreciative of the history and heart behind your culinary experiences. You never know – keep an open mind and you might have a different relationship with foods previously on your “do-not-eat” list. For example, many people who can’t eat grains in North America, find it fine on their gut to consume grain-based foods in Europe. Why? Well, in many different parts of the world the cultivation and processing practices are a little different, resulting in a better quality product. This isn’t to say I think everyone with wheat intolerances should mow down on spaghetti when in Italy, but it might be something to consider experimenting with food while abroad. Just be smart about it though! If it’s a serious intolerance don’t do it. But if all you usually sustain is a little bit of gas and bloating when eating bread and such in Canada, you might be pleasantly surprised to see that you’re not as reactive dining on a baguette in the French countryside. Keep in mind that it’s temporary though. NO body does well on massive amounts of empty carbs and you certainly don’t want to have mood and energy crashes and immune impairment while trying to enjoy you hard earned holiday.