Resiliency While Traveling Abroad: 5 tips to keep in mind
March 27, 2019
Not just traveling, but staying resilient and healthy while traveling, is something that takes a little planning.
Being present and enjoying your travels largely depends on how you feel physically and mentally from the airplane to the excursions and hotels.
Below are my favorite tips for traveling well so that you’re free to enjoy instead of sleep (or tie up your time time feeling bad)
Hydrate (internally and externally)
I feel like I spend a large portion of my life trying to get everyone to hydrate (private wellness coaching clients, friends, family, myself), but I really want everyone to listen up this time.
Proper hydration while traveling and traversing across climates and time zones isn’t just for dewy skin and fitness goals, it’s for survival and the ability to roll with the proverbial punches of travel. When we hydrate, we decrease our chances of constipation, headaches, travelers illness, and exhaustion.
I’d say that’s well worth it.
The next question from a lot of you might be “okay, how much is enough and constitutes proper hydration, Marybeth?”.
According to the Aerospace Medical Association, if you’re on a plane ride, about eight ounces per hour is the minimum mark to hit on hydration (for reference, the little plastic cups* they bring around with beverage services are close to 9 ounces). If you’re drinking alcohol or already dehydrated at baseline, this amount goes up. Ideally, you should be getting up every so often to use the bathroom – which doubles as a really good excuse to stretch your legs and get the blood flowing to avoid swollen legs and conditions like blood clots. Often times in life when we are “hungry” we are actually thirsty, so try to tune into those needs as you travel to avoid dehydration.
*If at all possible use your reusable water bottle when purified water is available from a larger container. If there’s one thing I’ve been impacted by the most while sailing through the Indian backwaters and surfing in Bali it’s the astounding amount of trash floating around in all of our oceans and washing up on the shore.
Let’s talk external hydration next.
While in India, I participated in a traditional (VERY traditional) rejuvenation Panchakarma (more on what the heck that is in a later blog) which essentially involved being rubbed down with oil, milk baths, and pouch massages filled with herbs and oil butt naked by two women for two hours every day. This is an extreme version of external hydration, and I suggest finding a balance with natural lotions and body oils, as well as pools, baths, and the ocean when available.
Also, I’ve learned the importance (Thanks, Jasmine) of having rose water to mist on your face during long stints of humid travel. Try it and you won’t regret it, folks.
This is a loaded topic that can be communicated and taken in many different ways. We all need to give our bodies the means with which to adapt and heal to new surroundings, new attitudes, and new time zones. Hydration is really important, and everything else that you put into your body comes next on the list of supplying the means for resiliency.
It may be difficult when traveling long distances to not get stuck eating salty and overprocessed airplane food. My recommendation for long coast-to-coast or international flights is to pack lots of snacks (granola bars, dried fruit, etc) and, attempt to eat simply when you can, and bring along your own beverage mixes that support you with even more micronutrients, like the adaptogen coffee or golden milk lattes I brought along with me to India and Bali.
When talking about other vitamins and supplements, the best choices will vary based on which regions you’re visiting. For Southest Asia, like we’ve visited on this trip, one of my travel companions Jasmine (an Ayurvedic practitioner) recommends Neem supplements, Multivitamins, “I Travel Well”, shelf stable probiotic, Triphala .
Mindset is important in everyday life, and even more so in uncertain and unfamiliar surroundings. Know that travel plans will change in varying amounts no matter how prepared you are. Pad your flights and excursions with more time, give yourself grace when dealing with those changes, and try your best to keep a positive attitude.
4. Pack smart
I thought that I packed light for my current trip abroad, but it turns out that I still brought way too much with me.
Some things are necessary (like lots of Four Sigmatic, two cameras, three lenses, and tripods) but I probably didn’t need a sweater and so many yoga pants.
Know the climate that you’re visiting, along with local customs (in India my yoga pants were pretty much useless outside of our hotel areas) and traditions. Also, keep in mind that chances are, if you forget any clothing item, you can locate it and buy it for cheaper abroad if you realllly need it.
Some of my no question packing essentials are:
A solid carry-on bag (for me it’s this bag from Wandrd because it’s literally designed for travel photographers)
Packing cubes (I could write a whole blog on packing cubes. Use them, love them, keep them organized. Something like this is what we’re going for)
Reusable water bottle (as I mentioned earlier, plastic is everywhere and it’s cool to not contribute to that). I really like my hydroflask for travel because it’s durable and thin enough to fit in water bottle holders on bags. If you’re traveling to a place where you might have questionable access to water, another option is something like this Sport Berkey bottle.
Adapters and converters (these are generally easier to find at home or online)
A large scarf or sarong (to be used for a bathing suit cover-up, a blanket on the flight, a skirt, and a head/shoulder cover if visiting temples)
Extra printed copies of all important documents (passport, visa, flight itineraries) along with saved files on an accessible device. This one is the most important, especially if you’re traveling somewhere where theft is common.
2022 edit: masks should be added to this no questions, list. Even if you aren’t someone who likes to wear masks, being prepared to wear one in someone else’s country is the least you can do.
5. Sleep tight
Jet lag sucks.
Jet lag that isn’t mindfully handled by adjusting to a new time zone sucks worse.
I cannot recommend staying awake until “nighttime” wherever your destination is enough. If you need to, go out on the town or spend time with friends or facetime them back home to accomplish this task.