How to Stay Healthy While Traveling
I’ve spent more than five years of my life traveling in South America, Africa, and Europe (Asia, I’m a’comin’ for you next!) While staying healthy on the road often feels like an upward climb – you’re not keeping a set schedule! It’s tricky to find decent food options! – there are a few tweaks you can make both before your trip and while you’re on it that will help you feel your absolute best, so you can be in the best possible mood and shape to get the most out of your adventure.
1. Book an AirBnb! While there are certain benefits to hotels – a clean room and freshly made bed daily – they’re far outweighed by those of AirBnbs. Staying at an AirBnb allows you to truly immerse yourself in local culture, including the local food scene. I love spending a day wandering around a local farmer’s market, chatting (or doing the traveler sign language dance!) with vendors and other patrons before heading home to prepare a delicious dinner. AirBnb owners often have wonderful food recommendations as well, and it’s always worth mentioning your preferences when picking up your key. I’ve found so many wonderful restaurants this way, including my favorite plant based spot in Portland and the best green juice in Paris.
2. Make fitness an option. This begins from when you pack – I love to bring my Manduka travel yoga mat with me so I can do online yoga videos (YouTube has great ones, and I’m obsessed with YogaGlo), and a good pair of walking shoes. Once in the new city, I’ll pick a tourist spot or destination restaurant and head their on foot – and often, the best things I’ll see and experience are in the neighborhoods I end up meandering through on the way.
3. Bring a water bottle and water filter. To keep my gut probiotics intact – so important when traveling! – I try to avoid the chlorine that’s so ubiquitous in tap water these days, and I’ve never been a huge fan of the flavor or environmental implications of plastic water bottles. I bring a stainless steel water bottle and fill it with water I filter through my PurifiCup, which I also use to filter the water for my tea and oatmeal. Do note that this tip is only for travel in countries where the tap water is safe to drink; if you’re going to a place with non-potable water, I recommend sticking with purchased water.
4. Pack food building blocks. When I travel, I like to think about what I’ll be cooking when I get to a place, and what kind of other food I can feasibly fit into my day. I always bring an emptied out spice container filled with coconut oil for cooking (cooking oil is really expensive, and you’ll end up wasting the vast majority that you don’t use); a travel spice jar with pink salt, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, and some kind of spice blend (customize for your favorites, but I recommend staying away from rosemary, thyme, and other herbs, as you can typically find those in small quantities fresh); a green powder (I like Vitamineral Green or Amazing Grass Raw Reserve, as they also have a daily dose of probiotics); a few individual packs of Justin’s almond butter to mix into oatmeal, or spread on fresh bought bread, carrot sticks or apple slices; a big ziplock bag that I fill with uncooked quinoa or oatmeal. Breakfast is often one of the hardest meals to source healthy food for so typically, I’ll make a big glass of green powder mixed into water, then follow it with oatmeal or quinoa with a bit of coconut oil or almond butter, a bit of sea salt, cinnamon, ginger and turmeric, and whatever fresh fruits I’ve picked up at the local market mixed in. That way, I’ve started my day on a nourishing note and have the fuel I need to get out and explore.
5. Do your research before you go. Use Google maps to figure out where organic grocery stores and markets are and book your AirBnb or hotel accordingly; read through online reviews and various blog posts to find foods that meet your dietary needs and bookmark them so you’re not wasting your precious vacation time. See if there are any apps available for your vacation destination that will streamline finding the healthiest, best food – if you’re heading to New York or LA, CleanPlates is fantastic. After having an incredibly hard time scouting markets and restaurants where I could find healthy food, I developed the EatWell Europe app so that other travelers wouldn’t have to go through the frustration of compiling loads of research – if you’re heading to a major European city, it has you covered for the absolute best gluten free, organic, paleo, vegetarian and local options.
6. Bring tea! I’m always surprised how infrequently I hear people packing their own teas when they travel, but I find them a must-bring. I focus on three tea categories when traveling: for energy, I’ll pack Matcha and green tea; for digestion, I’ll bring a ginger, fennel or peppermint; for relaxation (so nice before bed!), I’ll pack chamomile, lavender or passionflower. I also love the single serving packets of Natural Calm as a soothing bedtime drink (which also works wonderfully for any muscle cramps from all that walking you’re doing during the day!) Seeking out and sampling local teas are also a wonderful way to experience some of the medicinal benefits of various cultures. The Coca tea locals drink in the Andes, for instance, helps counteract altitude sickness, and the mint tea drunk by the gallon in Morocco helps keep your body cool in the hot Saharan sun. Google tea shops and salons before you go, and keep an eye out for what locals are drinking.
Above all, have fun! Travel is an amazing experience and not worth spoiling by stressing about staying healthy. If you’re in Paris, let yourself truly enjoy a flaky, buttery croissant; digging into a hearty plate of homemade pasta is an integral part of the Italian experience. Any other tips for how to stay healthy while traveling? Leave them in the comments section. Bon voyage!
// Want to make it easy on yourself? The Sprouted Routes Travel Pouch has all the essentials for healthy travels, including a nourishing breakfast, my favorite teas and green powders, and a few fun surprises. Subscribe to the mailing list to get notified first about its release in the coming days!