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We speak to health coach and naturopath-in-training Manon Dallee for some expert advice on how to stay in tip-top shape when travelling.
Staying healthy when travelling can prove to be a challenge, whether you’re holidaying or on a business trip. Travel disrupts our routine, and what with recycled air in aeroplane cabins, new climates to adjust to, new foods tempting us and of course jet lag to contend with, it’s little wonder we often feel under-the-weather when we travel.
Manon is a health coach studying Naturopathy and is based in the gorgeous Byron Bay hinterland in Australia. A passionate advocate for better living, Manon shared some tips with us on how to stay healthy and feeling our best when travelling.
‘Number one – stay hydrated!’, says Manon. ‘We can get so dehydrated while travelling, especially on a flight. The humidity levels onboard are lower than what we’re used to, which can make us feel dehydrated. But there are definitely a few simple things you can do to stay hydrated when travelling.
‘Firstly, make sure you’re drinking more water than usual (it’s recommended to drink at least two litres per day), especially when flying. Coconut water is a great option to sip on during a flight, as it replenishes electrolytes and replaces lost fluid in the body better than many sports drinks.
‘It’s also best to avoid alcohol, as this can make you feel tired, sluggish and will dehydrate you more.’
Manon hails from the Byron Bay hinterland in Australia, famed for its laid-back lifestyle and beautiful beaches
Keeping up the H20 is important, but it’s not all Manon suggests for simple ways to feel in great form.
‘Rest, rest, rest! Travelling can be so harsh on the body, so making sure you get enough sleep is very important – even fitting in a short day nap can really make all the difference.
‘Move and stretch, too. Not just during a flight, but in your destination as well. You don’t have to go on a huge run, but walking and stretching daily is incredibly important for your circulation (and exercise can also help you sleep).
‘It’s also important to go outside and get some sunshine on your face first thing in the morning, if possible,’ says Manon. ‘This will help regulate melatonin (the hormone that regulates our sleep) and your circadian rhythm, ultimately normalising your sleep cycle and helping with any unwanted jet lag that you may be experiencing.’
Sleep, exercise, hydration and sunshine are vital to feeling your best, but one of the challenges many people face when it comes to sticking to a healthy routine on holiday is eating. How do you ensure you’re eating well when travelling?
‘Always eat fresh and always try to eat local,’ says Manon. ‘Most cafés and restaurants these days list where their produce is from, so be curious and ask. Otherwise, visit a local farmers’ market and buy fresh and local produce to make your own meals – you can chat with the farmers and producers themselves on the best way to cook and prepare the ingredients.
It’s not always easy to cook for yourself when you’re travelling though (especially on business trips), so how can we stay healthy when eating out?
‘Order extra veggies, and when in doubt order simple – one of my favourites is pan-roasted fish with a side of veggies!’
What about aeroplane food? Sometimes on long-haul flights it’s the only option for food.
‘I rarely eat plane food,’ says Manon. ‘Having suffered from motion sickness and extreme nausea in the past, unusual (and sometimes heavy) plane food is the last thing on my mind.’
That doesn’t mean it’s completely off limits though, and ordering a simple dish is the way to go, says Manon. ‘On a long haul flight, I will always make sure to choose the most simple meal possible. I try to order a meal that is vegetarian with minimal heavy sauces.’
Plus, by ordering a special meal like the vegetarian option, you’ll usually get served first! Manon is always equipped with an arsenal of snacks whenever she travels so she can sate her hunger with a healthy option, rather than having to rely on junk food that might be the only alternative at hand.
‘I love to bring apple slices with almond butter when I travel as it’s a snack that’s high in protein and healthy fats. Roasted nori sheets are a great alternative to chips. I also pack paleo fruit and nut bars, organic miso soup sachets (they’re perfect as you just have to add hot water and they’re a nutrient-dense snack that don’t take up too much space), seed crackers, carrot sticks and beef jerky.’
Handy hint: Most airlines allow you to bring food onto a flight, providing it complies with liquid restrictions, and that you eat foods like fresh fruit and vegetables before arriving at your destination. It’s always best to check with your airline’s policy before packing snacks.
When travelling, choose meals with lots of vegetables, or even buy fresh produce from a farmers’ market
Manon’s also a big fan of herbal tea, and always has a supply on hand. ‘Tea can work wonders when you’re travelling, and I'd recommend having a few different types in your carry-on bag for different uses. Green tea is super high in antioxidants and is a great ‘pick me up’, and ginger tea is really good for motion sickness. Having a digestion blend on hand is important, too. There are always times when we travel where we fall off the wagon by eating late, having a rich meal or drinking too much, so having a cleansing tea on hand can make a huge difference. Go for herbs such as peppermint, liquorice, fennel, and calendula.
‘And of course, chamomile tea can assist with a good night’s sleep.’
One of the traps people fall into when travelling is indulging too much – you’re on holiday after all! Manon says just because you’re trying to stay healthy, doesn’t mean you can’t indulge.
‘Over indulging – we all do it, right? But having said that, choose your indulgence. If you’re on holiday and want to treat yourself to a dessert or a glass of wine, go right ahead. Just remember the old saying “it's all about moderation”, and pick your battles. Treat yourself sometimes, just don't do it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Savour your indulgences.’
And what foods should we be trying to avoid?
‘I'd recommend staying away from alcohol, sugar, any processed or refined foods and soft drinks. These will make you feel sluggish, tired and bloated.’
We’re keen to know what essentials Manon packs in her carry-on luggage to keep her feeling her best when travelling (aside from healthy snacks and herbal tea).
‘Planes are jammed-packed full of microbes. There always seems to be someone with a nasty cold, and with that circulating through the cabin aircon, you want to try and protect yourself from getting sick. I always pack a good probiotic and vitamin C to keep my immune system nice and healthy to fight off anything that might come my way.
‘I also pack a big scarf and socks to make sure I don't catch a chill. A big scarf can also double as a blanket on a plane.
‘To keep my skin hydrated, I pack a rose water face mist, face oil (I love Go-To’s Face Hero at the moment), lip balm to stop my lips drying out and getting chapped, and hand cream. For me, noise-cancelling headphones, a great, soothing playlist and an eye mask are hand luggage essentials too, to help create a space that’s just for you and help block out any noise.’
It can be hard to maintain a good exercise routine when travelling, but Manon says it doesn’t have to be. ‘I always recommend including exercise in your daily routine, and walking is the easiest way to do this.
‘Discover your surroundings by walking from place to place, or even cycling if that's your thing. You can often travel 10-15 kilometres just from a couple of hours’ of walking, so skip the train or bus and walk around.’
And for those who want a bit more than just walking, Manon suggests planning where you stay to maximise your exercise options.
‘Stay near a local yoga studio or book a hotel with a gym or pool – they are often open early until very late so you can fit in a workout at a time that's best for you.’
Plan your accommodation so you stay near a yoga studio or gym if you want to get some extra exercise in your trip
Staying healthy goes beyond just what you eat and how much exercise you do. Looking after your wellbeing and indulging in a little bit of self-care are also highly important, says Manon. ‘I’m a big fan of massages, and after a long-haul flight sometimes you just need a bit of relaxation and relief from any tight or sore muscles. If I have a long flight, I always try and book in a massage for the day after I land.
‘You can also sweat it out in an infrared sauna – the deep, penetrative heat helps stimulate metabolic activity, and you’ll walk out of there feeling energised and beaming!’
And last but not least, a final piece of travel advice: ‘Research, research, research! It may seem like a simple and obvious tip, but the more you know, the more prepared you’ll be.’
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There are always times when we travel where we fall off the wagon by eating late, having a rich meal or drinking too much. So having a cleansing tea on hand can make a huge difference.