We all have certain things in our lives which bring out our passion, things which we turn to in times of stress. For me, one of those things is traveling - to both new locations and favorites I'll return to over and over again. Something about going places away from home lets me relax and let's my mind run free. This year has been filled to the gills with travel; I've been on the road two to three times per month and while it's been fantastic for my mind - it's been rough on my body.
The fact is, I have a sensitive body and living a life of travel can be tough on it.
While perhaps my body has always been sensitive, I've become more acutely aware of it over the last ten years as I struggled through all sorts of wild diagnoses on my journey to discovering how to keep my body happy. From multiple food intolerances to a penchant for accidental soft tissue injuries - there are a number of sensitivities I have be conscious of while I'm jumping on and off air planes and in and out of cars.
All that being said, my bottom line is; I'll never let my sensitive body hold me back from traveling. Instead, I find ways to cope and take care of myself while on the road and at home.
Regardless of what kind of fabulous meals are promised to me in transit - I always, ALWAYS, pack my own meals. Usually, I pack enough for two full meals and extra snacks because you never know when your flight could be delayed or you could get stranded in some middle of nowhere airport.
In terms of what kind of food I pack, I go for a mix of healthy and luxurious. I figure filling my diet with healthy foods which make me happy will go a long way in keeping me up to speed once I make it to my destination. Some of my favorite treats to pack include; truffled and chocolate covered almonds, Maranatha nut butters, dried apricots and pears, and soft sheep milk cheeses. I'll also often cook a fabulous meal the night before I leave and bring the leftovers with me - I've been known to make my seat neighbors jealous with homemade pie, vegetable fried rice, arugula topped pizza, and whole grain blueberry muffins. For drives, I'll also make sure to bring some fresh juice - but more on that later in this post. And just in case, I always pack a couple of food bars - Go Macro makes all my favorites.
To catch some extra zzz's and keep from getting burned out, I always plan my flight or drive as down time. Best case scenario, I'll sleep the entire way (unless I'm driving of course) preferably with my BioSense neck pillow and Bose noise canceling headphones. If I can't sleep or need to stay awake, I come prepared for relaxing activities to bring order to my chaotic mind and inspire my creativity. Knitting and historical non-fiction in the form of an audiobook or movie are my favorites.
Another strategy for keeping my body healthy while in transit is wearing comfortable and versatile clothes. Recently I've been favoring my Fabletics pants for bottoms, a breathable long sleeve like this one from ExOfficio, thick socks, trail runners, and perhaps the most important item - a circular scarf to wrap around my head and over my eyes. To take care of my skin in dry environments like airplanes, I don't wear any makeup and instead layer on my heaviest moisturizer.
While I do occasionally indulge during my travels, I also make it a point to mainly seek out the same types of foods I would eat at home. Let me be clear here that I don't mean I eat exactly the same meals I eat at home, that would cut so much joy out of discovering new foods on the road - I simply stick to the same categories of food. Specifically, mostly vegetable based meals with small amounts of gluten free grains, limited amounts of light proteins like fish, yogurt, and local fruits and nuts for snacks. This is generally easy to accomplish since no matter where I go, I'm almost always making my own breakfast, lunch, and snacks with what I find at the local grocery store. As far as dinners are concerned, I make it a point to order complicated salads (which I never make at home) and simple dishes like rice and beans with pico de gallo.
Luckily for me, getting outdoors and being active is another one of those things which brings out my passion. My personal trips are generally planned around healthy, heart pumping activities -hiking. To keep my knees and ankles happy I use light weight trekking poles which are easy to travel with and on snowy surfaces, I bring YakTrax. When I travel for work, I do my best to use the gym at my hotel and take walks to both explore and get some exercise. I also try to remember to stretch each night - I use a ten minute PM Yoga video to guide me.
I think most people have trouble getting good sleep while one the road and I'm no different. To make sure I get the best sleep I can I bring an eye pillow and a BioSense travel pillow (I use the neck pillow as support for between my knees). Additionally, at the recommendation of my friend Joy, I use the Happy App to relax and fall asleep. Along the same theme as how I mix healthy foods with luxury, if I'm on a particularly stressful trip (like a month of working 12 hour days in NYC) I'll buy the fanciest aromatherapy bath salts and bubbles and take a bath every night I need to. Often turning on that same type of audiobook or movie I may have been watching on the plane.
In Between Travels
While sometimes it seems like all travel bloggers aspire to be nomadic, I'm just not one of them. I enjoy having a home base to come back to and frankly, I need one to recover from those months where I'm traveling every single week. When I come home from a trip there are two things on my list to do almost immediately;
- Sleep all the hours.
- Drink all the smoothies and juices.
These two steps are how I'm able to help my body bounce back as quickly as possible so I can keep moving on all the many (too many) projects in my life and get ready for my next trip. I know I'm the kind of person that thrives on 8 hours of sleep, any less and I just don't function well. So at home, I do my best to catch up on my sleep. As far as the juice goes, I first got into it when I was spending a crazy stressful month in New York City and all my coworkers were coming down with the worst cold ever. I started drinking green juice every day and I never got sick - in fact, I felt pretty fabulous despite all the stress. Last year, I tried a juice cleanse for the first time and loved it. It felt like I pressed the restart button on my body.
Recently, with a little push from this great book by one of my favorite bloggers I bought a masticating juicer. In addition to my daily smoothie - I've added daily juice to my diet and I can tell my body is greatly appreciating the higher intake of fruits and veggies.
Finally, as I mentioned in the very beginning of this post, going new places is something which brings out my passion. So even when I know I'm sleeping in my own bed each night - it's still critically important for me to get out and explore my backyard to keep my stress level down and my mind going strong. Luckily for me, Seattle is surrounded by some pretty amazing places, like the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, so local adventures are abound.
If I could only give one piece of advice on how to live a life of travel with sensitive body; listening to and learning to understand your body would be it. As long as you can do that and take action on it - there's no reason to hold yourself back from traveling as much as you wish.