Monday, May 9, 2011

Taking Self Care on the Road

“Not all those who wander are lost.” - J.R.R Tolkien

My mind is pre-occupied lately with travel.  I am currently on a short business trip; I will shortly be preparing for a 3 month assignment in Australia, and many of us are patiently awaiting our summer vacations.   

Even though the aim of most travel is to obtain some rest and relaxation, travel can be an exhausting and stressful exercise.    We often place ourselves in unfamiliar settings, have our sleep patterns disrupted by jet lag, allow ourselves to temporarily indulge in unhealthy food, and if we travel to popular destinations via public transportation we expose our immune systems to an assortment of germs and bacteria.    Inadvertently, many of us create the perfect environment on our holidays for getting ill- and heaven knows there is nothing worse than saving for a dream vacation only to arrive and come down with the flu.
Listed below are 10 little healthful tid-bits that I have gathered from my own extensive travel experience.

  1. Be mindful of germs and wash your hands often.  Airplanes and public restrooms are petry dishes of germs and bacteria.   I was reading an article in Natural Health magazine on my flight yesterday: the article cited a study that found influenza, staph and MRSA germs on airline seat back trays and the highest quantities of E-Coli bacteria in airline lavatories.  (Ew!)  Wash hands and be mindful of these surfaces!
  2. One awesome tip I learned recently.  Direct the air valve located above your airline seat to blow at your face- any airborne germs from other passengers will be kept outside of that airflow (do I sound like a complete germ-o-phobe now?)
  3. The food and beverages they serve on airplanes is the worst things you can eat when traveling by air.  The number one important thing you can do is hydrate yourself fully before, during and after you fly.  Drinking caffeine or alcohol dehydrate you.  Foods high in salt and sugar are also detrimental.   I recommend water and bring your own healthy alternatives: fruit, energy bars etc...
  4. Scope out healthy options at your destination.  Getting a room with a kitchenette can help you to not only eat healthier, but it will also save you money on your food bill.   By all means indulge a little, but eat for energy and health too! 
  5. Plan time in your schedule - the first day after you arrive -to just rest.  Sleep in, lounge by the pool, leisurely peruse your sightseeing options, take a walk on the beach.   Most importantly keep the day unscheduled.   This will allow you to charge up a bit and then respond to whatever you feel you need that day- instead of being forced to comply with a hectic tour or schedule. 
  6. Be sure to be in the moment when you do engage in an activity.   Mr Self Care and I once booked a date on the local dinner train.   The couple next to us had flown in earlier that day from Chicago.  They  spent the entire experience pouring over site seeing brochures instead of enjoying the scenery and romance of the moment.  
  7. Wear sunblock...and repeat.   Nothing worse than getting a bad sunburn when on vacation.  
  8. Find activities that provide a little exercise.   We stayed at a resort a few years ago that had free water aerobics classes and stretching in the morning.  It was a great way to start our active day!
  9. As I have gotten older, I have found it really beneficial to give myself a full day at home after returning from vacation before going back to work.   This gives an opportunity to ease back into the normal routine without having to rush about.   Yes, it may mean one day less at a glamorous location, but for us it means that we return from our vacation without feeling like we need another vacation!
  10. Take your vacations.   Even a stay-cation- where you vacation at home- can be an important opportunity to recharge and refocus.   Don't work your whole life away!
 Take Good Care!

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