I like to believe that I take all my wellness strategies with me when I travel.

The truth is, I don’t.

Last month I saw a friend’s photo of a sunset on Facebook, which was quickly followed by a “I-must-book-a-trip-to-Florida-right-now-because-if-I-don’t, I-might-die-a-slow-and-agonizing-death-by-Maine-winter-despair” moment.

Two weeks later, my inner goddess beamed when I felt the kiss of the sun on my face, shoulders, and legs. Winter coat and boots be damned.

Florida sunset by Jennifer Hooper

Travel Tips: Staying Healthy on the Road by Jennifer Hooper

I love to travel

But here’s the thing. When I travel, most of my good eating habits take a back seat. Partly because vacation is supposed to be vacation (and who wants to get all twisted in a knot about good health when you’re supposed to be relaxing?). And partly (perhaps mostly) because I don’t plan very well.

I want to do a better job going forward for two reasons. One, I intend to travel more often and it’s important to me to take care of myself, and two, I honestly don’t like coming home feeling icky from too many over-indulgences. I hate feeling like I’ve taken one step forward and two steps back.

I love to come home

When I got back from my impromptu Florida trip last week, I gave some thought to how I could have done a better job. I came up with these tips for being on the road. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a start. You’re welcome to steal any of them. Better yet, be a contributor by leaving a comment below…let’s come up with even more!

  1. Before You Go: Research

    Where are the nearby grocery stores, health food stores, and restaurants that suit you? Plan where you’re going to eat before you even leave. Pre-planning will eliminate stress and likely be less costly than on-the-fly, “hangry” decisions.

  2. Pack Travel Snacks

    My favorite travel snacks for travel are almonds and apples because they taste good at any temperature, can withstand a fair amount of jostling, and they smell neutral (compared to, say, a hard boiled egg). With a little more effort, you could pack a sandwich and an ice pack.  Other ideas include: cheese sticks and whole grain crackers, rice cakes, pumpkin seeds, or your own mixture of seeds, nuts, and dried fruit.

    Almonds make a great snack on the road

  3. Find a Kitchen

    If you stay in an “extended stay” hotel, like a Residence Inn or an Airbnb, you’ll can have access to a fully equipped kitchen and ‘fridge, which means  you can prepare your own meals like you do at home. While the lodging may cost a little more, you’ll save money on dining out, so it’s a wash.

  4. Get Groceries

    Now it’s time to put the research you did in Step 1 into action. Stop into the local grocery store or health food store and stock up on food. Gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, and soy-free? Obviously not a problem when you do the shopping yourself.

  5. Bring a Water Bottle

    Even though you can’t bring a full water bottle through airport security, you can bring an empty one! A refillable water bottle saves money and is better for the environment than plastic bottles. And of course, water is the best drink for your body.

  6. Pack Your Vitamins

    At home, I take a fair amount of vitamins and supplements. Rather than take my bottles with me—or leave them behind—I like the idea of a pill organizer. I’d include an ice pack if any of you have supplements that need to stay refrigerated, like fish oil or probiotics.

    Pill organizers are great for travel
    Pill organizers are great for travel

  7. Be Flexible

    There are times when you just have to “go with the flow,” no matter how much planning you do. On my Florida trip, I bounded into a health food store expecting to find local produce, fresh salads, and smoothies. Instead, I found dusty shelves and fresh absolutely nothing. I silently held onto my disappointment and slipped back out the door. Instead, I made my way to a grocery store chain.

  8. Rest, Back Home

    I probably overlook this step most often. I forget that travel—even though I love it—drains my batteries. I need a full day to unwind and breathe and re-familiarize myself with my “real life” before I get back to work. This includes going shopping, unpacking, doing laundry, and doing a whole lot of not much else. Resting is an important step for my health, and I definitely need to build this step into my travel plans more often.

Do you have travel-related wellness tips to add? Leave a comment below!