You’ll never guess where I’m heading next week! I’m heading to Chicago and I’m so excited. I’ve visited the Windy City once before when I was researching grad schools, but the trip was way too short to enjoy much of what the Windy City has to offer. As I said in my Best Cold Brews post last week, I need all of your recommendations for the best coffee shops, restaurants, and fun areas to check out. It’s a short trip, but I’m hoping to catch lots of the highlights!
With all this traveling, I feel like a bit of an expert on healthy travel. I don’t mean that I eat super healthy and hit up the gym every day on my vacation, but when it comes to eating healthy and avoiding that bloated-travel feeling, I have some experience…
The most important part of healthy traveling is to bring some of your own food. Airport options are very expensive and usually unhealthy. Airline food, for domestic travel at least, is carb-loaded and insufficient. For trips longer than about two hours, I always bring my own food and snacks to help me survive. I also always have my water bottle which I try to fill before my flight and during any layovers. Also, most airlines will give you a can or bottle of water if you ask. Staying hydrated is the most important thing you can do for healthy travel!
If my flight leaves in the morning, I like to grab a coffee (iced of course) at the airport to enjoy before and during the flight. I usually bring some homemade biscotti to enjoy with my coffee and if I’m really hungry, I’ll pick up a greek yogurt or low fat muffin.
For the flight, I’m ready with my peanut butter sandwich. You can do whatever sandwich you like, I just love peanut butter and find that they hold up well in my bag until I’m ready to eat. To supplement my sandwich, a small bag of baby carrots and a sliced apple. Heartier produce is better because things get knocked around in your bag quite a bit. If it’s truly lunch time when I get to my sandwich, I’ll order a drink on the plane to enjoy with my lunch.
Besides my lunch, I also like to bring snacks. Little bags of pretzels are tasty, but they fill me up for about three minutes. Homemade trail mix and granola or nut bars are my go to. They provide a good crunch, last in my bag through travel, and they have some good protein. I usually pack extra to last me during my trip. I’m always hungry, so quick and healthy snacks are a must!
Staying hydrated and munching on healthier foods is great, but sitting in one place for hours on end drives me crazy. To limit my restlessness, I move as much as possible before the flight. If possible, I try to get my normal workout in before heading to the airport. And once I get to the airport, I try not to sit much before the flight leaves. I walk around the terminal, getting my legs moving as much as I can. This is also important for layovers – take advantage of your mobility while you can!
And while I’m in my seat, I try to maintain my posture as best I can. Also, suck in your stomach while sitting. I’m not perfect about this, but contracting these muscles not only helps you feel more fit, it helps support your lower back, preventing back pain and helping maintain your posture. When you get up to use the restroom, try to sneak in some quick leg stretches before returning to your seat. See my best stretches to prevent back and leg pain. Do what you need in those short bursts.
And if you’re really struggling, tightening and releasing muscle groups for 5-10 seconds each while seated is always helpful. Even things such as holding your feet off the ground to engage your core can be really beneficial.
As someone concerned with eating healthy and who’s constantly on the move, practicing these things while I travel make me much happier. You feel great when you land and don’t feel guilty heading off to the first great meal!