As some of you may know, my family and I recently made a huge move from LA to the Middle East! Needless to say, moving from one area to another exposes you to a lot of travel bugs – so I went prepared! Here is what we did to keep travel bugs at bay.
Why We Get Travel Bugs
Since adopting the paleo lifestyle, my family and I hardly ever get sick. But even the healthiest people are prone to getting sick when traveling. Why? For starters, there is all that stress which comes with travel, like trying to get your life into suitcases and navigating through airport busy terminals while trying to keep track of two little kids. Stress will shatter your immune system!
Then there is the fact that travel spots like airports are loaded with germs. Now, normally, I am not scared of germs. I actually gave up on antibacterial cleaning products in favor of homemade cleaning solutions long ago since exposure to bacteria helps our immune systems get used to them. But the bacteria, viruses, and pathogens in places like airports aren’t just your everyday germs! Consider the fact that LAX has an average of about 182,000 passengers daily. Each of those passengers bring their own set of germs from God-Knows-Where. The recycled air in those airplanes definitely doesn’t help keep germs contained!
Airplanes and airports might look clean, but don’t think that those airline crews are doing any serious sanitizing after flights. One creepy study found that 60% of airplane table trays tested positive for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus – a deadly superbug!
Don’t freak out! It is possible to avoid travel bugs and stay healthy when traveling.
1. Get Plenty of Rest
This one is tough with travel and jet lag, but sleep is key to keeping your immune system up. If you aren’t blessed with the ability to sleep in cramped airport seat, then you will want to make sure you are getting enough sleep before travel as well as after. As hard as it can be, try to take naps during travel.
Here are some tips to help you stay rested during travel:
- Bring a travel pillow so you can be comfortable during the trip (and avoid the germ-ridden pillows the airlines give you!)
- When you arrive, set a new sleep and eating routine based on your new time zone. This helps your body adjusts faster. Don’t sleep at your old time, even if you feel tired.
- Avoid alcohol, at least for a few days as it’s a major sleep disruptor.
- Get enough magnesium, which helps you sleep (the one I take is Unflavored, and by kids prefer the Raspberry Lemon).
2. Get Some Sun – And Darkness!
When you arrive at your destination, try to spend as much time outdoors during the day as possible. The sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, which is important for our health and immune system. Further, getting sunlight will help your circadian clock adjust faster to the new time zone so you can get back to feeling normal. On the flip side, make sure you are getting darkness at night. Turn off those hotel-room TVs and your laptop! Turn off the lights and shut the blinds. Studies show that artificial light wrecks your sleep.
3. Minimize Stress
Stress is an inherent part of travel and moving your entire life overseas is anything but relaxing but, whatever you do, try to reduce stress. For this trip, I managed stress by planning way ahead. I made dozens of checklists and enlisted help from friends with tasks like packing up the home. As busy as I was, I still made time for meditation and exercise. These do wonders for helping reduce stress. And, when my mind is a bit more stress-free and clear, I am able to be more productive. Definitely time well spent! Sometimes, it requires doing difficult things like saying no to outings with friends and family. I had to do that before my trip and it was hard to disappoint so many people who wanted hugs before we left but it’s important to take care of yourself. Do it!
As for the actual trip, I reduced stress by having extra of everything on hand: money (ya never know…), clothes (I’ve got 3 kids- ’nuff said), snacks (when was the last time you were on a flight that wasn’t delayed?)… The last thing you want is to run through the airport mall looking for a gluten-free snack because your ravenous kids ate more than you anticipated.
4. Eat As Healthy As You Possibly Can
Depending on where you’re traveling to and from and how long your trip is, it may not be the easiest task to eat super healthy during travel. And let’s face it, it’s mostly snack type foods and not the most nutrient dense things on the planet (man cannot survive on nuts and dried fruit alone)
That is why I like to focus on eating extra healthy before travel and after travel. Try to load up on nutrient-dense superfoods like bone broth, organ meats, and fermented foods like kombucha. Do some research about your destination and find out what healthy eating options you have. Will your hotel cater to food allergies? Is there a paleo-friendly restaurant in your destination? Also, if you are going to be spending hours in the airport during a layover, research what gluten-free, healthy airport food is available. I’ve been pleasantly surprised in the last year at LAX, Austin, and a few other airports. Wisconsin and Abu Dhabi? Not so much. So, don’t count on it and pack accordingly. Check out this post I wrote a long time ago for a few ideas on travel foods to pack.
While traveling, it may be tempting to indulge in treats, but remember that your body needs help now more than ever. Airport restaurant food tends to be ridiculously unhealthy and inflammatory, but you can almost always find some salad to toss your canned fish on and fresh fruit. This last trip I took lasted over 22 hours, so I didn’t want to rely on overpriced, unhealthy airport food. I made sure to bring plenty of snacks on board, such as
- Kale chips
- Pumpkin muffins
- Hard boiled eggs
- Tea bags
- Larabars (any except the peanut ones)
- Contigo mugs — brought empty and filled in the airport after going through security
I love the heck out of those Contigo mugs and have one for each person- they don’t spill AT ALL and kids (ages 3+) have an easy time drinking out of them without spilling all down the front of their shirt saving from annoying wardrobe changes from 10,000 feet.
Cocktail time! No, not that type of cocktail I thought I already told you to lay off the booze! 🙂 This is the cocktail I’m talking about …
If there was ever a time to take supplements, this is it! In addition to the Prescript Assist probiotics that I take every day, I took Fermented Cod Liver Oil. I also like Black Elderberry Syrup, Liquid Silver, Vitamin D, and, for kids, CQ Jr. and Ther-biotic Complete Chewables.
These are supplements that I would normally only take when I feel myself getting sick but, during travel, I will take them as a preventative measure to boost the immune system and stay ahead of the game. Please consult your naturopath to see what doses are right for you and your kids!