The biggest hurdles of navigating daily life as restrictions lift
Traveling: There’s nothing greater.
I have always loved hopping on a plane to some far-off destination. Or taking a scenic road trip to explore somewhere new.
But my traveling adventures have been curtailed in the past couple of years, in the age of coronavirus. I’m sure many of you can relate.
Even now, as restrictions lift, getting back on the proverbial horse may feel daunting.
But let me be clear: it IS possible to travel safely. You just have to be aware of the potential risks or stressors—and how to mitigate them.
So, let’s discuss the biggest hurdles. Even better? These tips will work in a post-pandemic world, too…
Anxiety at the airport
The amount of stimulation in an airport is likely to be more than you have experienced for the past couple of years. Not to mention, you’ll be mixed in with a sea of strangers. And I’m sure many of you will feel overwhelmed by a “simple” cough or sneeze.
Then, you have the usual stressors of providing mandatory information to pass through checkpoints, checking and receiving luggage, reading multiple instructions on the go to determine terminals and boarding gates, and more.
All while navigating newly implemented pandemic rules, to boot.
So it’s really no wonder why feelings of anxiety may deter your vacation plans. Especially if you’re hoping to fly internationally. But there are a few things you can do to help ease your mind.
First, read up on the airport’s implemented health and security precautions prior to your trip. If you can’t find this information online, try contacting the airport directly.
When you better know what to expect, picture yourself going through the airport. This may seem silly, but it will help prepare you and, perhaps, ease your mind.
Second, make sure your required travel documents are placed in an easily accessible place. Third, opt for slip-on shoes to make going through security a bit easier (and faster). And finally, be kind to yourself and to others. We’re all navigating these new—and old—challenges together… and it’s going to take some time getting used to.
One last tip—aim to pack a few days prior to your trip. This should help bring you a sense of calm, knowing you’ll have everything you need.
Now, let’s talk about some general traveling risks, and how to lessen them.
Long trips pose a threat to healthy blood flow
Long trips in the car or a plane can increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)—where blood clots form in the deep veins of your legs.
It’s important to recognize the threat, and any potential signs, any time you’re traveling for an extended period of time. Watch for pain, swelling, and a tenderness or warmth to touch in the affected extremity.
People with a history of DVT or pulmonary embolism, who suffer from certain chronic conditions like cancer or heart disease, who are overweight, pregnant, or recently had surgery may be at a heightened risk.1
Of course, everyone can benefit from some key prevention strategies: wear loose, comfortable clothing, walk and stretch often, and do calf exercises while standing or sitting. For extra support, you may choose to wear compression socks.
I also recommend 100 mg of French maritime pine bark extract. This supplement helps keep arteries and blood vessels healthy, while supporting healthy blood flow. And research has shown it offers safe, effective protection against DVT.2
Lastly, it’s imperative to stay hydrated for many reasons…
The dangers of dehydration
It’s easy to get dehydrated on travel days—whether you’re on a business trip, a simple road trip to visit friends, or taking a well-deserved vacation.
And you already know how dehydration poses a problem to your health. Not only can it dull cognition and harm your heart, but it can increase travel-specific conditions, too—like amplifying jet lag or your likelihood of DVT.3
To help ensure traveling doesn’t interfere with your water consumption, I recommend bringing a collapsible water bottle along. They’re lightweight and easily storable. Plus, for air travel, you can pack it in a carry-on and fill it up after you get through security!
I suggest drinking eight ounces of water for every hour of travel—especially if you’re flying. (The air in the average air cabin is drier than a desert!) Coconut water is another good choice if you want a bit of flavor.
Just remember, coffee, tea, and alcohol dehydrate you, so limit your consumption while traveling.
Of course, feeling dehydrated can also sabotage your diet. When you don’t drink enough water, your body actually turns off its thirst mechanism—and turns on hunger pangs instead.
In essence, you may be overeating—and grabbing any food in sight—simply because you’re dehydrated.
In other words, just as you need to mind your water intake, it pays to be smart with your dietary choices, too.
A smart way to satisfy those hunger pangs
I understand the convenience of fast food and junk food
on chaotic travel days. But these highly processed, Frankenfoods contain high levels of salt and added sugars that can actively dehydrate us. (Yet another reason why I avoid them.)
Instead, plan your meals ahead of time to ensure your basic dietary needs are met. Otherwise, you might feel “hangry,” frustrated, and undernourished.
I pack foods like hard boiled eggs, unsalted nuts, and avocado (liberally doused with fresh lime juice to keep it from browning).
As I often report, pasture-raised eggs are quite possibly the perfect food—loaded with protein and micronutrients. Avocados contain healthy fats and fiber to keep you fuller, longer. And nuts serve as a quick, crunchy snack that deliver protein and essential fatty acids.
Plus, some fresh produce can satisfy hunger while actively hydrating us. Opt for celery, cucumbers, watermelon, and berries. (Bonus: These can be added to your water for a refreshing twist!)
Planning your meals can also help “keep you regular”…
Four stomach-soothing tips
Many people complain about digestive issues while traveling. And yes, dehydration and changing your dietary habits are two of the biggest contributors.4
But just being in a new environment or different time zone can increase anxiety and contribute to issues like constipation and diarrhea, too.
Here are four simple, stomach-soothing tips to help keep your stools regular:
- Say no to extra fiber. In the chance that you’re dehydrated, increasing your fiber intake will only spell trouble. And contrary to what some headlines may read, fiber-rich products don’t aid in digestion. But they can increase abdominal bloating and, yes, constipation.
- Say yes to regular movement. Keeping your body moving will help keep your bowels moving. During long travel days especially, be sure to take walking and stretching breaks. Then, when you reach your destination, stay active. Walk, hike, bike, or even swim if you’re able.
- Say no to laxatives. It’s important to stay in touch with your body’s natural cycle, even when you’re feeling backed up. Listen to its cues and never ignore the urge to go. For extra support, try setting a schedule that matches your bathroom routine back at home. I also recommend a good, multi-strain probiotic over a laxative. As you know, this is part of my own daily regimen—and I always recommend making it part of yours, too. The key is quality of strains over quantity. You’ll want a probiotic that also has its own food supply (prebiotics) and postbiotics.
- Say yes to proper sleep. Simply put, not getting enough sleep can throw off your digestion. As always, aim for seven to nine hours of quality shuteye each night.
Traveling evokes joy
At the end of the day, preparing for a safe trip can help make your next adventure even more rewarding.
That all starts with recognizing and weighing the potential risks and stressors of traveling and daily life—in the age of coronavirus and beyond.
If you’re overwhelmed by what could happen… if you’re anxious about any possible encounter with others… if you’re not prepared to take care of yourself using the tips I outlined here… just stay home.
But if you are ready to go on your next, long-awaited adventure, by all means, book that flight, rent that car, and get packing. After all, according to a recent study, frequent travelers are happier with their lives than people who don’t travel at all.5
And as someone who looks forward to traveling (and daydreams about it often), I quite agree. To me, it’s all about getting out of your routine and experiencing new things.
I find it invigorating—and best of all, when I return, I’m always really happy to be home. It’s the best of both worlds, anchored by that incredible sense of renewal upon returning from a good trip.
So, when you’re ready, I wish you happy (and safe) travels!
- “Prevent DVT (deep vein thrombosis) when you travel.” The National Health Service website, last reviewed 04/18/2019. (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/prevent-dvt-when-you-travel/)
- 2. “New research backs pine bark extract’s blood circulation benefits.” Nutra Ingredients, 10/03/2018. (https://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Article/2018/10/03/New-research-backs-blood-circulation-benefits-of-Pycnogenol#)
- 3. “How to stay hydrated while traveling.” Plate Joy, 03/04/2019. (https://www.platejoy.com/blog/how-to-stay-hydrated-traveling)
- 4. “8 Tips to Keep You Regular While Traveling.” Health Essentials, 01/31/2022. (https://health.clevelandclinic.org/8-tips-to-keep-you-regular-while-traveling/)
- “Frequent travel could make you 7 percent happier.” Science Daily. 01/04/2021. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210104094654.htm)