Today it seems like everyone from your yoga teacher to physician has opinions about the best wellness practices. Clever marketing and social media fanfare make it appear like there’s a new wellness trend to follow each week.
What’s important in a wellness routine is not its popularity, but rather its ability to actively prioritize and pursue your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Whether it be through daily meditation, sweating it out on a run or a morning smoothie bowl — once you find wellness practices that work for you, stick with it! Consistency will have your body and mind reaping the benefits of a healthy routine year-round.
Indeed, a vacation or work trip is the perfect place to not only uphold your healthy habits but branch out and try some new ones, too. Who knows what new wellness options you’ll fall in love with while traveling!
Clear the Mind
As amazing and enlightening as travel can be, sometimes getting to our final destination can be extremely stressful. Being thrust out of our normal routine, dealing with flight delays, lost baggage, and even a foreign language can leave us scrambling for the creature comforts of home. However, by prioritizing our mental health as well as engaging in certain relaxation practices and mindful behaviors, we can approach our travel experiences with the calm and joy they deserve.
We wouldn’t recommend meditating and walking at the same time.
Meditate on the Move
Studies have shown that practicing meditation for as little as 10 minutes per day can help in reducing stress, controlling anxiety, and improving overall cardiovascular health. Although meditation may be receiving a sudden boost in popularity at the moment, it has been practiced for thousands of years.
Thanks to meditation apps like Headspace, Calm, and YogaGlo, it’s never been easier to bring your meditation or gratitude practice on the road. Most of these apps offer hundreds of different themed sessions, on anything from improving focus and attention to aiding sleep! If your trip leaves little time for unwinding, no sweat—enjoy guided sessions that last anywhere from 3–25 minutes.
Yearn for Yoga
Incorporate your mindfulness with movement by sampling different yoga classes as you jetset. While practicing your sun salutations, you’ll not only learn to tune into your body, but increase its muscle tone, flexibility, and athleticism. Most major cities have a plethora of yoga classes to choose from and offer affordable drop-in or new-student rates. Have a beach getaway in mind? The visceral pleasure of outdoor yoga with your toes in the sand and the ocean breeze in your hair is hard to match.
A little gratitude goes a long way, especially when practiced regularly.
In addition to meditation, it can be grounding to cultivate a gratitude practice. This can be as simple as listing five things you’re grateful for as soon as you wake up or before you go to bed. It might seem silly, but practicing gratitude (whether it be through journaling or simply speaking out loud) can offer substantial benefits. Scientific studies have shown that high levels of gratitude can decrease PTSD, improve self esteem, enhance compassion and reduce aggression.
Make Time for Mindfulness
In our current socialsphere of #doitforthegram and #picoritdidnthappen, travel can seem like mere fodder for more content and likes. Recently, a study conducted by Expedia found that during a week-long vacation, the average traveler spends nine hours on social media!
Instead of losing those once-in-a-lifetime memories to the ‘gram, try implementing a good old-fashioned digital detox. Mindfulness isn’t a coincidence, we must choose it. If possible, leave your phone at the hotel and engage in the world around you. Take a moment to use your senses and seek the new sights, smells, and tastes that fill your new environment.
Still worried about documenting your travels? For a dash of nostalgia, pack an instant camera. Not only are they small and relatively inexpensive—but with their instant photos on sticky film, you have #instantmemories that also make lasting souvenirs.
Move Your Body
The sad truth is that in times of stress and upheaval, physical activity is one of the first things to fall by the wayside. When we travel and disrupt our normal healthy routines, it can be hard to find a rhythm and get back into our fitness grind.
Yet, our physical and mental health goals hinge on moving our bodies. Don’t lament your lack of access to your gym or favorite cardio dance class as an insurmountable problem. Instead, challenge yourself to use your new locale as a creative jumping point to expand your fitness horizons.
Walk it, Bike It, Work It
If the weather allows for it, try exploring your new city by foot and get those steps in! If you’re traveling with a friend, have a friendly contest to see who can get the most steps in each day (loser buys drinks)!
Have more ground to cover? Bike-sharing programs are popping up around the world, making it easier than ever to get a heart-pumping ride in while soaking up the sights. Whether you’re touring via bike or foot, keep your eyes peeled for outdoor gyms, which typically feature old-school equipment as parallel bars, rope climbs, and ellipticals, to name a few.
All that’s important is getting your workout in (not necessarily his).
Change up the Game
One of the best things about traveling is getting to experience new things, whether it be an unforgettable street taco or a masterpiece of art.
Why not apply this philosophy to your fitness routine and try a new class or gym? If you swear by the altar of strength training at home, try some Pilates or Ballet Barre. If you’re more into that yoga-flow life, ramp it up a notch with F45, a worldwide functional training gym offering workouts that will have you crying mercy.
Up the (Active) Ante
When your getaway is more about escaping the city than reveling in it, you might need to ditch the indoor gym altogether. There are many benefits to working out in nature, including enhanced self esteem and lower rates of depression. Engaging in active activities can even become a fun social event if you get friends and family involved. Whether you prefer hiking, surfing, paddle boarding, snorkeling, tennis, golf, and so on, you’re guaranteed to burn some serious calories all while making unforgettable memories.
If you’re planning a longer trip, making fitness goals to hold yourself accountable can have a significant effect on your follow-through. For example, on a two-week work trip, you can aim to get at least 15 minutes of exercise in daily — or promise that every day upon waking you’ll ream out x number of burpees, lunges, squats, and sit ups!
Feed Your Gut & Your Soul
Diet is one wellness area we tend to struggle with most — whether we’re traveling or at home. After all, even the most novice ‘foodie’ isn’t immune to the enjoyment that comes from sampling exotic foods and drinks in a new locale.
As pleasurable as eating out on vacation every day can be, it often comes with some not-so-pleasant side effects: indigestion, bloating, and fatigue. With a bit of knowledge, planning, and forethought, you can make the most of your travels and enjoy your gastronomical exploits to their fullest.
No matter where you are or what you’re doing, one of the best things you can do for your body is to keep it hydrated— this is especially true when traveling because the air on a plane is much drier than on the ground.
To combat dehydration, which can lead to headaches, dizziness, and digestion issues make sure to drink considerable amounts of water both before, during, and after your flight. The Aerospace Medical Association suggests 8 ounces for every hour you are in the air. An easy way to do this is to pack a re-usable, insulated water bottle and fill it up every time you have access to water. Also, it’s important to note that if you’re traveling to a developing nation, access to clean drinking water may be limited and you should expect to have to pay for all the water you consume.
Just as you would travel with any necessary daily medications, be sure to pack all of your usual vitamins and supplements. For frequent travelers, companies like Care Of streamline this process by providing personalized daily vitamin packs perfect for slipping into your carry-on luggage or purse!
Pro Tip: If you’re devoted to your probiotic, make sure it’s travel safe before packing as many need to be refrigerated. Look into travel-friendly options, such as probiotic satchels.
Take time to snack prep before you depart. Having a variety of healthy, fiber and protein-rich snacks in tow helps you avoid any airport meltdowns and fight off travel-related digestion woes, in addition to becoming a contingency plan for those vacation moments when everything is closed or no healthy options abound.
Some great non-perishable healthy snack options are protein bars (watch out for added sugars, though), nuts, chia seeds, healthy meat jerkies, and single-serving protein powders.
Plan & Prepare
Paleo, Keto, Vegan, Gluten Free? If you follow a specific diet or harbor a lot of dietary restrictions, it can be helpful to scope out some healthy food options before arriving. Use tools like Tripadvisor or Yelp to discover healthy cafes, health food or bulk stores in locales not known for the lightest eating.
Once you arrive, experiment with sampling native produce by checking out local produce markets. Local markets not only offer a way to get in some healthy micronutrients via fresh produce, but a unique way to learn about the diets and culture of the people you are visiting.
Gearing up for an extended work trip or vacation? Embrace your inner chef and consider staying in a hotel room, Airbnb, or even a hostel with shared kitchen space. You will not only save a sizeable amount of money on meals, but will be able to cook some healthy options for yourself while taking advantage of fresh local produce and delicacies.
Forget Food Guilt
Although it may be tempting to let loose completely or become a total health food freak when we travel, this all-or-nothing mentality is not the healthiest practice to adopt. As with most things in life, moderation will serve you well. Abolish the notion of ‘food guilt’ and allow yourself to have whatever treats or cocktails you desire in moderation.
By all means if you are jonesing for a beachside Pina colada or hankering for that special lobster roll you can only get in Maine, indulge, enjoy it and move on. If you know you have a decadent five-course dinner booked, cherish the memories of good food and and vow to balance it out with a lighter breakfast or lunch. Practice mindful eating. If you slip up and hit the buffet a little too hard, don’t stress. Remember: write off the meal, not the day!
In the end, your wellness practice is something that should bring you joy, relaxation, and relief. By cultivating a practice that inspires awareness and true enjoyment, you will see your vacation not as a reprieve from these rituals, but an extension of them. Use your time exploring and adventuring to experience new tastes and activities to create a wellness practice that you simply can’t travel without!
A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central America and her love of traveling was born. Three months of backpacking and surfing through Nicaragua quickly turned into over two years. She fell in love, both with surfing and the beach lifestyle. Today she works as a freelance copy and content writer, residing in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida.