I’m just home from my summer hols and trying to adapt back to reality after the 24-hour journey home. Why is it always so much harder on the body to come back long-haul as opposed to going there?! Perhaps the excitement and adrenaline of going away helps your body to adapt more quickly on arrival to a foreign country, but I felt like a zombie yesterday!
Flying halfway across the world is always going to be pretty tough on your body, and especially when you have little idea of the meal and sleep patterns you should be following. I usually end up just eating and sleeping whenever my body tells me it needs to, and then try to get back to normality as much as possible when home. But what I find most challenging about travel, and especially long-haul, is avoiding getting bloated with water retention, dehydrated or even picking up a bug.
However, I do so much travelling for work that navigating airports and airline meals for the best food options has become second nature.
Here are my top 5 tips for happy and healthy travelling this summer:
1. On the morning of travel, I always have a Green Goddess smoothie ready to drink on the way to the airport so at least I know I’ve had a good dose of leafy greens and vitamin-rich fruit. I prepare it the night before and keep it in the fridge to grab in the morning.
2. I prepare a snack-pack of trail mix in a small sealable bag to take on board in my handbag. This generally contains raw almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and unsweetened coconut chips.
A bag of raw energy crackers or my curry kale crisps are another handy option to bring along as a snack on the plane if it’s a short flight.
All are great options as there’s no need to worry about anything leaking inside your bag and a handful or two or nuts and seeds is packed with enough protein, fibre and healthy fat to keep you feeling full until you can get a proper meal.
3. Get into the habit of bringing a bottle of water on board with you, and a big bottle for a longer flight.
I always pack a few individual sachets of herbal tea in my handbag, so I ask the air steward for a cup of hot water to brew my own tea. It saves a few euro and helps to avoid having too much caffeine. I really like the range of Pukka organic teas, and the ginger or peppermint flavours can help to boost digestion and reduce bloating.
4. Dehydration and bloating from water retention are two of the biggest issues when it comes to flying, and particularly long-haul flights.
If it’s a long flight, I will always try to pre-order a veggie meal. But airplane meals can be based on very salty cooked food, so I regularly bring my own salad in a sealed container in my hand luggage and a few pieces of fruit to get a fix of hydrating raw food. I’ve been known to bring on a big bag of kale, spinach and lettuce to make a salad myself on-board!
Avocados also make a portable and filling plane snack and all you need is a little spoon to scoop out the flesh. Like bananas, they’re also a rich source of potassium to help balance your system and encourage your kidneys to flush out any retained water.
I always get off a flight craving raw food and coconut water, so I’ll buy it where I can. When I land at Dublin airport, I buy a few cartons of Vita Coco to help hydrate my system quickly. I find that it works even better than water when you feel really thirsty.
Alcohol and caffeine are really best avoided on board, as they’re so dehydrating and will only make you feel thirsty throughout the flight, and possibly even cause a headache to develop. Dehydration will also show up in your face in the form of dry flaky skin, fine lines and enlarged pores.
5. Apart from the water, tea and snacks you’ll find in my bag on a flight, I always carry an essential bottle of tea tree oil to keep bugs and sickness at bay. And although I work hard with my diet to keep colds and flus away by eating loads of fruit and veg, taking daily probiotics and ensuring I get sufficient iron and zinc through food, I try to keep pathogens out of my system by always taking a small bottle of tea tree oil drops in sweet almond oil on board with me.
Both products are easy enough to pick up in a pharmacy or health food store. Tea tree oil is extremely anti-bacterial and the sweet almond oil acts as a carrier for the oil, as it can be too strong for most people to apply to their skin directly. I just dab a few drops of the mixture under my nose to protect my system from bugs entering, as mucus membranes such as your nose, eyes and mouth are particularly vulnerable areas.
For anyone with spot-prone skin, a little dab of neat tea tree oil on the blemish can really help to clear it up!
Certain airports are far better than others when it comes to serving decent fresh food. I’ve found great salads and fresh green juices in some airports, while others are useless! During our stopover in Dubai a few days ago, I found a juice bar in the terminal and asked them to make me a large smoothie with kale, lemon and ginger. It was a lifesaver and really helped to rehydrate and rebalance my system with loads of raw greens 🙂
Heathrow and Gatwick have eateries like Giraffe and Yo! Sushi, which do tasty and healthy fresh food. Almost all the airports I’ve ever been through at least sell bananas, apples and bags of raw nuts, so I stock up on them if needs be. Generally, I always travel prepared so I’m never tempted to dig into a big roll of bread or a bag of crisps or sweets. It feels great to arrive at your destination feeling fresh and ready to enjoy the trip.