Tips for Having a Healthy VacationJun 30, 2022 09:17AM ● By Nancy Seigle
by Julia Snyder
Vacation can be such a wonderful gift of new experiences, sights, sounds, smells and tastes. It is the chance to make once-in-a-lifetime memories, connect with nature, culture or community. Hopefully, our goal is to feel our best so that we can soak in all that it has to offer. This sometimes could be easier said than done, because it may also involve stressful flights, traffic, packing, fighting children, a new sleep schedule and new or overindulgence in food, all of which could leave us feeling tired, stressed and with tummy troubles. Here are some reminders about taking care of everyone this summer vacation.
Some extra leg work on the front end will allow us to relax and enjoy the getaway more easily while we are there. Besides making arrangements for travel plans, map out a schedule that allows the body’s rhythms to adjust for sleep, eating and eliminating. If changing time zones, try changing bedtime and wake time by an hour in the direction of the destination a week or so prior to leaving. Also consider adding a small dose of melatonin at the time of the destination’s bedtime, especially if there are any dietary restrictions to be followed, or to make sure there are healthy options, research restaurants ahead of time. If we don’t know the language, try using a food allergy translator app that helps communicate our needs. Mother Nature may not send the signal if you’re always on the go and away from our usual bathroom. If you have trouble with constipation on vacation, plan ahead for designated time to use the toilet.
Make special effort to ensure that all travel companions have a voice. Try using “I” statements when talking about your feelings. Recognize that not everyone may get exactly what they want and try to come to some compromise. Split up if needed, so that everyone can experience as much of what they are looking forward to on the trip. Get kids involved in the planning and feeling prepared for travel. For little ones that have never been on a plane before, let them know about the process or allow them to watch a video about air travel. Set expectations ahead of time for older kids about phone or screen time. Try to get their input about other activities they may enjoy.
According to mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.” This practice allows us the space in which to respond instead of react. This is important in everyday life, but can be especially helpful in dealing with all the stressors of travel. Also, staying in the present can help us appreciate all the wonderful sights and experiences that we intended for our vacation.
Get any travel-related vaccines at least one month prior to travel. Ask a doctor if medicine needs to be taken to prevent malaria. Make sure to pack any maintenance medicines or supplements. A first-aid kit, hand sanitizer and sunscreen can also come in handy for most trips. Also pack some healthy snacks like nuts, seeds and protein bars, and a refillable water bottle. Eucalyptus essential oil and chewing gum may also be helpful for avoiding ear pain and pressure during air travel.
The 80/20 rule is a good guideline. This means purposefully keeping up healthy decisions 80 percent of the time and then allowing the other 20 percent to be led by joy. This balance allows us to stick to the healthy habits of choosing nutritious foods, keeping active and making time for sleep most of the time, which means we can stay energized, focused and well rested to make the most of the trip, and enjoy those indulgences when they are chosen. After all, it is vacation.
Julia Snyder, M.D., specializes in Whole Person Care at Golden Light Integrative & Holistic Medicine. Location: 703 E. Main St., Moorestown. For more information, visit GoldenLightMD.com.