In early September, I took a two week vacation to the Pacific Northwest, specifically Seattle and Port Angeles, Washington with Corey and my parents. This was my first real vacation in over two years and good lord did I need it!! Traveling is a huge passion of mine and to have not taken any major trips in this long was really weighing heavily on my spirit. I was extra excited for this trip because it would be my first time attending the Ancestral Health Symposium at Washington University and my first time visiting the PNW, somewhere I’ve dreamed of visiting for years now. After attending AHS (separate post on that to come later) we headed up North to Port Angeles where we had rented a house on Lake Sutherland for the week. Port Angeles is a cute little town located along the shores of the straight of Juan De Fuca and along the northern part of Olympic National Park. Lake Sutherland neighbors the gorgeous Crescent Lake, Pyramid Peak and Mount Storm King. In case you don’t know, my husband Corey and I are avid hikers and general nature enthusiasts so calling this location “home” for the week was beyond our wildest dreams. We felt like two kids on a giant playground.
One of the reasons it had been so long since we took a vacation was that since moving back home to Vermont from Colorado in 2015, I had been putting in some serious healing efforts for my ulcerative colitis. I had begun a horrible flare starting around June of 2015 and by the Fall it was unbearable. Enough was enough. I was dropping every dollar and ounce of energy I had into getting better. This included paying out-of-pocket for services and supplements not covered by insurance and the idea of even traveling further than a couple of hours terrified me (my IBD people know what I’m talking about). However, it was worth every penny and all of my efforts because I’ve come light years from where I was two years ago. Things aren’t perfect, but I’m at a place now where I know how to manage my health pretty damn well and have the confidence to take on things, like adventurous travel, that I wouldn’t have been able to do two years ago.
A huge part of achieving and maintaining remission (and just general health) for me has been having the knowledge and foresight to plan appropriately. Whether that be my meals, my bed time, my supplements, etc. This is especially true when it comes to maintaining good health while traveling. Getting sick is the last thing you want to happen when you’re trying to enjoy yourself on vacation!! To help out others who love to travel or have to travel often for work or family, I’ve compiled a list of my top travel hacks to keep you healthy while you’re on the road and away from home. Cheers to happy healthy travels!!
This is by far my #1 recommendation. There’s nothing worse than being stuck on an airplane or in a car in the middle of nowhere and not having access to healthy food options. This is especially true if you cannot afford any leniency’s such as when you have a known food allergy or intolerance. I like to stock up on healthy snacks (or you might call them “Paleo convenience foods”} and keep them in my backpack, car or suitcase so I’ll always have something to hold me over until I can have a real meal. My favorite choices are Epic Bars, Burroughs Chocolate or Alter Eco Blackout, Chomps Sticks, Epic Pork Rinds, Nut butter packets and coconut butter packets.
I recently had a first hand experience in just how important it is to stay well hydrated. The days leading up to my trip I was so busy packing, getting things ready at home and making sure the dogs would be well taken care of, I admittedly forgot to drink hardly any water! Travel day made things even worse as I continued to not drink enough water and then celebrated our first night in Seattle with a glass of wine at dinner (big deal for me as I normally don't drink!). That night and all the next day, I learned my lesson when I had a massive headache that would just not go away until I had been drinking water consistently for about 12 hours!! Ugh. Don’t make the same mistakes I did and STAY HYDRATED!! Always bring a water bottle with you that you can fill up and/or buy water in the airport once you get inside the terminal. If you’re traveling in the car bring your water bottle and a gallon or two of water to refill it with. These are some of my favorite water bottles/tumblers to use.
Support digestion & the immune system
My body LOVES routine and I usually find that I experience symptoms related to my colitis when I stray from my normal day to day. To balance this, I like to continue to support my digestion and immune system as much as possible while traveling. My go-to's are digestive bitters and immune tonics from Urban Moonshine. They make super convenient, travel sized and TSA approved bottles of digestive bitters spray, as well as other tonics you can easily pack up. On my recent trip, I brought the travel spray, a tiny bottle of Immune Zoom and a bottle of Immune Tonic just in case I felt a sickness coming on! After 6+ hours of airplane travel who doesn’t feel like they’re going to get sick!? You can check out Urban Moonshine and they're amazing line of bitters and tonics here.
Mitigate aches & pains
Driving in a car, sitting in uncomfortable airplane seats that never recline enough and doing the doing the head nod as you fall asleep, are all great ingredients in a recipe for bodywide aches and pains. It’s incredible how a day of just “sitting” can make us so incredibly sore! I’ve been utilizing CBD oils, salves and gels for muscle and joint pain and I can’t tell you how helpful they have been, especially while traveling. The most recent products I’ve been using and loving is from a company called Blue Ridge Hemp Co. They make a range of CBD infused essential oils, salves, gels, bath bombs and massage oils. I brought their salve, gel and “headache and stress” essential oil blend with me on our trip and it saved me so many times! I highly suggest checking them out, learning more about the benefits of CBD or using another type of salve like Tiger Balm to naturally relieve muscle aches and pains if CBD isn't something you want to try out just yet.
Ask for a room with a mini fridge and microwave
Better yet, check to see if there is a room available with a kitchenette. Having the ability to buy, store and cook fresh food while staying in a hotel room makes such a difference! If you’re following a Paleo template, have many dietary restrictions or are just trying to stay on track, you understand how horrifying and saddening it can be to walk into a hotel breakfast bar only to be bombarded with the option of cereal, pancakes, bagels, muffins, toast, powdered eggs and questionable sausage. Set yourself up with healthier options you can easily store and cook in your room such as fresh fruit, greens, yogurt, fresh eggs, bone broth and/or sausage. You could also stop at a store like Whole Foods and pick up some prepared meals or food from the hot bar to enjoy later!
Plans are bound to change at one point or another during your trip. Flights get delayed or cancelled, traffic gets backed up and roads get closed. Anticipate that these “stressers” will come your way at some point and mentally prepare yourself for accepting it because chances are there’s nothing you can do about it anyways! Find a good book to read or podcast to listen too, or search for an alternative route on a beautiful backroad you might not have taken otherwise. Look for the silver lining even when things appear to really suck. They only “suck” because of the inner expectations you’ve established for that situation. Life unfolds in a way that is beyond our control. Accept it and continue to move forward because what else is there to do? Enjoy each moment as it comes because you won't be here forever!