Ideally, you could jump onto an airplane and arrive at your destination feeling as great as when you departed. However, that’s not always the case. Many habits and familiar conditions are disrupted during travel, especially during a cross-country or overseas trip. Diet, exercise, clothing, sleep patterns, exposure to light and dark, noise, ambient temperature, and humidity all influence your internal physiology which influences the way you feel and behave. Of all these, your travel diet is one of the easiest to control. Here are some ways to make your food intake work for you.
Food Tips for Travelers
- The strategy is simple, and fancy diet planning is not needed. Just begin a light diet 12 hours before departure and maintain that style of eating throughout most of the trip. You’ll feel more comfortable, and you will also avoid some dietary pitfalls, especially during overseas travel.
- A light diet emphasizes breads, cereals, vegetables, fruit, and low-fat dairy products. Get protein from fish, poultry, grains, and small amounts of eggs and hard cheese. Avoid or eat tiny portions of beef and fat-laden sauces, creams, fried foods, and rich desserts.
- Never eat unwashed fruits or vegetables. This is vital especially when you travel outside this country. In foreign countries, avoid eating raw foods unless you’ve washed or peeled them yourself. Don’t eat foods from street vendors.
- Never travel hungry. This simple strategy helps you avoid being at the mercy of the fast-food snack vendors and poorly planned airline meals. Light, healthful snack foods are now available at airports. Look for fresh or dried fruits, nuts, unbuttered popcorn and low-fat fresh or frozen yogurt.
- Consider packing your own snacks from home. For the first day of travel, bring your own homemade turkey or chicken and lettuce sandwich. Don’t add mayonnaise if it will be unrefrigerated for longer than one hour. Instead, bring a commercial packet of mayo to add at the last minute.
- Special meals are available on some, but not all, airlines. Seafood, fruit platters, low-fat, and vegetarian meal plans are lighter and more healthful than the regular menus served. Request special meals from the airlines or your travel agent when you book your ticket or at least 24 hours before your flight.
- Drink plenty of liquids. Airplane cabin air can be very dry. This can produce dehydration which is the cause of many travel complaints, ranging from headaches to mild constipation.
- Avoid caffeine, at least until the end of your flight.
- If you wish to drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink and order a light beverage like a wine spritzer.
- Other Tips for Travelers
- Bring a travel mug to hold your drinks
- Start your trip well rested even though it may seem impossible.
- Get a good exercise workout just before your departure. Slight muscle fatigue helps you relax for a long bout of sitting. If you travel in the morning, schedule your workout the day before departure. If you travel at night, have a hard workout earlier in the day.
- Board the plane early to have full access to overhead luggage storage, leaving room for you to stretch your legs beneath the seat in front.
- Wear comfortable, layered clothing so that you can easily adapt to changing air temperatures.
- Adjust your biological time clock by following the local time schedule immediately. This will help you avoid long-term jet lag. A short nap after arrival is fine, but don’t sleep your first day away.