I love to travel. I never feel freer or more liberated than when I'm discovering new destinations, new cultures and mmmmhmmm new cuisines. I meet amazing people, I see incredible sites, I learn invaluable lessons, and above that, I let go. Like, really let go. Travelling, for me, seems to put everything into perspective, and always triggers a sense of self-discovery and inner exploration, during which I notice myself really reconnecting with who I am and where I am (not which country, I'm generally pretty good at determining that, but more in terms of the Universe).
Whenever I go abroad, the Grandma in me buys a guide book, although I'll admit this is more for memory's sake and I usually buy it with the inention of leaving it at home and replacing it with more accessible electronic solutions. I find more 'me specific' things on my favourite websites, blogs and apps whose content, style and interests are similar to mine. This way, I know that whatever's on there is going to be good, even if I am on my own / suffering from food poisoning / home sick. Everything's good when you're travelling!
My job/s involve a lot of travelling and I am frequently asked how I keep well whilst on the move and away from home. It can be stressful being away from your kitchen and familiar routines and your body - and mind - can easily become out of sync. Travelling for hours can often mess up your body clock and your meal times may become inconsistent. Additionally, travelling to foreign countries where you may not be used to the local food offerings can be difficult in terms of finding something you like, and avoiding something that doesn't agree with you. Below are a few tips on how I keep well both during the journey and throughout my stay.
For travel journals, photo diaries, reviews and wellbeing recommendations focussed on individual countries and cities, explore the 'travel' tab above.
The first rule of travelling, for me, is to have accommodation locked down. I never stay in hotels unless i have been booked into them for jobs. When working abroad I am usually only in one place for a few days, so having an entire apartment to myself isn't always necessary, as I barely even manage to unpack. On holiday, however, I always borrow or share accommodation, and since discovering Airbnb a few years ago, life has never been the same. I love to get a feel for the place I am in, and love being let into a traditional home belonging to locals. You experience more culture and meet new people, who most of the time have valuable suggestions and advice on the local area. Not to mention, you have your own space to spread out in and enjoy, and if you are away for a long time, you can easily begin to feel at home. With a fully stocked kitchen and more space than a claustrophobic hotel room, borrowed apartments are much more characteristic and, for me, make a holiday much more enjoyable. You can cook for yourself and if you're in one place long enough to make friends, you can even have people over. From converted caves in Granada to a pokey barge boat in London, I have had some of the best and most unique experiences staying in accommodation found on Airbnb. They have a huge variety of different accommodation, ranging from an entire country home to a trailer in someone's back yard. They have somewhere to stay for all types of people and to suit all kinds of budgets.
RESEARCH THE LOCAL AREA
Before I leave home I always research my destination and the local area around where i am staying. It is important to know what you have to work with, especially if you are away for a long period of time. Track down the local farmers markets to buy fresh, local and seasonal ingredients (useful if you are staying in self-catering accommodation), and seek out any nearby juice bars, organic eateries or dietary specific restaurants nearby. I find it useful to read reviews too, to find things that meet your specific needs, and to avoid disappointment.
DONT JUST PACK YOUR WARDROBE
Whenever I go away, I dedicate space in my luggage to kitchen essentials. I always pack a small jar of coconut oil, superfood powders, chia seeds, raw or activated and flavoured nuts, seeds, berries, dried quinoa, buckwheat flakes or gluten free porridge oats, lemons, Qnola or homemade granola, raw chocolate and supplements. Nuts and seeds make the perfect protein-rich snacks for travelling and to keep with you during days out (they are compact and can even fit into a bumbag, and there's no risk of leakage or spoilage). Superfood powders can be easily added to smoothies, juices, water, soups or sprinkled over salads, to instantly enhance the level of nutrients in a meal (i like Organic Super Blends, Aduna, Organic Burst and unpackaged powders from my local health food store which i tend to combine in one resealable pouch, in order to save space and to create an instant mix for smoothies) and dried flakes or gluten free oats are great to have on hand for an instant snack or meal alternative whilst on the move. You can mix your oats in a take away cup with hot water from a cafe, then add your choice of super foods and chia seeds and voila!
If I am going away for a long period of time I also tend to pack a few kitchen essentials. A small blender or a hand blender is always useful (especially if you aren't staying somewhere with access to a fully-equiped kitchen), a filter water bottle, and if you have limited space, tuppaware and plastic cutlery will always come in handy.
PREP FOR THE JOURNEY
I am not the first person to draw attention to the state of aeroplane food, so I won't dwell on the severity of its flaws. My advice to keep energised and happy throughout a long-haul journey is to prepare meals before you travel, and be sure to pack plenty of snacks or you'll find yourself tucking into congealed pasta bake with a broken Spork. The night before I travel I always make a meal to take with me for the journey. Regardless of the time of day I am travelling, I usually pack a combination of quinoa, vegetables, nuts and seeds, all mixed through a tahini, avocado or nut butter paste. I learnt the hard way that oils don't quite behave during transit, so unless you want a greasy carry-on or tamari dip-dye on your clothes, avoid oil based dressings at all costs. (Coconut oil is alright if it is solid when packed, as it keeps solid at room temperature). Another important tip is to pack foods that travel well and keep over time. Of course, ready meals, diet foods and processed snacks are ideal and tempting options because their shelf life is unnervingly lengthy, but there are plenty of alternatives and other suitable foodstuffs. Raw vegetables tend to keep well, but avoid fruits or vegetables that are soft or turn brown when oxidised (avocado and apple - unless you plan on eating them early on in the journey). Avoid soft ingredients like avocados or bananas, as well as liquid ingredients, as they are guaranteed to either leak, or end up smeared between layers of clothing or pages of your holiday reading material. Dried foods like nuts, seeds, kale or vegetables crisps, rice cakes, homemade crackers or biscuits will also last well. Avoid salad leaves too as they will become soggy and limp, and be careful with cooked foods like quinoa, or spreads like houmous, as they tend to turn fizzy if left unfrigerated for a long time. My failsafe snacks include: raw or activated nuts, seeds, blueberries, goji berries, green or herbal tea bags, raw chocolate, LoveRaw date bars, Qnola® or homemade granola. Choose foods that are protein and nutrient rich, and avoid anything high in refined sugar, gluten or dairy, as these are likely to unbalance your sugar levels, cause bloating and contribute to greasy/oily/blemished skin.
Travelling, especially on planes, will wear your skin out and dehydrate your entire body more than you might realise. Before you leave home, be sure to drink lots of filtered water infused with lemon, lime, mint, cucumber, aloe vera, rosemary, ginger or charcoal - not only to add flavour but also because of their alkalising and purifying benefits. I also like to add chia seeds as they absorb and hold on to liquid, meaning they keep you hydrated for longer. If travelling by plane, take a large bottle of water for the journey to the airport. Drink it all before going through customs and save the empty bottle to refill on the other side. Once on the plane, avoid drinking alcohol as this will dehydrate your skin further, and avoid too much caffeine, as this will work with the confinement of the cabin to aggravate your skin.
GIVE YOUR SKIN A HOLIDAY TOO + PLANE ESSENTIALS
Plane journeys literally suck the life out of you and skin can become dry, grey and blotchy. I'd advise going make up free throughout the journey, particularly avoiding face make up like powder and foundation, as this will just act to dry out your skin further, and will keep it dirty. Use a light moisturiser before boarding a flight and be sure to monitor your skins behaviour. The confinement of the cabin can dry your skin out more than you may realise, and it may become dry more quickly and need more moisturiser than usual. I love to use a hydrating facial spritz like Pai Lotus & Orange Blossom Skin Tonic to keep my skin feeling refreshed.
Depending on your location, an drastic change in climate can have damaging effects on your skin. Cold weather can make it dry and sore, whilst hot weather can burn it. If you are going somewhere cold, be sure to pack heavy moisturisers (I use Welda Skin Food and Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream) and essential oils, and if you are travelling somewhere with a warm, sunny climate, make sure you take advantage of the suns Vitamin D, but take precautions and use reliable organic sunscreen. Be sure to spend as much time outside and embrace the fresh air, especially if you are in the countryside, up a mountain or close to the sea. Try to avoid make up, at least during the day, as it can clog up pores and obstruct valuable vitamins and minerals from the sun from being absorbed.
My Travel Essentials: Coconut Oil, Estee lauder Advanced Night Repair and Revitalising Supreme Mask, Cowshed restoring hand cream, Kiehls Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, Hurraw Lipbalm (with SPF if going somewhere sunny) organic toothpaste (Jason or Aloe Dent), Tisserand Rose Deodorant, Magnesium Spray, Jason Sunscreen, essential oils (if you are willing to take that risk), a dry body brush, Himalayan Pink Salts and ground coffee for easy homemade body scrubs, Organic Paraban-free Hand Sanitiser for clammy planes or public transport. make sure that they comply with regulations. If you can get hold of cucumber and coconut milk or avocado whilst you are away, blend them together to make soothing natural after sun mask for any sunburn.
It is also important to get sufficient rest throughout the journey, or as much as is physically possible regarding the excitement of going abroad and also the very little space you have to work with. Take a soft eye mask and fresh earplugs and look into uploading a mediation playlist or audio book. Massage essential oils and/or Magnesium Spray onto your temples, wrists and the creases of your elbows to help you to relax and to encourage a sounder sleep. There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination hangry, sleep-deprived and more enthused by the bed than your new surroundings.
If there is one thing you absolutely have room for whilst travelling, it's supplements. Supplements are the easiest way to keep nourished whilst traveling or on the go and these magical concentrated forms of everything you need will fit easily into your luggage. I always pack Vitamin D, Omega 3 Fish Oils, Multivitamins, Probiotic Capsules, Dim, Peppermint Capsules, Charcoal Capsules, Antioxidant Vitamins, Acai Tablets, Chlorella and/or Spirulina Tablets, Evening Primrose Oil and Magnesium Spray. This way, no matter how good or bad the food is, you will always have essential vitamins and nutrients to compensate.
BEFRIEND THE WAITING STAFF
Don't be afraid to be fussy whilst eating out. Speak to the staff about any dietary requirements you have, and whilst this may be difficult in a different language, just try to figure out the basics of their menu and how you can work it around your needs. Work out the ingredients on the menu and play around with a few things if nothing quite fits your requirements. If one meal has vegetables and another has a protein source like fish or poultry, mix and match. If something comes with a sauce that threats sugar, cream and/or flour, ask for it without. And if there is a side menu, which there often is, pick out some safe options like steamed vegetables and garden salads. These are almost always the same in every country, especially in touristy areas.
PREP FOR DAYS OUT
Whilst you don't want to spend too much time cooped up in your accommodation cooking, it makes sense to prepare some food during whatever time you do spend inside for days or activities where you can't determine what the food options will be. Take a packed lunch with you if you are planning to be out and about all day, to ensure you have an option if you don't find anywhere half decent to stop for lunch. Also take snacks, especially if you are going to be active and don't have much space, or don't want to be weighed down. Start the day with a big breakfast if you can't be sure of lunch and dinner options. Wake up with infused water and if possible hot water with fresh lemon juice or a smoothie/juice. If you are staying in a hotel or catered/all-in accommodation, go for a protein rich breakfast like eggs or porridge made with water, and add your nuts, seeds, chia seeds and any super food powders that go).
Whilst the thought of exercising on holiday seems a massive waste of time, the chances are you will be keeping fitter than you realise. You tend to walk a lot more, and in sunny climates you'll likely be swimming more and maybe even exploring by bike. I personally wouldn't waste time on holiday going to the hotel gym. I also think it is good to have a rest period, so only if I really feel energised will I take a run along the beach or start the day with some yoga in my hotel room or a quick swim if there is a pool, or the sea is close by. For longer trips, however, and most of the time these are work-related in my case, I take a resistance band with me which turns small exercise routines into challenging workouts. It is impossibly tiny making it easy to pack, and is great for doing static exercises in a confined space like a hotel room or a tiny hotel gym. Exercise apps and youtube tutorials are also survival saviours when living abroad temporarily, where it can be hard to find local classes or to find time in a busy schedule to attend them. I love Tara Stiles yoga tutorials on youtube and start every morning with at least one 10 minute session. If you are tired, jet-lagged or really short of time, try to stretch when you wake up and before you sleep - just to keep your body in motion and to sooth, relax and reset your muscles after a long sleep, or a long day.
GOOGLE DOCS . GOOGLE SHEETS . GOOGLE MAPS
I'm not ashamed to admit that I usually make a google doc - or a google sheet if I'm feeling extra organised - for each destination I'm planning to visit. If I'm scrolling through Instagram or a blog and come across somewhere I want to visit, I add it to the doc in case I ever find myself nearby. This was until a friend of mine told me about what I'm going to refer to as The Star System - something maybe everyone is familiar with but I certainly was not. On Google Maps, you can type in the name of a restaurant or business you may have heard about / seen on social media, and once located on the map, you can save it by attaching a gold star to it on your personal google map account. The Star will show perminantly on your map so that if you are ever near to the starred place, it is there as a reminder of somewhere you once wanted to try. You can scroll through a simple list of all of your Starred Places too without being near to them, giving you plenty of options of new places to visit if you're looking for something to do.