Woooof, healthy escapaders! A new year has arrived so it’s a perfect time to set some realistic goals for healthy traveling. I’ve never really been into making “New Year’s Resolutions” (hence, my post title is just “Resolutions”) because I believe positive changes should not wait until the beginning of the year. Like seriously, humans – whatever you need to do, do it NOW! Dogs don’t wait to make things happen – we see what we want and we GO FOR IT! Well, until we get pulled back by you humans. Argh. Unfortunately, many humans tend to need that “New Year” hype to feel motivated for positive change. Travel the world AND be healthy – that’s what we healthy travelers should be aiming for – every single day! Be realistic, take accountability, and stick to your healthy travel goals. Healthy traveling is only possible if you consistently make conscious decisions to be healthy on the road. Here are my resolutions for the healthy traveler: 10 goals you should set NOW. Did you not hear me? NOW!
#1 Resolution for the Healthy Traveler: WALK A MINIMUM OF 5 MILES DAILY
Walk, walk, walk! Move, move, move! Mark, mark, mark! Movement is life. It may be challenging to get an exercise routine down or hit the gym when you’re traveling so your most realistic goal is to WALK EVERYWHERE. Don’t settle for a 20-minute-walk and call it a day. Walk more. Walk briskly. On my last trip to Europe, I walked an average of 8 miles a day. I FELT FREAKIN’ AWESOOMEEEE. Aim for 5 miles to start with and add more as you surpass your goal. Explore by walking. Make walking an essential part of your day. If your destination is less than 4 miles away, aim to walk there (well, provided that the weather is cooperating). Need to catch a train? Walk to the station! Feeling hungry? Walk to a restaurant! Wanna check out that museum? Walk there! Seize every opportunity to walk, walk, walk.
#2 Resolution for the Healthy Traveler: BEGIN YOUR DAY WITH (at least) 10 MINUTES OF STRETCHING
A good stretch is exactly what you need to start your day of exploration. Prepare your body for LOTS of walking by streeeeeeetching. Stretch your back, shoulders, neck, legs, arms, and so on to help you decompress and de-stress. Stretch throughout the day whenever the opportunity permits. I am OBSESSED with stretching so I even do some light stretches before bedtime to unwind and relax.
#3 Resolution for the Healthy Traveler: DO A SET OF 10 BREATHING EXERCISES EVERY SINGLE DAY
Commit yourself to a minimum of 10 breathing exercises every day. You can break it down however you like – I either do 5 in the morning and 5 at night OR 3 in the morning, 4 throughout the day, and 3 at night. Sometimes I do more because the effects are so calming. Just close your eyes and take a DEEP breath. Hold it for a second, then RELEASE. As you exhale, let go of all your negative thoughts, worries, frustrations, etc. – whatever that’s occupying your mind. This helps you loosen up and feel at peace.
#4 Resolution for the Healthy Traveler: USE A FACIAL MASK ONCE A MONTH
For healthy skin on the road, add a facial mask to your beauty regime. Commit yourself to putting on a 15/20-minute mask at least once every 4 weeks; this will help brighten your skin and relax your body at the same time. Due to being outdoors practically all the time, frequent travelers face the risks of aging and damaged skin from excessive sun exposure and environmental pollution. Combat it with a monthly facial mask on top of your daily skincare regime. I love using organic skincare products as chemicals can be harsh on my skin.
#5 Resolution for the Healthy Traveler: SLEEP AN HOUR EARLIER AND WAKE UP AN HOUR EARLIER
When I was in Beijing, I met an elderly local who told me that the secret to longevity is to “sleep early and rise early.” Although the physical act of traveling can put you in unpredictable circumstances that may interfere with your bedtime schedule, aim to sleep an hour earlier on non-travel days. Whenever I sleep earlier and wake up earlier, I feel vigorous and rejuvenated knowing that I still have a full day ahead of me.
#6 Resolution for the Healthy Traveler: CHECK YOUR SMART PHONE ONLY ONCE EVERY 2 HOURS WHEN YOU’RE OUT AND ABOUT
Aaaaahhh, a smart phone is a double-edged sword. Its convenience and easy access consistently kill our attention span, nerves, and eyesight. Cut down on phone usage when you’re out and about – use your phone only when you must take that photo. Forget putting it on IG right then and there. Traveling or not – we should not lose our attention span to a gadget! Come on, humans. It may be as difficult as learning a new trick, but it’s possible to rise above it. Better yet, don’t worsen your vision to a smart phone. Protect your eyesight! AND, save your hands from the risk of nerve damage. Repetitive movements from phone usage can cause tingling and pinching in your hands (and even your neck and head), which is a sure sign of nerve injury. It drives me crazzzy when I see people walking and checking their phones. WHY??? Can’t they wait until they get to a stop? Accidents caused by smart phones have basically become commonly accepted occurrences so DON’T be that careless human who’s not paying attention while crossing the street. Give time for your eyes to rest. Most importantly, learn to appreciate your surroundings. THINK – you’ve come a long way to experience your destination so don’t ruin it by being glued to your smart phone. Be present and live in the moment, escapaders!
#7 Resolution for the Healthy Traveler: MAKE YOUR OWN SIMPLE MEAL FOR EVERY 3X OF DINING OUT
Eating local food is my favorite part of traveling – this is how I experience (and remember) a place. Food is culture. Food is people. Food is EVERYTHING. Unfortunately, eating out every single day is not as healthy (although it heavily depends on what we order) as a home cooked meal. Set a goal to make your own meal at least once for every 3x of dining out. It’s simple – you can control the ingredients when you cook; for example, you can add less oil and salt, cook with herbs and spices over MSG, choose more vegetables over meat, make brown rice instead of white rice, etc. The options are undoubtedly limitless. Meals don’t need to be extravagant either; after eating out too many times, I actually crave bland and simple food. Even without a kitchen, you can adorn a bowl of cereal or granola with fruit and nuts, make cheese and veggie sandwiches, create a hummus wrap with cucumbers and tomatoes, and design a plate of colorful salad. If you do have access to a kitchen, the possibilities are endless as you’ll have a lot more to work with. As to my favorite item to cook, check out my spinach and tomato pasta with whole wheat spaghetti!
#8 Resolution for the Healthy Traveler: SWAP PROCESSED SNACKS FOR RAW FRUIT AND VEGGIES – AT LEAST ONCE EVERY OTHER SNACK TIME
Next time you head to the market for snacks, choose your snacks wisely. Forget that bag of barbeque chips, that chocolate bar, and that bag of popcorn. Be a healthy traveler by decreasing your consumption of processed snacks, which are often high in sodium and cholesterol. Your safest best is to go raw: fruit and veggies. I love snacking on blueberries, apples, bananas, celery, carrots, and cucumbers. Go organic if available. There’s a huge variety to choose from so snack on, escapaders!
#9 Resolution for the Healthy Traveler: HAUL LIGHTER LUGGAGE
Don’t harm your shoulders and back by carrying a backpack that weighs half your weight or rolling a luggage that weighs more than an overweight mastiff. Even with a 4-wheeler, there will be times when you’ll need to carry that heavy sack yourself. It’s just NOT worth it! It takes a physical toll on your body, especially when you are constantly on-the-go from one destination to the next; therefore, make it your resolution to lighten your load. Pack minimally and avoid bringing items that you will use sparingly (like an umbrella). Don’t stock up on items that you can bring at your destination for about the same price. Instead of packing your entire wardrobe, do laundry whenever you stay at a destination for more than a couple days; it’s actually a fun way to experience the local lifestyle. If you do use a backpack, make sure you invest in a good one with padding for your shoulders and back along with straps to support your hips.
#10 Resolution for the Healthy Traveler: RELAX FOR 2 HOURS BEFORE BEDTIME
Wooooooof, my favorite part of the day – bedtime. For better sleep, chill out for at least 2 hours before your bedtime. Don’t eat, drink, work, or play with your smart phone. You can relax by doing light stretches (#2), performing breathing exercises (#3), or putting on a facial mask (#4). I also like to meditate, read a book, and listen to classical music. Each person has his or her own way of attaining relaxation, so do whatever makes YOU relax. Whatever it is, make sure to POWER DOWN by detaching yourself from your gadgets. Your frequently-traveled body will appreciate these calming techniques prior to bedtime. It’ll directly improve sleep, which will increase your energy level for the next day. You will be pumped up and ready to go the next morning!
BONUS resolution for digital nomads: BE ERGONOMIC ON YOUR LAPTOP WHEN WORKING ON THE ROAD
Don’t do this! NOT ergonomic at all.
For digital nomads and people who travel frequently for work, protect your health by being ergonomic on your laptops. Everyone loves the idea of working on a beach in Thailand, but the truth is that working on a laptop excessively is destructive to your health as you can easily suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or develop a repetitive strain injury. If you plan to spend more than an hour on your laptop every day, consider a more ergonomic position other than simply placing your laptop on your lap while sitting on a beach chair. While it’s not realistic to travel with a lumbar support, footrest, or ergonomic chair, there are a few things you can do to make your work station a little bit more ergonomic no matter where you are in the world. For starters, get a wireless keyboard-mouse combo and a laptop stand; that way, you can incorporate some essentials of ergonomic design. Whether you are at a coffee shop or in a hotel room, always sit upright and position your elbows and knees at 90-degree angles (feet on the floor, please). Your keyboard and mouse should be placed in a position where your elbows will naturally angle at 90-degrees. Furthermore, ensure that the laptop monitor is placed at eye level and ideally at least 19-24 inches away from your eyes. If you can’t be ergonomic on the road, be sure to take extra breaks – don’t be in the same position for more than 2 hours TOPS. For reals, humans. Get up and stretch every hour or so. And don’t strain your eyes and ruin your vision! Give your eyes a break every 20-30 minutes by looking away (perhaps time to close your eyes for those breathing exercises).
Hmm…a little high for me, but probably perfect for you humans.
OKAY – much better! Plus I have my food and water next to me.
Hope you start committing to these resolutions for the healthy traveler! Happy 2017, a year of good health and fantastic adventures. Looking for tips on how to be healthy on that long international flight? Check out this post!
Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob