So, I’ve just returned from New York. What a holiday. What a city!
I’m so grateful for all the time I get to spend in that amazing city and any travel I get to do in general. However, when dealing with a chronic illness, travel can sometimes be a not so pleasant experience.
Over the years, I’ve been experimenting on ways to stay feeling as good as I possibly can whilst still enjoying everything a new city or country has to offer. I seriously hate to miss out!
So if you have a chronic illness yourself and planning (or want to plan) a holiday, I’m sharing with you . . .
My best tips to feeling good when travelling
Limit Travel | Sounds a little counter-productive, but over the years I’ve discovered when I have to constantly pack my bags and move between towns/countries/hotels every few days, my anxiety levels rise and my digestion shuts down, causing discomfort and major stress. To me, this isn’t what a holiday is about. As much as I want to see and do everything while I’m away, I’ve discovered that staying still in either the one town, country or hotel/apartment for majority of my time is so much more beneficial to my health. Not only do I get a chance to completely “switch off” and relax, but I also get to really explore and experience my local neighbourhood and the people in it. I’ve made some wonderful friends from just “staying put”.
Move | Yep, an obvious one, but getting your body moving as soon as your feet are on solid ground is one of the best ways to help get your digestion moving, get circulation flowing and clear any foggy head from jet lag. I’m not an adventure seeker when I travel, but I am a walker, so I always love to suss out walking routes wherever I’m going. Whether that’s in New York, or walking between villages for lunch in the country side of France. I walk everywhere! My feet are my mode of transport. A holiday not using a car or public transport whenever possible is my kinda holiday!
Food | Being gluten, grain and dairy free can certainly have its challenges when travelling, as you’re more than likely going to eat out more than normal. I’m not here to tell you to miss out. I don’t! However, I do try and limit eating out to just once per day – not every meal, and when I do eat out, I savour every mouthful. I also find when on holiday that I tend to eat only 2 meals a day, which is why I love a holiday where I get to spend time shopping in the local markets and cook in a new kitchen. So for me, I don’t stay in hotels. I always book an apartment with my very own kitchen. On arrival, my first stop is often the supermarket to pick up essentials, like coconut oil, Himalayan salt and some form of dairy free milk. Depending on the type of holiday, I’ve often been known to pack all of this in my suitcase. When visiting markets, I will always pick up fresh organic eggs and veggies – this way I know that after a big day of walking, sightseeing and shopping, I can always whip up some scrambled eggs with lots of greens for dinner!
Eating Out | This can be a little challenging for me due to my dietary requirements, but not impossible. Worst case scenario, I stick to the “side dishes” on a menu. I’ve always found some incredible vegetable side dishes to enjoy, and restaurants these days don’t bat an eyelid. Honestly. I do it everywhere! However, when in a foreign speaking country, I always make sure I know how to say “gluten, grain and dairy free” in their language – I never assume they speak English. That’s just bad manners. Not as restricted as me with your diet? Then lean towards dishes filled with vegetables and some sort of protein, instead of filling up on the bread basket or ordering bread/wheat based meals, which are low in nutrients. Perhaps order some extra vegetables or salads for the table to fill up on - the last thing you want to be is hungry!
Sleep | In my normal life I have a set bed time and set wake up time. Yes, even on weekends, and my body does this naturally now. So when on holiday’s, I stick to this routine. In fact, I don’t think my body would let me stay awake past 10.30pm even if I tried. I find this allows me to adjust to the different time zones a lot quicker and actually helps with my eating and digestion. I always pack my eye mask, in case the bedroom I’m staying in is too bright from street lights (or from a nearby lighthouse!) and ear plugs. You may not need these, but I always prefer to be prepared.
Rest | When my body tells me it’s tired. I listen and I rest. That’s what a holiday’s about after all. This doesn’t mean staying indoors. Perhaps take a rug to a local park with your book, or one of my favourite activities – people watching.
Now it’s your turn - I’d love to hear your ideas for staying healthy while travelling?