We all know that traveling can take its toll on both the body and mind. Inevitable delays, cramped seats, traffic jams, and hours of sitting can make getting from point A to point B just plain brutal. But what if at journey’s end you felt renewed and ready to enjoy your destination instead of desperately in need of a nap? To help us make the transformation from weary traveler to well-rested jet-setter, we asked experts from around the country to share their best traveling tactics. Whether you’re getting ready to road-trip home for the holidays or are about to embark on an exotic oversees adventure, this advice will have you arriving looking and feeling your best.
Carry on an amenity kit. If you’re fortunate enough to travel first or business class on your flights, you’re probably used to receiving a complimentary pouch of must-haves. But when you’re flying coach, Jamie Jones, COO of Main Line, Pennsylvania-based Whirlaway Travel, suggests making up your own pampering kit. To combat the dryness in the cabin, be sure to include lip balm, lotion, and hydrating facial spray. If it’s a long flight, stow away an eye-mask to shut out the light, and ear plugs to avoid being awakened by unnecessary chatter. Packing toothpaste, a toothbrush, and facial wipes will allow you to freshen up before you land.
Make terminal time count. When you have time to kill before boarding your flight, instead of popping into the airport bar, which will further dehydrate you, Amanda Wagner, President and CEO at TAC Fitness & Wellness Center in Aspen, Colorado, recommends doing laps around the terminal. “Put on some music and get walking,” she says. “Your pace can be slow or fast, all that matters is that you’re moving. You’ll have plenty of time to sit on your flight.” If you’re feeling really ambitious, add lunges, squats, wall push-ups, and tricep dips. Wagner usually shoots for three to five reps of each.
Be mindful of what you eat before you hop on the plane. When we’re at high altitude, the barometric pressure is different, and that affects all your body’s systems. “While flying, every gas in your cells expands,” Tami Bronstein, medical herbalist and physiologist at Northern New Jersey-based The Medical Herbalist Apothecary, explains. “That’s why you get bloated and uncomfortable.” One way to avoid that, she advises, is to avoid dairy, beans, and raw veggies—which are all more difficult for the body to digest—a day or two prior to your flight. Instead, opt for cooked vegetables and soups, which are easier for your body to process and will help keep you hydrated.
Stay hydrated. We all know that staying hydrated is key when traveling—especially if you’re flying. However, we often do the opposite to limit inconvenient bathroom breaks. Amanda Wagner of TAC Fitness & Wellness Center has a novel approach to this conundrum: “I bring my own, empty water bottle and fill it up in the terminal,” Wagner recommends. “Then, I aim to drink six to eight ounces every 45 minutes. This forces me to get up and use the restroom, so I move and stay hydrated.” She notes that when driving we resist stops because of the delay in arrival time. “But really, you’re only stopping for roughly five minutes every hour. For a four-hour drive, that’s only a 20-minute delay,” she says. “In reality, that’s a small amount of time, and a small sacrifice for feeling great when you arrive.”
Refrain from working on the plane. Though the temptation might be great, resist the inclination to check things off your work to-do list while in transit. This will make your time spent traveling feel that much more relaxing. “I never, ever work on an airplane,” Jamie Jones of Whirlaway Travel shares, adding that he prefers to use that time to read, catch up on television shows, or sleep. “It is one of the few times that I can be completely disconnected, and it is refreshing.”
Curb your alcohol consumption. It may be tempting to have a few cocktails to help you unwind and get some shut-eye on a long flight, but the dehydration that results from drinking alcohol can disrupt your sleep for days to come. Robin M. Han, DNP, APRN, ACNS-BC at Happy Mental Wellness in Austin, Texas, recommends having a “Yay, vacation!” glass of wine with dinner for a celebratory vibe, then sticking to water. Likewise, once you’ve arrived, limit evening imbibing to no more than two drinks for men, and one for women. You’ll find that jet lag dissipates more quickly when you’re hydrated.
Give yourself permission to fidget. One of the reasons we often arrive at our destinations fatigued is because we’ve been inactive for so many hours. Whether you are flying or driving, make it a point to move in your seat every 15 to 20 minutes, Amanda Wagner of TAC Fitness & Wellness Center shares. That can mean simply shifting positions from the left to right side. “If you have room, extend your legs and engage your quad muscles, holding for two seconds at the top of every rep,” she instructs. “Aim for 10 reps for each leg.” Wagner also suggests trying seated calf raises, over head arm stretches, upper body side bends, and neck rotations. Bonus points if you can get up and stand in the aisle, or at a rest stop squeeze in a few quad, side, back, and hamstring stretches.
For peace of mind, use a travel advisor. While there’s no denying that the internet is useful when planning a trip, consider using a travel advisor when a true vacation is concerned. When you’re in the hands of a professional, you can rest assured that all details of your trip are taken care of. “A good advisor will have all of the details mapped out, including dining, transfers, private touring, a spa appointment upon arrival—plus recommendations on what to see and do during your free time,” Jamie Jones of Whirlaway Travel says. “And don’t forget the extras, like VIP treatment and upgrades at your hotel.”
Remember that comfort is key. When it comes to airport attire, you don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort, says Annie Heyward of Annie Heyward Styling in Saint Louis, Missouri. When picking your travel outfit, “Layers are essential,” she shares. “Don a nice t-shirt, your favorite jeans or a stretchy black ponte knit pant, and top it off with a cashmere blend poncho or boyfriend jacket.” Because the temperature varies on an airplane, you want to be able to shed a layer or snuggle up with a scarf. To breeze through TSA (and for dashes through the terminal), she advises sporting slip-on fashion sneakers. For the gents, she says you can’t go wrong with a nice t-shirt, jeans, and a sport coat.
TSG Tip 285 from Jamie Jones, COO of Whirlaway Travel, which is featured in The Scout Guide Main Line; Tami Bronstein, Medical Herbalist-Physiologist at The Medical Herbalist Apothecary, which is featured in The Scout Guide Northern New Jersey; Amanda Wagner, President and CEO at TAC Fitness & Wellness Center, which is featured in The Scout Guide Aspen; Robin M. Han, DNP, APRN, ACNS-BC at Happy Mental Wellness, which is featured in The Scout Guide Austin; and Annie Heyward of Annie Heyward Styling, which is featured in The Scout Guide Saint Louis.