I recently returned from 3+ weeks in Europe and many clients, friends and colleagues are asking how it is possible that I am back at work the next day after 20+ hours of taxis, shuttles, airports, trains and airplanes and a nine hour time difference.
I'm not going to lie, I am a bit tired today, but totally functional unlike how I used to feel after such extensive travel. I love to travel and half of my family lives in Europe, so I have figured out ways to make it work for me! I am happy to share my top travel tips & products with you...
Hydrate your whole body on the inside as well as the skin and sinuses. Air quality in airplanes is, well, disgusting. It's full of germs and pesticides and it's very dry. I have three essential hydrating practices I do on the airplane:
First, I spray down my seat and surrounding areas with Kamberra tea tree spray. I love this product because it is both hydrating and anti-microbial. Usually my neighbor wants their area sprayed as well which is even better! I also spray my face regularly during the flight with this product for the same reasons. A DIY recipe is to simply add 10-20 drops of tea tree (or your favorite skin safe & antimicrobial essential oil) to an 80ml spray bottle bottle filled with water.
Add a few drops of oil to your sinus cavities to keep them hydrated and the delicate tissue capable of protecting you from germs. Banyan makes one of my favorite nasal oils, but a drop of olive oil or whatever culinary oil you have on hand will also work.
Drink water! I know, it's annoying to have to get up multiple times to pee, but that's also really good for your body when sitting for such extended periods of time. I aim to drink half my weight in ounces of water and get up to pee every few hours. While I am up I stretch for 10 minutes as well. This makes a huge difference. Bonus if you can add flax or chia seeds to your water for their hydrating properties.
Help your body get into rhythm with the new time zone ASAP. From California to France, this means 9 hours later. So, for example, when I arrive around noon, it's midnight in CA. I haven't slept much on the plane and I am tired. I immediately drink a cup of coffee and spend the day outside walking (preferably in the sun) and enjoying the new surroundings. I do not lie down no matter how tired I feel! I mean, if your feet hurt, by all means, have a seat and put your feet up but do not go to sleep if you can avoid it.
Try to stay awake until at least 8pm. I drink another cup of coffee if I really need it to stay awake. Be sure to eat lunch and dinner, if you can. Then, 1-2 hours before bed, take melatonin. My favorite brand is herbatonin - a plant based, bio-identical source. Take one cap every night for at least 3-4 nights until you feel fully adjusted to the new time zone. Repeat when you return to your home time zone.
Support your immune system and your gut. One of the most common travel related complaints is of people getting acute sickness, usually respiratory or gastrointestinal. Of course this is common - we're exposed to new germs and unfamiliar foods and our systems are stressed. One of the best ways to support your immune health it to support the gut! Here are my favorite gut health products:
Support your digestion with enzymes to help break down foods and/or bitters to help stimulate your digestive fire before meals (hello, apertif!). This is important because your gut operates on a bio-rhythym so your new time zone is confusing when the new 7pm dinner time is 4am back at home when your GI has scheduled rest and is not used to preparing for food with digestive juices, stomach churning and intestinal motility.
Address constipation. My preferred method is by taking magnesium which draws water into the bowels and thus promotes bowel movements. It has the added benefit of relaxing the body, including muscles that may be tired and crampy from the stress of travel and increased walking. I love CALM and it comes in convenient travel size packets, though I prefer to pour some from the large container into a smaller, travel size container, to reduce packaging waste.
Consume probiotics and/or fermented foods. Most of us know by now the importance of the beneficial bacteria in the gut for digestive and immune health. I seek out fermented foods in my new location and take probiotics daily. Jarrow formulas makes a great shelf stable option called EPS 25 billion.
Activated Charcoal. This product is so useful that I always have it in my purse. It definitely saved me from food poisoning when I was in India and ate some very questionable food. And it has helped me recover more quickly from food poisoning when I got sick in Mexico as well. It adsorbs undesirable compounds in the gut from toxins to alcohol to histamines. If you eat something questionable or drink too much alcohol, take 2 caps before bed with a glass of water. Be warned that you may notice very dark black feces! Bonus: open a cap and use it topically as a paste mixed with water on blemishes and bug bites.
Also, wash your hands regularly and/or use hand sanitizer such as this one by Clean Well. Or, use the tea tree spray from tip #1.
Visualize how you want to feel. The brain is incredibly powerful and I used to spend much of my mental energy on the airplane dreading how tired I was going to feel in the new time zone. I'd get stressed about my inability to sleep on the plane and my thoughts about the physiology of the hormones involved in these important bio-rhythyms that control sleep, digestion, mood and more would through my mind as I prepared to feel crappy upon arrival. Needless to say, that was not helpful!
Neuroscience has shown that the brain does not know the difference between a visualization and a real event. So, now, for several days before departure and on the airplane, I visualize myself feeling great in my new destination. My visualizations include waking up refreshed after sleeping well, enjoying walking and eating and feeling strong and happy. It's pretty incredible how effective this is. Give it a shot and let me know if it works for you!