Don’t Let the Travel Spoil the Trip: 5 Ways I Travel Healthier

Do you feel it? The cold in the air?


For me that can only signal two things:


  1. Move over pumpkin spice…it is holiday season!
  2. It is time to get on a plane and get out of the cold.


Winter is my travel season and with good reason. I don’t travel much for work but you better believe when I do it is in search of conferences and self development in warmer climates that coincide with Canadian winter.


While that might sound glamorous, there is one thing that any business traveller (or parent of small children) can universally tell you. The ACT of travel is never glamourous. In fact it is one of the least healthy things you can do. Seriously, I challenge you to look for healthy options in an airport. It is a veritable goulash of unhealthy made up of sitting on your butt, awful food choices and being trapped in a canister of recirculated germy air.


Earlier this month I travelled to Charleston for the Hollis Company’s Business Rise Conference. Knowing I was leaving a family on the verge of cold and flu season and wanting to have optimal energy to be fully engaged in the learning ahead I made a few decisions about how I was going to travel to optimize my health.


I drank water


I know, I know you have heard me tell you to drink your water a million times before. However given how simple it is and how few people actually do it, it bears repeating. Aside from going to the bathroom frequently there is literally no downside to drinking water.


It hydrates your muscles, connective tissue, internal organs and skin. It helps your digestion. It supports your nervous system. It assists in weight loss.


If you are reading this and noticing you are thirsty you are already 30% dehydrated. So go! Drink! Aim for at least half your body weight in fluid ounces and probably a bit more if you are travelling.


I wore compression socks


Did you know that 50 – 80% of your resting blood volume is in your calves when you sit? Movement creates a muscle pump that circulates it through your body. Given how much you sit through the course of travel, it is no surprise that most of us get off of a plane with swollen feet and sluggish legs.


Compression socks are tightest at the ankle and ease up toward the knee helping with positive blood flow back to the heart and lymphatic system. This reduces the stress on your veins and helps prevent and manage things like venous insufficiency and varicose veins. More importantly it leaves you feeling good as you step off the plane and into your next adventure.


Here is a pro tip: if you are fit professionally, most insurance plans cover the cost of compression socks. It is an item I always tell clients to stock up on before their insurance resets at the end of the year. Take advantage of our complimentary compression assessments by booking with one of our health practitioners.


I washed my hands


I firmly believe that washing my hands has been my best defence over the years against the numerous cases of cold and flu that walk through my door. I don’t mean washing them once or twice a day or just after I go to the bathroom. I probably wash my hands 20 – 30 times a day.


Treat a client. Wash my hands. Walk in the door of my house. Wash my hands. Ride public transit. Wash my hands. Play with my kids. Wash my hands. You get the point.


Obviously this is more challenging on a plane but luckily hand sanitizer comes in travel sizes and fits perfectly in a carry on or purse to defend against the thousands of germ-y surfaces you will come into contact with on your journey.


I booked an aisle seat


If you have been paying attention and a) have been drinking your water and b) getting up off your butt then booking an aisle seat comes in very handy. Sure it may not afford you the panoramic view of your destination but it will allow you to avoid crawling over your sleeping neighbour to get to the bathroom.


Aim to stand every 30 – 40 minutes. Better yet if traffic allows, get into the aisle and move a little bit. Movement will stop swelling and prevent your muscles from stiffening from long bouts of sitting. It is also helpful in relieving pressure from your back, hips and pelvis.


I brought a probiotic


There are plenty of different schools of thought on probiotics but when you are travelling to new environments, introducing new foods and adjusting your normal daily rhythms you want your immunity at it’s best.


Up until now many people would leave their probiotic, which supports healthy gut biome, at home because most probiotics needed to be refrigerated which compounded the stresses of being away from home by all of a sudden allowing healthy digestive gut bacteria to drop. Luckily now we have shelf stable probiotics (we like Nova brand in the clinic) and quality companies will even have travel specific probiotics.


Confused by all of the different strains out there? You should be which is why it is important to ask your health practitioner which is most specific to your individualized needs. Our naturopath is a great place to start when evaluating your supplements.


Wherever you travel, be it for work or pleasure, staying healthy is a great way to get the best out of your vacation. Don’t let the journey tarnish the destination. Take these simple steps and arrive ready to rest and rejuvenate.


Melanie Stevens Sutherland, Clinic Director & Senior Orthopaedic and Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist

Melanie is a graduate of McMaster University and brings 17 years of experience as a senior physiotherapist to Body Co. She has enjoyed a long tenure working with active populations at prestigious sport medicine clinics. Past clients include Provincial, National and Olympic level athletes as well as members of the National Football League, the Canadian Football League, the Ontario Hockey League, the American Hockey League, the National Lacrosse League and Major League Soccer.

Following the birth of her own children, Melanie developed a strong interest in women’s health. She has taken specialized courses in pelvic floor physiotherapy and women’s nutrition. She is passionate about helping women find strength and confidence in their post-natal bodies following pregnancy and delivery.

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