Did you miss Traveling Light (Part One)? Read it first here.
Crossing over nine time zones is the kind of jet-lag that leaves you sleep-deprived, susceptible to illness and severely dehydrated. And ten days by myself in Europe with nothing on the agenda but one wedding and nine additional days to simply sit around sipping glorious cappuccinos is the kind of vacation that can leave you bringing home a few extra pounds (and I don’t mean the leftover British currency in my wallet).
So as I prepared for my trip to Europe, I knew I needed to do things a bit differently this time. I needed to pack smart and pack light.
One thing was to avoid this:
Instead, I packed my own cooler full of goodness! Also, while on my (daytime) plane ride over, I slept as much as possible and avoided all sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
My flight to Switzerland included a ten-hour layover in London. I knew that I couldn’t simply blow ten hours in Heathrow Airport when I had never seen London before. When I hit the ground in the UK at 6:30am local time, my body thought it was way past bedtime but I had a whole new day ahead of me!
So after clearing customs and getting to downtown London, it was 8:00 am local time and I sipped my first double espresso of the day.
Over the course of the next ten hours, I made sure to have a coffee or a Clif Shot Blok every two hours. Although it’s borrowed energy (stimulants like caffeine don’t produce new energy — you’ll have to pay for it eventually), it helped me power through and see London on a fast-track tour.
Beside the sleep I got on the plane and the artificial energy from the caffeine and natural sugars, the thing that truly helped me the most was my nutrition and hydration. Even if you don’t have a transatlantic flight on your schedule, some of the tricks I used may be useful to you, too!
Domestica’s Traveling Light Tips
1. Come Prepared
I said no thanks to the nutritionally-lacking airline food and instead, whipped up some fresh turkey wraps from the contents of my cooler, which I had packed at home that morning. My made-to-order Turkey Wraps include flat bread, nitrite-free turkey breast, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and avocado to give some creaminess.
In addition to my wrap ingredients, my cooler included wheat grass, protein powder, fresh fruit, a nuts/seeds trail mix, almond butter, and more.
It’s a common misconception that food isn’t allowed on planes. Not true! It is true that liquids over 3 oz. are not allowed (I have had one too many yogurts confiscated by security!) but if you do bring salad dressing or other small amounts of liquid, just have it in your 1L liquids bag (along with your toothpaste, etc). It’s also true that you aren’t allowed to bring fruit into a foreign country but so long as you eat it before you get to said country, you are fine.
At this point, my seat neighbor now thinks I’m downright crazy. But judging by the six shots of vodka she downed, I don’t think we see eye-to-eye.
The number one mistake people make when traveling by air is not doubling up their hydration. Scratch that, I’d say the number one mistake people make IN GENERAL is not adequately hydrating their bodies.
But when flying, your body needs even more water than usual so to keep my metabolism humming, I bought a Brita Water Bottle* for the trip and avoided having to buy bottled water at every turn (bad for the environment AND my wallet).
Typically, I use nothing but a glass water bottle but again, desperate times call for desperate measures! Heads up: this water bottle only filters out chlorine — so it’s not about purifying water so much as it is about making tap water taste better (which can help you drink more of it). I wasn’t all that impressed with the Brita Bottle — it was cheaply constructed and the mouth piece is covered with a plastic lid that completely detaches so your bound to lose it (and you’re always touching the mouth piece to open/close the bottle). Next time, I will invest in the slightly more expensive CamelBak Groove*, which has a more convenient mouth piece that flips down.
3. Use What Your Momma Gave You
No, I’m not suggesting something scandalous…I mean using your brain. Get smart. Get creative. I knew I couldn’t bring my almond milk with me (because of liquid restrictions) so instead, I brought my protein powder and on the flight home, simply ordered a small soy milk from the cafe. Pack your protein powder right in your shaker bottle to save space and make blending the drink even easier.
Quick Tips for Good Food on the Go:
- Although I typically insist on reusable containers, for traveling I use zip-lock bags to keep things separate until it’s time to prepare my food.
- I put all my cold items in a small cooler (with an ice-pack) and keep the room-temp items in a separate lunch bag. This helps keep things cold for longer periods of time. UPDATE: I have since had ice packs confiscated by security — so make sure it’s less than 3 oz!
- At home I never use individually packaged foods (like apple sauce in a cup, for example). But when traveling, things like single-serving items can be a smart option. Just remember to keep it under 3 oz if it’s a liquid (i.e. apple sauce).
- Whether on a plane or in your desk at work, having quick, healthy snacks is a sure-fire way to avoid temptations. My favorite is storing away a few of these single-serving nut butter packets from Justin’s Nut Butter (and a fresh apple if you can!). I always feel like I’ve somehow cheated by eating this stuff. It’s THAT good.
- Oatmeal is one of the best slow-burning carbs around. It gives you lasting energy and is super-simple to make! For this trip, I chose Better Oat’s Organic Raw Oats. The pouches double-up as a measuring cup for your water (when did that happen?!) and the oats contain nothing artificial. I made it different every day by adding dried cranberries, slivered almonds or mashed banana. I always add a packet of the aforementioned to-die-for nut butter to give it a boost of protein and make it a complete breakfast. And of course, sprinkle some flax on there to get a hit of healthy fats (and keep things regular — all very important when traveling, let’s be honest).
- We all know tea is great for you but this organic Peppermint Tea from Traditional Medicinals is especially good when your dealing with jet-lag (or other types of bodily stress) as the peppermint is said to help your digestion. Most airlines only carry caffeinated tea so it’s also smart to bring your own if you know you want to avoid caffeine while adjusting to a new time zone.
What about you? Do you have any tips for travelling light?
Natasha Drisdelle (aka Domestica) is a mom of twins, baby-weight survivor, and health & fitness blogger who lives in California’s Silicon Valley. She posted her before-and-after pics on the immortal internet as living proof that morphing into a gelatinous baby-growing-factory doesn’t have to mean your bikini days are over. You can find her on Google+, Facebook and Twitter, cutting through the myths and guilt that keep women from realizing true health.