Updated: Nov 13
What if time away… a long weekend, a family vacation, a personal retreat… was more than just a flurry of exhausting activities and over-indulgent food? What if it was a time to do truly life-giving things? Things like spending time outdoors, eating incredible food (that fuels our bodies), taking time to laugh, going on adventures, and... you know, taking time to actually sleep? Travel often involves changing schedules, routines, environments, and daily activities. It can definitely take a toll. So what do we do to feel great during AND after a trip? Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.
Well, we're learning. Every trip is different, therefore, there isn't a "one size fits all" approach (for us at least).
HOWEVER, there are some basics we stick to while traveling that have yielded great results for our family; both physically and mentally.
Steven Covey said, "Begin with the end in mind..." He was talking about life; making sure you know where you are headed so you can be sure your world and efforts are aligned with what is truly a priority in your life.
The principle can apply to smaller things too - like a trip.
Before we set plans in place, we think through what type of trip it will be: Adventure? Tourism? Family visit? Rest and renewal? Celebration? Girls/Guys weekend? Personal retreat?
Doing this helps us be intentional about how we spend our time and ensures we're on the same page as a family. It doesn't mean we plan every minute - we actually prefer leaving a lot of room for spontaneity, but it helps set the tone and gives us space to mentally prepare... which in turn helps us physically prepare too.
For example, adventure trips often include a lot of physical activity. When we hike for hours, we know dinner out with the kids doesn't work so we plan to refuel with homemade comfort foods and a quiet evening of rest... then we choose other days to wander, enjoy the city, or visit attractions.
Our mindset about travel makes a big difference in how we end up feeling at the end. Instead of sluggish, exhausted, and worn... MOST of the time we feel recharged and ready to enjoy home again.
Instead of disappointed or weary from travel, we usually leave grateful for the time away.
NURTURE in NATURE
Have you ever been moved by a sunset? Had your breath taken away by the mountain view in front of you? Felt the crisp and refreshing chill of the sea surrounding you as you swim through crashing waves?
Time outdoors does something in your soul. For us, it makes us feel small and in awe of an incredible Creator. It draws our hearts to a place of peace and worship for the one we know holds all.
We seek time in nature for fun, laughter, invigorating physical activities, and true rest… there is nothing quite like it.
We find that this time outside has a way of recharging us as nothing else does... so when we travel, whatever the occasion, we try to get some time outside.
AND it's not just spiritual, it's also science. Time near water improves mood. Time in forests and having your bare feet on the ground or in the sand is said to transfer electrical charges while exposure to negative ions also improves mood and benefits the body.
It's not hard to find spaces to play - the outdoors, no matter the location, is always a part of our wellness and health while traveling.
Yes, movement. It's good for us! At all times. For many of us, "working out" is the last thing we want to do on vacation. However, movement can mean a lot of different things; walking, hiking, stretching, sight-seeing, swimming (beach vacation anyone?).
If you regularly exercise, we highly encourage continuing your healthy habits while away; it makes a BIG difference in how you feel coming home. But it doesn't have to be rigorous or steal time from relaxing with people you love. As with most things; you just have to be intentional.
Our goal is some kind of movement every day while we travel. Some days it doesn't happen. But, we always enjoy it when we can be fairly consistent. For formal exercise, our resistance bands travel well and we have free apps on our devices that we use for quick HIIT, yoga, or stretching exercises when we want to.
Ah, yes, food! All the delicious food. All the healthy food. All the new and adventurous food!
This is one of our favorite parts of travel! Discovering new places and their traditions with food, meals, and community... the BEST!!
And with that, we balance indulgent food with fueling foods. We eat 80/20 on most trips and at home. 80% clean and fueling foods with about 20% indulgent food of some kind.
It's a huge win. This can make all the difference in feeling well or feeling terrible during (and after) a trip.
We find that this ratio helps maintain good digestion, sleep, and health while traveling.
There are enough variables with exposure to sicknesses, new foods, etc. to contend with - we don't want to add fuel to the fire by only eating junk food.
Believe us, we LOVE and enjoy indulgent food... but as the French proverb supposedly says, "Il vaut mieux prévenir que guérir." - “It is better to prevent than to heal.”
So as we enjoy and indulge, we BALANCE and pay close attention to how we're feeling throughout the trip and adjust accordingly.
BOOST THAT IMMUNE SYSTEM
There are endless approaches here... everyone will have an opinion. But, we do intentionally pack our key vitamins and supplements to have on hand throughout travel.
Vitamins: Vitamin C, Magnesium, Vitamin D3+K2, Kids Multi, and Melatonin.
Supplements: Our favorite gut health stick packs for travel - the GreenSynergy.
Oils: Lavender, Peppermint, Lemon, Frankincense, Digestzen (or digestive aids)
Sleep - read below!
Sometimes this is a little tedious, but we have found it's worth it. Most of these travel really well too if you pack in helpful containers that don't open or shuffle in the middle of your flight or road trip.
Travel inevitably impacts sleep. Whether it's the whir of a plane engine as you attempt sleep on a trans-Atlantic flight, staying up with a sick child, or the unique noises of someone's unique HVAC or refrigerator in the AirBnB or resort; there's always something to disrupt those precious zzzz's while you're away.
BUT WE SLEEP. As much as possible, we try to sleep. Just like the food, it's a balance. There are nights we stay up late for fun... like the night we stayed out until 2am with the kids to experience the midnight sun in all its stunning glory!
However, the majority of the time, we aim for consistent, sound sleep: 7-8+ hours friends! It may sound unreal or unattainable, but like the food principle, doing this makes a huge difference in our attitudes, physical strength, and overall health while traveling.
We have offered the practical steps. Now, for something a bit more abstract, but no less important... laughter - and lots of it! It's so good for you! If you can play games, go see a show, watch a funny movie, or go out and joke with friends.... it can refresh and recharge in powerful ways, both mentally and physically.
Laughter reduces stress.... leading to better health and wellness naturally. So whenever you find it, enjoy it! Let it bring you life! It's even better if you laugh so hard you cry.
Again, every trip is different, but these basic care items help keep us fueled and fulfilled in our time away, whatever it may look like:
Nurture in Nature
Boost that Immune System
What are the basics that help you prepare for travel? Let's be honest, "vacations" with kids can be stressful and leave you exhausted the way we're often taught to do them. What helps you slow down, prepare, or get excited?
Happy adventures friends!
Steven & Lindsey