Between checking everyone off your holiday gift list, planning festive get togethers and decorating your apartment to Pinterest-worthy perfection, it’s no wonder you’re left feeling a bit burnt out. Enter travel, and your whole equation for cool, calm sanity just about slips out the door. This season, you can stay energized throughout the holiday travel shuffle. We tapped experts to find out how to boost your energy with minimal effort.
1.Turn your airplane or train car into a spa-status haven
“Use a neck pillow (helps avoid neck strain), eye mask and earplugs to settle into a relaxing spa-like state of mind,” suggests Vicky Vlachonis, Chief Wellness Officer for Gaea and an osteopath who works with Katy Perry (yes, we want to rock her new hair too), Gwyneth Paltrow and others. Whether you’re in for a long flight or a quick train, be sure to pack at least one uplifting book (try one of these motivational reads). It’ll help recenter you, channel positive energy into your day and offset travel anxiety.
Try this: Book and cuppa tea? Don’t mind if we do. “Thirty minutes before your flight lands, have a cup of nettle tea to kick start your body’s natural detoxifying process. This anti-inflammatory tea is packed with vitamins and nutrients which translate into energy,” suggests Vlachonis. “Allowing your body to rest on the flight will reboot your system and leave you feeling fresh for your destination. Save your energy for the celebration!” says Vlachonis.
2. Skip (Most) “Energy Bars”
Reaching for a bar when you’re at the airport and feel a crash coming on? Think again. It might sound counterintuitive, but turns out, most of these quick fixes for energy are doing more harm than good. Kayleen St.John, RD, at New York City-based Natural Gourmet Institute, a health-supportive culinary school, explains: “Most energy or granola bars’ macronutrient distribution tends to heavily favor carbohydrates alone.” They can also be a huge source of what she calls sneaky sugars (Along with sweetened yogurt and dried fruit, which may seem like good-for-you options but can be total sugar bombs). “Excess sugar will spike blood sugar and then result in a crash which will zap energy,” St.John adds.
Try this: Instead, reach for a handful of nuts or minimally processed energy bars like super-clean Paleta Power Up bars that don’t contain icky additives or bad-for-you ingredients. Lisa Hayim, RD, with an M.S. in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, also suggests other low-calorie, good-for you snack options like popcorn, fruit and raw veggies, like carrots or celery. Try dipping them in some almond butter or hummus for an added protein boost.
3. Slip some clever movement into your downtime
“We’re usually too early or just making that train or plane,” says Hayim. “If you get there early, use the time to walk around and explore the terminal instead of grabbing a seat next to an outlet for an hour of mindless iPhone reading. And once you land or arrive at your destination, don’t throw all forms of movement and exercise out the door and slink into Vacation Slug Mode. “Just because you are on the road does not mean you have to skip your workout. I never leave without my running gear. No matter where I am I know I can get in a quick run, which always helps me clear my head, see the city more and stay strong,” offers Shauna Martin, founder and CEO of Daily Greens.
Try this: “While flying or waiting at an airport, be sure to do a full body stretch and hold the stretch for several seconds. After a few seconds, do it again,” suggests Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, MD, also known as “Dr.Taz,” a board-certified physician specializing in integrative medicine. Interlace your fingers over your head and reach up toward the ceiling, stretching to your point of resistance for at least a slow count of ten, before bending over and extending towards your toes. “By [stretching] you activate almost every muscle you have, sending oxygen-rich blood throughout your body,” suggests Dr.Taz.
4. Practice this savvy caffeine rule
Coffee junkies, listen up! You might think that java jolt is perking you up, but it could be sabotaging your efforts to stay energized. “Alternate caffeinated beverages with non-caffeinated ones. The jury is still out whether caffeine has a strong diuretic effect, but hydration is key for staving off low energy. Even a 1-2% dip in hydration can result in increased feelings of exhaustion,” explains St.John.
Try this: In addition to switching up your coffee routine, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and don’t underestimate the importance of hydrating. “Many people complain about constipation when they travel. This is oftentimes attributed to dehydration from neglecting fluid intake, relying on more processed packaged foods and less availability of good old H2O. I recommend starting each day with a 16-oz bottle of water before even coffee or tea. This gives your body and GI system the jumpstart to get moving. It also sets the tone for more water intake during the day,” offers Hayim. For a little lift of vitamin C, try squeezing some lemon into your water.
5. Transform your hotel room or temporary home with simple tweaks.
“While traveling, a lavender Epsom salt bath is great to promote relaxation. Because of its ability to relax muscles, Epsom salt with lavender can also contribute to a good night’s rest so you wake up with tons of energy,” says Dr. Taz. Also, try bringing a candle (we’re swooning over this one!) for your travels. Lighting it each night when you settle into your room provides a sense of calm and can help you unwind and feel more at ease and at home, even if you’re thousands of miles away from your regular one!
Try this: Pack some B-vitamins in your suitcase, too, to stash in your home-away-from-home’s bathroom. “Vitamin B12 helps the body convert the food you eat into glucose, which gives you energy,” Dr.Taz adds.
6. Save yourself from impulse buys when you’re hangry
It’s easy to say yes to candy bars, chips and other junk foods when you don’t travel with an arsenal of wholesome snacks. But let’s be real — packing light is also key, and you don’t want half your carry-on to be brimming with whole grain crackers and almond butter packets. Instead, try handy and uber-portable green powders. “My favorite is the chocolate version from Amazing Grasses. If I can’t find an acceptable ready–to-drink green juice (don’t substitute with those highly processed, fruit-based high-calorie green drinks), I will simply throw a packet of dried greens in a glass of water,”says Martin.
Try this: “I always travel with a baggie of roasted edamame in my purse. Edamame is very high in fiber and protein, so it’s great for an energy boost that won’t leave you crashing 20 minutes later! Roasting the edamame brings out its nutty flavor and makes it an easy crunchy snack to carry around since it doesn’t have to be refrigerated. I love that I can ‘spice it up’ with different flavors by simply tossing it in spices before roasting. A little planning ahead of time can take your energy a long way,” shares Monica Klausner, co-Founder & CMO of Veestro, a plant-based, gourmet meal delivery service. Need some more snack-inspo? Check our guide here.
7. Set yourself up for meal-time success
“Food and beverage is everywhere during November and December. While I don’t recommend any radical changes to your diet or warding off specific foods, it’s good to have a general outline for what you will allow in your body to keep you on track. Some good starting points: No fried foods or maybe a two-drink maximum,” offers Hayim. Try employing whatever food guidelines work for you, whether that’s being a part-time vegetarian, or replacing dessert every other night with some fresh fruit.
Try this: Keep a rein on your mindless eating by being conscious of what you put on your plate. “Usually the holidays are spent around family, friends and co-workers. With drinks abundant and quick-paced conversation, it’s hard to pay attention to how much you’re actually eating. Since portions out of home can be so large, I recommend pushing one half to one quarter of the entrée to the side and enjoying the majority of it. That way, you can reevaluate your hunger before scarfing down the entire thing,” suggests Hayim.
So tell us: What’s your favorite travel ritual to help you stay energized?