Surviving Holiday Travel: Tips, Snacks, & Keeping Your Sanity
I LOVE the holidays. The food, baking, decorations, spirit, weather, family-time, travel (sometimes)…it is so magical to me! I am Jewish, so growing up, Christmas was always this kinda-mysterious but seriously awesome and envious event. Regardless of being Jewish, we grew up listening to Christmas music and watching 24 Days of Christmas on ABC. Some years we traveled for Christmas, and some years we just stayed at home. Regardless of what we did, I always loved the season, and looked forward to it every year.
When Ryan and I started dating, things got extra-fun, because he got to celebrate Hanukkah with my family, and I got to celebrate Christmas with his! For us, it’s not so much about the religion, but the time for family, love, giving, and enjoying the season. This year, we are making the 12-13 hour car-trek up to Cape Cod to see my family! I’m pretty excited to get to enjoy the snow (temporarily of course), spend time with my parents and siblings who I haven’t seen since I moved, and enjoy spending time with Ryan with no work and no school (he JUST graduated from Christopher Newport University!!).
I’m semi-used to the long car ride, and actually looking forward for some time to just talk to Ryan, watch the gradual weather change, and listen to tons of podcasts.
The one thing I’m not super excited for is sitting still for so long, and the general discomfort and ‘ick’ of being in the car for that long.
Buying food while traveling, whether it be on the road or in airports, can be pretty expensive. And beyond that, if you are eating a lot of foods (especially processed) that you aren’t used to eating, get ready for some GI trouble. When we made the drive down back in June (15 hours with the U-Haul) I ended up bloated for about a week. But since then, I’ve come up with some pretty fool-proof measures for avoiding that outcome. Definitely not a good time.
So I have compiled my favorite on-the-road (or in the air) snacks for traveling, as well as a few tips to avoid going totally stir-crazy!
A few crucial tips for avoiding bloat, discomfort, and restlessness during travel:
1. HYDRATE: I can’t say this enough. Hydration, especially if your flying or have a really long car ride, is so important to avoid bad side-effects while traveling. Dry circulated air, wonky air pressure, close-contact with lots of strangers, bloat, compromised sleep, processed snacks, and lots of sitting, can all be at least partially combated by proper hydration. If I’m at the airport, I like to buy one of those giant Smart Waters right after I get through security, or bring my own empty water bottle and get it filled with ice water at the food court or coffee shop.
2. MOVE: This one is big for me. I’m used to moving around all day long, so sitting for long periods of time is so hard for me. If I’m able to, I like to work out before I travel.
If I’m flying, I like to walk around the airport before it’s time to board. I take the stairs, avoid the trams and moving foot-paths, and get as many steps in as I can. During the flight, I try to get up and walk to the bathroom at least once for a short flight, and every 60-90 minutes for a longer flight. Because I know I get up a lot to move and pee (lots of water lol) I try my best to get an isle-seat. If that’s not possible, I am the annoying person that does it anyways! In addition to getting up to move, I try to sit with good posture in my seat, stretch out my legs, flex my feet, stretch my arms and shoulders, and continuously drink my water.
For a long drive, things are a little bit more flexible. Due to my miniscule bladder, I know that we will have to be stopping every 2-3 hours. This is actually perfect, because we can get a few minutes of walking in, fill up our water bottles, breathe some fresh air, and stretch out. For this trip, I plan on doing a min-workout at each stop. 20 squat jumps, 20 pushups, 20 lunge jumps, and 20 dips against the car (use your back bumper or trunk) is the perfect mini workout to get your whole body moving and blood flowing. Like flying, be sure to be drinking water continuously throughout the ride, stretch out as much as you can, and sit with good posture.
If you are going to be doing any of the driving, sit with your seat supporting your back, shoulders relaxed and away from your ears, and shoulder blades pulled back. It’s really helpful to drive with a pillow on your lap, as this supports good posture and gives you a place to naturally rest your elbows.
3. SNACK SMART: When I was in college, Spring and Winter seasons of track were spent traveling. Winter was mostly air-travel, and spring consisted of lots of bus rides (some very very long ones). When you are traveling to compete, you can’t afford to let travel mess with your body and performance. So I learned early-on that the best way to go food-wise was to bring my own snacks, and use my per-diem money to supplement. Not only did I get to save some of my per-diem money, but I felt so much more like myself amongst the crazy busy traveling schedule.
First off, know yourself. I know that I am a muncher and like to boredom snack, so I make sure to bring lots of low-calorie, crunchy, snack-able foods.
When I am shopping for travel snacks, I focus on a few things: healthy fats, protein, fiber, and fresh produce. Fresh fruits and vegetables that don’t need immediate refrigeration, individually packed nuts and trail mixes, whole grains, protein bars (I like to bring homemade ones with me), tea bags, and a few portions of my protein powder are my go-to’s. I like to keep things individually portioned as much as possible to avoid over-eating and mess. Coolers are also so handy – there’s nothing better than crisp veggies and cold water when you’re stuck in the car.
When traveling, there are always lots of temptations. Fast food, fancy airport restaurants, crunchy snacks, candy, Starbucks drinks…they’re everywhere. My advice is to save your treats for your destination. Holiday dinner, homemade cookies, and brunch from your favorite home-town restaurant are so much better than on-the-road food and snacks. And even if you do over-indulge at your destination, you will be up and moving rather than sitting for hours traveling. I promise, keep this in mind, and you will feel so much better.
See below for my go-to travel foods!
-Whole or sliced apples
-Grapes and berries (keep these in a Tupperware to avoid crushing and messy juice)
-Baby carrots or carrot sticks
-Sugar snap peas
-Homemade kale chips
-Whole grain crackers (like Wasa or GG)
-Popcorn (bagged or homemade air-popped in a large ziploc)
-Whole grain dry cereal
-Individually packaged nuts
-Individually packaged trail mix
-Individual serving Greek yogurt
-Protein shake (protein powder + almond milk, make in advance)
-Beef and turkey Jerky
-Protein bars – homemade or store-bought