With all this snow, it’s hard to believe spring break is around the corner. Many of us are planning a warm and sunny vacation, yet are we making plans to stay healthy? It’s incredibly common to get sick while on vacation! During preparations and travels, we sacrifice our immune systems, which sabotages our good time. How can we avoid vacation illness?
Start boosting your immune system weeks before your trip. First, minimize mental and physical stress by organizing well in advance. Keep a regular exercise routine and ensure ample sleep. Increase intake of a wide range of whole foods – this is the ideal way to receive immune-boosting nutrients such as vitamins A, C, D and E and minerals iron, selenium and zinc. Also, reduce consumption of sugar and alcohol.
Second, plan to bring your own health-promoting foods with you on the road, thereby avoiding the temptations of poor-quality convenience food. We already endure transportation fumes, motion sickness, changes in weather, sanitary hotel scents and exposure to potential viruses. Instead, boost your immune systems with nutrient-dense foods and wash your hands often. Quality snacks are an incredible resource during long periods of travel, especially for kids!
Part of the preparation is mental: envision yourself joyfully abstaining from these immune-suppressant habits of gas station “treats” or free airplane pretzels. Or perhaps you choose to indulge in just one favorite road trip food.
The other part of the preparation is in the packing. I write my food list alongside my packing list. Consider lack of refrigeration, irregular meal times and “hangry” kids. I spend about 2 hours in the kitchen preparing food, versus about 1 hour to pack clothes and gear. That’s a considerable amount of time, yet important to prioritize.
Here are some of my favorite travel food ideas:
· Morning drive. French-press coffee; a slice of homemade banana bread with half the sugar and twice the nutrients (pecans, coconut, flax, quinoa flour); whole plain yogurt with blueberries.
· Meal for a short flight. Omelet or quiche (wild salmon, garlic, spinach, homemade pesto, pasture-raised local eggs); a side of leftover roasted vegetables; kiwi.
· Snacks upon arrival. Sliced apples and cheese; castelvetrano olives; sliced carrots with hummus; sliced lemons (to add to water).
· Non-perishable snacks. Nut/seed/dried fruit mix; elk (or another meat) jerky; dried figs and mangoes; organic bars without processed or refined ingredients; orange or banana; dark chocolate; homemade cookies.
· Additional kid snacks. Vegetable and fruit “squeezy” packs; low-sugar oatmeal packets; seaweed; something special.
· Utensils & containers. Lunch bag with freezer pack (frozen = will pass through security); sporks; cloth napkins; reusable snack packs for non-perishables; personal water bottles; coffee/tea mugs; disposable container for airplane meal (to-go restaurant containers).
· Immunity pack (just in case!). Tea bags (green tea with ginger, throat coat with Echinacea, stress-ease); zinc lozenges; vitamin C; Thieves essential oil; ginger chews; powdered electrolyte mix.
Yes, I actually take the time to prepare this kind of food for every trip! And, YES, I actually carry ALL OF THIS (less yogurt and coffee) onto airplanes. When traveling with kids on the road, prepare bento boxes. Eating en route offsets “Are we there yet?” inquisitions, saves time at each fuel stop, and keeps kids from begging for anything at gas stations.
This extra preparation has saved our family stress, time, money and sickness. After all, road trips are not about fast food; they are about connections and creating memories. May we all arrive at our vacation destinations with happy, healthy kids and ready for intentional family adventures.