From Syracuse, New York, to JFK Airport in New York City, to Istanbul, Turkey, to Athens, Greece; my most recent travel was one of the most difficult of my life!
Thankfully, I already have fairly-good understanding of how to stay healthy while traveling, and how to avoid jet lag. a
Totally, this trip took about 30 hours to get from the beginning to the end!
Unlike those who are traveling for leisure, managing jet lag is even more important for myself because I had to be to practice less than 24 hours after my final flight landed.
As you can imagine, this was no easy task.
I have learned a lot about managing jet lag and staying healthy while traveling since I began playing basketball professionally in Europe, and I am sure there is still much more I can learn.
If you are interested to know how you can avoid sickness, jet lag, and that overwhelming feeling from traveling for hours in a row, keep reading below!
What Are the Biggest Health Concerns While Traveling?
For most people, the biggest health concern while traveling is avoiding jet lag. If you don’t know what jet lag is, it is that painful tiredness you feel after switching time zones.
Even 1-2 hours of time change can affect your body negatively.
The more time zones you move through, the more difficult it is to adjust.
During this most recent trip, I changed 7 time-zones totally. As you can expect, I was completely exhausted when I got to my final destination.
Not only will jet lag wear you down, but there are more serious health concerns when you are traveling or flying big distances.
It is not easy for the human body to do this type of travel, and nearly every function can be negatively affected.
It is very easy to become sick while traveling, especially if you are flying.
Airplanes are difficult to keep perfectly clean and free from disease, and airports are even worse!
However, there is a lot you can do to make sure your body remains healthy regardless of your traveling.
Nobody wants to go on vacation and get painfully sick, that will ruin your trip every time!
Keep reading to find out the best tips to staying healthy while traveling!
Tip 1: Always Stay Hydrated While Traveling!
If there is one single thing you can do to improve how you feel after a long travel, it is staying hydrated.
If you want to get rid of the feeling of jet lag quickly, you need to return your body to a state of homeostasis as quickly as possible.
Water is great, but there are other options for you as well.
The easiest way to do this is drink a lot of fluids, avoid caffeine, and avoid alcohol.
Can You Drink Coffee or Alcohol While Traveling?
Ignore the urge to drink a coffee or alcoholic beverage on the plane!
When you are flying, your body is already confused about what is going on. Adding in any stimulant (coffee), or alcohol beverage (beer, wine, liquor) will confuse your body even more!
Many people believe that drinking an alcoholic drink will help them sleep on the plane. Although it can help with this, there are consequences to drinking alcohol while traveling.
Even a night-cap before bed, which is commonly thought to improve sleep quality, can be detrimental to your bodies state of homeostasis.
Avoid drinking alcohol before bed, whether you are on a plane or not!
If you do want to drink something with caffeine, tea is a better option.
There are obviously many differences between coffee and tea, but one of the biggest differences is the type of caffeine they contain.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, tea is a “yin” form of energy. On the other hand, coffee is a “yang.”
In nearly all the Western culture, our bodies are far too consumed with the “yang” in life.
We are always rushing, pushing ourselves, and we never slow down.
Our bodies are mentally and physical worn down already and adding in coffee (or alcohol) will exacerbate this problem.
Coffee energizes the body in a very direct manner. You drink it, and your body lights up in seconds.
On the other hand, tea is a more internal source of energy. Tea contains much less caffeine.
Although coffee has been proven to be a net-neutral source of hydration, it will wear your body down while traveling!
If you want some extra energy, choose tea instead! It will help to keep you hydrated!
What Are Good Sources of Hydration While Traveling?
Personally, my drink of choice while traveling is sparkling water with a lemon slice or two.
Not only is water your best choice for hydration, but the lemon is excellent for digestion and keeping you alert through your travel.
You can substitute the lemon for cucumber, orange, watermelon, or numerous other fruits as well.
Most airplanes can offer you slices of lemons to drop in your sparkling water while flying, which is very convenient.
Along with this, fresh juice is your next best option.
Many airports contain a fresh juice station, although it is a little costly. Fresh juice can help your stomach while traveling, especially since it is not easy to eat well while traveling all day.
Fresh juice also supplies your body with vitamins and minerals that will help you avoid sickness while traveling.
Overall, these are your two best options.
Along with avoiding coffee and alcohol, I also strongly suggest you avoid soda and sugary juices as well. The sugar in these drinks is terrible for your body all the time, and they are even worse while traveling.
If you want to beat jet lag in just one night, you need to be properly hydrated!
Tip 2: Eat the Vegetarian Meal!
Okay so you don’t need to eat the vegetarian meal on your flight, but my point is that you want to be eating a lot of plant foods while traveling!
If you are in the airport, find a salad bar instead of a cheeseburger restaurant.
Meat is a bit more difficult for your body to digest, which becomes even more difficult when you are flying or traveling.
Along with this, it also contains only a limited variety of nutrients.
Assuming you aren’t going to have time to eat many full course meals while you are on the go, always opt for the option with the most fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods.
I first discovered how important this was about 2 years ago while I was playing for BC Astana in Kazakhstan.
Because of the league we were playing in, we were flying from Kazakhstan to various parts of Europe weekly! Our shortest flights were 4 hours, and the it was common to have 10-hour travel days.
Although I was injured and only played a few games with the team, I learned a lot about managing my body while traveling during this time.
One of the best tricks that I found was to eat noting but fruits and vegetables the day we were traveling.
I wouldn’t eat any grains, meat, or anything else until the day after I got my first sleep.
I still swear by this concept!
After eating salad and fruits all day, my body always feels much fresher and lighter than it normally would.
Diet is important all the time, but it becomes even more critical when you are managing jet lag and fatigue from traveling.
Save your adventurous eating for after you get to our destination, your body will thank you for it!
Take Zinc and Turmeric Before, and After Your Flights!
If I could choose only two supplements to use, I would absolutely choose to use only zinc and turmeric.
Outside of cannabidiol products (which I will discuss more below), there is no better supplement for your body while traveling.
Zinc, for all intents and purposes, is the one supplement that you should be taking every day for your immune system.
Personally, I take 50 mg of zinc every night before bed.
Along with this, I supplement with turmeric 3x per day, every day.
Zinc is valuable for every cellular function of your body, and it forms a “protective bubble” against disease and illness around your body.
Most diets are lower in zinc than they should be, and it never hurts to consciously eat many foods high in zinc.
However, it is still difficult to get enough zinc through your diet.
Simply buy a high-quality zinc supplement from Amazon, such as NOW Foods Zinc.
Turmeric is the most well-researched “supplement” of all time, and it is as effective as anything else you can possibly use.
There are a lot of great turmeric products online, and you can easily buy a cheap bottle of turmeric from Amazon before your next flight.
Turmeric contains powerful antioxidants and health-supporting properties.
You can do the same as I do, and consistently supplement with turmeric 3x per day.
Turmeric will strengthen your lungs, heart, immune system, central nervous system, and much more!
Strengthening your immune system is incredibly important while you are traveling, and these two supplements are as good as it gets!
Use CBD While Traveling to Stay Calm!
If this is your first time visiting my site, you should definitely check out my medical marijuana/CBD section to learn why I believe CBD products are so valuable.
CBD (cannabidiol) is a compound found on the cannabis plant. Unlike the cannabinoid THC, CBD has no psychoactive effects.
I have heard stories about the effectiveness of THC during flights or traveling, but personally I have no experience with this.
For people who deal with anxiety or even panic attacks while flying, CBD products can be a huge help.
Personally, I use CBD because it helps me manage motor tics associated with Tourette’s Syndrome and back pain from a recent fractured back.
Not only can CBD help those who struggle to fly because of mental issues, it can be extremely helpful for those with physical issues as well.
Although my back is 100% healed from a fracture I suffered back in September of 2017, sitting on a plane for an extended period is still not comfortable.
I’m 6’ 10”, so flying is uncomfortable in almost any situation!
With CBD, I can sit and relax without dealing with nagging back, knee, or hip pain like I would otherwise!
Not only do I use CBD oil and CBD capsules, but I also use a CBD topical for my back as well.
Personally, I prefer to use the Muscle MX CBD rub for my back.
CBD products are quickly becoming more popular because they are effective and do not have many side effects.
Along with the properties listed above, CBD is a powerful antioxidant and neuroprotector itself. CBD will help your immune system stay strong while you are traveling, which is as important as anything else!
If Traveling Hurts Your Stomach, Try Activated Charcoal!
Honestly, I only learned about the benefits of activated charcoal less than a year ago.
My wife, who is from Kazakhstan, introduced it to me one time when I had food poisoning.
The thought of ingesting charcoal made me sick, but eventually I realized this was not the charcoal that you cook on!
Activated charcoal can be created from many types of trees, and the type I use is made from coconut shells.
The benefit of using activated charcoal is that it helps removes toxins from you body through a unique adsorption process.
As the activated charcoal process through your body, it grabs toxins and other waste products within your body that have not been properly removed.
Over time, it can help your body function much easier!
I use activated charcoal each night, and I wake up with a very well-working digestive system!
Many people have a lot of stomach issues when they are flying, due to the altitude and cabin pressure if nothing else.
Add in the poor food quality and stressful environment, your digestive system is likely to completely shut down!
If you don’t want to deal with days of constipation and stomach issues, use activated charcoal!
Another issue that many people have when they travel is adapting to new foods.
Not only will there be different ingredients from what you are used to, but the food was raised in a unique way as well.
Whether you are talking about fish, meat, or fruits and vegetables, any type of new food can hurt your stomach for days until you are used to it.
Every time I go from America to Europe I have about 2-3 days of stomach issues before I settle in.
This time, I have activated charcoal to help me through!
Its more-or-less impossible to overdose on activated charcoal, but I suggest you follow the instructions on the product you purchase.
You can use activated charcoal before you begin traveling, during your travel, and after as well.
If you are consistent with this, your stomach will adapt much quicker!
One note about activated charcoal use is that it can also “grab” medications in your stomach before they are completely dissolved and absorbed by your body.
For this reason, try not to take activated charcoal near the time of any important medications.
With consistent use of activated charcoal, while traveling or not, you will notice your body functioning much better!
On Your First Night, Sleep to Set Your Routine!
If you are traveling for more than just a couple days, you want to set your biorhythm on the first night.
Try to set yourself in bed at the time you want to sleep each day and wake up exactly when you want to.
Melatonin can be exceptionally helpful when you are dealing with jet lag, since it can help settle your body’s natural biorhythm within a day or two.
After a flight across multiple time zones, you want to do everything possible to sleep through your first night.
Sleep in a completely dark room and avoid watching TV at all.
As I said before, avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol for at least the first day of your trip.
Put your phone away for the night, and don’t be tempted to wake up and look at it. I am often guilty of this mistake, and it has cost me a lot of sleep in the past!
Set your alarm to wake up at the time of day you want to wake u for your entire trip, and always wake up on your very first alarm.
If possible, try to wake up with the sun!
If you take the steps to sleeping properly on the first night of your travel, you will inevitably feel much better each day going forward.
Do your best to sleep for 9-10 hours, although this can often be difficult. Your body needs a lot of sleep to recover after traveling, and naps can through your body’s sleep-wake cycle off even more.
If you can adequately sleep enough on your first night, the rest of your trip will be much more enjoyable!
Try to Get Some Exercise!
If you have time on your first night after traveling to go for a long walk, there is nothing better for your body!
Whether you were driving or flying, sitting for extended periods is not good for your body.
You don’t need to go to a fitness center to bang out an intense workout, just do a casual walk for 45 minutes.
To be honest, attempting an intense workout after traveling can be very dangerous.
Until your central nervous system has fly recovered, your body needs rest and recovery more than anything else.
Use casual exercise though, and your body will thank you!
Not only will this help your hips, knees, and back, but it will help you sleep much better as well.
Furthermore, it will help pump some oxygen back in to your body.
Exercise is vital for helping your body to a state of homeostasis, and it is even more important after a long day of traveling.
All you need to do is get out an explore!
After your first night, try a “fasted” walk in the morning!
Fasted state cardio is excellent for cleaning your body and helping to stabilize your biorhythm.
If you are extremely jet lagged, a long-fasted walk in the morning will make your next night of sleep better than you could ever imagine.
If you want to do a full workout, more power to you! I prefer to do yoga as soon as possible after flying, it helps me sleep better as well.
There are a lot of options just choose one!
Be Healthy Every Day, Not Only When You are Flying or Traveling!
If you truly want to stay healthy and avoid terrible jet lag symptoms while you are traveling, you need to focus on being healthy every single day.
Health is always holistic, and one day cannot solve all your problems.
The more effort you put in to your health throughout the year, the easier it will be for you to travel.
Personally, I try to treat every day with the same focus.
As an athlete, I can’t let travel slow down my body.
Contrarily, I often need to be at 100% peak performance just hours after getting off a plane or bus!
All the tips listed above are keys to my own health; they are how I survive traveling throughout Europe to play basketball!
Over the first 4 years of my professional basketball career I have learned a lot about managing my body while traveling, more than I could ever expect!
Honestly, I hope these tips are valuable for you as well!
Exercise regularly, eat and drink well, supplement smart, and sleep well.
If you do this, traveling will be a breeze!
The tips listed above are excellent for helping your body while you are traveling, and they are excellent for your body the rest of the time as well.
Use these tips, and I am confident you will beat jet lag or travel fatigue easier than ever!