8 Supplements You Need to Stay Healthy While Traveling
If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’re looking forward to your next vaca. Depending on where in the country—or in the world—you’re traveling, of course, often dictates what you pack. You may need a passport or just a driver’s license or ID. You may want to pack a swimsuit for a beach day or to hop into a hot tub at the end of an adventurous day in the hills. Sunscreen and bug repellent are also must-haves for many locations. Also, if you are on any medications, you absolutely want those with you. But what about supplements? Should you take a break? Or are there any worth adding to your personal care bag to help you stay healthy while you’re away from home?
Getting Prepared Before You Leave
Before your trip, it’s worth taking some steps to ensure you’re healthy for your trip. Yes, you may have extra work and extra obligations as you pack, prepare the house, and tend to kids and pets. But this isn’t a time to neglect self-care.
In the weeks before you leave, make sure your nutrition (including quality supplementation), exercise, and especially sleep routines are prioritized, so you’re in good health before your date of departure.
Take Note of Time Changes
If you’ll be heading out of state or out of the country, you may need to adjust your clocks and your circadian rhythm. Especially if you’re traveling early mornings or late nights or moving into a different time zone, you’ll want to adjust as quickly as possible.
One of the best things you can do on your first morning is to get out into the sunlight and spend a few minutes moving outside as soon as you wake up. This can help your body adjust to the time change more quickly.
You may also want to consider supplementation to promote relaxation for a good night’s sleep. Magnesium, L-theanine, chamomile, passion flower, and melatonin are all ingredients that may help you fall asleep easier and faster without leaving you drowsy for the next day’s adventure. 1 – 6 Just take them around 30 minutes before the ideal bedtime of your current location as your body adjusts to the time change. Then give your body something relaxing to do (such as reading or meditating) to help you drift off into dreamland.
Packing in Protein
Simply packing protein powders or protein bars or brownies can help ensure you have a steady source of energy, without the highs and lows many of the convenient high-carb foods deliver. Especially if you find you tend to skip meals on vacation as you rush to your next adventure, a good source of protein can keep you going, so you can take full advantage of all the opportunities your trip provides.
Tackling Tummy Troubles
Who hasn’t had some type of tummy trouble while traveling? Between the changes in the types of foods—often including higher calorie, richer foods—sleep disruptions, and exposure to a different environment (or perhaps a different mode of traveling), a little nausea or perhaps traveler’s diarrhea is just part of the package, right?
Maybe. But they don’t have to be. There are steps you can take to help your stomach adjust to the trip. For instance, you can choose to limit indulgences, especially those you know can upset your system. Perhaps that’s skipping out on the offered ice cream if you have lactose issues. Or having just a small portion of buttered steak if the fats tend to cause your belly to rumble. You’ll also want to avoid drinking unfiltered water or eating fruits and vegetables washed in unfiltered water, especially when traveling abroad. It is also a good idea to keep your alcoholic beverages in check if you prefer not to experience a hangover in the middle of your vacation.
Supplementation may also help. A good quality probiotic, for instance, may help promote the healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, which can help boost your digestive defenses against potential invaders and just help everything run more smoothly. 7 One study found that taking probiotics helped reduce traveler’s diarrhea by ~15%. 8 They also helped lessen constipation and bloating common with a changing diet. 9, 10
A broad-spectrum digestive enzyme supplement may also help support digestion to help prevent discomfort, such as bloating or gas, and help your body better digest foods it may not be as used to. And if you do experience some GI discomfort, such as heartburn, nausea, or bloating, ingredients like ginger extract, vitamin D, glutamine, zinc, and L-carnosine may help you feel more at ease. 11, 12
Support Your Immune System
No matter where you travel, you’ll likely come across some novel germs that your body might not yet know how to fight off. We all know people who have gotten off planes or away from crowds who later suffered the discomfort of colds, flus, or other respiratory infections.
The best things you can do to protect your immune system are to practice personal hygiene and keep your hands clean and avoid exposure to people who are sick (as much as possible).
You can also support a healthy immune system by exercising regularly, managing stress levels, and ensuring you’re eating nutrient-dense foods, including a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, and getting enough sleep.
In addition, there are some nutrients that may help support your body’s ability to fend off illness. These include zinc, antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C and N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), and herbs like Echinacea. Another nutrient that is key for your body’s ability to support healthy immune functioning is vitamin D.
The supplements you take to support healthy digestion may also support healthier immune functioning as a healthy gut is vital for the immune response. 13 So, remember to take care of your gut health when you’re away from home.
Your Personal Packing List
Everyone’s self-care traveling kit will be a little different. Some of us burn easily, so sunscreen (and perhaps a backup) is a must-have no matter where we venture. Others may want to boost energy levels (vitamin B12 is recommended) or fight off stress and travel-related anxiety (curcumin may help). Your kit will likely also change depending on where you’re going. After all, traveling to Yosemite in winter is quite different from heading to the Florida Keys in the summer, which are also different from heading to the Galapagos Islands of South America vs. the Isle of Lunga in Scotland.
You’ll also want to consider your personal constitution. Perhaps you have an iron stomach that never seems to get upset. Or one that gives you trouble if you even so much as look at something you haven’t prepared yourself. Maybe you haven’t been sick for years, and your immune system needs no added support. Or, you tend to catch every little cold that goes around and inevitably pick something up on virtually any trip.
As you’re packing your suitcase, consider where you’re going, what you need, and then decide which supplements may make a world of difference in how much you enjoy your trip. Bon voyage!