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How I Stay Healthy and Happy When I Travel

If you live away from your family and best friends it's only natural to spend a lot of time flying back home to see everyone, especially when you're the one who moved thousands of miles away. I used to find it extremely difficult to stick to my fitness and diet routine while I travelled and would give myself a very hard time for not being consistent. Thankfully now I realise that less is really more when it comes to staying on track while going through multiple time zones. Some wellness experts recommend a 24-hour fast to give your body a chance to recalibrate and others recommend sleeping as much as you can on the plane. Personally I find it hard to 'not eat a single thing' for 24-hours but I also think plane food is kind of gross. As a happy medium I always try to order the raw-vegan meal that's packed with raw vegetables (Cathay Pacific do the best one), drink LOTS of water (I bring a couple of large bottles with me on board) and stretch every time my butt goes numb which is often. I try to wait a few hours before eating when I land and instead of trying to stick rigidly to my exercise routine I get outdoors with my parents or friends and go for long walks with my rescue dog in Ireland. I also nap a lot and just stick to my usual diet of avoiding natural, artificial and refined sugars while listening to my body (more on living intuitively here). If I'm going home for a wedding or party I factor in the celebrations, have a blast, and get back on track the next day... I am Irish after all. Here are five healthy travel hacks that I love to have in my ammunition so that I can feel relatively human when I land.

Hell Yes H20

Before I board a flight (after I've gone through security) I buy three, 1.5-litre water bottles and make sure to drink a litre of water on the hour, every hour while I'm awake. I avoid plane water (check this Forbes article out) and don't touch alcohol, if you're ever been hung-over and jet-lagged at the same time you'll understand why! The humidity in an airplane is very low (less than 20% according to the World Health Organisation) which makes you thirsty and dries out your skin. I bring disposable one-use eye drop sachets, SKII Face Masks and Origins Drink Up Mask. I tend to look quite ashen after a long-haul flight so to get a bit of a glow back I apply Sisley's Self Tanning Hydrating Facial Skin Care the night before I fly. It moisturises and adds a light natural bronze tint to my skin and hides a multitude of imperfections.

5 A Day

Sticking to fruit, vegetables and nuts while you fly gives your digestive system a break and leaves me feeling a little brighter than usual when I land. If I fly with Cathay Pacific I order the raw-vegan meal that usually has a lot of vegetable crudités and tabbouleh. It's fresh, satisfying and gives me something to munch on if I get hungry. If I'm flying with another airline I'll either bring a large Tupperware box of prepared fresh vegetable like cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes and brocollini, pick up a fresh veggie pack at Marks and Spencer's or, if I'm in a rush, I'll pick up a salad or two somewhere in the airport. I avoid plane peanuts as much as I can (If you've read The China Study you'll understand why). In a nutshell, pardon the pun, a considerable body of research has emerged showing peanuts are often contaminated with aflatoxin (AF), one of the most potent chemical carcinogens ever discovered... so I prefer to steer clear. I also avoid fruit because it makes my sugar spike, if it agrees with you then eating fruit with high-water content is also great for your body and skin while you fly. In short I tend to do everything and anything I can to avoid eating that grey chicken that they serve on board. Because, well, it's grey chicken.

Downward Dog

It's not natural to sit down for hours on end, in an office or otherwise. I stand up every thirty minutes when I'm at work and try do the same on the plane. Obviously if I'm sleeping this rule goes out the window. A very wise practitioner once told me that I should do downward dog every time my dog does for an entire day and then stick to that number. I now try to do downward dog at least ten times a day and this applies while I'm on board a flight. Usually everyone is sleeping so I don't look too crazy and I find that it helps me stay sane and limber while I'm on board. The downward dog position stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands. It also calms the mind and helps to relieve stress which is great if you're a nervous flyer. It's also common knowledge that moving around on an airplane prevents blood clots and doing simple movements such as flexing your toes and pointing them a few times helps to reduce the risk.

Press Snooze

Sleep is my first wellness priority and I do everything I can to sleep as much as possible on a plane. I tend to avoid sleeping tablets because they make me really disorientated but magnesium, melatonin and this version of the Ostrich Pillow help me to sleep soundly. I also ask the air hostess to please not wake me up for meal times etc. I used to find it really hard to sleep until I bought this pillow and I can't believe what a difference it has made.


I am the WORST at this. I once watched an entire season of Game of Thrones on a flight from Hong Kong to London and was literally holding my eyes wide open while the final episode came to a close as we touched down. Not only did I look and feel like a shattered mess but I slept as soon as I landed for the entire day and suffered from the worst jet lag of my life for a week. Needless to say I haven't done it again. I put away my phone, laptop, watch one movie, bring along some books and magazines and then sleep, sleep, sleep. It makes the world of a difference to get away from tech for a few solid hours and just do nothing for a little while. Whatever you do, don't start a new season of any show... it's just not a good idea!

These are a few healthy travel tips that work for me. Hydrating, eating well, moving, unplugging and sleeping are just a few things that I try to stick to in my daily life and this doesn't change much when I fly. Everyone is different and some people like plane food (I know because I live with one of them!), don't suffer from jet lag and wouldn't ever do downward dog outside of a yoga studio which is totally cool. I love the phrase, 'you do you and I'll do me', because at the end of the day once you're happy that's all that matters. I'd love to hear your healthy and happy travel tips below!

Top Image by Daniel Lopez Perez at a Chosen Experience Experience

Dervla x

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