Traveling to see family and friends over the holidays can bring us closer to the people and places we love, and create wonderful lasting memories. But traveling can also leave us feeling rundown and out of sorts, and nothing derails a trip faster than someone not feeling well—especially if you’re traveling with kids.
Eating a nutrient-rich diet, getting plenty of sleep, and managing stress levels—whether through exercise, meditation, or some other way—are all important lifestyle habits for maintaining a healthy equilibrium, especially when we’re out of our normal daily routine. There are also several nutrients known to play a big part in helping us stay well when our immune systems are stressed. Here are a few that many of us here never leave home without.
When we travel, we’re often exposed to new foods and lots of new bacteria, which can compromise both our digestion and immunity. Probiotics are our #1 healthy travel essential because they can support both of these key aspects of wellness. (Check out our educational video on probiotics to learn exactly how probiotics work.)
Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that live in our digestive tracts. A healthy balance of probiotics promotes a thriving microbiome that benefits our entire body, helping us digest our food, absorb essential nutrients, and keep our immune systems functioning properly.*
Probiotics are especially helpful while traveling because they can help alleviate digestive issues and food sensitivities that can be common when we’re away from home and eating foods we didn’t prepare ourselves. At the same time, probiotics also support our natural immune defenses.* In fact, research shows that our intestines contain more immune cells than what are present in the rest of our body.
Supplemental probiotics offer a range of different probiotic strains, many of which have unique benefits. That’s why the type of probiotic you choose is important. Broad-spectrum probiotics, containing many different strains, offer the most support for digestion and immunity while traveling, while other strains offer more targeted health benefits, such as supporting urinary tract health, for example.*
When you’re shopping for probiotics, be sure to look for a product that is shelf-stable and requires no refrigeration. This is essential if you think you might encounter unpredictable schedules when you travel, and because it’s not always realistic to travel with an icepack to keep your probiotics cool.
2. Vitamin C
Travel, especially over long distances, can be taxing and stressful on the body. That’s why we always pack vitamin C—our healthy travel essential #2.
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that our bodies can’t make, and that we must get from food or supplements. In fact, vitamin C is the primary water-soluble antioxidant in our plasma and tissues, protecting our bodies against internal damage.* Our bodies can’t store this essential nutrient because it’s water-soluble, and quickly excreted. So we need to consume vitamin C regularly for optimal health—especially while traveling, when the stresses and exposures that come with it increase our need for antioxidant protection and immune support.*
When we’re traveling, we often don’t have consistent access to the fresh fruits and vegetables that are the richest sources of vitamin C. For this reason, it’s a good idea to bring a few pieces of fruit along with you if you can. Gummies are another favorite travel-friendly way to get vitamin C while on the road.
The omega-3 essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, found in cold-water fish and fish oil, are considered essential because we need them for proper health but we can’t make them on our own (much like vitamin C). The only way to get these important fats is through diet or supplementation.*
When we consume enough omega-3 essential fats, they make their way into virtually every cell in our bodies. These essential fats become critical components of our cell membranes, helping our cells absorb nutrients and expel waste.* The prevalence of omega-3s in our cell membranes directly impacts the health of our immune response.* A significant amount of research shows that consuming omega-3 fish oil helps us naturally regulate the immune response and support the internal systems that operate in response to stress.* That’s why omega-3s are our healthy travel essential #3.
When traveling, space for packing is often limited, so consider efficiency when choosing an omega-3 fish oil. High amounts of EPA+DHA per serving can mean just one soft gel per day (rather than two) to get the necessary omega-3s you need while travelling.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D3 is best known for its role in building strong bones, but it’s also linked to many other key functions for optimal health, including regulating our immune systems.* Vitamin D3 deficiency is increasingly recognized as a worldwide epidemic. It’s a nutrient that’s difficult to get enough of naturally during the colder months when we tend to spend more time indoors, and for that reason vitamin D3 (the form of vitamin D your body makes naturally) is our healthy travel essential #4. Nowadays, it’s common to find D3 added to other nutritional supplements; we especially like these fish oil + D3 supplements for their two-in-one convenience.
5. Don’t Forget Water
One of the easiest things we can do to stay healthy and comfortable while traveling is to always remember to drink more water. Staying hydrated is crucially important, since our cells are made up of approximately 70% water. If you don’t drink enough water, your cells can’t function optimally to keep you healthy.
When traveling, drink more water than you do at home to make sure your body has the hydration it needs so you can enjoy new activities and stay well in different environments. The Food and Nutrition Board of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences sets general recommendations of 91 ounces of total water each day (from all beverages and foods) for women, and 125 ounces of total water each day for men. Needless to say, H2O is our healthy travel essential #5.
Whether you’re visiting family over the holidays, or getting in some holiday vacation time, keeping these five healthy travel essentials close at hand can help you be well wherever your journey takes you.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.