summer travel tips: hydration, packing light, and active layovers

I’m writing from a flight back from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where my family has been celebrating my sister’s graduation from law school. Last week on the flight there, I wrote about how to make healthy choices while eating Mexican food, which I mostly followed during the trip.

We found a taco place that was so insanely good, we ate there three out of four nights. These were by far the best tacos any of us had ever had – warm tortillas, topped with hot pork marinated with pineapples and onions, piled high with cilantro, onions, and delicious hot sauces. The most insane part of all of it was that the tacos cost $0.66 a piece. For the best tacos on earth. Insane. 

Screenshot 2016-05-17 10.18.08.png
Worth traveling to Mexico for: Pancho’s Takos

I’m pumped for more adventures this summer, near and far. A lot of my friends are also traveling this summer, so I thought I’d share my top tips for healthy air travel while it’s fresh on my mind. Enjoy!

the importance of hydration

There is nothing more important than proper hydration when it comes to summer travel, because everything you encounter is trying to dehydrate you. Don’t believe me? Here is a list of dehydrating things you will likely encounter this summer:

  • Sun
  • Humidity
  • Heat
  • Outdoor activities
  • Air travel
  • Iced coffee/tea (caffeine)
  • Alcohol, especially sugary alcoholic drinks
  • Sugary snacks and treats (popsicles, ice cream)
  • Salty pool snacks (chips and guac, popcorn, etc.)
  • Etc.

See? The dehydration monster is out to get you. Your body is made of mostly water, and needs water to function properly. Without water, your cells shrivel up and become pathetic and ineffective: Your digestive functions are less efficient, making you feel bloated and gross; your metabolism slows down; you’re more likely to experience jetlag; you’re more likely to experience cravings and overeat; your hair/skin/nails look dull and unhealthy. Very few people are sufficiently hydrated during their day-to-day life, and it’s even more difficult to accomplish while traveling.

You’re using precious PTO or weekend days for your trip — don’t waste a minute of it feeling bloated, jetlagged, hangry, or tired due to poor hydration. Here are my best tips for staying hydrated when you fly:

byo bottle

Always bring a large, reusable, leak-proof water bottle in your carry-on when you travel. Fill it with ice water at home, and aim to finish it before you go through security. As soon as you’re past security, find a Starbucks or fast food place and ask them to fill it with ice water. Drink more than you want to, and fill again.

check out these pretty bottles I found on Pinterest! (I’m a fan of the old-school, football team Gatorade bottles because they’re cheap, sturdy, and quickly replaceable if lost! Thanks Amazon Prime.)

You’ll save stupid amounts of money on bottled water and reduce your carbon footprint (yay Earth!). Some airports even have water bottle filling stations, which makes the process even easier. Throughout your travels, bring this bottle with you and refill it with ice water whenever you have the opportunity.

beware the salty snacks

The two snacks offered to you on your flight – peanuts and pretzels – are covered in salt, which is delicious, but very dehydrating.

Pack your own snacks to avoid the stress of hunting for healthy options in processed food hell. Aim for low sodium snacks that are high in fiber and protein, so they keep you full. Bonus points if your snack is also hydrating, like fruit or raw veggies. Some of my favorite travel snacks are:

  • raw almonds or cashews
  • apple chips (Bare snacks)
  • Quest bars or Larabars
  • Raw carrots, celery, and peppers
  • Peanut/almond butter pouches
  • Apples and bananas (usually can be found for sale at Starbucks)

Try to avoid carby snacks, which for some reason are even easier to overeat when flying.

befriend coconut water

When we were little, Gatorade/Powerade’s advertising convinced us that we needed more than just water to stay properly hydrated. We chugged buckets of sugary Gatorade to gain the magical benefits of electrolytes, which they promised would give us more endurance.

Part of this was true – electrolytes are a key component of hydration, especially when you’re sweating like crazy or your body is under stress (like when flying). However, the sugar in Gatorade is dehydrating, and no food is naturally neon green or royal blue like that – so really, Gatorade wasn’t aiding you in much.

Luckily, there is a natural source of essential electrolytes – coconut water. In Mexico, we bought coconut water every day from little stands – they chop the top off a young coconut, stick a straw in it, and you drink the water inside, reaping the hydrating benefits of 5 essential electrolytes. Yay nature!

Unfortunately, you can’t fit a bunch of young coconuts and a machete to open them in your carry-on, but you can find coconut water at most airports. Drink one before your flight to ensure you’re properly hydrated. Try to find one that isn’t sweetened for maximum benefits.

grab the aisle seat

Two reasons here: One, with all this hydration, you’re going to have to make use of the lavatory a time or two during your flight. Also, especially if you’re on a longer flight, you’ll want to stretch your legs to avoid the painful build-up of lactic acid.

packing light

Packing and dressing appropriately are pretty crucial to healthy travel. Here’s why: When you fly, you have no choice to stay firmly planted on your bootay for a long period of time. This means you have less time to get your steps in during the day – and more time for your back and neck to get achy and sore. Lame!

active layovers

If you don’t pack light, you’re stuck babysitting your luggage during layovers — you’ll only move as far as it takes to get to another seat, and you’ll spend your layover on your butt. Laaaaaame.

If you can check your bag for free, do it. If you’re going on a longer trip (with layovers), try to gate-check it. Get rid of that ball and chain! Pack a small carry-on (like this Under Armour tote) with only the essentials – book/magazines/iPad, water bottle, wallet, phone, phone charger, snacks.

Unencumbered by luggage, you’ll be free to spend your layover walking up and down the terminal, giving your body some much-needed love. You may be rolling your eyes right now, but you’ll feel infinitely better when you arrive at your destination than if you sat on your butt all day. You’ll have more energy, and feel less bloated and groggy.

dress for success

Of course, you need to dress appropriately for this layover activity. A loose top, light jacket, yoga pants, and sneaks are great for travel because they are flexible and comfortable. Bonus: You won’t have to endure going through security barefoot because you’ll have socks on.

happy trails!

What are your favorite tips for staying healthy while traveling? Comment below! ❤

2 thoughts on “summer travel tips: hydration, packing light, and active layovers

  1. If you’re doing a lot of traveling, the one tip I can’t stress enough (to eliminate stress) is getting Global Entry. The process isn’t too hard (you do have to go in for an interview though), costs only $100 for 5 years, and includes TSA pre-check for domestic travel. The best part is flying back into the country from traveling abroad… the longest I’ve had to wait in passport control is 5-10 minutes max. Here’s the link:


    1. Good call! I must admit — I haven’t gotten Global Entry yet, or Pre-Check. Brings up a great (and often overlooked) component of health — stress management. There’s nothing worse than rushing through customs or security to make a connecting flight! Thanks for the reminder to get that done. Happy travels!


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