12 Items in Every Health-Conscious Traveler’s Bag8 min read
Anyone who has excitedly counted down the days to an upcoming trip knows the ways in which travel can be good for you. The optimism and excitement that comes with a long-awaited vacation is hard to beat, and that post-trip feeling—whether one of relaxation after time spent connecting with nature or one of enrichment after a deep dive into a new culture—is undeniably good for the mind, soul and spirit.
But travel can also take its toll on the body. Whether through jet lag and poor sleep schedules, an “I’m on vacation” mindset diet or a rigorous schedule of hiking and exploring on foot, there are plenty of ways in which travel can leave us physically worn down if we don’t plan and prepare.
Thankfully, there are tips, tricks and gadgets to combat that which might leave us worse for the wear. So, if you’re a health-conscious traveler, get out your packing list and read on to find out the 12 items you can’t leave at home when prepping for your next big trip.
Don’t compromise on a good night’s sleep
Sleep is a crucial element of our health, whether we’re home or on the road. Pack these essentials to ensure you stay well-rested wherever you go.
1. Noise-canceling headphones
Between the roar of in-flight ambient noise and the unfamiliar sounds of your accommodations’ surroundings, noise can get in the way of a good night’s sleep. That’s where noise-canceling headphones come in. They use soundwaves to counter and filter out distracting external noise, leaving you with a soft white noise that doesn’t disturb sleep.
Whether you opt for unimposing earbuds, the bulkier over-ear style or a sleep-specific headband model, noise-canceling headphones could mean the difference between waking tired, groggy and irritable or waking well-rested and ready to take on your day.
2. An eye mask
Just like new noises, unfamiliar sources of light can pose a problem when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, whether in-flight or in-destination. An eye mask offers a simple solution.
There are a variety of options on the market, from comfortable silk and satin versions to techy options boasting amenities like blackout design, warming settings and bluetooth connectivity. And while you can get a simple mask for free on many long-haul flights, we recommend opting for something with a bit more tailoring, especially around the nose, to ensure a totally light-free sleep.
Some people swear by sleep aids when traveling and at home, while others are wary of the potential for side effects. But wherever a person might fall on the spectrum of interest in sleep supplements, Melatonin tends to be an agreeable option for promoting deep and regular sleep.
Melatonin occurs naturally in the body, and its levels change as the body moves between wakefulness and sleep. When changing time zones or when you find your regular sleep cycle out of whack as a result of travel, taking a Melatonin supplement can be an effective way to combat jet lag and reset your internal body clock to encourage a good night’s sleep.
Keep germs at bay
While germs and viruses have always been a concern while traveling to new and foreign locations, access to antiviral and disinfecting wipes and gels is more essential than ever as we begin our post-pandemic travels.
4. Hand sanitizer
As COVID-19 restrictions ease, hand sanitizer is sure to be among the keys, wallet and cell phone on your walking-out-the-door checklist, not to mention your travel packing checklist.
To combat the spread of germs in busy and crowded spaces like airports and public transportation, be sure to make room in your carry-on toiletries bag for a personal supply of hand sanitizer. We recommend something with a soothing ingredient like aloe, as frequent use of hand sanitizer can tend to dry out your hands.
5. Disinfecting wipes
Just like with hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes will be a new feature of interacting with public spaces. Having a container of wipes with you allows you to quickly disinfect surfaces on planes, public transportation, or even upon entering your hotel room or other accommodation. Not only will this help protect your body from unwanted germs, but it will also put your mind at ease knowing your space is clean.
Keep your body well-nourished
In order to keep up with the many new activities that come along with a vacation, it’s important to keep your body and your immune system functioning at maximum capacity. By packing these items, that’s a simple task to accomplish.
6. Daily vitamins
No matter how healthy we eat at home or how well-intended we are with finding balance in what we consume while traveling, it’s hard to be on top of your diet when you’re surrounded by exciting and delicious cuisine, be it the exotic foreign fare or the abundant buffet at an all-inclusive resort.
Save yourself the stress of wondering how nutrient-deficient you might be after a long week away and pack a supply of your favorite daily vitamins. That way you’re sure to keep your cells well stocked with the vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed for a regularly functioning body and a robust immune system, without having to opt for the salad instead of the dessert.
7. Reusable water bottle
Dehydration can be a huge problem when traveling. Long days spent sightseeing and exploring can mean irregular access to water, and time spent among the moisture-zapping heating, air conditioning and pressurized or recycled air of places like hotels and plane cabins, not to mention a diet higher in salt and sugar than your body might be used to, can all leave you parched. Dehydration can exacerbate the effects of sleep deprivation and jet lag as well, making it all the more important to be as well-hydrated as you are rested.
The best way to stay hydrated while traveling is to have a refillable, reusable water bottle (or two!) with you wherever you go. Bring it to the airport empty so you don’t have to toss it as you pass through security, and fill it at a water fountain before you board. Many airport water stations are specifically designed for refilling water bottles, so no more awkward angling and battling inconsistent streams of water.
Protect your body from harm
Whether you’re heading to a culture-filled city, a calm seaside resort or an outdoorsy destination chock-full of adventure, there are plenty of elements and activities that can take their toll on your body. Pack these essentials to make sure nothing gets in the way of your good time.
8. Running shoes with supportive insoles
Even if you’re heading off on vacation with plans to do nothing more than lazily hang by a beach or a pool, sports-ready sneakers with comfortable and supportive insoles are a worthy item to bring along. Relaxation-focused destinations likely have yoga classes or long stretches of walkable beach that will be worth your while, and a good pair of sneakers are all the more essential if you have plans for exploring cities by foot or bike, or if you’re heading off for an action-packed outdoor excursion. You might be tempted to dress more for style than for comfort when heading to the airport or to a chic, fashion-forward locale, but you’ll regret it if aching feet keep you from accomplishing and seeing all you’d like with your limited time away.
9. Compression socks
Compression socks are a must for long-haul flights. These socks are tighter and more supportive than your everyday sock, and therefore encourage circulation during long periods spent sitting. Foot and lower leg compression keeps your blood moving and prevents swelling in the feet and ankles—which can sometimes occur after hours without being able to stand, walk or lay down fully—and will make sure you arrive at your destination ready to hit the ground running.
Traveling to new places often means more time spent outdoors and in the sun, so whether you’re heading to the city or the country, in the summer or the winter, don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and your SPF lip balm.
Especially if you’re heading to a country with exceptionally strong sun, like Australia or New Zealand, a bad sunburn can happen more quickly than it would at home. Not only can sunburn leave you dehydrated, tired, in pain and out of commission while you let your skin heal, it can also put you at a higher risk for someday developing skin cancer. An easy and effective way to protect yourself is by packing and wearing sunscreen.
Like your skin, your eyes are sensitive to the sun and it can be far too easy to forget your sunglasses at home when keeping track of all of the other things you need to bring when heading out on vacation. Packing a pair of polarized sunglasses is an easy way to protect your eyes from exposure to the harsh UVA and UVB rays you’ll encounter while spending time outside, and they can save you from light-induced headaches as well.
12. A hat
Especially when traveling to hot and sunny destinations, a hat is a great addition to any health-conscious travelers bag. Hats with visors or brims can help shield your eyes and skin from the sun, and they can help you to keep you feeling cool (and looking cool) as temperatures rise.