It feels like months since my feet have touched the ground – in New Zealand, especially – and all this travel has in some ways taken its toll.
In the year it’s been since I left my career as a lawyer to dive headfirst into She Said Yes, travel has been a huge part of that – making international connections, working with stockists worldwide, and taking a couple of holidays in between.
Though travel is amazing for the mind, and really beneficial for the business, it’s actually pretty hard on the body. Bouncing between countries, cities, houses and hotels, while my feet haven’t touched the ground, sometimes my body gets so exhausted I feel like I’ve been buried underground for days, rather than flying through the air. Between time zone shifts and changes of season, airline and airport food, stuffy air conditioned hotels and hours of cabin quality air, every part of my body suffers.
Over the last few months, I’ve been working out how best to look after myself, and allow myself some TLC while travelling. Whether you travel for work and leisure often, or you’re planning one big trip (a honeymoon, perhaps) hopefully these self-care tips will you in good stead for your next adventure.
How flying wreaks havoc on your body
I absolutely adore being in a plane. Truly, almost everything about the experience of soaring through the heavens is just heavenly to me. However, flying totally messes with your body in a number of ways, wreaking havoc on you from top to toe.
Cabin pressure, air humidity with low (and often cold) oxygen levels, cramped seating and low circulation, processed food, and dehydration create the perfect storm for exhaustion and illness, even before you’ve landed in your destination and your circadian rhythm completely messes with your body and mind.
TLC for your body – from aircraft to underground
The most uncomfortable aspect of flying for many people is the cramped nature of seating – sitting for long periods in a small seat. This prevents good circulation, and you may find yourself greeted by swollen legs and ankles on arrival to your destination – not cute. As much as I possibly can, to combat this you can get up every hour or two for a walk (or some squats), or if you’re stuck in a window seat, diligently lift your feet up and down, and rotate them in circles. If you are flying for more than 6 hours, I strongly suggest compression socks, which apply pressure to the legs and encourage better circulation.
On arrival at the airport of my final destination or stopover, I walk as much as I reasonably can, even around the airport, opting for the stairs wherever possible. This is much easier to do if you choose a carry-on with wheels, even if you don’t plan on carrying a lot onboard – if you’re lugging a big holdall, you’re not likely to want to hike around the departures lounge.
Once you arrive at your host or hotel, even if it’s late at night, it is so helpful to get some movement in before you go to sleep. Whether that’s a quick walk around the block or along hotel corridors, a swim in the pool or some yoga by the bed, the more you move on your first day, the better you sleep that night, and the better you wake the next day – even when your circadian rhythm is totally out of whack!
I’ve even been known to walk up hundreds of stairs in the underground rather than taking the escalators, though I suggest you find out how deep you are before doing that, as I once found myself completely exhausted only half way up the Hampstead stairway of 320 steps, having no idea how many I had to go, whether I could make it, or should give up and walk back down!
While travelling, either on holiday or for work, I never “work out” but always walk as much as I feasibly can, and have found it to be absolutely the most valuable thing to combat jetlag and help me sleep, which is so essential!
Hair, skin and nails – Avoiding damage and dehydration
Everything about travelling is destructive to your hair, skin and nails, but it’s really not hard to stay healthy from top to toe(-nails!).
While many people opt to shellac their nails before a trip, I have often found it so incredibly frustrating to have to find a salon to repair a nail or two overseas, and often find that my nails get even more dehydrated and brittle while I’m away.
Instead, I’ve recently sworn by having totally nude and natural nails, and using just Revitanail’s nail strengthening polish and cuticle oil. I’m sporting neat and strong natural nails instead of glittery long gel ones, which end up looking much more chic by my third week away, growing out and leaving a blank moon of nail (one of my pet-hates!)
Before Samoa last month, I took off my gels and started a 30 day challenge with these two Revitanail products, and can honestly say my digits are now in great shape, possibly the best natural shape they have ever been. Every day and in every country, city and hotel room, I’ve applied a coat of the Revitanail nail strengthener and cuticle oil, and I haven’t broken a nail in all my journey so far (touch wood).
Revitanail Nail Strengthener is the number one treatment in NZ at pharmacies and farmers. It’s enriched with calcium to strengthen nails, perfect for hardening nails damaged by shellac or acrylic, while the Nourishing Oil of Vitamin A & E hydrates and restores my cuticles, and contains a UV inhibitor to protect nails from the sun too.
My nails are the longest they have ever grown naturally – without the assistance of shellac or gel (which always leaves them weak and frail afterwards) because the treatment hardens the nail, and acts as a protective coating, while also nourishing the nails. Legit, making a world of difference.
I treat my skin similarly to my nails, too, being religious about daily skincare, masques and moisturizers, while staying natural and nude – wearing absolutely zilch make-up. It’s been so freeing for my skin to do this – I’m able to keep make-up wipes in my handbag, or massage a pre-cleanse balm into my skin after a long day of walking about, without having to worry about re-doing my “face” in the evening. Of course, whether or not you feel comfortable going make-up free for weeks on end depends on the confidence you have in your skin, so good skincare is an absolute must in advance of your trip too.
The best TLC you can give your skin while travelling is drinking plenty of water and being really conscious about food and drink choices while flying. Snacking on processed food, alcoholic or sugary drinks in the air dehydrates your whole body, while your metabolism dawdles and saliva production slows too.
On my last big trip (Europe via Dubai) my hair really suffered, so more recently I’ve had to be more fastidious about haircare too. Like nail health, hair can be a bit of an afterthought – you don’t notice how damaged it’s getting until it’s too late. How you care for your hair will depend a lot on where you are. In Samoa, with all the sun and surf my hair was put through, I’d plait it in advance of swimming and apply oils to protect it. Any good quality moisturiser or oil will do – a natural oil like coconut oil is best if you’re going into the sea (so as not to affect marine life). I’d follow up with a leave in treatment or protein/moisture masque every other night, and comb it through while it was in.
While in London (currently) I’m applying plenty of hair oils right through from roots to ends, because the weather is so just so dry. So as not to dehydrate my hair further, I’m also keeping washing to a minimum, styling very simply, and applying dry shampoo to make my locks last longer.
It’s so much easier to look after your hair with products you know and love from home, than wait until you’re abroad to find something suitable, so plan your TLC products before you leave home. I absolutely recommend using the Revitanail products for your nails – mine have had such a marked improvement over a month of use, and are long, strong and healthy despite the downsides of travel. Revitanail kindly supported this article, and as always, thoughts are my own and I recommend them to you knowing that I would recommend them products to a friend. Whatever you do, don’t use the hotel shampoo and conditioners – they’re always absolute rubbish and you may as well wash your hair with dishwashing detergent!