Travel Routines: 7 ultimate hacks for travelling with chronic fatigue
BY KRISTEN JACKSON
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) shouldn’t discourage you from travelling. I was diagnosed with it 15 years ago and have since developed gut issues (leaky gut) and a whole host of other relatable symptoms. Yet it doesn’t prevent me from travelling. Although there mightn’t be a magic quick fix, it is certainly manageable and you can still have the BEST holiday or adventure with a little planning. Here are 7 of my best hacks for travelling with chronic fatigue.
Research is your friend
Through my experimentation, I’ve found that a Paleo diet works best to help ease my CFS and gut symptoms. Paleo diets cut out most processed foods, grains, dairy and legumes and instead focuses on lean meat and LOTS of vegetables.
I’ll be honest, cutting out gluten and dairy does make it a bit more difficult when travelling ...so this is where your research is crucial.
Before the trip, I always check out restaurants where I can eat – looking up menus and using reviews from sites like Yelp for guidance. Gluten intolerance is becoming more common so a lot of restaurants are even indicating GF options on menus. This also makes it easier to then get the GF option adjusted to also be DF.
6 Paleo friendly restaurants in New York City
The Little Beet
When in doubt, I also look up the nearby Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s where I know I can pick up items I can eat. Natural food stores are another great option.
It doesn’t have to stop at food either. Research activities that you can enjoy that are easier on the body. For example, I’m planning a trip to Peru this year with a train ride to Machu Picchu rather than hiking to the top. Remember it isn’t always ALL or NOTHING - choose the middle road and your body and mind will thank you for it later.
Bring Your Own (BYO)
No ...not the kind of BYO you are thinking ...I’m talking about food!
I always have a snack on hand – whether it’s a protein bar or other portable snack. It helps in times when I feel my blood sugar dropping but has also saved me when I can’t find a Paleo friendly meal.
4 foods I carry with me when travelling
Dr. Amy Myers is one of my favourite go to for Autoimmune resources and in her podcast she discusses travelling with paleo food on her 2 week trip to India. She follows a strict Paleo diet and was concerned that she’d have issues in a largely vegetarian country. She packed items like canned fish and beef jerky. In the end, she was OK the majority of the time but the packed food saved her on the occasions she couldn’t find suitable meal options. It’s not a terrible idea to bring safe food options if you’re traveling to a country or area where your diet is particularly tricky.
Another must-have is a water bottle. There’s something about dehydration and CFS and I always have to have water on me. A reusable water bottle is a lifesaver. You can fill it up at the airport post-security or at your hotel to take with you for the day.
Don’t be afraid to say no
It’s easy to want to do everything in a new city. But sometimes with fatigue, you have to limit yourself. Learn to say no and pick the top 3 things that you want to do. If you’re travelling for work, limit it to one activity. And when it comes to late nights, don’t be afraid to say goodnight to your travelling companions and head to bed early.
4 things I always say NO to when travelling
Late nights followed by early morning plans
More than 2 drinks
A full day of sightseeing
Bike tours or other heavily active activities
Naps aren’t just for babies
I love a nap. Especially when I’m travelling. Mornings are a great time to sightsee minus the crowds but that often means around midday I’m crashing. Plan out your day for a nap (or at least some down time back in your room) or get creative and nap while you’re out. I’m proud to say I’ve napped in the Garden of Versailles and other famous sights in Europe.
It’s not just me. The National Sleep Foundation claims that naps lasting 20-30 minutes increase “mood, alertness and performance”. Arianna Huffington even wrote a whole book about sleeping called The Sleep Revolution. She’s a big fan of naps, so much so that she encourages it at work and even naps in her office.
Meditation & Yoga
Don’t underestimate the power of meditation. Since I’ve starting implementing daily meditation, I feel calmer and have more energy afterwards. Yoga is also great for fatigue. Light stretching (especially after a long flight) can relax tight muscles which are common when travelling. Bonus points if you incorporate essential oils into your meditation and yoga practices.
My yoga and meditation travel essentials
Manduka travel yoga mat - it folds rather than rolls and fits great in my suitcase
Travelling can place a huge burden on your immune system - planes, ferries, taxis, polluted cities, air conditioned shops, toxic filled hotel rooms, hundreds of people, more germs, busy schedules, lots of walking, lots of eating out and just lots of potential STRESS for our bodies.
To help me adapt, I always travel with the below supplements.
Probiotic - I take Garden of Life Whole Food Probiotic Supplement. It’s shelf stable and is soil based with strains of bacteria recommended for gut and immune issues. There’s tons of research on the benefits of probiotics and especially when travelling. All those germs on planes? Probiotics are delivering tons of great bacteria to fight against them.
Listen to Your Gut (literally)
For anyone who has traveled, we all know that traveling messes with your digestion. I pay particular attention to it and will add in some digestive enzymes with or after meals if I need to get things moving. Dr. Axe has great research on the subject here. Digestive enzymes will help your body break down food and aid in nutrition absorption.
Travelling with chronic fatigue isn’t always a piece of cake. However, I’ve found the following things very useful to make sure I feel my best when I’m travelling.
Researching paleo friendly cafes
Bringing my own paleo snacks
Not saying ‘yes’ to everything
Taking naps or breaks throughout the day
Doing yoga and meditation
Packing some immune boosting supplements
Taking digestive enzymes with meals
If I stick to these I find I can travel well with chronic fatigue. I hope this has inspired you to get out there and go book that holiday you have been putting off!
Kristen Jackson is a freelance stage manager in New York City. When she's not working, she's travelling with her dog and writes about her travels at The Touring Yorkie. She has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and IBS which she has learned to manage. You can follow along with her on Instagram and Twitter.