Debra Asberry knows a thing or two about healthy travel.
As the owner of Women Traveling Together, a women-only travel company, Asberry not only accompanies tour groups several times a year but she also travels around the world to scout out new destinations.
“I’m probably on the road once a month anywhere from a couple of days to 10 days,” says Asberry, whose company this year will offer 98 tours from Antarctica to Australia.
Asberry is also an avid swimmer, and she knows that in order to stay healthy and maintain even a modicum of fitness while on the road, she needs to pack smart.
Here are just a few of the items you’ll find in her suitcase:
Swimsuit, cap and goggles
Even if you’re not an accomplished swimmer like Asberry, swimming for fitness has multiple health benefits, from lowering blood pressure to improving mood. Asberry tries to log some yards in the hotel pool when she travels. “Even if I can only do a few laps, at least it’s something.”
Two clean pillowcases
“As soon as I get to the hotel, I change the hotel pillowcase and put on my own,” Asberry says. “One of the things that helps us sleep are those familiar scents and that feeling of home.” She uses the other pillowcase to separate her clean clothes from the dirty ones in her suitcase.
Saline nasal spray
After suffering a number of severe sinus infections during her travels, Asberry learned that the best way to stay healthy was to keep her sinuses properly moisturized. “When you get on an airplane, you’re exposed to all these germs, and then you go into a foreign country where you’re just not used to the air particulates. I’ve found that something as simple as using a saline spray at the end of every day makes all the difference in the world as far as staying healthy.”
Asberry recalls leading a tour several years ago through Croatia, and one of the women on the tour had a Fitbit. “She would give us a daily report on how far we walked that day, which was really great.” Asberry now has her own Fitbit Charge HR to keep track of her daily steps. Even if you’re stuck in meetings or a conference center all day, taking your Fitbit with you when you travel for business can motivate you to take the stairs or perhaps walk around the block a few times during a break.
Wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher is critical if you want to keep skin cancer at bay. In one study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, regular sunscreen use reduced the risk of melanoma by as much as 73 percent. A roll-on is best, Asberry says, because it doesn’t count as a liquid if you stash it in your carryon bag.
A pair of good walking or running shoes
Plus at least one set of exercise clothes (shorts or leggings, T-shirt) to wear to the hotel gym. “Even 3-star hotels these days have a small gym, even if it’s just a bike and a treadmill,” Asberry says.
Or get outside to walk or jog around the city. Jess Martin, a personal trainer and the owner of Stronghorn Fitness in Austin, Texas, likes to explore a new city by foot when he travels. You can often get running or walking tips from the front desk if you’re completely unfamiliar with the city.
Resistance bands and a suspension training device such as TRX.
“These are super-portable, and you can hang them on the doorknob or around a nearby tree and get in a quick workout,” Martin says. Exercises include planks, rows, squats, chest presses and hamstring curls.
Water bottle, nutrition bars, and/or protein powders.
“It’s hard to eat super-healthy when you’re traveling,” Martin says. “I can usually get all the fresh produce I need, but not always the protein. This helps me keep my nutrition on track.”
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.