The Wellness Traveler: Healthy and Well on the Move! General Well Travel Tips – Part Five

Prayer Flags, Shambhala Mountain Center, Colorado - Photo by M. Arloski

“I want to slow down!” is a common answer given by travelers asked what they want out of an up coming trip. Slowing down, shifting “pace of life”, de-stressing, unwinding, letting go, and de-contracting are really high on folk’s travel agendas. The continual popularity of destinations like Mexico, Italy, etc., speaks to this desire to live life on a different external clock, hoping we will shift our internal one with it.

Slowing down and noticing more inevitably puts us into contact with opportunity for nourishing our souls, if we let it. The spiritual has many different faces and shows up in ways that span a continuum from the subtle to the bold.

Well Travel Tip #9
Take your soul along for the ride…be a spiritual traveler also.

I had one day to be a tourist in Rome. Yes, just one day. Yet it could not have been better. I made sure I saw some of the classics. Touching the wall of The Coliseum was a peak experience for me. I also stumbled into ancient serendipity finding less famous ruins just down the block from my hotel that for a few minutes transported me back in time. What really took me by surprise and completely floored me though, was my experience in Saint Peter’s in The Vatican.

Bopping around the city on a step-on/step-off when you want tour bus, I found myself, late in the day, at the entrance to Vatican City. With a “Why not?” attitude I stepped off alone into different world.

Raised a Protestant, and now more of a Taoist than anything else, I was not on a Catholic pilgrimage. The huge Egyptian obelisk that spires above the square in front of the Basilica and the enormity of it all however began to have a profound effect upon me. When I finally stepped inside and looked down the great nave with its impossibly high arching ceiling running all the way to the tomb of Saint Peter, I was speechless. That is, I had no thoughts whatsoever in my mind. Then I looked to my right and there was La Pieta, Michelangelo’s masterpiece of Mary holding the crucified Christ. Torrents of tears ran down my face as my conscious mind remained Zen-like and empty.

The “Spiritual” doesn’t have to mean religious. We can create a trip to seek it actively with that purpose as our quest, or we can simply be open to it in the eyes of a child, the tranquility of early morning, or the sound of a leaf falling and hitting the forest floor. Create the pilgrimage that you feel you need. A small group explore in the wilderness, a retreat of silence at a monastery, observing native ceremony, exploring ancient pagan sites, or just a week at a quiet lake cabin. Is it time to take a vacation from your persona, time to reflect, to introspect, and to become reacquainted with who you are? Part of being “well” is the care and feeding of our soul.

Links for travel of a more spiritual nature:
http://www.sacredpassage.com/
http://www.snowmass.org/
http://www.frontrangeliving.com/family-health/St.Walburga.htm
http://www.shambhalamountain.org/

October 2001 was an amazing time to be traveling solo in Europe. It was less than one month after “9-11” and America had the sympathy of the world. I had rented a spacious appartemento from Angelo The Butcher and was loving my time in the Cinque Terre of Italy. Knowing I was an American, Angelo broke into a spontaneous conversation with me the second day I was there. A profoundly sad expression covered his face as he began, “New York….World Trade Center…molti morto…molti morto (many dead….many dead).” He looked at me and all I could say in my very limited tourist Italian was “Si…si.” The compassion conveyed in his look and tone of voice said it all. I did know how to translate “molti morto”, but even if I had not, I would have completely understood the feelings he was conveying to me.

Well Travel Tip #10
What will you cherish the most? The connections you make.

Good friends and a Pacific sunset, Mexico - Photo by M. Arloski

When we travel with our hearts more open, our minds follow. We’re no longer interested in staying shut away from the local culture. We no longer ignore our wait staff, but instead recognize them as human beings just like us. When we are very fortunate those around us take us in, be they fellow tourists, or the local folks. Those are the times when someone buys you a beer and a shot of schnapps at a ski slope restaurant halfway up an Austrian mountain. Those are the times when you show Brazilians how to dance to The Blues, when you thought you’d be the student for Samba lessons. Those are the times when we connect with others in a way that drives home that we are all citizens of the same planet, the same humanity, be it in Tallahatchie or Thailand.

When the trip is entirely in the rear view mirror the images that come back may be of grand vistas or stunning art, but the mental videos will be of interactions with people who touched you in many different ways. Remove the insulation that you travel with to the degree that you feel safe. Sure, stay at the all-inclusive resort if you want, but take some time to go outside the gate and see the “real” culture and country, the ecosystem that has no gardeners tending it.

Add your comments and tell us what has made travel a personal growth experience for you.

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The Wellness Traveler: Healthy and Well on the Move! General Well Travel Tips – Part Four

The Sweet Life...why not "bring it home"? Photo by Rob Carter

Sauntering through Italy, my friend Rob is currently tantalizing me with a torrent of Facebook-posted photos of “La Dolce’ Vita”. I want to be right there at the table with him and his daughter as they behold the meal in the picture above. I really want to be there! Then I think, sure, I’d rather be in Tuscany right now, but I could come close to replicating that fantastic meal right here in Colorado.  In fact, why not eat that way more often?  The Mediterranean Diet is even American Heart Association endorsed!

With the amazing internationalization of the American palate stores have sprung up everywhere to meet the demand. Supermarkets have imported olive bars, some bakers are making bread that rivals the Europeans (finally!), etc. Why not buy the same ingredients and a bottle of Chianti and enjoy! Sure, it’s not “the same” as being there, that’s a big reason why we travel! So why not take our observations about The Sweet Life, the “Arte d’ Vivre” and bring home ideas, recipes and ways of living that enhance our wellness lifestyle?

Well Travel Tip #8
The best souvenirs…well living ideas to bring back and implement!

As you travel, anywhere, be a keen observer HOW people live.  Write down what you see (and taste!) and bring home the best observations as ideas for how you can live your life in a better way.
• If you enjoyed walking to a local market every couple of days, find a way to do that here at home.
• If you don’t live near a market, schedule a walk in a park near the store and then shop.
• If you enjoyed bicycling through town, find where you can do that more at home.
• If you envied the great sense of community that people enjoyed, come back and talk with friends and family about how to build that at home.
• If you loved that slowed-down lifestyle (perhaps the single biggest appeal of many destinations), observe how folks do it as you travel and see how much of that lifestyle you can bring home.

Sure, there are many differences between “here” and “there”. We may live where urban sprawl has killed many of these opportunities to walk and bicycle to a marketplace. We may have to get pretty creative at it, but take ideas home with you. They and your memories are the best of souvenirs!

Check out two related articles of mine on the Real Balance Global Wellness Services website: “Living Like You Were In Tuscany” and “Lifestyle as Art”. Download them free at: http://realbalance.com/resources/articles-a-resources/cat_view/16-articles

The Wellness Traveler: Healthy and Well on the Move! General Well Travel Tips – Part Three

Newfound friends from Italy and the UK dance the night away being well!

Wellness is a way of living to take with you wherever you go. Living well can also help you get there and make the most of it!

It was three o’clock in the morning and I was just getting to bed at a spa in Europe with a wonderful grin on my face. I had danced with newfound friends from around the world and hadn’t quit until the band (finally) went home! I thought I had lived life to the fullest, when I heard noise outside the resort hotel. Laughing and splashing down in the pool were some of my previous partying companions, still going strong!

Well Travel Tip #6
Live a life in balance so you can get a little “out of balance” and be glad you did!

One of the greatest reasons to live a life in balance, a healthy wellness lifestyle, is so you can have the health and vitality to “go for it” when the opportunity is there.

Wellness is not a worried existence atop a balance beam! It’s not a Spartan lifestyle of self-denial and depravation all in the name of health. Most of us can say “Yes!” to an opportunity to have fun, indulge, explore or adventure and not lose any ground in our pursuit of our wellness plans. Living healthy and well the other 97% of the time allows us to do just that.

How wonderful to say “Yes!” to that Italian pastry (and not kid ourselves how often we do that!). How lovely to stay up into the wee hours of the morning studying the stars as you paddle across a quiet and calm lake. How fantastic to be able “push” when you want to, to have “something left in the tank” when an arduous travel day requires extra stamina. All that healthy living can now pay dividends.

Well Travel Tip #7
Eat like your trip depends upon it…it does!

Now that I’ve urged you to “Go for it!” (with consciousness!), I’ll advise some consistency and common sense in the world of nutrition and eating. You can find almost endless online resources with lots of good suggestions, but as usual, I want to take a different tact here. First an ethical obligation to urge health and wellness through good ol’ basics:
• Drink more water, lots more water. Airplanes suck the moisture right out of you, so do new climates and elevation changes. Dehydration can affect you negatively in so many ways it would make your head spin (and I think that’s on the list of effects too). Hold on to the water you take in better. Limit caffeine, alcohol, and other diuretics!
• Pack your own food. As much as possible. Stay in charge of your own food supply. Buy locally, eat fresh!
• Eat a good breakfast. Best nutritional punch of the day. Even the French and Italians are starting to question their traditional white flour, sugar and caffeine breakfasts.
• Have fun at restaurants, but eat with real awareness! Don’t’ kid yourself on how much, how often, how many, or what! Eat like you know something about wellness!

Here’s a couple of simple list type resources with good ideas for eating better on the road:

http://fatherhood.about.com/od/workingfathers/a/healthy_road.htm

http://businesstravel.about.com/od/healthsafety/tp/diet_tips_for_business_travel.htm

http://healthfinder.gov/news/newsstory.aspx?docID=627943

Now for some Wellness Traveler thoughts on how to eat like your trip depends up on it.

• Eat to maintain energy and vitality. You want to be able to enjoy a whole day of walking through a beautiful part of the world, or hike all the way to that secluded waterfall and make it back! Balance your food intake so you have slow-burning energy from protein and fats (good fats) as well as the quicker burning carbs. Remember it’s like a good campfire, tinder+kindling+firewood, not just burning one wad of newspapers after another. Lots of food easily available to travelers is loaded with nothing but carbs and sugars.
• Be smart about food sources, but definitely be adventurous! Avoid the risky looking street vendor food, but order that new-to-you food at the restaurant. Like me you may hate canned anchovies, but you would not believe how fantastic the fresh ones that I had in Italy were!
• Eat mindfully. As much as possible find food that is close to the source, and partake of it with gratitude and grace. Mindful eating is even better for your digestion!
Honor the culture you are in and connect with it. When in Rome…don’t order a #&*@! Hamburger!  People express themselves and their geography through food so be a part of it. Try the homemade (not instant!) grits in the Southern part of the U.S. Try the civiche in coastal Mexico. Try those crazy snails in France! Bon appetite!

I certainly don’t pretend to tell you how to eat or what to do, but if you’ll give these ideas some thoughts you may find that what you eat enhances more than just your nutrition when you’re on the move. It may feed your soul, if you let it.

Peruvian/Asian Fusion Sushi in Miami Beach

The Well Traveler: Healthy and Well on the Move! General Well Travel Tips – Part Two

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Photo by Michael Arloski

General Well Travel Tips – Part Two

Our last post generated lots of interest in traveling “well”. We’ll be posting more on this theme and on the larger concept of “wellness travel”, that is consciously planning and traveling in a way that enhances our experience in all the dimensions of wellness. Wellness is a whole lot more than hygiene, and that’s what we’ll be talking about.

Let’s continue with our General Well Travel Tips before we journey on to looking at recreational wellness travel and business travel from a wellness angle.

Well Travel Tip #4
Pack Light, then re-pack lighter!

Airline baggage fees have already started many of us to completely reconsider what we take along on a trip. The overhead compartments are stuffed to the max as folks go lighter and avoid those added expenses. However, have you considered this for a longer trip, perhaps for a vacation? Could you do Europe for two weeks with one backpack weighing about 20-30 lbs.? What would be the benefits of simply bringing less on any trip?

Lighter on the back, lighter on the soul.

I may never be able to convince a true pack-rat to “lighten up”, but once you do, you will always be looking for ways to “cut the ounces and the pounds will take care of themselves”. The freedom quotient goes up exponentially with the weight and bulk that you cut. Wouldn’t it be nice to have no heavy bags dragging your arms down, making you awkward and tortoise-like.

Just a few years back I took a solo trip through six European countries in a three-week period with everything in one travel backpack. I loved the freedom of movement, the spontaneity it allowed, and my ability to “carpe diem”! I followed good old Rick Steves’ advice to pack light and pack smart and was thrilled that I did. . He’s got it down to a science. (http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/packlight.htm) I used an REI travel backpack and loved it. (something like this: http://www.rei.com/product/786932)

The ergonomics of a well-fitting, and not too heavy, backpack will pay off. Your body will thank you regardless of your age. Your soul just might thank you too. With less to “weight you down”, you make different decisions about how to spend your time, about how to move through life. You have no luggage cannonball chained to your ankle so you can literally “jump” on opportunities. Toss that pack in the overhead compartment and climb on board to a truly new destination!

Well Travel Tip # 5
Consciously “Calendarize” Your Trip: Leave Space for Spontaneity

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”, for sure, but cramming every waking hour with activities, events, traveling, and obligations backfires making almost any trip, either recreational, or business, a bust as well. When a wonderful opportunity presents itself in your lap will you have the flex in your schedule to go for it? Some of the absolute best moments in traveling happen when you just go for a walk with no plans, no agenda, and see what unfolds before your eyes.

On a business trip to Brazil the flex in my schedule allowed me to say yes to training and consulting work in Rio de Janeiro (not on my original itinerary) and at two spas in two other astonishing parts of the country.

The over-packed itinerary may seem like you’re getting the most value out of your trip, but at what cost? Ever stressed out and gotten fatigues by such a schedule ending up with you becoming ill and both the schedule and your good time got completely shot?

A great little idea from wellness coaching is “conscious calendarizing”. That is, setting up a calendar schedule for your trip with consciousness about your own health and wellness. Build in more time than you think for traveling (even across town). Seek out experiences that honor our Primary Wellness Travel Tip – being true to the purpose of your trip. (see previous post). Plan some “holes” in the schedule. Let serendipity and your own awareness of opportunities easily fill them in deliciously.

More Well Traveler Tips coming soon. Please share your comments and ideas. Well travels to you!

The Well Traveler: Healthy and Well on the Move!

Lake Bled, Slovenia, Photo by Michael Arloski

General Well Travel Tips – Part One

Both ends of my Memorial Day Weekend were all about airports, jets and endurance! This holiday is the unofficial start of the summer season for most folks in the USA, and summer means more travel for everyone across the Northern Hemisphere. As I strategized ways to get through my travel days I encountered the challenge of how we can all stay healthy and well when we’re on the move.

We all thrive on routine and so do most personal Wellness Plans. Travel interrupts that, yet there are ways to meet the challenge and win.

There is one Well Travel Tip that comes before all others:

The Primary Well Travel Tip
Be true to your trip’s purpose.

If it’s a time to recreate, do just that “re-create” yourself! Have fun. Leave work at home. Don’t let the fear of getting behind or losing business spoil the opportunity to let down. If it’s a business trip, go for it, do the biz! When we don’t keep the healthy boundaries in place the bleed-over kills our joy and/or our effectiveness. If the purpose of the trip is to reconnect with your partner/spouse, or your teenage daughter or son, don’t water it down or distract the trip into a labyrinth of visits with family and friends.

I’ll be writing a series of Well Traveler Tips for five different kinds of trips in upcoming posts:
1. Recreational trips
2. Business trips
3. Business & Recreation combined
4. Travel abroad
5. Outdoor Adventure

The tips will range from the soulful (and what fills our soul!) to the hygienic and practical. Some for the heart and some for the head, all designed to encourage you to get out there and enjoy life and enhance your wellness as you do.

General Tips For the Well Traveler

Well Travel Tip #1
Boost Your Immunity Before You Go, and Keep It Up

How many times have you or your friends come down with a virus, etc. from traveling? Jam-packed airplanes with re-circulating air, touching public surfaces that thousands of hands have touched before you on the same day, rotten sleep from uncomfortable beds, the stress of travel schedules, etc., all expose us to lots of immune system challenges. As much as possible, plan ahead and keep up your wellness lifestyle as much possible in the weeks before you go. Do all the good old wellness basics: plenty of rest, exercise and great nutrition and the healthy routine that you thrive on. Consider vitamin supplements and take them with you.

Well Travel Tip #2
Build In Activity Throughout Your Trip

Here’s some sub-tips under this one:
• Lay-over walking. If you don’t have to traverse an entire airport getting to your next gate, walk purposefully during the time before your carefully calculated time of departure. You may be able to get some serious mileage in cruising those concourses!
• Whether on a recreational or business trip you can find out routes for walking/jogging/biking/hiking in almost any new location. Check out http://www.mapmywalk.com/ and http://www.mapmyrun.com/ for routes and ways to track your distance worldwide. I just typed in Paris, France and got a great 8.3 mile walk suggestion on both sides of the Seine. Viva la Map My Walk! Smartphone aps are available for this too.
• People-Powered Sports. Instead of jet-skis, rent kayaks. Instead of jeep-tour, go hiking. Bicycles are the absolute best way to tour many cities. Leave the noisy toys at home (or don’t even buy them) and enjoy recreating under your own power.
• Build your trip around a wellness event. Travel somewhere to a running or biking race you’re participating in, and then stick around to enjoy the place.
• Use the chronically under-utilized hotel fitness center. Schedule in a time to workout whether on a business or recreation trip and follow through.

Well Travel Tip #3
Get a “Road ID” (or some kind of medical ID)

Checkout http://www.roadid.com/Common/default.aspx
Think of how many times you’ve gone jogging, swimming, biking, walking, etc. with absolutely nothing to identify you on your person. One untimely encounter with a vehicle, or a rogue wave and you become John or Jane Doe to the first response team. Road ID is the best out there. It allows a first responder to contact loved ones, your doctor, access vital medical data, etc., etc. with information that you put on a 1-800 phone system or a web-accessed system. It rocks!

More tips for The Well Traveler in our next post.