Fatigue and traveling can often seem inextricably tied, but rest assured, they aren’t! There are plenty of scientifically proven ways to feel alert and refreshed while on the move—caffeine not required.
Hear us out! While making small talk can sometimes be exhausting, chatting with a fellow traveler can help keep you alert during your time on the road (or out at sea or in the air). It stimulates the mind, engages you, and who knows, might actually be a fun way to pass the time. Just remember to test the waters before diving into full-on conversation: Not everyone wants to be energized.
2. Just Breathe
Breathing exercises work to counteract the often-stressful world of travel in two ways. First, breathing deeply has a calming effect that you’ll almost certainly need for whatever comes your way, especially during those many-legged or lengthy trips. On top of that, deep breathing will help regulate the oxygen flow in your blood, which increases alertness.
3. Take a Holistic Approach
Simple acupressure techniques can keep you energized and clear your mind. For a quick and easy move, try pinching the skin between your thumb and index finger for a few minutes, massaging your temples, or squeezing your wrist at the center. If an olfactory approach is more your speed, bring some essential oils like basil, peppermint, rosemary, orange, grapefruit, lavender, or lemon. A quick inhale of these pungent scents will wake up your mind and calm your nerves.
4. Eat right
Being away from our home and routine can throw a lot of us off our nutrition game at a time when we need proper eating the most. Plan accordingly when you travel and pack healthy snacks to keep you sane, happy, and full of good, clean fuel. Nuts, trail mix, fresh fruit and veggies, and lean protein are all great options when you can’t get to a healthy eatery or grocery store.
5. Get Moving in Your Seat
Possibly the biggest energy drain during a train or bus ride, road trip, or flight is the inability to move around much in your seat. Luckily, there are some handy techniques to trick your body into thinking it’s somewhere other than in a car or 30,000 feet up. Point and release your toes, grab shoulders with the opposite arm, roll your shoulders, pull your knees into your body, or do some neck rolls, heel lifts, or ankle circles. Then, give yourself a little love by massaging your calves or the back of your legs. The motions will keep the blood flowing in your body, stretch and relax your muscles, and, if done right, won’t be much bother to anyone around you.
6. ...and out of it.
Believe or not, yoga in a plane, train, boat or automobile is possible. While standing in line for the bathroom or taking a much-needed 7th-inning stretch, roll your shoulders back and lock your hands behind your back to open up your chest and shoulders and stimulate your upper body. Thigh stretches and other small muscle-friendly motions are all helpful in keeping energy up and your body feeling good. A forward bend might be a little trickier to manage, but if you’ve got the space, the motion will help lengthen your spine, which is an area that will need some extra attention since your posture probably isn’t at its best while traveling. Speaking of which: Mind your posture! There’s nothing like a simple shoulders-back-and-spine-straight stance to keep you alert.
Take your concentrated breathing one step further with meditation. It’s a good anxiety-reducer and de-stresser, which in turn will keep you from feeling exhausted. If you haven’t meditated before, don’t fret, it’s not as daunting as it might seem. Get comfortable and find a point of focus either in the physical world or through a mantra. Then focus on your breath. The point is to try to clear your mind, but don’t worry if it tends to wander. Be in the moment, and relaxation will follow.
8. Stay Hydrated
Hydration should always be a priority, but it can be tough while traveling to remember your daily eight glasses of water. Staying on top of it will help your blood transport oxygen and other nutrients to your cells and that will help boost your energy. It also means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to get all that blood moving throughout your body. That, along with the other numerous benefits of proper hydration, will help keep you feeling powered and lively.
9. Prioritize Your Hygiene
Beauty might be skin deep, but the benefits of maintaining your routine during travel go much deeper. Taking care of your skin by washing and moisturizing is the biggest one, and will have you feeling fresh all the way from point A to point B. It also helps to prepare ahead for common issues like red eyes (no pun intended) and puffiness. Bring eye drops with you, and if you start to feel a little under-eye bloat, grab an ice cube from your in-flight seltzer or drive-through cup, tuck it into a napkin, and hold it under your eye for a minute. The reduction in swelling will have you looking and feeling just like your normal, never-tired self. Pick up a hydrating mist, moist towelettes, and breath fresheners to round out a fabulous hygiene travel kit.
10. Entertain wisely
You never know what sort of entertainment options will be available when you’re on the move, so it’s always best to plan. Listening to music is among the best ways to stay energized through entertainment, so load up your phone or portable music device with plenty of jams to last you all the way through. Podcasts, books, movies, crossword puzzles, or magazines will also help to keep your mind occupied and, hopefully, excited. There’s no better pick-me-up than the banishment of boredom.
Let’s face it, your energy might crash even if you heed all of these suggestions—especially if you didn’t get a good night of rest before hitting the road. Allow yourself a 20-minute power nap (it shouldn’t be much longer) and you’ll be ready to forge ahead at your destination or during the next leg of the journey with a clear head and newly rested mind.