Travel Tips: Getting the Most Out of Your Adventure

Is exploring our planet and meeting its many inhabitants (human and otherwise) as important to you as it is to me?  Tasting and experiencing new foods, landscapes, languages and customs -- do you consider it all part of living a healthy lifestyle? I think so. Travel can be mentally expanding, stimulating and inspiring and provide a varied outlook to life. I wrote a bit about it here.

I also covered some practicalities of packing a great carry-on and avoiding jet lag but if traveling is important to you as it is for me and my family, I have compiled a few other tips that my family and I adopt when we embark on our travel adventures.

More Travel Tips

Consider some of these tips to make your travels run smoother and get the most our of your journey. Although most of these tips pertain to international travel, many of them can be applied to domestic travel as well.

Pack your healthy habits. Routines can be a bore, I know! Fully experience your destination, and that may include indulging sometimes. After all, isn't that part of the reason you are traveling -- to expose yourself to new ways?  But, if you veer too far to the left or right of your healthy eating or exercise regimens you can feel bloated, nauseated or worse and ruin your trip. Then, when you come back, it is a longer road ahead to get back on track or even button your pants. There may be several health habits you do at home that help you feel your best that you can easily incorporate into your travels. So, think about that and just keep your indulging in check is all.

Eat well.  You can travel well and eat well on a budget. Here's how to hit all three:
  • Limit the fancy restaurants or just splurge here and there. 
  • In between, check out the local taverns and cafes where the locals go for a more authentic and less expensive option to the area's cuisine.  Even better, book dinner at some of the smaller villages or towns nearby to get a real feel for how the locals really live and eat.
  • Some of the street fare, open markets and food at festivals can provide wonderful memories, too. Markets are loaded with fresh fruit and vegetable options as well.
  • Eating one bigger meal and one or two smaller ones helps keep costs down with a healthy snack you packed to fill the gaps. 
  • Research restaurants a bit on Trip Advisor or other sites where to go so that you have some suggestions in your pocket already.

Preparations can bring relaxation. Just do these before you go and you will rest easier:

  • Make copies of important documents, prescriptions and phone numbers, etc. and keep them in one large waterproof zip lock bag.  Once you arrive, keep  it in your room safe or on you. These papers would include copies of your passports, your credit card company names and contact information, or important prescriptions.  We also always leave an extra copy of all of these at home with our itinerary so that whomever is checking our house can always fax us the information, if necessary
  • Familiarize yourself with the maps of your destinations.  You will be able to visualize everything better and better gauge how far things are from one another if you spend a bit of time with local maps before you leave.  Remember, Google maps or other devices may not work where you go. You may not need a compass, but you should brush up on some old skills like map reading!
  • Pack a small amount of any medications you think you might need. It is awful getting sick while traveling and even worse in a foreign country. Having some comforts of home (i.e favorite headache remedy, basic first aid, etc.) can help ease the discomfort. I always eye the closest urgent care or hospital, too, when I arrive in a new place.  A bit paranoid, maybe, but it makes me feel better.

Get some wheels. Rent a car. I know it can be costly in some countries but check before you leave for specials. We try to rent a car for at least a day to discover the surrounding area and we have had some of our most memorable and best adventures doing so.  We discovered beautiful towns and friendly locals as well as lovely areas to swim without the crowds. And the scenery is to behold! Even the small things can be enlightening. While driving through France with our family many years ago and in Greece recently, I was fascinated by how others drive in other countries, what the driving etiquette is compared to the States and even what the local gas stations are like.  In France, the food options at them were amazing, for example.  We did not eat there, but many were!

Make a list or two.  Think before you set sail on what you want out of the trip.  Make sure your actions of how you are spending your time are in line with those goals.  For example, if you have been working a lot and one of your goals for the trip might be more time to talk and bond with your children, make sure you are not going off too much by yourself. You may return from your trip with regrets.

Leave room for spontaneity in your schedule as some of those unscheduled times could be your best!   Prioritize and don't worry if you don't get to everything.  Just experience what you can and be present where you are.

On the more practical side, if museums and other events are on your list, many tickets sell out, so perhaps book transit tickets and museum visits in advance for savings and to get the best choices.

Find the current.  If traveling internationally, the electrical currents can really vary and fry your appliances if you do not use the proper tools.  (We lost a hair dryer in France using the wrong converter.) Familiarize yourself with power adapters and converters. (An adapter is a tool that "adapts" your appliance with a U.S. plug to "adapt" to the country's outlet in the wall. A power converter switches the electrical power current in your device to match the voltage from the outlet.) You will need both.

Bring comfy shoes.  I am the worst on this (Ask my family),  What can I say? I like cute shoes, but you will be walking.  A lot. Packing a box of bandages for blisters is a good idea, too!

Learn the lingo.
  Read a bit about the customs of the country you are traveling to if traveling internationally and definitely learn at least a few basic words to get you by and to show effort.  It can go a long way with the locals!

I know you must have many additions to this list.  I would love to learn what works for you.  Please add on in the comments!

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Making Space For Greek Fava

Is there such a malady as non-buyer's remorse? Because if so, I think I have it. I have all the symptoms.

Our suitcases were at full capacity with numerous cans of organic olive oil from a recent trip to Crete and many tins of local raw honey from there, too.  We had several incredible wines from Santorini nestled so carefully in our suitcases as well.  So, I ask myself: would a bag of beans really have made such a difference in getting that suitcase closed before heading back home?

The answer is not really. So, here I am, chastising myself over not picking up a bag or two of the delicious Greek fava grown in the rich volcanic soil of Santorini. I could be whipping up a batch right now, at home, this very moment. It was a poor decision not to include those yellow nuggets of yumminess and fiber on my packing list and I will just have to live with the it -- symptoms and all.

Why Would You Want To Buy A Bag of Greek Fava Beans?

As confusing as this sounds, Greek fava has nothing to do with the fava bean. Rather, Greek fava is a split pea made into a smooth and delicate and creamy spread served with various toppings like onion, lemon juice, capers and olive oil. Greek fava has a similar look and texture to hummus and is served typically at taverns with bread as an appetizer.


Until Then . . .

Blowing Kisses!

There is a big family event in the works right now so I won't be around sharing health bits much over the next few weeks.  But just because I am not here, please put your feet up, make yourself comfortable and stay a while. Look over the categories and see what piques your interest, leave me a comment and get the conversation going!

I will see you soon, but for now, I bid you a heartfelt farewell and a few kisses your way. But, just in case you were wondering just exactly how to blow a kiss  and doing it just right, I have it all here for you.  So, until then, practice your technique, get it right and let me know how that goes.

Wishing you wellness in mind, body and spirit!

lori @ The Health-Minded

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Refresh With Rooibos: Minty Sangria

I remember the big pitcher of iced tea with lemons and fresh mint my mom would make each morning during the summer.  Perhaps that is why I love it so and it is my beverage of choice summer, winter and every season in between. I wrote about tea here and the varieties of them as well as why you may want to quench your thirst with it often, but I have been into a different tea lately and serving it a bit differently as well.

I have been reaching for Rooibos tea, or red bush tea and tossing in a variety of fruits as well.  Rooibos is an herbal tea grown from a small shrub that grows near Cape Town, South Africa, and not grown from the Camellia sinensis plant where we obtain our other tea varieties. Both "teas" have endless health benefits but here is why you should consider giving Rooibos a rotation in your beverage making and doing so often.

Five Health Benefits Of Rooibos Tea

Rooibos tastes great and supports many of our bodily systems. Read how here:

It acts like your personal body guard.  Rooibos contains many antioxidants and we all know how good they are. But the wide variety of them in Rooibos tea helps to protect the body in a number of ways. Two polyphenol antioxidants called aspalathin and nothofagin are found in high concentrations in Rooibos tea, which aid in free radical protection. The polyphenols also have anti-inflammatory properties and can safeguard against heart disease and defend cells and DNA against damage and inhibit them from developing into cancer. The antioxidant chysoeriol can improve circulation as well.


Bread Basket Toppings

Those bread baskets are dangerous. Yes, they should carry proceed with caution signs. And, I think you know why. The waiter places it on the table before you and it takes a delicate and disciplined approach to not cave in and consume the entire basket in minutes (and especially if they contain those sumptuous and creamy buttery spreads.)  Those baskets can be a formidable challenge for those watching the waistline and consuming too much can kill the appetite. Being gluten-free lately has certainly helped me push that basket away, but those gluten-free options are enticing, too.

So, if you are going to dig in that bread basket seeking your favorite carb and throw a devil may care nod to the wind, try a spread or topping like one of these for some nutrient-packed options.  Who knows, you may enjoy the toppings so much, you won't eat so much bread and ruin your appetite!

Healthy Spreads

Here are three healthy toppings or spreads you can create quickly at home for your bread basket.  They make great pot luck additions too.


Summer Reading: Outdoors Required

Summer and reading. They just go together for me. I always have a list of books I want to read, but it seems that during the summer, I have an easier time finding opportunities to do it. But, I will not be reading my books in bed and they will not be on my nightstand either. Nope. These books will be peeking out of my beach bag or safely packed in my carry-on travel bag, thrown in my picnic basket or swinging in my backyard hammock. This is my SUMMER reading list after all, and I plan to be outside in the fresh air as much as I can when I read these this summer.

All of these books happen to be written by someone in the medical field - two by doctors and one by a pharmacist.  It is exciting to me that many doctors are taking a more holistic and open-minded approach to practicing medicine.  They are opening their eyes to the role our diets play in how we feel and how our symptoms present.  They take into consideration our stress levels, our lifestyles and are more interested now in getting to the root of our issues and encouraging us, the patients, to take a more active role (and therefore responsibility) in how we feel.

3 Books on My Summer Reading List

Here are three non-fiction books I will be reading this summer on the topic of health and why I chose them. You can purchase all of them off Amazon or at your neighborhood bookstore or check them out at your local library.


5 Edible Flowers To Use in Your Cooking

Flowers delight me. My friends, my family know how much they do and they are so thoughtful to bring me flowers often. But, I think my all-time favorite bouquets I have received over the years were the ones my children gave to me when they were teeny-tiny.  They would rush in the house from playing outside with a bunch of freshly picked flowers (mostly weeds) so excited to surprise me. And, they did! Yes, they did delight me - in so many ways!

But, weeds or not, flowers look pretty incredible wherever they are - bunched up in a tiny child's hand, in a field, a landscaped garden, in a vase by your front door or on your plate.  Yes, on your plate and in your food. They are lovely there, too, and can make your next dish a beautiful sight.

The Taste

Edible flowers are magical and add flair to your dishes, but what about the taste? If you note the scent you take in from the flower, it will give you a general idea of the taste.  Further, if the flower is stemming from an herb or vegetable, the flower's taste is usually a more delicate version of the food item.  For example, the chive blossom tastes very much like chive but milder. And, squash blossoms taste like a more temperate version of the squash as well.


Resistance: A Film on How Superbugs Will Impact You

Sometimes you walk out of a movie theatre feeling inspired after viewing a film. Sometimes, you are left mystified over the film's plot twist or maybe even in awe of the creativity in making it.  But, after walking out of a film preview I saw recently, I felt both horrified and alarmed. The film, Resistance, illustrates survival of the fittest in the tiniest of ways, but those microscopic ways deliver a gigantic, massive impact on all of us.  This film is a sobering documentary on germs and their ability to survive and cause antibiotic resistance infections that can affect all of us, directly or indirectly, in life-altering ways.

Antibiotic's Miraculous But Disorderly Path

The film, previewing now in the US, shows the history of antibiotics from when they were first introduced in the 1940s as a medical miracle to the present. Their unfortunate overuse in agriculture, the military, medical treatments and in our food have directly led to the resistant infections that strike two million Americans each year. The director, Michael Graziano, details several stories of healthy individuals of all ages that contract an antibiotic-resistant infection leading to comas, loss of limbs and even human life. These stories all illustrate the danger of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections and the reality that it can happen to you or someone you care about no matter your age or degree of health.


A Solid Marriage: Strawberry and Rhubarb

You know those couples you meet where they both just seem to bring out the best in each other? That perhaps individually they may not have been able to achieve what they do together?  Like Rodgers and Hammerstein perhaps or even Bonnie and Clyde!  Well, I think you could place strawberry and rhubarb in that great couple's classification, too, minus the bank robbing part! The tartness and tang of the rhubarb marries so well with the delicate sweetness of fresh strawberries!

Strawberries are especially perfect in June and fresh rhubarb is making an appearance right about now as well. Yes, Mother Nature has that one planned pretty well. So take advantage and freeze up this little number to add some refreshment to those hot summer days.  No refined sugar here and the vitamin K and calcium in the rhubarb and the vitamin C and manganese in the strawberries should make you feel good about every bite that melts on your tongue.