Tips to Keep Your Body Happy During Travel

Photo by  Matthew LeJune  on  Unsplash

Traveling can be mentally and physically stressful causing your body to hold a lot of tension, especially if you have anxiety about driving or flying. So what can you do to reduce some of that stress and tension? Here are a few techniques to make travel by plane or car easier this holiday season, and any time of year!

Want to feel better on long airplane rides?

If possible, plan to arrive at the airport early enough to make it to your gate and have time to breathe and grab a snack. Running late and long security lines are sure to increase anxiety and tension! Now that you’re at the gate early, stand for as long as possible. The key is to be really ready to sit for a long time. Walk around, shift your weight back and forth, and do some gentle stretches and range of motion exercises to get your body feeling more limber. I know it seems counter-intuitive to warm up to sit down, but it actually helps a lot to combat stiffness from prolonged sitting in tight spaces!

These are the movements I usually do when waiting to board. It only takes about 5-10 minutes, and also helps me to feel calmer and relax into the flight. Do 6-12 reps of each, depending on how much time you have and what feels good.

  1. Neck Exercises:

    • Gently turn your head to your left and and then back to your right slowly. Let it be comfortable, but also feel it getting easier each time.

    • Next, drop your chin to your chest and then return to neutral. (Don’t tilt your head back - this puts too much strain on your spine.)

    • Finish with gentle neck semi-circles by tilting your chin to chest and then slowly moving chin from shoulder to shoulder. Keep the motion forward in a half-circle to protect your spine.

  2. Shoulder Warm-ups

    • With your hands at your sides, slowly roll your shoulders forward 8-12 times and then reverse. You can also alternate sides if that feels better to you, rolling one shoulder at a time.

    • Reach your hands overhead and clasp your hands. Slowly stretch up feeling your rib cage expand as you aim to touch the ceiling.

    • Clasp your fingers behind your back and feel a gentle stretch in your pectoral muscles and the front of your shoulders. If you can’t reach your hands together behind your back, use a piece of clothing like a scarf or belt to connect your hands.

  3. Leg Stretches: Stretch these areas to help minimize low back and hip pain on the plane. To make these more movement oriented, hold each stretch for 3-5 seconds and repeat each side 5-6 times.

    • Quad stretch

    • Calf stretch

    • Piriformis stretch

    • Hip & Ankle circles. Rotate your hips one direction 8-12 times and then go the other way, like you’re hula-hooping but slower and more intentional. Rotate your ankles in the same manner, imagine using your big toe to draw a circle.

Do long car rides leave you sore and exhausted?

Many of the techniques listed above will also help you feel better during car travel because they’re meant to combat fatigue and aches caused by sitting for too long. The primary modification for cars is to do a few stretches every time you stop for a break. Instead of trying to drive for as long as possible, make several pit stops and spend a few minutes on your body. You’ll arrive at your destination just a few minutes later, and you’ll feel way better because of the self-care breaks!

Have you discovered other self-care tips that make your travel easier? Feel free to share in the comments section below!