I had never been to Israel before and have to say that the experience was mind-blowing. Both because the country is beautiful and because it’s infinitely more complex than I ever imagined.
From driving ATV’s along the Syrian border in the Golan Heights, to rubbing ourselves with mud in the Dead Sea, to a farm to table meal in the beautiful gardens of someone’s home near Tel Aviv, to standing before the Wailing Wall on Shabbat and feeling it’s energy reverberate through me as I pressed my forehead against its thousands of years old stones along with the hundreds of other men and women praying around me, each place we visited was eye opening and almost surreal.
Add to that the endless conversations happening amongst 80 voraciously curious engaged and intentional people that lasted until at least 2am every night and the result was the feeling that I had been away for a month, not a week.
I averaged about 5 hours of sleep a night and 2 of those nights were spent on a plane, I ate healthy but massive meals three times a day, had wine every single night, and spent most of my time in close quarters, sharing a bus seat or a hotel room or a conversation, with zero downtime for 8 straight days.
Now that I’m back I feel jet lagged but alive in ways I hadn’t before I left, connected to a new community and family of humans with whom I share an experience that has changed us all forever.
For me that means taking an Ambien, a drug I mostly think is poison, and creating a cocoon to block out the atmosphere: 2 big shawls to cover myself head to toe, an eyemask and earplugs. If you’re one of those who is out cold wheel to wheel, I’m jealous. But I’m not an airplane seat sleeper – the noise, the air and the feeling of being vertical when I want to be horizontal is too much. I also know that if I prepare well and bring my gear in order to get a few hours of sleep, I can hit the ground running when I arrive.
A long flight can suck out about 10% of your total body water. Whatever amount of water you think you need drink 3x more. Your energy level and digestion will thank you.
Chances are on a big trip you’re drinking more, eating more and taking in more than you realize. I travel with methyl-folate and methy-B12 in the form of a Xymogen women’s essentials pack. I credit my B’s with more energy and a faster recovery from late nights than I’d have had otherwise.
My 2.2lb folding mat is a life essential for travel. Even a few minutes of yoga a day has a profoundly energizing and calming effect. Those few minutes of grounding and being alone on my mat made up for long flights, lots of walking and borderline overeating.
Travel like this makes everyone constipated and bloated. It’s just life. You’re out of your routine, eating new foods, not sleeping or exercising regularly, and add to that the weird phenomenon flying has on all of our bellies. So many people came to me complaining of constipation . My trick is probiotics – I take 2 at bedtime – and magnesium citrate – the kind of magnesium that makes you go, as many as 5 tablets before bed. Add to that a large glass of water when you go to bed and first thing on waking and a belly massage ( check out this video for a demo ) and you’re good to go.
I don’t eat gluten or dairy at home, but on a couple of choice occasions I sent my dietary restrictions out the window for local sheep’s milk cheese or challah the traditional bread eaten on Shabbat. In general there were so many veggie-heavy pescatarian options in Israel it wasn’t hard to follow my usual trends but I also made sure to feel I got to taste every flavor in moments where it really counted.
These six strategies are what I use to get the most out of travel. It takes a tiny bit of preparation and a slightly heavier suitcase, but it means I have the best experience possible, and can let the destination take care of the rest.
How do you keep your cool on the road? Share your tips in the comments below- we’d love to hear from you!
Dr. Robin Berzin is the founder and CEO of Parsley Health. A Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Robin completed medical school at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and trained in Internal Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.