Traveling while on the autoimmune protocol (AIP) can be tricky, so I’m bringing you all of my best AIP travel tips!
AIP Travel Tips: Before traveling
It’s incredibly important to communicate your needs with your travel companions prior to your trip. If you are traveling with your spouse, he or she may naturally expect to travel the way you’ve always traveled. Your spouse may not realize the change in your needs.
Remember your spouse loves your dearly. However, he may not know or understand how best to support you while traveling. It if up to you to lovingly but firmly communicate your travel needs, and how he can best support you.
If you are traveling with other family or friends, they may not understand why you eat the way you do, or the lifestyle choices you make. They simply may not have experience with it. Again, it is incredibly important to communicate your needs and boundaries in a loving way.
While making travel plans, consider what time of day is best for you to leave. While it may be tempting to get a 4am start on the day of your trip, it may be healthier for you to leave later in the morning, or even early afternoon. Leaving later will enable you to get a jump start on hydration, get a solid 1-2 AIP meals in at home prior to traveling, allow time to use the bathroom (wink, wink), and allow time for a relaxed morning routine.
If leaving later is not an option, consider how you can structure your evening the day prior to set yourself up for success. For example, the night before you can fill up your reusable water bottle, prepare/pack your food, allow time for some extra self-care, and get to bed early.
When possible, plan early. Prepare well ahead of your trip. Purchase any Thermos, cooler, or AIP foods you will need for your time well ahead of time.
Stress tends be a big autoimmune trigger. Planning and preparing early will help reduce stress, and potentially avoid a stress induced autoimmune flare on your trip.
Planning and preparing early will also help you feel the best you can during your trip. Unfortunately, there is no AIP Fairy that will magically appear with AIP food wherever you go.
Planning your meals, snacks, hydration, and supplements will help you feel your best throughout your trip. It will also cut down on stress since you will know exactly when and where your next meal/snack will come from. Further, having a plan makes it easier to communicate your needs with your spouse or traveling companions.
Always bring more AIP snacks and/or meals than you think you need. That way you are covered if your trip is extended, you end up sharing food, or are hungrier than you think.
Before ever leaving on your trip, consider returning. Chances are you will not want to run off to the store and start food prepping the minute you arrive home. More likely, you will want to rest and recover from your travel.
Think about things you can do to make the transition home smoother. Are there prepped AIP meals in your freezer? AIP smoothie ingredients in your freezer? AIP snacks in your cupboard? Basics in your fridge (if your trip is short)? Are there clean clothes so you do not have to laundry for a few days after returning? Did you schedule any activities upon your return you may want to cancel?
Traveling home from vacation can be emotional and stressful. Allowing yourself time and space after your trip to recover and relax may help you avoid a post vacation autoimmune flare.
AIP Travel Tips: With a Kitchen
In my opinion, it is much easier to travel on the AIP when having access to a kitchen. When possible, I try to book hotels or VRBOs with kitchens. If traveling to visit family, I call ahead to explain my situation and see if they mind if I use their kitchen to prepare my AIP meals. It’s worked out beautifully.
When traveling with access to a kitchen, there’s a variety of cooking/food prep options:
- Prep AIP meals ahead of time, freeze them, pack them in a cooler, and simply reheat throughout your trip. I prefer this option since it frees me from cooking while on a trip.
- Grocery shop and prepare meals as needed on your trip. I do this when my family and I go to Maui each year. I still plan ahead of time what I will cook, and make my shopping list accordingly. Then, we hit the Whole Foods and Costco right after we land, buy exactly what we need, then head to the condo. I learned the hard way planning meals and a shopping list ahead of time saves time, and gets us out enjoying the Hawaiian beach quicker!
- Use a meal delivery service like Paleo On The Go (POTG). You can either buy the meals to be delivered to your home and pack them yourself, or purchase them to be delivered directly to your hotel/condo/vacay spot.
- Or you can choose a combination of the above. Prep some meals, cook some meals there, and use some POTG meals.
- Staples to consider packing: EVOO or coconut oil, pink salt, garlic powder, AIP Paleo Powder, other spices, coconut aminos travel packs, Ziplocs, foil, glass Snapware, plastic utensils, napkins/paper towels.
Note: Purchasing oils and spices can add up quickly, so I prefer packing my own!
AIP Travel Tips: Without a Kitchen
Traveling while on the AIP without a kitchen is trickier, but completely possible! I try to book a hotel with at least a mini fridge. Otherwise, I bring my own cooler.
There are a number of options when traveling without a kitchen while on the AIP:
- Eating out. When eating out, I try to research ahead of time when possible. I also clearly communicate my dietary needs with the server and/or chef. I’ve found success by googling “paleo restaurants near me” or “gluten free restaurants near me.” Grass fed burger joints are a great option, and usually have a “paleo burger” that can be modified. Also, keep in mind potential cross contamination issues, and communicate accordingly. I love this resource!
- Pack ready to eat meals that do not require heating, like Wild Zora meals. Currently, Wild Zora has two AIP options. Wild Zora meals just need water.
- Prepare AIP meals at home ahead of time that you do not mind eating cold. You know, the meals that taste great when you’re so hungry you do not want to take the time heating them up. Pack some of those in a cooler, and refill the ice from the hotel ice machines.
- Pack fruit, raw veggies, and salads in a cooler. Pack warm meals in a Thermos to eat while traveling.
- Bring some POTG meals, or have them delivered to the hotel, and use a mini portable oven to heat them.
- Find a local whole foods, or grocery store and look for AIP meal options there. Some ideas:
- AIP compliant Rotesserie chickens
- Organic salad bar
- Canned wild caught fish/tuna or chicken
- Raw ready to eat veggies
- Washed, cut, ready to eat fruit
- Green juice (add in your collagen peptides)
AIP Travel Snacks
Epic Bars Meat Bars
Word of warning on AIP snack foods: Be aware of how you feel when you eat AIP snack foods and treats. I feel best when I do not eat them every day. Try to not let the AIP snack foods crowd out nutrient dense whole foods.
AIP Travel Tips: Air Travel
- Stay hydrated! Hydration is incredibly important to wellness, so drink plenty of water.
- Pack AIP meals and snacks for the flight. Remember to communicate with the TSA while clearing security.
- Avoid “red-eye” flights when possible.
- Stand up, stretch, and walk around during layovers.
- Experiment with eating during a flight versus not eating during flights. Notice when you feel best.
AIP Travel Tips: Road Trips
- Stay hydrated.
- Plan stops ahead of time.
- At the stops, be sure to stretch and walk around a bit.
- Pack your AIP food and snacks for the road trip in a cooler or Thermos. Remember to pack extra, when possible, for the road trip home.
- If eating out, consider the tips above.
AIP Travel Tips: Stress
Clearly communicating boundaries with loved ones and traveling companions before and throughout the trip can reduce or eliminate stress.
Feeling the beginnings of a flare while on a trip can trigger stress and an endless stream of “what ifs?” What if I get worse? What if I cannot do what we planned? What if I am too sick to travel home?
Going down that rabbit hole will get your no where you want to be. The stress will make the situation worse. I speak from experience.
Instead of stressing, try to calmly acknowledge what is going on, and adjust travel plans as needed. Make extra time for rest. Realize that life with chronic illness is not perfect, and there will be hiccups along the way from time to time. Each time you travel while on the AIP, you will learn more and fine tune the process.
AIP Travel Tips: Movement
Movement is an important part of the AIP, but over exercise can trigger autoimmune symptoms.
Schedule some movement each day of travel like walking, hiking, gentle yoga, or gentle strength training, but try not to overdo it or get carried away.
AIP Travel Tips: Sleep
Sleep is incredibly important for autoimmune wellness. Ensuring both quality of sleep and quantity of sleep will help you feel your best while traveling.
Plan your travel schedule to protect healthy sleep habits.
Allow time for your calming bedtime routine at night.
Avoid “red-eye” flights or traveling during the night.
Bring items that will help the quality of your sleep. I love packing:
- My noise machine – this one is pricey, but lasts for years and is my favorite. If you do not have space to pack a noise machine, you can use a white noise app on your phone instead. Just be sure your phone is set to airplane mode to avoid text and call alerts.
- Sleep mask – this is hands down my favorite eye mask!
- Pillow – I am particular about my pillow, and traveling with my favorite pillow helps me sleep better when traveling.
- Blanket – when possible, I like to bring one of my favorite soft, fuzzy blankets.
AIP Travel Tips: Connection
Connecting with both loved ones and nature increases wellness. Enjoy spending time connecting with loved ones, and enjoying time spent in nature.
Take a deep breathe, let go of your worries and fears, and simply enjoy the moment! You deserve it!
AIP Travel: Finding Joy
My kids and I flew home from visiting family a couple of days ago.
As I looked out the window of the airplane at this view, my thoughts turned to my rock bottom just a year and a half earlier.
There were many days I could not imagine ever traveling again.
During that time, a piece of me felt heartbroken.
And a piece of me felt empty…empty of any desire to travel.
I simply wanted my life back.
The biggest desire of my heart at that time?
To be able to do ALL the little things moms do that I took for granted.
It’s been about a year and a half since then.
It took time and patience, but I found a new version of wellness.
My love for traveling returned, even stronger than before.
Along with it came some fear, but I am learned to work through the fear.
Traveling while on the AIP is tricky, but each trip gets a bit easier.
This week’s trip marked the 7th time I’ve traveled since January.
7 times in less than 6 months. And I moved out of state last month too.
Amazing the difference a year makes!
So as I looked across my two kids, out the window of the airplane, my heart filled with gratitude and joy.
Change IS possible.
Finding joy while living with autoimmune disease IS possible.
I am a living, breathing testament to this!
If you are where I was a year and a half ago, PLEASE know you can get here.
You can travel again.
It takes time, hard work, and consistency, but it is 100% worth it!!
Take it one day at a time, one hour at a time, or one minute at a time.
I believe in you!
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