Saturday 19 October 2019

Karl Henry: A few simple tricks to help you stay reasonably healthy on your holidays

No eating on the fly: Don’t arrive at the airport with an empty stomach
No eating on the fly: Don’t arrive at the airport with an empty stomach
Karl Henry

Karl Henry

Welcome to my latest six-part series, How to Travel Well. I was away on holidays two weeks ago and as I write this, I am in Boston for an exclusive interview with an amazing guest for my Real Health podcast, which will be available this Friday.

The more I travel, the more I am frightened by what I see around me, both at the airport and on the plane. On a flight a few weeks ago, I was amazed at just how many people had to ask for a seat belt adaptor as their waistlines were too big for the standard one. People were barely fitting in the toilets, squeezing down the aisle to walk through the plane and really struggling to get into the seats.

I think the days of larger seats are coming soon, along with extra charges for it. It's crazy to see the impact lifestyle changes have on our lives and I think it's especially noticeable with travel.

So with that in mind, over the next six weeks I am going to try to improve the health and fitness standards of your trip, recommending simple swaps and ideas that will make your holiday a healthier one. To get things going, we have to start at the airport...

Never arrive on an empty stomach

This is the classic mistake. Arrive hungry and by the time you get through security you will be ravenous and devour every unhealthy snack that comes your way. So aim to get a healthy meal into you at least one hour before you arrive at the airport.

De-stress the trip

Arrive early to the airport and do your check-in online if you can, to get it out of the way. Make sure you know what you can and can't wear when going through security. Get your toiletries sorted in a plastic bag in advance, have your laptop out, pockets emptied and belt off - don't wait until the last minute to stress yourself out.

Drink water

When I fly, I aim to drink a minimum of one litre of water before I get on the plane and at least one litre on the plane, and more if it's a long trip such as the Boston one. I aim to get up and go to the toilet at least once on the flight. I think hydration is key for your health and also for your appetite as sometimes we eat when we are actually thirsty. Remember to use the colour of your urine as a guide to your hydration: clear is good, yellow is dehydrated.

Use the stairs

I love this one: no escalators or lifts when travelling. Those travelling with very small children get a pass, but otherwise, use your feet and use the stairs! People queue for the escalators when the stairs beside them are always free. It's an obvious one but great to get the body moving.

Protein plus colour

Holidays do funny things to people's discipline. As soon as you're through security it can often become a food free-for-all, so set yourself some ground rules. If you're having a meal at the airport, fill your plate with some protein (meats/fish/eggs/nuts) and then plenty of colour in terms of your vegetables and carbohydrates. Try to do the same on the plane too, where possible. It's such a straightforward guide, but one that will really help to keep your nutrition in check.

Avoid taking a seat at the gate

Standing more during the day will dramatically improve your health, your strength and reduce your risk of a whole load of health problems, so when travelling, aim to stand more and sit less while waiting for the plane at the terminal. When you sit, the chair does all the work; when you stand, your body does all the work - simple swap!

These tips are tried and tested, and they really do work. Put them into action and stay healthy the next time you travel.


Subscribe to The Real Health podcast with Karl Henry on iTunes and Soundcloud and get no nonsense advice about being fit and healthy every day. For more information, visit For any health and fitness questions, you can email or contact Karl on Twitter @karlhenrypt.

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