As travel restrictions lift, you might find yourself hopping time zones again.
Whether to relax on a sunny beach and escape dreary winters or to attend famous biohacking events around the globe.
Just one cross-country flight wreaks havoc on your body. Interfering with delicate biological processes, accelerating aging, and leaving you feeling crummy.
And our calendars rarely budget for several recuperation days.
Through extensive research, trial and error, and learning from others, I’ve come up with this master list of tips to biohack travel, prevent and cure jet lag, and stay optimized when on the go. Here are some things you can look into and research before your next big trip to bounce back fast.
How Travel & Plane Flights Wreck Health
We’ve entered an era where humans can now traverse hundreds—or thousands—of miles in a single sunrise.
Our biological processes haven’t kept up with the pace of our modern technological boom. Now the odds are stacked against us in countless ways. A single flight:
- Bombards us with non-native radiation
- Dehydrates us from dry air and elevation
- Exposes us to all kinds of rare microbes
- Deprives us of oxygen
- Predisposes us to deep vein thrombosis clot formation
- Disrupts our gut microbiome
- Alters our circadian rhythm
- Accumulates inflammation
- Confines our movement
- Impairs our biological pathways and processes
- Poisons us with harsh, pressurized, chemically-laden neurotoxic air
- Tempts us with toxic junk foods, drinks, and other products
Attacking our health on many levels.
According to my Oura Ring data, long travel days would crash my health and performance biometrics worse than a day packed with grueling workouts and high-stakes presentations.
I began researching and testing tools to protect my mind and body, and make travel more biologically compatible. From fasting to peptides, to advanced nutriceuticals.
I’ve meticulously honed and refined this list, keeping only that which works. The ancestral practices that I notice make a difference, or modalities supported by modern science.
How you choose to fuel your body can multiple the ravages or travel, or make your body more resilient.
Acting as the first line of defense against jet lag and “travel hangover”.
The basic tenant of a travel-optimized diet is to eat lightly, and match the eating window of your destination ASAP.
So If I leave home at 5 AM but it’s 11 AM at my destination, I’ll eat something small. Conversely, if I arrive at midnight, I’ll skip dinner.
My pre-flight nutrition plan is simple:
- High-fat, low-carb
- Sulfur-rich veggies
- Anti-inflammatory spices
- Zero PUFA industrially processed seed oils
This confers great nutrition and maximum resilience against the toxicity of traveling.
One other great hack to adapt faster….
Relax the intermittent fasting schedule for a day, and eat differently. Have breakfast, skip lunch, and eat dinner. Several circadian researchers I’ve interviewed swear this is their top jet lag hack.
If I don’t have high-quality biosupportive foods easily accessible, and I’m not weighed down by unusual stress, I’ll go down the other route…
Fasting, or for fat-adapted folks keto, increases blood levels of special molecules called ketones. These act as a protective buffer against free radicals (ROS) and other metabolic kryptonites. Fasting pre-flight also naturally increases:
- Glutathione — the master antioxidant
- NAD — the currency of cellular energy
Plus its easy, and one less thing to worry about the in the airport food desert.
Or if I have access to supplements, I’ll include them in a modified fast.
Hydrate with good water and trace minerals or quality salt.
You lose considerable hydration from the altitude, poor air quality, and hours spend sedentary. Fascia requires frequent movement to distribute nutrients throughout your body.
With this basic nutrition plan alone, I can fortify my body and mind in most environments. To make these more effective, I layer on a few simple environmental hacks.
Optimize Your Environment
Spend enough time in the airport, and your health will decline. At the very least, you won’t perform optimally.
As we’ve discussed, this environment is stacked against you. The most important environmental factors to harmonize include:
Just like many of the ancient medical systems advocate.
First, we must rebalance our light exposure.
The airport and planes are full of junk light.
Common indoor fluorescent lights & LEDs flicker at a rate not noticed by the eyes, but deeply stress the endocrine system, the nervous system, and physically change the shape of the eye. Junk indoor light is also linked to various cancers.
I cannot change the lighting in public spaces, so I minimize my exposure.
Blue light isn’t evil as it’s often portrayed. But most of us get far too much. I sometimes wear blue-blocking glasses to reduce some of the excessive artificial blue light.
More importantly, I fix the color and flicker of my MacBook with the special IrisTech software.
I never wear sunglasses. They send the photoreceptors in my eyes and skin mixed messages about the intensity of the light and lead to faster sunburn and skin damage.
Instead, I’ll use one of these healthy portable red light therapy devices to blast myself with rejuvenating red light.
Insulation from the ground causes the accumulation of metabolic byproducts, leading to inflammation.
Historically, humans absorbed bioavailable free electrons from contact with the bare Earth. This contact was nature’s premier (free) antioxidant. Quelling cytokine storms and stopping inflammation in its tracks.
In my post on the Science of Earthing, I explain the results of Clint Ober’s body scans. Within a few minutes of touching the ground, his subjects showed remarkable healthy biomarker changes. Interestingly, he also describes the negative correlation between humans spending time at elevation (think high-rise apartments) and health.
As soon as I land, I hit the beach or a patch of grass and soak up whatever rays I can get. And in just 15 minutes, I’ve accelerated my circadian adaptation to the new time zone.
Indoor air quality has been shown to usually be 7X worse than the outdoors. This includes the air in major cities.
We care about three properties of air:
Air quality in airports and planes ranks low.
Of the thousands (or tens of thousands) of chemicals you inhale in these environments, one stands out.
Know that exhaust smell that fills the plane as it taxis before takeoff?
That’s a toxic mix of engine oil, lubricants, and various hydrocarbons.
The greatest concern, however, is a chemical used as engine turbine lubricant. Tricresyl phosphate (TCP is related to sarin gas, a neurotoxic chemical warfare agent. Leading Sayer Ji to state…
“What has us feeling woozy after a long flight may not be jet lag but instead chemical poisoning”Regenerate
Of course, you have several options to bio-optimize plane air.
First, whenever possible book your flight on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner which uses special technology to clean the air (removing TCP and other chemicals).
While flying, the oxygen concentration in air drops. You can offset this and improve your oxygen intake with a discreet, scientifically validated nostril-expanding piece of plastic called a nasal dialator. These devices works better than nasal strips.
Smearing just a tab of olive oil or coconut oil in your nose is an ancient Ayurvedic practice (called nasya) meant to clear and moisturize the sinuses, support glymphatic flow, and protect the airways from microbes.
I try to breathe through my nose rather than mouth because the nose performs 28+ additional functions on inhaled air that the mouth doesn’t. For the hardcore folks that don’t mind looking rather strange, you can even tape your mouth shut to prevent mouth breathing.
Fluid intake seems easily within our control.
When flying, I try to avoid coffee which further dehydrates. When I indulge, it’s not the stuff served on the plane. I’ll splurge on high-quality Genius Coffee, preferably after I land. Make sure to offset coffee intake with an equal amount of mineral water.
Instead of coffee, I like a nice cold shower. Blunting inflammation, activating brown fat, and energizing me equally.
Thanks to TSA, we’re all stuck with minimally filtered tap or bottled water. The portable gear like Life Straws and disinfecting UV wands won’t do much good. And heavy-duty reverse osmosis systems like the AquaTru aren’t portable.
Though I can’t filter the water to my usual standards, I’ll still upgrade it with trace minerals and revitalize it with some optional gear I carry with me.
I aerate and vortex the water, which oxygenates it, balances the pH, and helps evaporate:
- Dissolved toxic gasses
- Bad smells
Hydrating me without causing hourly trips to the restroom.
Until I moved to New York City, I had never considered noise pollution.
Humans are wired to pick up on the volume, pitch, duration, and other qualities of sound.
Both positive and negative.
Airports and planes are surprisingly loud places. Often measuring above 80 decibels. Propagating chronic stress signals throughout the nervous system. Over time, this audio stress can damage the region of the brain responsible for processing language, emotion, and sensory information.
Drown it out with foam earplugs, or noise-canceling headphones.
Bonus points for using advanced brain entrainment technology like Brain.fm. This neat “functional music” can improve your focus in just 5 minutes, drop you into relaxation mode, and improve your sleep.
With basic lifestyle harmonization complete, let’s move on to a cutting-edge travel hacking supplement protocol.
Cellular Defense Supplements
On to the sexy part of hacking travel, and the one I get the most questions about — supplements.
This is by no means exhaustive, and I rarely take everything listed. Consider it more of a “dream travel supplement stack” to get you to your destination with:
- Lasting energy
- Mental clarity
- Minimal inflammation
- Little jet lag
So that you can enjoy travel with accelerating your biological age.
Most of these are antioxidants, adaptogens, or essential nutrients. Many of which activate the “NRF2” pathways.
NRF2 is one of the body’s core antioxidant defense pathways, protecting against oxidative damage and inflammation. Making the body more resilient against travel.
You don’t need to follow the keto diet or be in ketosis to benefit from these ketone products.
They act as signaling molecules, activating healthy pathways:
- Increasing the brain’s neuroprotective protein called BDNF
- Reducing the body’s free radical production and acting as a clean-burning fuel
- Boosting glutathione and other endogenous antioxidants
- Increasing AMPK and conferring similar benefits to caloric restriction
I’ve listed ketone esters first because they make many of the other supplements redundant and unnecessary.
Ketone esters are far more effective (but also more expensive) than ketone salts. You can offset the cost by taking just a capful of esters and still get more benefits. These are the best ones on the market, trusted by countless Olympians, professional athletes, CEOs, and others who want quality. You can learn more about the best ketone salts and ketone ester supplements in this review.
By the way, there has been a HUGE development in the exogenous ketone industry that you should know about.
A new alternative to ketone esters called R1,3 butanediol has a similar health-boosting effect but also gives you a nice alcohol-like buzz. You can learn more about it here, or pick up these “Hard Ketones” here (and use the code OUTLIYR for free shipping).
Turmeric is that orange spice staple to Indian (Ayurvedic) cooking for millennia. The most famous ingredient in turmeric is the chemical curcumin. Revered as a potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial.
Most notably, turmeric inhibits inflammation and amplifies the body’s natural antioxidant defense system.
I prefer turmeric powder over curcumin because curcumin is one of many curcuminoids. With the orange powder, you get tumerosaccharides and other less understood (but powerful) chemicals.
Turmeric is my favorite natural ingredient/supplement to buffer against the health issues of travel.
I’ll sprinkle some on a fatty meal, take it with black pepper, or in rare cases, supplement turmeric.
Molecular Hydrogen (H2) is a highly abundant, selective antioxidant. It acts as a bioregulator to restore the body back into balance.
So far, 1000+ studies have investigated its potential on 200+ health conditions. Results so far indicate tremendous promise for:
- Mitigating nn-EMF damage (Wi-Fi, ionizing radiation, etc)
- Blunting aging
- Quelling inflammation
- Improving cognition
- Supporting homeostasis
H2 can penetrate any cell, neutralizing certain free radicals that other antioxidants cannot. It activates the antioxidant NRF2 pathway, and readily crosses the blood-brain barrier where it combats inflammation and quells cytokines.
This stuff is powerful, and to learn more, you can check out my research into the best molecular hydrogen products.
In fact, I’m inhaling an upgraded version of molecular hydrogen right now as I work. Using my AquaCure Brown’s Gas Machine.
But when I can’t lug a huge machine with me, DrinkHRW tablets have a permanent spot in my backpack.
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Carbon 60 (C60)
Carbon 60 is a Nobel-prize-winning molecule and a favorite of NASA research. It has all kinds of uses, across various industries.
When it comes to human health, C60 acts like a super protectant.
It buffers the cellular stress and oxidation that occur when exposed to harsh environments.
Helping humans (and other forms of life) thrive anywhere.
In fact, clinical trials of C60 used in animals show incredible results.
Such as a 90% increased lifespan in rats. And lifespan extension is just the beginning.
Although I haven’t used C60 to biohack my travel as much as other compounds, it’s quickly finding a spot in my regular stack.
Learn more about why this is becoming a hot product in my ultimate guide to C60 science & the best C60 supplements.
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Prebiotics, Probiotics, Postbiotics, Synbiotics
Disruptions to our usual environment dramatically affect humans.
Humans readily adapt to new environments thanks to a highly evolved gut microbiome.
Your microbiome is a real-time evolutionary mechanism.
The gut is your biggest interface with the environment—far larger than your skin.
Your gut microbes manufacture neurochemicals (serotonin and GABA), and even sex hormones (testosterone).
When traveling, I pay special attention to the health of my microbiomes. Travel alters the circadian rhythm, which in turn disrupts microbiomes. When “scared”, these things generate a potent endotoxin called lipopolysaccharide (LPS).
I firmly believe that microbiome disruption plays an enormous role in jet lag and the inability to tolerate new environments.
When available, I load up on prebiotic fiber-rich foods, fermented foods, colostrum, and bone broth. Especially the ones native to the new locale since they contain the microbes best suited to the environment.
In a pinch, I’ll use one of these top “synbiotic” supplements.
Whether I’m just popping a single capsule, or making my own yogurt, It’s inevitably one of a select few useful probiotics. Usually BiOptimizers P3-OM (use code URBAN to save 10%).
Unless you’re from Japan, astaxanthin is perhaps the most powerful unknown antioxidant and colloquially referred to as…
It comes from red marine algae and gives wild salmon and crustaceans their red color.
The Japanese have produced most of the research, finding benefits like:
- Cognitive enhancement
- Skin protection
- Vision protection
- Cardiovascular protection
- Free radical scavenging
- Mitochondrial energy production
At 30,000+ feet above sea level, the sun’s UV rays become more damaging. Together, the anti-inflammatory, free radical scavenging, UV protection, and mitochondria enhancing properties of astaxanthin make it an excellent choice for travelers.
You can get a decent dose from wild-caught Alaskan salmon. Note that farmed salmon is actually died red, and lacks astaxanthin. It’s fat-soluble, so supplement alongside a fatty food (or MCT oil).
Hemp contains over 180 different cannabinoid chemicals. Most famously, THC and CBD.
Consuming multiple cannabinoids together produces an entourage effect that’s greater than the sum of the parts.
Full-spectrum hemp activates the body’s built-in endocannabinoid system (ECS). Exerting adaptogen-like effects, and helping to bring the body back into homeostasis. It does this by:
- Restoring the nervous system
- Increasing levels of the neuroprotective neurotransmitter GABA
- Significiantly blunting the stress hormone cortisol
I’ve heard the endocannabinoid system called the dimmer switch for overactive immune systems.
If I need a little energy, the related cannabinoid called CBG promotes wakefulness.
Another, called CBN, is known for preserving mitochondria, reducing oxidative damage, and massively improving sleep. This is what I’d take to “knock out” on a long flight without the toxicity of some commonly used drugs.
I don’t use hemp much for flying, but it works nicely to take the edge off stressful days.
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Omega 3 fats are an essential nutrient. Humans die without adequate intake.
But even suboptimal levels greatly impair your health and performance.
The two most researched omega-3 fatty acids are:
Both play an integral in human health, benefitting mitochondrial, the metabolism, cardiovascular system, mood, the brain, while correcting inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein and oxidative stress.
Omega-3 fats have well-documented anti-inflammatory properties, both inhibiting and resolving inflammatory cytokine and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production.
Need another reason to eat wild-caught salmon?
Cooked in turmeric seasoning, one serving provides a trifecta of health compounds:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Most fish oil is oxidized, rancid, and contains synthetic oils which prevent absorption. If you choose to supplement, I recommend either Krill Oil or spirulina algae instead. Compared to fish oil, krill oil:
- Contains 48X more antioxidants
- Phospholipid form lets you absorb far more omega-3s
- Contaminant-free since it’s at the bottom of the food chain
- Resists oxidation since it contains natural astaxanthin
Algae oil is a great plant-based alternative, but considerably more expensive.
As mentioned already, glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant found in and used by every cell and tissue.
Many consider it an essential immunity, detox, and anti-stress supplement.
Where it really shines, is for detoxification. You’ll find it in virtually every stack. Even with the best intentions, travel puts an enormous toxic burden on the body. Damaging cells, tissues, and organs. Built from the amino acids glycine, glutamate, and cysteine, glutathione helps render toxins inert.
When taking exogenous ketone esters, fasting, eating low-carb, or getting other antioxidants, taking extra supplemental glutathione isn’t as important.
But you can support your body’s natural production via consuming sulfur-rich foods (garlic, asparagus, broccoli, kale, or whey) or supplementing with NAC — the lower-cost ingredient that’s the bottleneck of glutathione synthesis.
Should you choose to supplement, you’ll want highly-bioavailable liposomal glutathione. Non-liposomal glutathione is mostly excreted before you can absorb it.
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Vitamin C must be one of the most popular supplements of all time.
Though you probably know it for its ability to boost the immune system, vitamin C does so much more.
Noteworthy for travelers, vitamin C helps quench free radicals by donating an electron to stop their “rampage”.’
Vitamin C also helps the body manufacture glutathione and even the steroid hormones.
This is another instance where you won’t absorb much. Simply increasing the dose will lead to GI distress. We can overcome the absorption issue with liposomal vitamin C.
Quercetin is yet another antioxidant flavonol, known for its well-researched effects on metabolism, immunity, and the cardiovascular system.
You’ll find trace amounts naturally in foods like apples, green tea, plums, onions, elderflower, and grapes.
Not long ago, researchers held quercetin in high regard. These supplements fell out of grace after realizing that we excrete too quickly to exert its wide-ranging benefits.
A special technology called liposomes solves quercetin’s bioavailability issue, delivering ample quercetin to cells.
I don’t use it as often as the others on this list, but it’s an essential component of my immune health supplement stack.
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Magnesium is one of the foundational supplements that virtually everyone can use more of.
After reading The Magnesium Miracle, it became somewhat of an obsession of mine. It’s as close to a supplemental panacea as I’ve found.
Magnesium deficiency has strong links to dozens of common health conditions. Deficiency magnifies both free radical production and the damage caused by free radicals.
Some functions of magnesium include:
- Enhances the ability to digest, absorb, and use nutrients
- Supports the adrenals
- Improves detoxification and prevents damage from toxic environments
- Increases nitric oxide
- Reduces inflammation by antagonizing calcium
- Greater energy
- Buffers stress and exhaustion
- Deeper, more restful sleep
Magnesium is nature’s calcium channel blocker, mitigating the damaging effects of both the ionizing (body scanners, high-altitude) and non-ionizing (wifi, 5G, Bluetooth) radiation.
Magnesium comes in many forms. Some of the best include glycinate, malate, threonate, and citrate. Each with different properties and benefits. You can either experiment to find your ideal form or take the optimized product Magnesium Breakthrough.
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I’ve previously written about the Swiss-army knife-like health benefits of micro-algae.
Scientists estimate that 1 gram of algae contains the nutritional equivalent of 1,000 grams of fruits and veggies.
The two stars are spirulina and chlorella. I think of spirulina as the nourishing algae and chlorella as the revitalizing and cellular clean-up algae.
But make no mistake, chlorella still contains vitamin K, vitamin B12, folate, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, polysaccharides, and proteins.
Both contain a wide variety of potent compounds.
Of the countless chlorella benefits, a few most relevant to travel include:
- Detoxing heavy metals and pathogens
- Immune system support
- Metabolism and mitochondria enhancement
- Oxidative stress protection
- DNA and genetic protection
- Radiation protection
- Inflammation reduction (normalizes CRP, hemoglobin, NFkB, cytokines)
A few of the antioxidants within chlorella include lutein, alpha-carotene, naphthalene, beta-carotene, ascorbic acid, and zeta-tocopherol.
Wheatgrass, a staple in every juice bar around the country, is primarily used for its high chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll protects against infection, cleansing the blood and liver, and normalizing biomarkers.
Chlorella contains 10x more chlorophyll than wheatgrass, 12x more than barley, 10x that of alfalfa.
I take algae daily and consider it nature’s best multivitamin. When I’m traveling with limited suitcase space, I always bring my algae. This post explains what to look for, and the best algae supplements on Earth.
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But if plant-based isn’t your thing, you can take activated charcoal with zeolite to get radioactive toxins to leave the intestine faster.
A few bonuses for those that have made it this far.
First, when you travel makes a difference for your cumulative radiation exposure. As you’d expect flying after sunset helps. With the optimal flying time to minimize radiation between 5 PM and 8 AM.
Frequent movement drives nutrients, water, and beneficial metabolites throughout the body. That’s a primary role of the fascia system. Sitting in one position for extended periods inhibits this process. Your body accumulates metabolic waste and gets inflamed.
Plus, much of the food in airports will spike your blood sugar (easily measurable with a CGM device). Every hour make it a goal to get up and move around. Do a simple micro-workout. Talk to the flight crew in the back of the plane while doing lunges. If that’s too embarrassing, knock out a few air squats in the bathroom.
Or you can load your backpack with some additional weight and do a form of upgraded walking called rucking.
You can do restorative movements like walking, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, or other forms of “working-in”. Ultra low-intensity movement supports anabolic growth and regeneration.
Tools, Gear, & Resources
- Liposomal glutathione
- Liposomal vitamin C
- Liposomal quercetin
- Molecular hydrogen tablets
- Earthing sandals
- Gut protecting pre, pro, and post biotics
- Ketone esters
- Trace Minerals
- Blue blocking glasses
- Chlorella algae
Essentials You Need To Biohack Your Travel
There’s nothing natural about cramming into a metal tube and hurtling thousands of miles into foreign lands.
Our bodies simply don’t handle it well. So we may arrive feeling lethargic, spacey, unmotivated, and dull.
But who wants to waste several days in the new destination recovering?
I used to travel like anyone else. I loathed it, anticipating how I’d feel until I acclimated. My Oura Ring’s biometrics agreed, and plummeted for several days after flying.
With the right preparation and know-how, you can travel around the globe while staying on top of your game.
Today, things have changed. I recently spent a full 24-hours traveling. In that time, I crossed 8 time zones.
In a strange way, I now enjoy big travel days. Exploring distant parts of the world, light on my feet with all my possessions neatly arranged inside my 40L backpack.
Here’s the thing…
I can recover quickly using my environment and natural resources. For example, diving into a cold body of water kills many birds with one stone:
- Cold immersion
- Inoculating my gut microbiome with the local flora
- Sunlight and vitamin D production
- Hydrating my body with fresh structured spring water
- Lymphatic drainage stimulation
Quelling inflammation, boosting mood, and helping my body rapidly adapt to the new environment.
If I have the ideal supplements listed above, even better.
This all takes a little experimentation.
Armed with the right knowledge and a pinch of dedication, you can still get impressive biometric scores while on the road and in suboptimal conditions.
What are your top travel biohacks? Let me know in the comments below!