Thanks to the upcoming holidays, travel season is fast approaching. As you navigate crowded airports, bustling hotels, and varying climates, how can you keep your voice happy, healthy and working for you? Below are some of our favorite tips for keeping your voice healthy while traveling.
Staying hydrated is so important while traveling. There are so many reasons why we get dehydrated when away from home: we often deviate from our normal schedule, don’t have access to water as easily, and are possibly drinking more caffeine and alcohol. Planes and hotels often have heaters on, drying out the air we breathe etc. A good general rule for hydration is to aim for half your body weight in ounces of water per day, including 2 cups of coffee. Anything on top of that requires an equal amount of water to rehydrate.
When it comes to staying hydrated, we suggest you invest in some form of electrolytes, whether it’s a powder, coconut water, or adding some pink himalayan sea salt to your water. Increasing your electrolyte intake will help your body retain all that water you are drinking to help with hydration.
When you are traveling and staying in hotels, or heading to higher altitudes, naturally drier or even colder climates where the heat is on, you may notice that your face, lips and body get a bit dehydrated. We always suggest either asking your host/hotel for a humidifier or traveling with your own personal humidifier. There are many brands out there that use a disposable water bottle as the water source, so the humidifier itself has a very small footprint - perfect for a carry-on bag! Putting this on your bedside table at night will not only keep your body more hydrated, but it will also reduce the increase in mucus production that can happen when your sinus passages get dry, which can, at times, lead to irritation of your vocal folds.
If you are finding that your voice is getting particularly tired, or that your vocal folds are quite dry, we suggest nebulizing with a saline solution. This saline solution is more easily absorbed by your vocal tissue and can actually improve your voice. There are many portable options available online as well as pre-prepared saline packages.
In our last blog post, Cocktail Party Survival Guide, we talked about Semi Occluded Vocal Tract exercises and how to use them to help you when your voice is feeling less than optimal. We are including these exercises in your travel guide because they are just as useful on-the-go as they are after a long day of talking!
These exercises will work out all the muscles and tissues that make up our larger vocal mechanism. We like to think of SOVT exercises like a light set of weights that you’d add into your weight-lifting routine to build up muscle over time. You should know that these exercises are used by actors, professional singers, voiceover artists, Speech Language Pathologists, and anyone who has to have command of their voice on a stage or screen.
They allow several different things to happen in your airway including the spreading out of the upper portion of the vocal fold, a parallel lining up of your two vocal folds, and a nice easy stretching of the vocal cords themselves. In the spirit of maximal results for minimal efforts, SOVT exercises often achieve many if not all of these alignments/results simultaneously!
One very easy way to complete your SOVTs is by speaking and humming with a straw in your mouth! Easy, right? By placing one end of a straw in your mouth and doing some easy vocal sighing or humming, your vocal fold muscles will open, align and even themselves. By doing this through a straw, you won’t be able to overdo anything (opening of the mouth, over articulating, etc.) which will allow for a healthy voice.
Here are some of our favorite SOVT exercises:
If you are interested in learning more about vocal health in general, check out one of the many books and/or articles by Dr. Ingo Titze who is one of the leading experts on the benefits of SOVT exercises.
No matter where you are going this holiday season, remember: hydrate, humidify and practice your SOVT exercises to keep your voice happy and healthy throughout your adventures!