I began travelling for work in 2015 after a promotion sent me to regional offices and conferences across the country. As a three-time marathoner, former gym manager, and generally health-conscious individual, I figured staying fit on the road would be a piece of cake.
But I quickly learned that frequent travel presents a big set of challenges when it comes to health and fitness. Within a year, I gained a whopping 20 lbs., and my energy was at an all-time low.
These issues didn’t show any sign of stopping – until I developed my go-to system for keeping my physical and emotional health in check. Implementing these eight tips have helped me lose that weight and feel better than ever for the past couple of years – no matter how often I travel.
Eight Healthy Travel Tips From A Seasoned Road Warrior
Tip #1: Sip a Green Protein Shake Before Takeoff
Before I leave home and head to the airport, I always have a protein shake. The recipe is simple. A scoop of high-quality protein powder, a ½-1 cup of frozen spinach, ½ a banana or ½ cup of frozen berries, almond milk, and either ¼ avocado or 1 TB of peanut butter.
It’s a quick way to fit in those primary food groups before boarding. A shake also keeps me satisfied long enough to avoid ordering food during my flight.
Tip #2: Bring Snacks ALWAYS
Your brain can make some exciting decisions when you’re rushing around tired and hungry at the airport. Suddenly that bag of Brownie Brittle from Hudson News seems like a great idea! Sure, it won’t hurt you to enjoy those treats occasionally.
But before it becomes a habit, pack a few snacks from home in your carry-on. Some of my favourites are Quevos, homemade Pumpkin Power Bites, and ugly old fashioned fruit.
Tip #3: Pack Laundry Strips
If your excuse for skipping workouts is lack of room in your luggage for workout gear – you’re in luck. Laundry detergent sheets are a godsend! Depending upon the length of the business trip.
I typically pack only one or two sets of workout gear and then post-workout handwash them quickly in the sink. They dry soon over the shower curtain or on the back of a chair near the heat/AC unit.
Healthy Travel Tip #4: Schedule Your Workout
You probably don’t want to hear this because your schedule is already packed to the max. But that’s precisely the point – what gets scheduled gets done. Before you step on that airplane, figure out when you’re going to work out, and put it in your calendar.
Remember to be realistic about your time – if you know you won’t have time for an hour-long workout, don’t try to cram it in.
Tip #5: Find a Go-To Quick Workout
Even on the road, my workouts range from 45 minutes to an hour in length. I have a few go-to exercises that are half the length of my typical workout and deliver a full-body challenge.
My favourites are this 21-minute workout from Lindsay Matthews that mixes cardio with weights or any of the 22 Minute Hard Corps workouts by Beachbody.
Tip #6: Plan Your Meals
A mistake I made early on in my business travel days was relying on my location and my willpower to help me make healthy meal decisions. In reality, once I became wrapped up in a busy trip and workday, decision fatigue began to take over.
At that point, I no longer had the energy nor the desire to find restaurants with healthy food options. Goodbye, willpower, hello French fries!
While workouts help curb weight gain, eating consistently well on the road is vital. So do your research and discover the restaurants either at your airport or near your hotel that offer options that will empower you to make better decisions. And yes, schedule it in your calendar.
Tip #7: Find a “Buddy”
A study conducted at the University of Aberdeen found that having a new exercise companion increased the number of exercise people did. Exercise increased, even more, when the new partner was emotionally supportive.
If you travel alone, engage a friend or colleague who is willing to check in with you virtually, either by text or email. Bonus points if you can find a colleague who also travels and wants to get fit right along with you!
Tip #8: Be Kind to Yourself
We, road warriors, tend to be a high-achieving bunch, aka “perfectionists.” It’s easy to feel beat down by the demands of travel and believe working out and eating well isn’t worth it because we won’t nail it 100%. Zach Trowbridge, WBFF Pro and Owner of All Strength Training in Chicago, works with a lot of business travellers and shares this great advice: “50% is better than 0%.”
These eight healthy travel tips aren’t meant to put additional pressure on you. Do what you can and find support in the areas you struggle in. Whether you follow just a few or all eight, your body and your mind will feel the difference.