Today on the blog I want to talk not about a travel destination but about an aspect of travel itself – staying healthy! Being healthy and traveling are two concepts that don’t necessarily sound like they belong together. In fact, sometimes they very clearly contradict each other. But the more you travel, the more you will realize the importance of trying to keep your healthy lifestyle while traveling. The more you keep your body consistent with the way you normally treat it, the easier things will be. I’ve compiled some of my best tips of staying healthy while traveling and wanted to share these with you!
#1 – Pack an empty (and large!) water bottle – Hydration is what makes my body feel crappier more quickly than anything else on a trip. When traveling you are on the go and many times distracted. More often than not, you don’t even realize you aren’t drinking as much as you normally do. That’s why being intentional about it helps. When you travel with your own water bottle, you are more intentional about drinking water. Additionally, it can be a life saver at airports. Almost all airports have fill stations – watch for them! They are normally near the drinking fountains. Having your own water bottle at the airport is important. Not only does its save you a lot of money, but it allows you to be in charge of your water intake. I’ve been on many flights that haven’t served drinks for various reasons. Other times the amount of water served on a flight isn’t near enough, and it isn’t at the exact time you want it. Many hotels provide bottled water each day for you in your room too. For those that don’t, take a quick trip when you get in to a store for a large pack of bottled water. It takes more effort to hydrate while traveling but it can be done.
#2 – Keep snacks on you at all times – I have a very high-maintenance body. I get headaches, dizzy and hangry from a lack of food and water. I need to drink water all the time and need to eat every few hours. The key is to know your body and plan accordingly. Never rely on assuming that you’ll find food when you get hungry. No matter where you are, things can come up. When flying, you may not get the layover time you originally thought. You may be with a group of people who doesn’t stop for food when it is dinner time. You may get tied up, whether it be a work meeting or touring a museum that had more to see than you originally thought. Having small snacks is also a great way to not pack on too many calories. Many times you just need a small something, so you’ll save calories by not eating too much. What you bring with you depends on what you like to eat and your body; normally my staples are: nuts, several Cliff bars, some sort of fruit bar or granola bar and peanut butter crackers.
#3 – Use a kombucha replacement – To keep my stomach and digestive system happy (especially the stomach of a runner and salad eater), I have a kombucha every day or every other day. These are hard to find on trips and normally in glass bottles, which makes them dangerous to pack. So to supplement for this, along with my normal vitamins, I’ll take a daily probiotic. This helps keep my stomach happy, especially when trying new foods or eating at different times of the day. Overall, if there are specific things you regularly do involving keeping your body functioning property at home, be conscious about continuing this on the road in one form or another.
#4 – Focus on meal monitoring – If you can, keep your daily meals to one very light meal and one heavier meal. You can’t always do this, but it is a good goal to aim for. It is okay to just order a small item or two such as a side salad and bowl of soup. A lot of times on travel I find myself eating a much larger breakfast than I’m accustomed to (can’t go wrong with eggs and bacon to start the day) but a much lighter lunch. It balances out. Keep in mind you don’t have to eat your entire plate of food. Normally at home when I eat out, I’ll take half of my meal home for another meal. So why do I try to always finish my plate at restaurants when traveling? Although it is good not to be wasteful, it is also good to recognize you don’t need that entire plate of pasta.
#5 – Make friends with Whole Foods/Fresh Market/groceries – Most towns have a Whole Foods/Fresh Market equivalent. These places have all sorts of healthy grab-and-go options. Normally these are healthier and packed with less salt and preservatives than restaurant meals. They are normally more proportional in size too. Many times on a longer trip, I’ll make at least one visit to a local grocery. Here you can find simple, healthy meal options (and snacks) that will also save you money.
#6 – Remember that every day is not dessert day – It is always good to treat yourself when you are away from home but do it sparingly. Desserts can pack on a huge amount of extra calories and leave you feeling sluggish. Just remember – you don’t eat dessert every day at home, so don’t do it when you are away.
#7 – Beware of caffeine – From 6am flights to early wake up calls to jam packed days, many temptations and excuses to add on caffeine to the daily routine exist. But try to avoid the desire to caffeinate more heavily than you normally do. Whether you go caffeine free or you drink two cups of coffee a day, keep it as consistent to as when you are at home as you can. Having excess caffeine will cause you to not sleep well, run your immune system down and mess up your system more.
#8 – Build the immune system – Several ways for you to keep your immune system strong when traveling is to ensure your amount of sleep is as close to the norm as possible and to use hand sanitizer often. Another trick I’ve learned is to pick orange juice as your drink on the airplane. It is a great way to add some extra vitamin C. I rarely drink orange juice at home, but on travel I have it almost daily (will normally get it with breakfast). I am willing to add a little extra sugar and calories to boost my immunity while away.
#9 – Focus on workouts – I normally run almost every day. I don’t plan to work out on travel as much as I normally do as far as running goes. Many times I’ll take my few days of travel when I’m very busy to rest my body from the pounding of running for a few days. But rarely do I travel without my running shoes and running clothes. Almost all hotels now have some sort of a workout facility, and they are getting nicer and nicer. I recently stayed in one that had a frig with cool towels, as well as a bin of disposable headphones. Those headphones were a welcome sight, as I had forgotten to pack mine. Most workout facilities have treadmills, ellipticals and weight machines.
Workouts can give you a great way to see new places. Some of my favorite and most memorable workouts have been on outdoor trails, the beach or city paths in new spots. Whether you are traveling for pleasure or work, the best way to get workouts in while traveling is to put them on your schedule before you go. Yes, things do come up and some days won’t allow working out; but by having a slotted spot on your itinerary, you will increase the likelihood of a successful workout.
YouTube and programs such as BeachBody allow for you to keep to your workouts without even leaving your hotel room. Many times I’ve pulled up my BeachBody program and worked out in my room. It is a quick and efficient way to get a workout under your belt while traveling.
#10 – Watch for natural exercise – There are all sorts of way to incorporate exercise when traveling. Normally when you are traveling you move around more often without even trying. Add to this by being intentional. If you are traveling for work, look for ways to walk around the office more, park in back parking spots and take the stairs instead of the elevator when going to and from your hotel room.
Airports offer all sorts of ways to add exercise. If time allows, always take the stairs instead of the escalators in between gates/terminals. Many times they are wide open. Keep to the right and avoid the moving walkways in between terminals. This can sometimes add an extra mile of walking. I find my Fitbit steps don’t go down as much as I think they will on travel weeks when I watch for ways to add natural steps.
If you are traveling for pleasure, it is even easier to add natural exercise. Many times your vacation activities will add exercise. Snorkeling, golfing, hiking, touring a new town/city and walking to dinner are all ways to add exercise. Many times these are things you are doing on your trip anyways. When you are planning your trip, look to add some of these activities that will benefit your healthy lifestyle.
Overall, remember that your travel times are going to be adjusted days and that is okay. Some days you will work late and won’t be able to work out. Other days you’ll be vacationing and not have time to yourself. This is okay and you can be flexible. The goal is energy. Remember that when you travel, you want as much energy as possible whether it be for meetings for work or for being a tourist in a new town. By following some of the above steps, you’ll be able to better adjust and have this added energy.
What do you find yourself doing when traveling? Do you have healthy travel tips and tricks to share with the group?