Healthy travel can be hard.
Add to that the stress and busy schedule of a business trip and you could have a recipe for health disaster!
I’ve been on my share of business trips over the past few years, and I know what challenges they can bring to staying healthy. Your day is filled almost to the minute with meetings, workshops, conferences, networking and social gatherings. You sit in conference rooms in too small chairs and too much air conditioning. The food offered during the day is either non-existent or completely processed, and the networking events and dinners at night are full of passed appetizers, drinks and dessert.
You crash from exhaustion when you hit the hotel bed, only to do it all again the next day!
It took only one trip for me to realize that eating high-sugar and high-processed foods while not exercising or moving all day was a recipe for disaster. Add to that the typical dehydration and sleep deprivation that comes from traveling and hotels, and I came back feeling bloated, tired and unmotivated.
When the next trip came, I made sure I had the right tools for healthy travel!
When you plan ahead, pack strategically and prioritize your time, you can actually get on that plane at the end of your trip feeling better than when you arrived.
These are the 7 healthy travel tips I follow to make sure I feel and look my best both during and after my business trips.
7 Tips for Healthy Travel
1. Bring your own food
I actually wrote an entire post on the healthy snacks and foods I take when I travel. This is a game changer and something to really take time doing before you leave on your trip. I’m actually leaving tomorrow for my yearly Pilates conference and we have two days of board meetings before it starts. You better believe I’ll be there sipping my tea, having an apple and a homemade Paleo muffin when the meeting starts.
2. Pack an exercise mat
Healthy travel means you have to get moving. While it seems like you could simply sit on the hotel floor and do some stretching and workouts, it doesn’t work so well in practice. The floor can be dirty and it doesn’t provide any cushioning or traction for Pilates and yoga poses. I found an awesome folding travel mat I bring with me. I then have a specific place I can do 30 minutes worth of exercise early in the morning or between meetings and networking events. I especially love this workout and this one to help wake me up and energize me!
3. Make room for tennis shoes and yoga pants
If you don’t pack exercise clothes, you won’t exercise. Take out that extra pair of heels and pants you’ll never wear and add your tennis shoes, one pair of yoga pants, a sports bra and a t-shirt or tank top. That’s all you need for a couple days of movement and exercise!
4. Be picky about what you eat
You do not have to eat what they give you during your meetings and conferences. You do not have to eat what everyone else does. You can say “no thanks” to the shared appetizers or dessert. You can skip the salad dressing and rolls on the lunch buffet. No one will care or notice, I promise! Pick the things that are important to you and say “no” to the rest. Personally, I enjoy a glass of wine at the end of these long work days. I chose to skip dessert so that I can enjoy my wine. Make your decisions based on what works for you and stick with them.
5. Don’t follow the crowd
Repeat after me, “I do not have to do what everyone else does.” Don’t worry about funny looks from people when you bring your own breakfast to the morning meeting or you skip the group lunch break to go for a long walk. Don’t be afraid to make your own decisions and forge your own path. Getting my workout in every day is one of my top priorities. I also tend to need a little “downtime” after group meetings so I can recharge for the evening activities. When I chose to miss happy hour in order to get my workout in, I’m not only making myself a priority, I’m also giving myself much needed quiet time so I can be a better participant during the next activity. I stopped worrying what others think about me a long time ago. Now, I just do what helps me be the best I can be.
6. Explore on foot
If something is within walking distance, skip the Uber or cab and get those legs moving! The best way to see a new place is by walking, and this goes for business trips, too. You already packed your tennis shoes, so lace up and get your steps in while you enjoy some fresh air.
7. Exercise on your travel days
Most people assume travel days are “rest” days from working out. Somehow, that always leaves me feeling even more tired and lethargic! I have found from experience that I feel 100 times better after a flight if I’ve taken time to workout in the morning. If that doesn’t happen (I guarantee I won’t be doing this before my 6:00am flight this week), I make sure and find the hotel gym for a workout shortly after I land. These are never my longest or hardest workouts. I simply spend 25-30 minutes doing some walking, cardio or Pilates and stretching. It helps me feel better and gets me moving on a day I’m stuck traveling.
Going on a business trip doesn’t mean you have to give up on your health goals! Don’t lose the momentum you’ve gained. Just use these 7 tips for healthy travel to ensure you come back energized, rested and ready to keep moving forward!