Those of us who travel for a living know that work-travel isn’t as glamorous as our friends and family like to think it is. I spend about 10 weeks out of the year on the road, and it’s incredibly difficult for me to stay healthy during that time. Your schedule gets thrown out of whack, you’re exposed to a constant slew of germs at the airport, hotel, etc., and it seems impossible to find anything to eat that isn’t from McDonald’s.
Having a few years of work-travel under my belt, here are some tips I try to keep in mind in order to stay in good working order during ‘travel season’:
I know, I know – after a long day of driving, flying, sitting through meetings, or just socializing, it can seem too daunting to get up and move. But I promise, staying active will do your body and your immune system a lot of good.
- If the hotel gym is, errr, leaving much to be desired, ask if they have any partnerships with local gym chains in the area. You might be able to get a free day pass.
- Some spin, yoga, and barre studios also offer new visitors a free class. Don’t be afraid to ask!
- Do you already have a gym membership to a larger chain? See if you can upgrade your membership to include visits to other facilities. I pay an extra $10/month so I can use Planet Fitness gyms around the country, and other large gyms such as the YMCA have similar programs available to members.
- Don’t want to go to a gym? There are some great videos out there with workouts you can do in your hotel room, such as this one or this one.
Think Beyond Fast Food
Are you like me, and sick of eating nothing but sandwiches, burgers, and other assorted fried foods when you’re traveling? A colleague introduced me to the idea of a grocery store lunch, and I never looked back. Gourmet markets such as Whole Foods and Wegman’s have salad and hot food bars that offer healthy options like quinoa and roasted veggies, but if that’s not available I recommend grabbing some fresh fruit, oatmeal, or hummus from the neighborhood grocery store. For me, it’s a welcome break from heavy fast foods.
Of course, I write this while binging on a bread bowl from Panera in my hotel room, so obviously treat yourself from time to time if that helps keep you sane!
When I’m on the road traveling to and from events, the complimentary ‘refreshments’ always seem to include trays of cookies, chips, and muffins. Not exactly fuel that will keep you full for long. I can’t always pack fresh options for long car rides, but I like snacks such as Kind bars, applesauce packets, single-serve peanut or almond butter (pro tip: snag these at the hotel breakfast buffet!), and occasionally some lean jerky. Look for protein-rich options that will last a few days in your bag. Many of these snacks are also ones I keep on hand for hiking, so they do double-duty for me.
Take Your Vitamins & Stay Hydrated!
These two seem self-explanatory, but honestly they can be the easiest to forget. Admittedly, it’s possible I drink more coffee than water when I’m traveling. Now, I make it a point to fill up a Nalgene bottle in the morning and drink a glass of water whenever I take a drink of coffee. It also seems easier these days to find fountains to get a refill when you’re running low.
Mental health is just as important as physical health when you’re traveling, so set aside some time at the end of your day to power down your phone, take a deep breath, and reflect, or read or write, if that works for you. There are some helpful apps for meditating out there if you need some guidance in order to unwind.
Hopefully some of these tips will be helpful to those of you new to traveling for work! What are your tips for staying healthy when you’re spending lots of time on the road?