How To Stay Healthy While You're Traveling...
As I get ready to embark on my third big trip of the year, I started thinking about traveling and how and why it's so hard on our health habits. Any time that you're taken out of your normal routine can make maintaining your healthy habits difficult. t least if you're home, there's some habits you can maintain. However, when you travel that's all thrown out the window!
- Meal prepping becomes difficult because you don't have your kitchen to prep your meals.
- If you're a runner, you don't have a familiar running route that you can follow.
- If you go to a gym, then your gym is no longer around and your hotel gym might not have what you need!
There's no doubt - travelling is hard. But I also think we get it in our mind that it's impossible to stay on top of the habits we've built when we're travelling. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Just like with every other aspect of your life, if you prioritize it, you can make it happen.
Teddy Roosevelt says...
“DO WHAT YOU CAN, WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, WHERE YOU ARE.”
And that's exactly how you need to think when you travel!
Whether you're road-tripping or flying, on a long trip of a few months or just a weekend, there are things you can do to make things easier! Here are some great ways to start...
BEFORE YOU LEAVE...
This might seem redundant, but this will always be one my biggest suggestions if you're preparing yourself to face an obstacle in your life - plan ahead. This really is one of the best things you can do when you know you're going to be travelling. There's lots of questions you can ask yourself when you're travelling to plan ahead for both getting workouts in and for eating as healthy as possible!
First, ask yourself, is there going to be a place where I can workout?...When choosing a hotel, try to find a hotel that has a pool or a fitness center! These are pretty easy to find now. If your hotel doesn't, or you can't afford one that does - which is totally reasonable -resort to running! Running is a great workout option - all you need is tennis shoes! No other equipment needed! Websites like MapMyRun are great because oftentimes, your running route can ALREADY be found on the site just by searching pre-existing routes! Whether you're staying at a friend or family member's house, tracking down a running trail where you're at is a great option! If you're not a runner, that's fine too! There's tons of workouts available online that you can tackle without a gym or the need to be outside. We will get back to that in a second!
Second, get a room with a mini-fridge and find a grocery story nearby! If you're staying at a hotel, call and request that you get a room with a mini-fridge! This is becoming a bit of a staple at hotels, but what we found in my last trip to Nashville is that not all of the rooms have them. So, plan ahead and request a room with a mini-fridge. Then, once you arrive, find a grocery store, or better yet a Farmer's Market and stock up on produce and other healthy snacks! That way you don't have to over-spend on food at restaurants or be at the mercy of the starch-heavy complimentary hotel breakfast!
PACK YOUR SNACKS.
These days, the food that goes in your carry-on is just as important as the clothes you pack in your suitcase. There will be a lot of waiting when you travel - whether it's waiting at the airport or sitting in the car - you're going to have a lot of down time! So, pack some great, healthy, filling snacks to bring with you! High protein/fiber/nutrition snacks are great - like beef jerky, nuts (I love almonds!!), fruit like apples or berries, prepared veggies, trail mix, healthy fats like nut butters, or wraps for a more substantial meal. For my trip that's coming up, I'm going to have a whole 8 hours where I'm either on a bus to the airport, at the airport, or flying and will be at the mercy of the food available to me. But, I've already got protein bars, fruit, trail mix, my trusty Shakeology, as well as various other healthy snacks in my carry-on. Be prepared and you will stay on top of things!
Also, if you've got vitamins, supplements, or other things that you take to keep you healthy day-to-day, bring them along. Again, you prioritize what's important to you. Ladies, you might have to cut back on the clothes if you have healthy snacks or shakes you swear by that you want to bring along. For example, I can't leave how without my goodies - particularly my Shakeology! If I know I have a trip coming up, I'll buy the Shakeology in packets and stuff those inside my shaker bottle. I literally don't leave for a trip without it!
BRING YOUR OWN "GYM" AND WORKOUTS WITH YOU.
Like I mentioned about - you do not have to be at a nice fitness center to get in a good workout. You just need enough space to move. And if your hotel doesn't have a fitness center, bring a gym with you. You don't have to bring dumbbells with you to get a workout in! It's super easy to pack a resistance band, a workout DVD, and/or there are tons of readily available online workouts or apps. You can find workouts online, there are apps available on your phone - like Nike Training Club for example, OR if you're a Beachbody program lover there is always Beachbody OnDemand which is like netflix for workout programs! For my trip coming up, I almost packed my Body Beast DVDs! But I realized that I don't need to! My Body Beast workout, along with a dozen or more other programs are available On Demand! So, why waste that precious space?! Plus, many of these workouts are bodyweight workouts, and don't require a lot of equipment! So it's entirely possible to do them in your hotel room, outside at a nearby park, or in a sparsely furnished fitness center.
A good circuit that I've used before - that you can totally swap in a resistance band for OR dumb bells if your hotel gym has them - is shown below! I call it the ladder! How it works is you start on the left side with 50 body weight squats, then 40 lunges, and work your way down to the bottom and then back up the ladder. Stand on and/or loop your band for extra resistance on the calf raises, tricep kickbacks (it may be easier to do overhead tricep extensions if you only have a band!), chest press (loop and lay on your band), band pulls, and shoulder press. You can find how to do the band pull here, but essentially what you're doing is holding the resistance band in front of you and pull the handles apart! You can loop it to get extra resistance.
AVOID ALCOHOL THE DAY BEFORE.
Alcohol definitely contributes to dehydration, and since dehydration is perhaps the biggest side-effect of and contributor to infamous jet-lag, I highly suggest that you just refrain from drinking before you're about to travel.
WHILE YOU'RE TRAVELLING...
DRINK YOUR WATER.
I know that caffeinated soda or energy drinks or coffee sound like a good plan, but it actually may be counter-productive to the tired, "jet-lag" feeling that usually accompanies travelling. I'm not going to say "Don't drink caffeine because it dehydrates you!" That myth has actually been de-bunked - see this website from the Mayo Clinic with more resources. But, there is a lot that goes on, especially while you're flying that drinking water continuously will help fix. When you're flying, the re-circulation of low humidity air can cause a number of problems. To quote Everyday Health:
"Dehydration can cause problems ranging from mild discomfort caused by dry skin and scratchy eyes to potentially life-threatening issues, such as problems with breathing for people who have respiratory conditions like asthma. Dehydration can also lead to fatigue, says William L. Sutker, MD, chief of infectious diseases at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas."
This is just one of the many reasons you should drink your water while you're traveling! Other reasons for staying hydrated while travelling include:
- It will increase your energy! As stated in that previous quote - "Dehydration can also lead to fatigue," which is likely leading to that feeling of jet lag. Drinking water will counteract that!
- We often mistake thirst for water! Thus staying hydrated will keep us from over-eating.
- Drinking plenty of water boosts your immune function by keeping your blood oxygenated, detoxifying your blood, helps with production of lymphatic fluid, along with many other functions...
- Also - random fact - it's also important for normal heart function, says the American Heart Association. So that's just a bonus!
REST UP & MAYBE CONSIDER A SLEEP AID...
Especially if you're changing time zones, taking advantage of napping on your plane (obviously not a good choice if you're road tripping...) could be a great option for you to keep you feeling good. Sleep is probably the most underrated aspect of health & fitness. It is important for not only muscle repair and recovery, but sleep is perhaps the most restorative thing you can do for yourself to prevent you from catching a cold or the flu. But, as we all know, sleeping on planes is often not as easy as it sounds. Maybe consider taking a sleep aid, like Melatonin, to help you sleep on your airplane!
AFTER YOU ARRIVE...
GROCERY SHOP AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE...
Like I said in Home for the Holidays, I made sure I was involved in the grocery shopping and menu planning when I visited my parents! I try to do that every time I'm home visiting! But sometimes, you're not visiting family and it's not so easy to shop for and prepare your meals! But there are still things you can do!
I mentioned in the "before your trip" part of this post that you should try to find a hotel that has mini-fridges in the room. Additionally, your hotel likely has a kitchenette, or at least a microwave somewhere that you can use! If that's the case, you're golden! That's all you really need to be able to prep some foods and some healthy meals in for yourself!
As soon as you can upon arriving, head to the grocery store and pick up a few things! Greek yogurt are great for snacks and breakfast. Fruits like apples, bananas, oranges, berries, are always good snack options or are great for breakfast. Vegetables are great for snacks. I personally love celery with some almond butter or sliced cucumbers and baby carrots. If you're looking to save some money and want to make a whole meal, get some greens, some dressing, and a rotisserie chicken! Every grocery store I've been to has pre-made rotisserie chickens! All you have to do is zap them in a microwave for a minute or two and voila! There you have a great protein source! Add a side salad to that and you've got yourself an awesome meal!
Hit up the grocery store as often as possible throughout the trip! This will save you money and save you calories overall!
MAKE HEALTHY DINING A PRIORITY...
It's likely you will be eating out a LOT while you travel, so the best thing you can do is follow some of the tips provided in 10 Ways to Stay Healthy When You Go Out to Eat!
As for that complimentary continental breakfast at your hotel...I suggest that you stock up on fruit or protein-rich greek yogurt and eat breakfast in your room! OR, if that's not an option, stick to the healthier options, like...
- Hard-boiled eggs and yogurt (greek preferably) to get a big dose of protein to keep you full!
- Plain oatmeal, which is a great source of fiber!
- Fruit fruit fruit! Most continental breakfasts have apples and bananas! It may even be a good idea to grab a couple extra as snacks!
More great tips for a healthy continental breakfast can be found here at Sheer Balance!
Tips for success in this department include...
- Increasing your food budget. This may mean saying no to certain things like going out on the town or buying those cocktails at happy hour, but if you want to stay on top of your goals, then you need to make this a priority.
- Plan Ahead. I know this is redundant, but if you know you're going to have a day where you're traveling for 4 hours or you'll be without a kitchen, or whatever you have to plan ahead to accommodate those inconveniences. I love to travel with apples, peanut butter, celery, cucumbers, nuts like almonds, etc. All are great sources of nutrients and travel well. So, look at what you need, when you need it, and plan accordingly!
- Do the best you can. There's going to be days when you are stuck getting the $12 airport salad. Sometimes you'll have delays. Sometimes you'll have to eat at that unhealthy restaurant! That's okay. Those moments won't derail your progress if they're sporadic! So don't stress!
Ask yourself - What are your goals? Weight loss, muscle gain, increased strength, etc. – you can continue working on that while traveling as well if you take care of your diet. Pack healthy snacks for travel day. Choose grilled foods, and well-balanced plates of food when you go out to eat. Going out on the town or indulging in some beer, fries, and beer - that's fine! Compensate by eating clean and staying committed before and after that day. Or just ask your travel companions to support your choices, and if they're your real friends and loved ones - they will.
Plan Active Activities into your trip.
This is such an easy one! Your vacation does not have to be sedentary! I often find myself swapping in activities like hiking or exploring downtown when I go home or go on vacation in place of a workout! This is an especially great idea if you're looking to explore the city, or enjoy the nice weather, etc. Just grab those tennis shoes and go for a walk OR better yet a run through your new environment.
Almost every time I'm home now, I hit up my friend Rachel from high school, of Glow Your Business, and this avid hiker and I hit the trails! Even when I come home for an extended weekend or for the Holidays, my mom knows that I like to stay active and she plans activities like morning walks, hikes, or trips to walk the waterfront downtown as ways for us to hang out!
Whether you're walking laps in the airport, running on the beach, swimming in the ocean, hiking up a mountain, throwing a frisbee or playing a game of football or soccer in a park, there are activities you can do wherever you are to stay active, so make sure you build those in!
Bottom line - health & fitness needs to be constant! You need to make it a habit as automatic as brushing your teeth, and that includes while you're on vacation. If you have goals - whether aesthetic, you're trying to achieve a physical benchmark, or are training for something - just effing do it no matter what! Otherwise, you are just going to take steps back on your journey!
That being said - follow the 80/20 rule! Spend some time being lazy, enjoying yourself, having a drink, eating delicious food without guilt! There's no point in having a healthy lifestyle if you can't enjoy yourself on occasion. You'll thank yourself for that reprieve! But keep those moments to about 20% of your trip - whether 20% of each day or 1 day out of every 5! Whatever works for you!
It's one thing to let your vacation do derail you completely, and quite another to be so strict that you can't enjoy the trip you're on! You're on vacation for goodness sake! HAVE SOME FUN! ;-)
Please comment below or contact me if you have any other questions!
And in the meantime, happy travels!