As a person that travels for work, and a manager of people who do, one concern for me is to keep myself and my team healthy. Traveling for work challenges every pillar of a healthy lifestyle, so in this post, I’m going to share some tips that I’ve learned and implemented over the years that might be of use for you as well.
Before I start, I’m going to talk about what I call three pillars of a healthy lifestyle. Even though there are many factors that influence your health, in my mind, there are three that are key. These three pillars are Rest, Food, Exercise.
Being well-slept, relaxed, and stress-free is essential to our health. Work trips typically challenge these aspects that then have an impact on your food choices and your workout schedule. So the following tips might help to keep you energized:
- Make your flight well-rested. This is especially important for day-trippers. If you have to get up at 4 am, try to go to bed at 9 pm or so. Believe it or not, if you don’t rest well, you will feel hungrier the rest of your day, and less able to stop yourself from overeating.
- Meditate on the plane. Taking time to meditate will help you control the cortisol levels in your system, which in turn will impact your food and exercise choices. I often just focus on the map and relax, so when I land, I feel recharged and ready to go. We get infrequent occasions to be forced off our electronics that paying for airplane wifi almost feels like it hurts your wellbeing.
- Try to adjust fast to time zones. Jet lag might be challenging to overcome. What I like to do is to force myself to go to bed at the right time. I try to stay awake even if I’m too tired, or go to bed even if I’m not.
Eating well is possibly the most challenging aspect of being a traveling professional. The temptation is double: you don’t have a place to cook meals, and you have a budget to eat in restaurants. In general, it’s also difficult to go to a grocery store unless you have rented a car. So here are my tips with regards to healthy eating:
- Have proteins and healthy fats before the trip. An avocado toast with a poached egg would help you keep full for the full duration of the journey, helping you avoid the processed food and sugary drinks that are typically served in flights.
- Keep some healthy snacks in hand. Hard-boiled eggs, hummus, and carrots, no fat Greek yogurt are all low-calorie options that will help to keep you satiated and are sold on airports and many shops.
- Pick your hotels wisely. Fortunately, most of the time, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to pick my hotels. If that is your case, many chains offer a kitchenette, which goes a very long way in supporting your health. Also, typically you get your expenses covered from and to the client site, but not to grocery stores, so picking a hotel close to a grocery store will help you keep healthy and save some money for your clients.
- Box half of your restaurant meals ahead. You might feel awkward doing this in front of colleagues or clients, but it works! Ask for a to-go box the moment you order your meal and pack half of it before starting to eat. You can finish it at a later point in time, and it will help you eat less on your following meal.
- Minimize Alcohol and Sugary Drinks. Even diet-friendly and sweetened drinks will make you crave for food, even if your body doesn’t need it. Alcoholic drinks typically pack a ton of sugar, and not to mention alcohol slowing down your liver, and thus your natural ability to burn fat.
- If you have to snack, do healthy swaps: Simple examples are: Salsa or hummus have fewer calories than guac, or mayo. Pita chips have fewer calories than tortilla chips. Popcorn fewer calories than chips in general. Fruits and veggies instead of cereal bars. Americano with half & half instead of a latte. Almond milk instead of whole milk, I hope you get the idea.
Working out is the main source of a healthy lifestyle for many. Being away from home means also being away from your gym routine, your bike, your outside activities, etc. Being active also helps improves your mood, energy levels and helps in many other aspects, so instead of just “taking a break while you’re away”, here are some tips to remain active:
- Walk, walk, walk: If you have the luxury to pick the location where you’re staying, make it, so it’s like a 10 / 20 min walk from your workplace, groceries, and downtown area. Take coffee breaks where you walk to a coffee shop. Take lunch breaks where you walk to the restaurant. Take the stairs whenever you can.
- Bring a yoga mat with you: Yoga is a great low-intensity cardio exercise and can be practiced without much gear. Additionally, yoga mats are reasonably convenient to transport, so no extra airplane fees will be involved. Finally, yoga helps with your meditation practice that’s a keystone habit for eating the right amounts of food.
- Practice some gearless exercises: Go for a run, do some squats, hold your plank or any other workout that you can do. Ten minutes a day will make a huge difference, and high-intensity exercises will take away some of that anxious hunger.
- Become a member of a gym chain: In the US, at least, there are some chains of gyms where you can go to any location nationwide. This gives additional flexibility and also gives you the chance to try out different classes with different teachers.
With this, I conclude my post, if you are a traveling professional and do other things to keep a healthy lifestyle, please don’t be shy and share them in the comments section below.