I’m saying it – business travel can wreck your health. In fact, a major shift in your day-to-day has the potential to create a stress response that’s significant enough to damage your mental, physical, short-term, and long-term health. It’s all impacted. The question then is how to avoid the negative consequences of a hectic lifestyle. (Hint: it’s possible)
It has taken me a long time to figure out how to feel good while on the road. At first it was all survival mode. Make the flight, don’t get lost, and show up looking somewhat presentable. Repeat. It’s safe to say those early days of travel were not my high points. But, just like you become a pro at getting through the security line at the airport, you also become a pro of taking care of you while on the road. I’m sharing a few of my top tips to make healthy travel a reality.
Pack with Activity in Mind
Exercise gear is not an option. I stick to a carry-on, but my sneakers are the first thing to go in the bag. Sometimes it may feel a little ambitious to throw an extra couple pairs of leggings or sports bras into the mix, but for me it’s important to have the gear available no matter what. Excuses are no longer an option.
Be Creative in your Food Choices
The food environment on the road can be a serious challenge, but I’m living proof that it isn’t impossible to eat well at any point during the trip. The key? Creativity. Whether you’re faced with a fast food restaurant, a gas station, or an oasis of healthy options, creativity is a must. Here are a few of my top tips:
- Pack snacks in your carry-on. This includes disposable containers or fruits and vegetables, granola bars, packets of peanut butter, etc. I’ve eaten fresh figs out of a Tupperware container while waiting to board a plane. Make it happen!
- If you’re driving, find a grocery store at your destination and stock the mini-fridge in the hotel with produce like baby carrots and tomatoes, and snacks like hummus, cheese, and yogurt. You can also stock-up on snacks suitable to leave in the car such as bars, dried fruit, trail mix, veggie crisps, etc. Check out the list below for a few of my favorite travel snacks.
- Eating dinner out every night can be a challenge for good nutrition, but it isn’t impossible. Think color. Vegetables must always make their way to your plate. Even if you order fries, ask for a side salad or opt for a veggie burger instead of a beef burger. It’s easy to look at a business dinner as an opportunity for a “treat” after a long, hard day at work, but be mindful of what you really want. Indulge on the food that sounds the best, but build the rest of your meal with nutrient-rich options.
Cities are a perfect place to try new fitness classes. For example, some of the best spin studios are in the bigger cities and I’m always going to find a way to sneak a class into my travel schedule. Visiting a smaller town? Don’t stress. Find a park or a downtown space with sidewalks and head out for a walk or run. Finally, hotel gyms are always an option, so even if it’s not up to your gym standards just remember that it’s temporary. Put in your earbuds, find your favorite podcast, and get to it.
It’s easy to get caught-up in the day-to-day of business travel and forget to stay hydrated. Focus on unsweetened beverages throughout the day and be sure to limit the alcohol at night. Your body is already experiencing a change in schedule with sleep, activity, and food. When you add excess alcohol to the mix then things can really get out of whack. Plus, you’re lowering your immune system which will likely result in a sluggish or sick few days over your precious weekend back home. Be kind to your body, even during those business dinners when the wine is free-flowing.
Allison's Top Picks for Travel Snacks
- Produce - baby carrots, tomatoes, bananas, apples, grapes, raspberries. Any kind of easy to eat fruit or vegetable is the number one snack to add to your list.
- Whole grain bread - this may seem ambitious, but if you're going to be in one place for more than a few days then a small loaf of whole grain bread is great for mini peanut butter sandwiches. Fiber plus a little fat helps to fill you up.
- Hummus - great for dipping veggies and is a source of protein and fiber. This is a great healthy snack for the hotel room.
- Mini peanut butter, almond butter, or sunbutter packets. Healthy fats plus a small amount of protein makes for an ideal addition to fruit or whole grain bread as a breakfast or snack.
- B'More Organic skyr is high in protein and low in sugar. If you have a mini fridge then stock-up on this drink for a probiotic boost which contributes to a healthy immune system (key for travel). Plus, it makes for a good snack of protein and carbs after you hit the hotel gym.
- Kombucha - probitoics, here they are again. Keep your GI tract happy with the addition of probiotics however you can get them. Yogurt and fermented foods are the top sources. Kombucha isn't a requirement, but it is tasty!
- Granola bars - easy to throw in the bag for an on-the-go snack. Look for bars with 10g of sugar or less. If you can't find those then opt for half a bar and a piece of fruit as a snack.
Disclosure: I have partnered with B'More Organic. I have no relationship with other products shown in this post.