Lately, I've been traveling a lot for work. Trying to stay healthy in airports, at client dinners, and during meeting lunches is hard. What do you do if the only option is a pasta buffet? Or if the hotel gym is just an elliptical in a closet? Or if you forgot to pack workout clothes?
How can you keep your healthy habits when things are out of your control?
Simple answer: plan ahead and prepare for the worst. Here are 5 things I try to do when I travel for work:
1. Identify restaurants near your hotel that have healthy options before you leave. Do some research. Check out the menu of the hotel restaurant. Determine what the best options are around you for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That way you have a go-to place and meal, so you won't be tempted in the moment to settle for something. Also, if the only meal you know you can control is breakfast, try to eat the healthiest breakfast you can before heading out that day. If the work lunch or dinner option isn't healthy at least you got some good, nutritious food in earlier.
2. Eat good before you leave home. Try to eat a good, healthy meal before you head to the airport (or hit the road). That way you start your trip satisfied and with nourishment. If I'm leaving early in the morning, I drink a smoothie before I go - full of veggies, healthy fats, protein, and fiber. If it's later in the day, I eat a good lunch or dinner or drink a low-sugar green juice on the way out.
3. Pack healthy snacks. Airport food is getting better but it's still not the best. Pack low-sugar protein bars, fruit, cut-up veggies, nut butter packets, and/or plant-based protein powder packets. I've experienced so many flight delays lately (almost every flight!) that I've been forced to skip meals. Having some snacks in my bag has allowed me to eat whenever there wasn't an option or a good, healthy option (pretzels and cookies don't qualify, sorry Delta!). And when meeting food is ordered and you're left wondering what to eat, you got some stuff in your bag to supplement or replace.
4. Walk as much as possible. Instead of sitting at your airport gate, walk. Walk around the terminals or in between them. I do this at the Atlanta airport all the time - especially if it's an early flight and I didn't get to exercise before I left. I also opt to walk instead of taking the train or the moving walkway. It feels nice to stretch legs before and after sitting on a plane. Also, if the area in which you are staying is safe enough, walk places instead of taking an Uber, Lyft, or taxi. It's a great way to get to know a city and your surroundings. When I travel for work, most of my days involve sitting inside in meetings. I try to walk outside as much as possible to make up for that. This tends to make me feel more energized in those meetings - without having to reach for more coffee or some sugar.
5. Pack workout clothes and accessories. If you pack your workout clothes, you are committing to working out. It's hard to deny them when they are taking up precious space in your carryon. But also try to pack some items that take the pressure off the gym or running outside (you never know the weather). I usually pack a resistance band (I love these: http://www.sweatwithbecnyc.com/shop/) and/or a simple jump rope. Also, think about what workout you want to do beforehand. Jot it down in the notes section on your phone. Walking into an unfamiliar gym early in the morning without a game plan is a sure fire way to have a frustrating, lackluster workout.
Forgot workout clothes?: Don't underestimate the benefits of doing push ups, squats, lunges, core work etc in your room in your pjs (or underwear!). Something is sometimes better than nothing.