It’s 3am and I’m waking up with sleep in my eyes, preparing for another few days of traveling for work. It’s going to be a long day, my flight departs LAX at 6am and I have to beat rush hour traffic, praying that there’s no line at airport security (which can be hit and miss with the early AM flights) and grab a bottle of water before making my way to the gate, sometimes having to run. It only takes one time to have to wait two hours to get through security or for your luggage when you land that you learn to carry-on and fly direct whenever possible.
That all happens between the hours of 3 and 6am! Then there’s working, sleeping or reading on the 4 hour flight, freshening up in the airplane bathroom (have you ever tried putting on makeup with that lighting?! I wouldn’t recommend it!), landing early, but inevitably, having to wait on the tarmac because your gate isn’t ready, and heading out into the hustle and bustle of your new city for a few days to make it to your first meeting.
And what have I eaten? If it’s processed salty food that was convenient to grab in LAX pre-flight or as a snack on the plane, I’m going to be feeling it the next few days. Not that I don’t eat airport food or fancy an in-flight snack box, but when you travel often a little bit here and a little bit there can quickly add up to your pants not fitting by the time your next trip rolls around.
I’ve been traveling extensively for work the past 12 years and I find that constant travel can definitely take its toll on your body. There are dinners with colleagues and clients, conferences to attend with open bars and over-the-top appetizers, hotel food, airplane food. The unhealthy options are far more common and accessible than the healthy ones.
The truth is, it’s not all sunshine and roses. I find that if I don’t take care of my body or emotional state while traveling my energy and mood can quickly dissipate. Whether you travel once a year or every week, it is possible to come back feeling better than when you left or, at least, not worse! Below are my top 10 suggestions for staying healthy on the road, and I would love to start a collective list of strategies from around the world, so let’s hear your tips and tricks too!
1. Drink loads of water. Stay mindful that travel and changing environments affect your hydration levels. Aircraft cabins are very dry with humidity levels as low as 5 to 10%. I find that while I am in the air it also helps to have a big glass of plain water for every flight hour.
2. Order fresh food whenever possible and make a conscious effort to cut out processed carbs. Fresh food includes fish (especially sashimi), salads, vegetables and fruits. If possible, order double veggies with your meal instead of fries, rice or a potato.
3. Low moisture levels in plane cabins can wreak havoc on skin. You should actively hydrate the skin before travelling. The night before use a gentle, exfoliating scrub, followed by a hydrating mask, which will remove dead skin cells and effectively hydrate the skin. In flight, a facial oil - no matter the skin type - will create a protective barrier from skin dehydration.
4. Set realistic expectations for the day, the week, the month and the year. Make a plan, without being too restrictive, and do the best you can to stick to it. New to this? Try tackling just one strategy on your next trip and don’t beat yourself up. Life isn’t going to fall apart if you have popcorn crunch sundae with hot fudge, caramel and peanuts (guilty!); it might end up that much sweeter.
5. Travel with your own snacks. Whether I’m going away for two days or a week you can usually find some snacks in my carry-on. My favorites include: celery, jicama sticks, apples, unsalted roasted almonds, granola bars, hard boiled eggs, vitamins, instant oatmeal packets, chia seeds, flax seeds and so much more!
6. Join an online community. I host monthly behind-the-scenes Facebook groups to help motivate and inspire others to work out and eat healthy. We like to keep it real, because life happens. That means, we eat pizza and ice cream and occasionally miss a workout, but we share our journey with each other and commit to doing the best we possibly can. The intensity of such a community can vary but it’s a great way to stay plugged-in and feel connected even when you’re away from home and your routine.
"It is exciting to travel to different cities, states and countries, at the same time, getting to meet new people, understand new cultures, try new food and work with some of the biggest brands in the world. Follow my health and fitness journey" - @kristin_helps
7. Download an online workout or two before your trip so you can work out in your room without needing to rely on a hotel gym. I’m currently working my way through a 10-week, 25 minute per day program that doesn’t require any equipment! This means that all I need is my own body weight and a pair of sneakers to get the job done.
8. Find a drop-in yoga class. Studios usually rent clean mats or you can try www.desk-yogi.com from the comfort of your hotel room.
9. Use the buddy system. Just like when we were kids, find a buddy who can help keep tabs on you by texting you to make sure you’re staying on track and getting your workouts in and vice versa.
10. Throw caution to the wind and indulge! Make up for it when you get home or not at all. You only live once after all!