Do you struggle to make healthy choices while traveling? You’re not alone! Whether traveling for work or pleasure, many people “fall off track” and struggle to get back on. A week long vacation can turn into a month of, “I’ll start tomorrow.” But it doesn’t have to be that way! With a little bit of planning and few tips in your back pocket, you can travel without missing a beat. Here are a few strategies to help you travel smarter.
BE PREPARED WITH TRAVEL SNACKS.
There is no need to desperately chow down on fast food in the airport, or dive into 3 bags of chips on the plane, because you’re starving and have no other options. Instead, take your own healthy travel snacks. Some simple options include oatmeal packets (just ask for a cup of hot water), protein powder, rice cakes, individual almond butter packs, nuts, tuna packets, hard boiled eggs, turkey jerky, and protein bars. You can easily pack any of these in your carry-on luggage, or you can pack them into a small cooler for a road trip. Being prepared is the first step to successfully staying on track.
PLAN FOR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.
If you go into the trip thinking, “Maybe I’ll get in a couple of workouts…” then you likely won’t. Go with the intention of staying active by having a plan. When selecting a place to stay, choose one that provides access to a gym, or has a gym nearby. If the gym is not part of the hotel or complex, call ahead to be sure they welcome guests, and find out their rates. If you are not able to stay near a gym (like when we stayed in an RV in Zion National Park!), prepare some in-home workouts you can do instead. Believe it or not, you can do a full body workout with just a set of resistance bands, and you can easily throw them in your suitcase!
SET YOUR SCHEDULE.
Part of the struggle with traveling is that you’re out of your regular routine. And when you’re not in your routine, your regular habits may fall by the wayside. Setting a schedule while you’re away will help you to modify your routines and keep your good habits. Designate time to get in your workouts each day, and make time for anything else that’s important to you and your goals. This might include writing in a journal, reading, meditating, or going for a walk. The more you can stick to a routine, the better you’ll be able to stay on track.
When traveling, it can be hard to make water a priority, but it’s so important for your progress. Proper hydration helps to regulate digestion and hunger. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, which can lead to extra calorie consumption. I recommend consuming at least 80 ounces per day. If you are more active, or if you drink alcohol, you want to increase your intake up to 100-120 ounces. (Sure, you may not enjoy using the airplane restroom 4 times on a flight, but your body will thank you!) Drinking at least 20-30 ounces immediately upon waking is a great way to start each day!
MAKE SLEEP A PRIORITY.
This one is important always, but especially when you travel. Changing time zones and being away from your cozy bed can result in sleepless nights, but lack of sleep can have major negative effects on your health and your ability to lose weight. Your body recognizes this as a sign of stress, and because it wants to protect you, it responds by slowing your metabolism and storing fat. In addition, when you don’t fully recharge your batteries, your body looks to other sources of energy, like food. If you’ve ever had a bad night of sleep and felt ravenously hungry the next day, that’s why! If you struggle to sleep while away, try taking a natural sleep aid, such as melatonin or magnesium, just before bedtime. The more you can stick to your regular sleep schedule, the better your body will respond.
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, you’re not going to make perfect choices all the time, and that is okay! Go easy on yourself. If you indulge a bit too much on day one, make day two better. You don’t have to wait until you get home to “start over.” Remember, health is not a destination. It’s about developing and improving habits that you can sustain for the rest of your life.