Traveling for business often involves long plane flights and days filled with meetings. I find it easy to fall out of healthy eating patterns and exercise routines during these trips. However, it’s not impossible to stay healthy while on the road.
Here are some tips that I find helpful.
First, I always consider my flight. Airplanes can be dehydrating, so I make sure to bring an empty reusable water bottle that I can fill once I get through the security check. The Aerospace Medical Association recommends drinking eight ounces of water every hour and limiting the consumption of alcohol, tea, coffee, and caffeinated drinks. I prefer wearing glasses instead of contact lenses and using a hydrating nasal spray and eye drops. I also make an effort to stretch and periodically exercise my feet and ankles while seated. Additionally, I often wear compression socks to help promote blood circulation, decrease swelling in my legs and ankles, and prevent blood clots.
If possible, I try to book a hotel that has a fitness center or is located in an area where I can exercise outdoors. I always ask the hotel concierge about safe walking and running routes in the area. If I have an hour of downtime between meetings or before dinner, I find that it’s a good time to go for a walk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, so even if I only manage 30 minutes a day when traveling, I feel like I’m on the right track.
Maintaining a good diet while on the road can be challenging, especially if I’m eating all of my meals in restaurants. While there are almost always healthy options on the menu, it can be easy to fall into bad habits, especially if I’m pressed for time. There’s often lots of free food and drink at business dinners or conference buffets to tempt me. The key, I find, is to be prepared with a healthy eating plan. I look for a local market where I can fill up on nutritious snacks like fresh fruit and high-protein items, including nuts, cheese, and yogurt.
I’ve learned that staying healthy while traveling is as much about my mental health as it is about my physical well-being.
So, I make sure to have time to relax at the end of the day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends putting electronic devices away an hour before bed and sleeping in a quiet, cool, and dark environment. I aim to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day and avoid heavy meals, nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
If I can build some free time into my schedule, I like to visit local landmarks, especially if I’m in a place I’ve never been before. I always check with my company about its policy for “bleisure” travel, which allows me a few days off at the end of the business portion of my trip to relax or go sightseeing. Taking a break helps me recharge and get ready for the next business trip.