The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that Americans make more than 405 million business trips per year. While travel can be stressful, there are strategies for staying healthy in times of transit.
Mode of transportation
• Most U.S. business travel happens by car. Before you hit the road, pack healthy snacks such as fruit, cheese sticks or nuts to limit your temptation to grab that gas station candy bar.
• Air travel is convenient, but make sure to pack essentials for avoiding catching a cold. Some essentials include Airborne, Emergen-C, hand wipes/sanitizer and a reusable water bottle for airport hydration stations. Always avoid eating directly off of those germy tray tables.
• If possible, book your accommodations close to your meetings to give you more flexibility to walk, an even better idea if your trip takes you to sunny Florida or Arizona during the winter. Not only will you get in some steps, but you also will likely save money on ground transportation.
• Do your research and book a hotel with a gym and/or pool. Some hotels even rent workout clothes and equipment. For example, Westin Hotel and Resorts offers New Balance clothing and gym shoes during your stay for an additional $5 (Bonus: You get to keep the socks).
• No gym, no problem. It’s possible to get a solid workout done with very little space and equipment. Try the deck of cards workout: Suits are exercises of your choosing and numbers are repetitions. Draw away and get ready for those push-ups, burpees and squats.
• Book an Airbnb or HomeAway so you can have access to a kitchen. This is especially beneficial if traveling for more than a couple of days. You can prepare your meals. There are a few hotel chains that have kitchens, such as Homewood Suites and Residence Inns.
Movement in your day
• Take advantage of breaks during your meetings to get up, walk around and stretch.
• Wear an activity monitor such as a Fitbit or Garmin and set a movement goal for yourself during your travel. It doesn’t have to be as ambitious as it would be at home, but it will hold you accountable to setting an alarm to get up early to exercise and move during your day.
• A lot of sitting can lead to tight muscles in the legs, back and neck. Pack a manual massage ball, which is easy to pack and can be used to release them. Place on a tight muscle in your glute, back or foot for some pressure point release or consider doing a yoga routine in the evening.
Meals on the road
• On average people consume 200 more calories eating out than they would at home. It can be hard when traveling to plan meals, but planning ahead will pay you back. Pick an accommodation in proximity to a grocery store or healthy food options. Remember the rule of thumb about healthy grocery shopping: Shop the perimeter, look at food labels and avoid shopping on an empty stomach.
• Grab healthy snacks such as hummus, carrots, peanut butter and crackers, or fruit, or pick up affordable breakfast and lunch options at a local grocery store to store them in a hotel fridge or kitchen.
• Try to mimic your sleep environment at home. Keep the room cool and dark, set a fan for white noise, use earplugs and turn off electronics at least an hour before bed.
Accept that you will encounter unplanned situations (my last flight included a 20-hour delay and sleepover at the airport terminal)
Remain calm. Make sure to pack a mini first aid kit that includes necessary medication, bandages, water and a few emergency snacks.