Recently I’ve been having to travel a lot for my job, and I always struggle with finding a way to incorporate my workouts when I’m on business. I want to outline what you can do to combat the common issues you run into when traveling for work/leisure and trying to get a workout in or eat properly.
People from all different walks of life leave home and explore the world for many different reasons; sometimes it is for leisure, sometimes for work. No matter what the reason for travel is, however, we always find difficulty maintaining our healthy lifestyles when we are not at home.
What About Time?
Probably the number 1 opponent to your fitness success while away from home would be finding the time to workout and eat properly. More often than not, business trips or vacations are so planned and packed full of activities ranging from sightseeing to meetings that we just can’t find an appropriate time to squeeze in that necessary workout.
What we do know is that working out doesn’t need to be a huge ordeal. Even just a little bit of cardio can go a long way.
Here are some quick tips for working around time barriers on a trip:
- Build your workouts into your schedule– Ideally you can set aside some time in your itinerary before you arrive at your travel destination. This will help you stick to your workout because you already have it worked into your busy schedule. This is a key component because it forces your workout back into your routine.
- Wake up early– I know early mornings seem so dreadful while on business, and maybe borderline insane while on vacation, but even waking up just 30 minutes before your day is scheduled to begin can get you that jumpstart you need. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, a nice jog on the beach or near your hotel should suffice.
- Workout during the lunch hour– Many conferences specifically have lunch hours set aside. Now if you aren’t using this time to network and talk to people, what better way to spend it than hitting a quick workout. I understand you can’t come back to a conference or meeting drenched in sweat, but a midday shower never hurt anyone either. Plus a workout will pump you up for the end of the day.
- Trim your workouts to just a couple days a week– Hopefully you bust your butt every other day when you aren’t traveling. That means your body may be due for a little bit of rest anyway. If this is the case, trim your current daily workout back to just a couple times a week. There is a such thing as over-working your body in my opinion, so I don’t think it’s blasphemous to only get a couple workouts in while traveling.
What About Facilities?
Most hotels these days understand the ever-growing demand for a fitness center. However, the hotel that you end up in or the city that you end up in may not be all that accommodating for fitness enthusiasts like yourself. There are many hotels that do a very poor job of providing their residents with quality fitness centers.
Usually the availability of weights and machines is severely limited (good luck ever finding a squat rack). More often than not you get a really sad excuse for some cardio equipment and even this is occupied by the one guy that decides he’s doing a cardio circuit using the bike, elliptical, and treadmill all at once.
Although a lack of facilities is a very real possibility, I have some suggestions on avoiding this hiccup:
Join a gym with many locations– I understand the idea behind throwing around iron at your favorite local bodybuilding gym, and I hate chains as much as the next guy…but what happens when you are running all over the world and need somewhere to train? My solution is to join a gym with many different locations. If you know you travel to popular cities, I would suggest 24 Hour Fitness. Their sport memberships usually includes any 24 Hour Fitness Sport in the United States which is extremely helpful when most hotels have one right down the road.
Research the hotel you’re staying at– This is not always an option. Especially on business as your employer may designate your hotel. However, if you have the chance to pick your hotel, sacrifice a mile or so from your venue or destination if it means you are able to get in a solid workout all week long. Usually hotel websites include decent enough overviews of their fitness center or you are able to see their center in a gallery. I personally call hotels before I stay and ask about their fitness center and style of weights they have on site.
Work out in your room– This is definitely the last resort, but we will compile some great options for in room workouts in a future article. For now start with the basics, pushups, sit-ups, and some dips using the end of your bed. These should help at least get you a little workout a couple times a day. Remember, even small workouts can get your thermogenic processes going in your body which will allow you to burn some of that extra fat while you are staring at some guy talk about how fascinating it is to be an IRS auditor (sorry if you are one).
What About Nutrition?
Okay so one of my biggest struggles is all the wonderful food options we have while traveling. Usually we think that being out of town gives us a reason to abandon every bit of nutritional information we have learned over our lifetimes and snag that Big Mac because it’s quick and cheap. WRONG. Don’t touch it. There are options for you that are not that time consuming.
Invest in some fruit– Fruit such as bananas and apples can really help add some nutritional value to your on the go diet. I personally like to stock up on this stuff at the beginning of my trip, and get enough for the whole trip.
The biggest thing with fruit is that it usually will last you the entirety of the trip even if you are lacking a hotel style mini fridge. You can also usually swoop some oats from your continental breakfast if it doesn’t interfere with your daily plans.
Hit the local sandwich shop– I know often times lunch options are rough when you are traveling. This is why I suggest finding a local sandwich shop near your hotel or conference area.
Usually it’s possible to avoid the fast food and find somewhere that provides a good quality turkey breast or chicken breast sandwich for lunch. My personal favorites are those places that usually have wraps as well. Avoid the fried chicken here and go for something light. Usually the heavier the meal the more likely it is to ruin the end of your day.
Set nutritional goals– If you know you are going to be eating out a lot, or joining in on business dinners, then you can most definitely set some goals for yourself to avoid pigging out. My most recent experience with goal setting was limiting myself to just one ribeye sandwich over the course of an entire week. Let me tell you, this one was tough, but I managed it.
My specific goal was to decrease the amount of beef I was going to eat at the actual event I was attending so that I could have more freedoms outside of the conference. This allowed me to eat a bit more carefree (steak) for business dinners because I was paying attention to my diet throughout the day.
Lastly, don’t buy a bunch of protein shakes at the gas station to supplement the meals you are likely missing. I have written previously about protein shakes and their effects when abused. You can find that here.
You can really workout anywhere, anytime. Staying fit is all about your mentality. Good nutrition and workout habits don’t stop when you hit the road, and if you learn this now you will influence your overall health in the future tremendously. I personally have dealt with this struggle head on many times, and I am not always the best at sticking to my best practices. However, being conscious of your health on the go is the first step in the right direction. If you manage to implement all of things talked about above I think you’ll find yourself feeling much better on your trip and when you get back home safe and sound.
If you have any direct experience with staying in top physical and mental condition while traveling, please feel free to share your story in the comments section below!