Readers often ask us how to stay healthy while traveling for work. The truth is healthy business travel is very hard. Avoiding business travel fatigue, fighting business travel depression, or even just eating healthy while traveling for work can be a very difficult task.
Whether it’s customer dinners where dessert is always served, unhealthy grab-and-go food at the airport between layovers, and of course that massive serving of cheesy hash browns at breakfast. They all fight against your desire to stay healthy on your work trip.
All of that eating coupled with jet lag, different time zones, and a frenetic schedule makes it darned hard to work out! And darned hard to stay healthy while you travel for work.
So how do you stay healthy while traveling for business? How do you eat healthy when traveling for business? What are the habits needed to keep the weight off, keep your doctor happy, and keep you looking and feeling good while you are on your business trip? Or, how do you fight business travel fatigue?
Read on! Here are the 7 Habits for Healthy Business Travel. In this article, you will find 7 Healthy Travel Tips designed to help travelers stay healthy while traveling for work.
Even if you don’t travel for work, most of these healthy business travel tips also apply to leisure travel. So, keep reading!
7 Habits for Healthy Business Travel: How to Stay Healthy While Traveling for Business
By following these healthy travel habits you can stay healthier on your trips, fight travel fatigue (and even business travel depression), not to mention look and feel better while you stroll through that hotel lobby or airport terminal on your business trip.
Before we dive into the details, here’s a quick summary of the 7 healthy travel habits:
- The Healthy Business Traveler always watches their calories
- The Healthy Business Traveler always stays hydrated
- The Healthy Business Traveler works out whenever possible
- The Healthy Business Traveler knows that something is better than nothing
- The Healthy Business Traveler makes small choices
- The Healthy Business Traveler limits their alcohol consumption
- The Healthy Business Traveler stays connected
Let’s dig into these 7 healthy travel habits a bit more.
- Note: I am not a medical expert. This is not health advice. Always consult a physician.
The Healthy Business Traveler always watches their calories
I won’t lie to you. This is hard to do. Eating healthy when traveling for business is hard. Very hard. When you travel for work you will find yourself eating at some nice restaurants, treating your customers to a great meal at some of the best eats in the world.
Or you will find yourself dashing between gates at an airport with a Burger King as your only option before your next flight. It’s incredibly difficult to eat healthy on business travel. It’s probably the single hardest thing you will do. But you have to do it as much as possible.
It starts with planning and preparation. Maybe, you recommend some healthier options to your customer for dinner – chances are they will be fine with it too. Or don’t be ashamed if you don’t get the giant killer sandwich that the eatery is known for – get something smaller. There’s no shame in eating healthy.
On the other hand, don’t flagellate yourself. Feel free to splurge every once in a while – especially at those really unique places. But, make it up with a lighter lunch, or a few extra minutes on the elliptical.
If you can’t make some smarter food choices while you travel for work it’s going to be very difficult to stay healthy. I find that once I get in a habit (that’s the key, btw…make it a lifestyle choice…aka a habit) of eating healthy it’s easier. And when I mix in regular workouts the two seem to feed off each other.
Workout, want to eat healthily. Eat healthily, want to workout. And so on.
The Healthy Business Traveler always stays hydrated
Aside from gorging on delicious meals, this is the hardest tip for me to follow. I don’t like water. It’s boring. And in my family, the men are always going to the bathroom and I hate running to the lavatory multiple times on the plane or during a customer meeting.
So, I tend to not follow this advice as much as I should. I try to make up for it by hitting water hard the night before a flight and getting after it pretty heavy at my hotel at night.
According to OneMedical.com, staying hydrated has multiple benefits including removing toxins from your body, improving cardiovascular health, keeping your body cool, making your skin supple (translation: fewer wrinkles…), and more.
Greatist.com notes that regular water consumption may promote weight loss, improves mood, fights fatigue, and much more. In fact, I’ve not found anyone who thinks drinking water is a bad idea.
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Besides, if you’ve had a kidney stone in the middle of the night stuck in a Nashville Hilton as I have…well, it’s agonizing. Trust me…you don’t want it. Had I drank more water, I could have likely prevented this.
Protip: Bring an empty water bottle with you when you travel. Once through security, fill it up for free from the many water refilling stations you find in airports. Keeps your hydrated at a fraction of the cost. A good one is pictured below:
The Healthy Business Traveler makes a habit of staying hydrated while traveling for work. I am drinking water right now as I write this!
The Healthy Business Traveler Works out whenever possible
One of the hardest things to do while you travel is finding the time (and energy) to work out.
For me, it’s difficult because I am likely in a different time zone and tired from being jet lagged or being “on” with a customer all day.
The last thing I want to do is work out. And it is certainly not the first thing I want to do when I wake up in a Hampton Inn in Rochester, NY in February. But you have to.
Experts note that a healthy balance between exercise and healthy eating produces the best results. In the case of working out while you travel for business, it’s about preparation, routine, and sheer willpower. These snowball into a habit.
Whatever your workout program/routine is (running, elliptical, weights, push-ups, cross fit, yoga, HIIT, etc)…incorporate it into your business travel routine. You simply must.
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The first few times will be harder, but once you get rolling, you will find it gets easier each time. Especially when it’s part of your routine (e.g., get to the hotel room, unpack suitcase, iron clothes for the next day, do 100 push-ups and 200 sit-ups, go to dinner, etc). It’s just routine. And routine becomes a habit.
Protip: The Healthy Business Traveler works out before dinner. This travel tip is something I’ve employed religiously and it’s done more than anything to keep my health in check when I travel for work. Setting a firm rule that when the day is done you are going to get a workout in before you go out to eat with the customer or your colleagues is a game changer.
Here’s why. The chances of you working out when you get back from dinner is next to nil. After a few glasses of wine and a steak, it’s not going to happen. Get it in before dinner! Plus you will find you will have less of an appetite and be more inclined to make smarter menu choices.
The Healthy Business Traveler knows that something is better than nothing
Sometimes all you can get in is a few calisthenics before you have to get to the meeting or meal. That’s ok.
Something is better than nothing.
Even if it’s just a few push-ups or 10 minutes on the elliptical instead of your normal 20, it’s something. And something is better than nothing! Sometimes it’s literally just skipping the people mover at the airport and walking instead, or parking my rental car a little farther away from the hotel door.
Sometimes all I can get in is a few stretches in the morning, a few push-ups in the evening, and maybe some yoga and that’s it. But I know I at least did something. I will strive harder the next day, but at least I did something.
I don’t beat myself up over it. The key is to make sure you get something!
Even if it’s just a few cycles on your cordless jump rope.
The Healthy Business Traveler Make small choices
I’ve found that extremist choices like swearing off alcohol completely or disavowing carbs are both hard to do and sometimes impractical.
Where I get better results is through small choices. For example, I may get the burger, but I hold the sauce and do fruit instead of fries. Or drink water instead of a soda.
Small choices also include things like taking the stairs instead of the escalator or walking alongside the moving walkways in airports instead of on them.
These small choices seem to be more reasonable than a drastic life change and I tend to feel surprisingly good when I do them. Nothing like a personal “win” and self-confidence boost when I park a little farther away from the hotel entrance.
I had a Sales Manager once who used to say “nickels make dollars.” In other words, small deals are just as valuable as the big ones. I apply this to the habit of making small choices for the win whenever I can!
And I avoid failing dramatically on the new crazy diet or getting too hard on myself if I grab a pecan pie for dessert.
- Note: I am not a health expert. Please consult w/ your doctor for specific health guidance – including dietary suggestions. This habit is based on my personal experiences
The Healthy Business Traveler limits their alcohol consumption
I was watching the TV Show Mad Men the other day (finally got around to watching it). I was astonished at the amount of alcohol everyone consumed in the workplace. Shocking really. That level of alcohol consumption is no longer prominent in the workplace (thank God!), but you still need to be careful.
I love a good glass of Whiskey as much as the next guy or a nice tall cold beer (like a Stone IPA!), but I also know that I need to be careful.
I always limit myself to two drinks a night (if I drink at all). No matter what. 2 drinks.
The healthy business traveler always limits their alcohol consumption!
The Healthy Business Traveler stays connected
It is hard to leave your family every Monday for the next trip. But it is our job. We do it to put food on the table and chances are we like our jobs. But it is still very hard. Moreover, the life of a road warrior can often be lonely.
In your hotel room at the end of the day, it’s just you. Rushing between connections – just you. Staying connected while you travel is key to fighting off business travel depression and keeping your mind in the right place.
For example, I try to text and video chat with my family every day. We do a Google Hangout in the morning before the kids get off to school and we text throughout the day.
My 7-year-old daughter also makes notes that I take with me on my trip and display them in my hotel room (see picture below). All of this is key to staying connected with your family (and friends for that matter) while you travel for work.
This also means being VERY connected when you are home. This can be hard to do – especially if you work a stressful job that stays connected through the weekends. Put down the work phone. Connect with your family or friends. Engage.
This last weekend I spent several hours making crafts with my 7-year-old. We made love notes to each other. I took hers and put them in my suitcase. She took mine and hung them in her room.
With my 10-year-old, we played Minecraft together and “hung out.” The wife and I are working on a puzzle. Little stuff – but important.
This habit of staying connected while you travel can also extend to the trip itself. If you are like me you tend to be introverted in your tips (except with customers of course).
I tend to not want to talk to the person sitting next to me for 5 hours on the flight or have a conversation with the hotel clerk checking me in. But I will tell you that lately, I’ve made an effort to connect more with those around me while I travel for work.
Just today I chatted up a guy standing in the Starbucks line at the conference I am attending. His daughter is studying geology and environmental science. Nice guy. Connections. You meet interesting people, learn more about the world you are traveling in and your overall mood tends to improve (or at least mine does!).
The 7th Habit of the Healthy Business Traveler is staying connected! Do it today!
Final Thoughts on how to stay healthy while traveling for business
When you are grinding on the road, it’s hard to stay healthy while traveling for business. If you have done this job for more than 2 trips you know exactly what I am talking about. While I am no doctor, I believe these 7 Habits of the Healthy Business Traveler will go a long way toward improving your health while you travel for work.
These healthy travel tips, when followed, can help make the road warrior life quite enjoyable. Or at least that’s been my experience.
We’d love to hear from you! What tips do you follow? What do you use to stay healthy while traveling for business? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment.
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