Traveling can be challenging enough if you’re going to an unfamiliar place, staying in a hotel, and, of course, living out of a suitcase with a fraction of your usual belongings. On top of all of this, it can be stressful trying to keep up a regular exercise routine and eat healthy when you’re out of your element.
But whether for business or for pleasure, traveling doesn’t have to mean putting a total halt on your health and fitness goals if you follow the six tips below.
A small amount of pre-planning can ensure that your free time is utilized efficiently at a time when your schedule and surroundings may be unpredictable. Pack appropriate clothing and shoes for the number of times you plan to exercise. Outline your anticipated workouts in advance, writing them down in a notebook or setting an alarm on your phone if you need to. Look up nearby restaurants with healthier options and check out their menus ahead of time to prevent any hunger-driven decisions that you may regret later.
Choose sensible meal options.
On flights and in restaurants, ask your servers if lighter fare is available, like oil-free, plant-based, or low-fat versions of an entree you’re interested in. If not, ask for half of the meal to be boxed up to eat later. If your hotel or conference offers a continental breakfast, look for healthier options like oatmeal, whole wheat toast, yogurt and mixed fruit. Also, consider packing healthy snacks that you can keep in your bag should meetings or events run long.
Use an exercise or nutrition tracking app.
Use a GPS tracking app to help you to map out runs, walks or bike rides on nearby trails and streets ahead of time. This can be especially helpful if you’re aiming to cover a certain number of miles while out of town and need to plan your exercise around other commitments. If you have a step-counter app, make a habit of turning it on in the morning when you get up. You may be surprised by how many steps you take throughout the day, even if you don’t have time for a formal workout, just by walking more frequently and taking the stairs. A good number to aim for is 7,500 to 10,000 steps each day.
Turn your hotel room into a makeshift gym.
If you don’t feel like sharing a sweaty hotel gym with other guests, you can opt to create your own workout space in the comfort of your own room. In-room exercises can even be done during the morning news or while binge-watching late night TV shows before you go to bed.
Use the hotel’s free WIFI to connect to YouTube and search for some convenient travel exercise channels. Or make your own workout by laying a couple of hotel towels on the floor for push-ups, abdominal work, lunges, or yoga and stretching. A resistance band or jump rope can easily be packed in a suitcase to give you even more options. If you want to add a little extra resistance, fill some hotel water bottles and use them as free weights to work the biceps, triceps and shoulder muscles even more. Some cardio exercises can be done in a small space, like jumping jacks or burpees (just try to be light on your feet for your neighbors below if it’s late at night!).
Capitalize on opportunities to add to your step count.
One of the easiest ways to move more while traveling is to take the stairs instead of the elevator to and from the lobby and your room. If the hotel isn’t crowded, you might even be able to run up and down the halls! If you’re feeling ambitious, request a room on a higher floor in advance of check-in. Scout out the parks, restaurants or shopping areas nearby and walk to meals or free-time activities instead of taking a car.
When the unexpected occurs, lean on the 80/20 rule.
As with anything in life, sometimes even the most well-planned trips can end up changing without notice. Do the best you can at least 80% of the time, and allow yourself 20% wiggle room, for both exercise and healthy eating. If you miss a planned workout because of other commitments or splurge on a decadent dessert, don’t let it ruin your day! There’s always tomorrow, and you’ll be back in your regular routine before you know it.
Consider trying some of these tips for keeping your health and fitness a priority the next time you’re planning to travel. You may be surprised at how much difference a little planning can make even outside the comforts of your own home.
As a registered dietician and writer for Walgreens, Ana Reisdorf enjoys helping travelers maintain their workout habits while away from home. Prepare for your next business trip or vacation at Walgreens, where you can find vitamins and supplements to help you feel your best when you travel.