If you’re a regular road warrior, you’re probably well aware of the impact frequent travel has on your body. Weekends spent post-business travel can easily be spent the same way you’d spend a day recovering after a late night bash – nursing a giant bottle of water and “sleeping it off.” Not only are you likely running on less sleep, but chances are you’re eating less healthy, experiencing more stress, and coming into contact with several people, their stuff…and their germs. So with so many things putting your health at risk while you’re globetrotting, how can you “travel healthier” and keep your body and mind in balance? We’ve got five tips that can help:
1. Try to maintain some consistency with your “at home” healthy habits. Take advantage of the gym that most hotels have – even if you can’t cover your whole routine, even 15-20 minutes of exercise will get your heart rate up and pumping. You can also ask your gym at home about free use of their other national locations or if they have a network of partner gyms you can take advantage of with your membership. Carry healthier food options with you for snacks and on-the-go meals, such as nuts, dried fruit, bars, etc. If you can, take a quick trip to the grocery store (I recommend the Fooducate app) and stock your hotel refrigerator instead of going out for every meal, and when you do go out, use a location-based app (like AroundMe, Zagat, or healthy-dining apps) to locate healthier dining options near you. Don’t forget to pack an empty water bottle with you, stay hydrated, and avoid anything too salty/sugary!
2. Keep travel-sized disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer with you. There’s no need to stress about everything you come into contact with, but having these items on hand can be useful, for example, when you’re sitting next to the Big Sneezer in aisle 4 or before the consumption of your in-flight snack.
3. Find a way to unwind and relax when you fly. Bring noise cancelling headphones and a good audio book, soothing music, or recorded meditation. Don’t be afraid to take a 30-minute nap, either. If you’re tempted to unwind with a glass of wine or two, just remember – it’s generally best to avoid alcohol in-flight – and choose water instead. In between chapters, songs, or after your nap, be sure to take the opportunity to “move about the cabin”, even if you’re just twirling your ankles in your seat, to keep the blood flowing in your legs.
4. Start a couple of habits, pre-trip or during your travels, that will bring down your stress level or give you something to look forward to when you’re rushing around. This could include electronically organizing your itinerary and map out meeting locations ahead of time on your phone, keeping a separate back-up copy of your presentation, scheduling a 10-minute shoulder message at the airport, downloading a new book, or treating yourself to a good movie on your laptop each trip. A couple consistent, positive changes in traveling behavior might make a whole world of difference in your business travel experience and how it affects your stress level.
5. Bring a comfort from home. This can be a traveling tea set, fuzzy socks, an (empty) warm water bottle, or anything else that makes you feel a little closer to the comfort of your own home. Not enough to fill that void of not being with the one you love? Make your tea or roll on your cozy socks and jump on Skype for a video chat before you hit the hay.
Business travel makes it difficult to maintain healthy habits, but just a few simple changes to how you travel can really make a difference in how you feel before, during, and after your trip.
*Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.