I was once at the gym when I overheard a conversation between a fellow gym-goer and his personal trainer, which went something like this:
Trainer: “How was your business trip?”
Businessman: “It was great but I really feel like my whole diet fell off the wagon! You know, we went out for steak dinners every single night…”
Trainer: “Well, there are actually a lot of things you can do to make your meal a bit healthier when you’re eating out!”
Businessman: “I’m sure there are, but when you’re at a steak house it’s hard to say resist the temptation. And then we were having bacon-and-egg breakfasts every morning too, which didn’t help.”
Trainer: “Well, you could always pack some healthy snacks!”
Businessman: “I’m sure I could have but when it’s all on the company’s dime, it’s a nice treat for me…”
This type of back-and-forth banter went on for a good 5 - 10 minutes, and I’m sure you notice a theme here: trainer makes a suggestion, businessman makes an excuse. Trainer offers a solution, businessman finds another problem.
Nonetheless, I certainly can sympathize with frequent travellers since it really does throw you out of your normal everyday routine! However, “travel” certainly doesn't have to mean “goodbye-diet-hello-every-fried-food-ever-invented.” If you put your mind to it, there are a number of strategies you can implement to ensure that you don’t come back with 10 extra lbs. to claim—and not from your luggage.
Tips for Healthy Traveling
Eat before you go to the airport.
Make yourself a well-balanced meal before heading to the airport that’s filled with fibre, protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. A great option would be a homemade wrap using 100% whole grains, chicken slices, avocado, and shredded vegetables like carrots and cabbage.
2. Pick healthy snacks once you get there.
Pick up some portable, healthy snacks at the airport while you’re waiting for your flight. Some airports offer better selections than others, but you should be able to find some raw fruit, nuts and seeds, and even hardboiled eggs. Hummus and plain yogurt are also great options if you can find them! From there, you can make a lovely snack of plain yogurt + banana slices + raw nuts and seeds for your own little parfait. (You can grab an individual packet of honey from Starbucks if need be, too!)
3. Pack some health-helpers.
Pack non-perishable items in your suitcase so you’re well prepared. Some great options are:
Nuts and seeds
Healthy crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers are a personal fave!)
Nut butters (you can buy single-serve packets by Justin’s Nut Butter)
Beef or turkey jerky
Healthy popcorn (Buddha Bowl Popcorn is the BEST!)
Mason jar soups are another great option! Companies will put all the ingredients into a mason jar and all you have to do is hot water. Soup Girl has a ton of great options!
Green powders that contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals (such as those by Amazing Grass, which are organic, non-GMO, vegan, and gluten-free, while also containing digestive enzymes and probiotics!)
Buy a toiletries bag and have it stocked and ready to go with these snacks before you travel.
4. Drink lots of water on the plane.
The lack of humidity in the cabin air can lead to dehydration. Drink water rather than any alcoholic beverages, coffee, tea, or pop. Not only will this improve your hydration levels, but alcohol’s sugar content isn’t helping your weight loss goals.
5. Pack your workout clothes—and use them.
A lot of hotels come with their own gyms that guests can use for free. Even if you just squeeze in a 30-minute workout, you’ll feel a lot better physically and mentally. Depending on your schedule, try working out at the beginning of the day or make it a habit to get right into your workout clothes when you return to your hotel room instead of lying on that comfy, freshly-made bed. Let’s face it: you’ve likely been sitting all day long so taking half an hour to get that blood moving is necessary.
No gym? No problem! There are a lot of body-weight workouts that can be done in small spaces—even your hotel room!
6. Ask for a fridge in your hotel room.
A lot of hotel rooms have mini-fridges in them, but you can always request one from the front desk if yours doesn’t. From there, do a little grocery run if possible to buy some fresh fruit, vegetables, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese strings, hummus, guacamole, hard boiled eggs, and other healthy items to eat as snacks. If your room comes with a kettle, you can also buy plain, instant oatmeal or quick-cooking oats to eat for breakfast with banana slices! For many of these items, you might not even need a full-on grocery store; a Shoppers Drug Mart or convenience store may suffice.
7. Skip the alcohol.
It can be very tempting to kick back a cold one (or five) at the end of a long day, but alcohol often contains sugar and calories that you don’t need, especially at the end of the day when you’re going to bed and not using said calories. Stick to water whenever you can.
8. Order wisely at restaurants.
Just because someone else is paying the bill doesn’t mean you need to order a 32 oz. steak with three orders of fries, a Caesar salad, and dessert. Avoid the bread basket, split a dish with someone if possible (though I know this isn’t always an option), ask for no carbs on the side, and replace them with steamed vegetables instead. Avoid getting any alcohol, appetizers, or desserts and customize your order so it’s mostly protein and vegetables; keep the carbs out of it. (Check out my other blog post for more tips on how to stay healthy when eating out)
9. Look up some healthy spots ahead of time.
If you have some spare time at the airport, use Yelp to look up grocery stores and healthy restaurants near your hotel. Take it a step further and have a peek at their online menu so you know exactly what healthy options are available to you when you arrive. If you make a pact with yourself before dinner to order the salmon instead of the four-cheese pasta, it’ll be easier to stick to your goals.
10. Find a buddy.
Are there any other health-conscious co-workers joining you on the trip? If so, make a pact to do workouts together, find healthy restaurants, go for walks on breaks, etc. This helps keep the two of you more accountable and won’t make you feel like a loner when you’re the only one not eating any nachos.
11. If you can't find a health buddy, eat alone when you can.
If the option is available to you, skip the dinner and drinks with co-workers every night and hit up the gym or a healthy restaurant alone instead. It’s easier to eat healthy when you pick the restaurant and aren’t surrounded by people eating double bacon cheeseburgers. Plus, eating alone gives you some much-needed quiet time to process the day and rejuvenate before you have to be surrounded by people 24/7 the next day.
Eating alone not an option? Why not suggest that healthy restaurant you found to everyone? If your body is feeling like crap, chances are your coworkers’ are too, so you could be doing everyone a favour.
The Bottom Line
There’s an expression that basically says, “Change what’s in your control and forget the rest.” Travelling can be difficult because you do lose a lot of that control you have at home, but there are truly so many things you do have control over. YOU can decide if you’re going to wake up early to work out. YOU can decide if you want to pack some healthy snacks or request healthier restaurant options. YOU can decide if you want to skip the alcohol and carbs with dinner. You aren’t helpless just because you’re travelling. Expect more from yourself, commit yourself to making healthier choices, and get moving when you can.
You Tell Me!
What are your tips for staying healthy while traveling? Let me know in the comments below!