I travel a fair amount around the world, nothing too crazy but I’d say I average around 100k miles a year which is more than the average person. I’m also a bit of a health and fitness nut so when I travel to conferences or events I always try to stay healthy. Here are some tips which I hope you find useful and valuable:
- Don’t eat the conference/event food– Oftentimes event lunches or breakfasts consist of scrambled eggs which are typically made with oil and/or butter, fried bacon, and who knows what else. Lunches are usually comprised of sandwiches covered in mayo and salads dripping with dressing. The best thing you can do for yourself is to go to the restaurant and order yourself something healthy such as a chicken breast with asparagus. Even if you have to pay for it out-of-pocket it’s still worth it. Your body deserves better!
- Ask for the healthy alternatives– Every time I eat at a restaurant for an event I make sure to give the waiter explicit instructions to put the dressing on the side, to steam the veggies instead of fry them, and I always ask for a healthy option. For example instead of mashed potatoes I might do a baked potato. Instead of getting the fish cooked in oil, I ask them to use no oil. When ordering breakfast I order egg whites and make sure to mention that they not cook the eggs in oil or butter.
- Find the gym and use it– Typically the first thing I do every morning is go to the gym. I don’t schedule any calls or meetings in the mornings and unless there is an absolutely amazing speaker I ditch the first hour or so to go workout. If you don’t do it in the morning chances are that you won’t do it at all. The gym is your friend. Attending sessions can be great but your personal health should always be #1.
- Get a fitness tracker– I have a Fitbit that I travel with everywhere I go. I always make sure to set a certain goal for myself and I make sure to hit it. A goal might be 10-15 thousand steps for the day which amounts to 5-7 miles.
- Bring protein bars– I always travel with my stash of protein bars. I personally use Quest bars because they are low in sugar, low in fat, high in protein and high in fiber. Most people just eat any kind of protein bar assuming it’s good for them without reading the labels. Avoid the overly sugary and fatty bars, you might as well just eat a doughnut. These bars come in handy quite a bit when you’re hungry and need something quick in between meals.
- Bring vitamins– I bring a multi-vitamin and fish-oil tablets which I take every single day. I portion them out before my trip and bring them along in little zip-lock bags. These help make sure you are getting the daily vitamins and nutrients your body needs.
- Skip dessert– Oftentimes dinners are either paid for or catered at conferences which means the dessert just gets placed in front of you. Have them take it away. I’m writing this from the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point and when I checked in I had a plate of various chocolates waiting for me. I took a tiny bite and then got rid of them. I don’t want them near me or in my room. Out of sight out of mind!
- Walk when you can– Whether you are the airport or in the hotel, try to avoid escalators and elevators. You have legs, use them and don’t be lazy. Walk when and where you can. You will be happy you did!
- Drink lots of water– I know that open bar can be tempting. I mean who doesn’t like free drinks right? Well, stop it! If you want a drink go grab a water or a Pelegrino with some lemon. Just because there’s an open bar doesn’t mean you need to take advantage of it. Sure, a glass or red wine every other night might be ok but don’t go crazy on the drinks. Drinking excessive amounts will make you want to eat more and will also make sure you that you don’t wake up fresh the next morning ready to hit the gym. Not to mention lots of drinking is just plain bad for you.
- Avoid snacking unless it’s a healthy snack– For some reason every conference and event I attend thinks it’s a good idea to have brownies and cookies as a good snack. They stack mounds of these pastries and provide coffee to go with them. These are death snacks and should be avoided at all costs. If you want a snack have a protein bar, eat some almonds, grab some low-fat yogurt with honey, or just go eat a normal meal. But whatever you do, stay away from the snacks!
Do you have any other tips to add to this list? Traveling can make being healthy quite a challenge but it doesn’t have to be. Hopefully these ten tips will inspire you and encourage you to eat healthier during business travel (and just in general).