The Best Way To Stay On Track While Traveling
Have you ever said that you’ll get started on your health plan when you get back from your trip? Or that you have to really buckle down on your plan so you can get as well as possible before you travel?
There seems to be some mysterious rule about being away from home that dictates you do things that aren’t the best for you! Luckily, this rule hasn’t been enforced in my life, so I’ll share with you some ideas on how I stay on track while traveling.
The best way to feel good throughout your trip is to plan ahead. You have to prepare! For a week before I travel, I’m planning what I’m packing and how I’ll workout.
The 4 foundations of health that we can focus on to live our best life are nutrition, sleep, movement, and relaxation. Usually, there’s some built-in relaxation on trips because you’re not around all the chores and to-do’s of your own home. But the other 3 we need to be intentional about planning.
Packing for Sleep
What is the environment of the place you’ll be sleeping? Could it be loud, or lack good curtains blocking out the light, or be too cold or hot? To address aspects of your environment that could prevent you from getting the sleep you need to recover from the day, consider the following items:
- Sleep mask to go over your eyes and block light
- Blue-blocking glasses if you struggle with falling asleep. These are orange-tinted lenses that block out the harsh light that prevents melatonin from being released.
- Ear plugs, a sound machine, or an app. If I’m camping or somewhere with unreliable electric outlets, I bring plugs. Otherwise, I’m using the Sleep section of the Calm app for the first 30 minutes or a white noise app to play all night if the place I’m staying is a generally noisy area.
- My pillow! It’s so worth the extra inconvenience of lugging around a pillow to know I’ll be comfortable.
- Layers for pajamas. I’ll pack very light clothing, plus sweatpants and a pull-over so I’ll be comfortable no matter the temperature.
- Melatonin is helpful if you’ll be changing time zones to prevent jet-lag. I will take 3mg 1-2 hours before getting in bed.
Packing for Nutrition
I feel my best when I’m fueling my body with foods that taste good, keep my blood sugar stable, use natural ingredients, and are anti-inflammatory. For me, that’s avoiding about 5-6 different foods and sticking with mostly fats, proteins, fruits, and vegetables. I want to feel my best while traveling. So by packing foods to take with me, I’m ensuring I’ll have a great time and still feel great when I return. It’s a win-win!
Some people feel weird about packing food, or feel restricted or deprived. First, you can be confident in eating what you bring rather than what others are eating because no one should argue against you doing what allows your body to function well! And if they do, then they have an issue of they’re own that they’re not confronting. You should not internalize that and take it on as your own problem.
Second, if you pack foods that taste good and when it’s available, eat foods offered during the trip that you love and are healthy for you, you’re only depriving yourself of feeling crappy or having inflammation. I think you’re on board with that!
Here are some things you can pack to stay happy, full, and healthy:
- Breakfast: snack size baggie with 1 scoop protein powder and either oatmeal, grain-free “oatmeal” or granola, or chia seeds. Add some toppings, like coconut shreds/chips or cacao nibs. Each morning, mix the ingredients into a bowl with water or dairy-free milk and top with some local fruit.
- Lunch: if you need to throw something together because everyone in the van is eating at a fast food restaurant or the conference only served you chicken salad croissants, here are some options. Start with a protein such as a meat stick or bar, or a tin or pouch of mackerel, salmon, or tuna. Add a fat such as a pack of nut butter, 1/4 cup nuts, or a small avocado. Finish with a healthy carb such as a piece of fruit or some baby carrots and grape tomatoes.
- Snack: I like to keep a wholesome protein bar on hand since they are chewy, sweet, and salty. It is my satisfying treat that keeps me from having cravings.
- Dinner: try to get plenty of vegetables. It’s usually not too difficult to get a solid meal wherever you are. The Find Me Gluten Free app is great to locate restaurants that offer a gluten-free menu. Sometimes I’ll stop at grocery/health food stores and use their salad bar or deli section to create a meal.
- Dessert: I always travel with dark chocolate! When everyone is breaking out the ice cream or cookies, I can have something that is a treat but is not going to detract from my health.
I will say, I do not always follow this every day. If I’m in a season where I haven’t felt my best and I’m trying to get back to my peak, then I absolutely do follow this. If I’m feeling good and my body can handle a little challenge, then I’ll have some processed food, or dairy, or sugar. It’s all about listening to your body, and caring for it so you can have the health you desire at that time.
Packing for Movement
One of the best ways to help your body handle the challenge of indulgent food while traveling is to move your body! I aim to exercise every day when I’m on a trip except for the busiest day. I’ll look around on Youtube or take screenshots of a workout routine I want to do. Sometimes I’ll look up the location and plan a run, or book a place that has a small gym.
There’s almost always either downtime in the morning before the day gets started, or in the afternoon before dinner. Alternatively, I also like to go places where I can hike. If you keep the intensity high, 15min can be all you need! Ideas to keep you moving:
- Exercise bands: allows you to do strength training as if you’re lifting weights. I don’t pack these because I love bodyweight workouts, but if you don’t then these are a good alternative!
- Something to play exercise videos from Youtube: I’m used to using my phone, but if it’s too hard for you to see then pack a tablet or laptop.
- Clothing: if you can’t fit tennis shoes, no problem! Just stick with workouts in your room or living room. Though I have used an elliptical at a hotel gym wearing just socks before and no one has kicked me out.
- If you don’t want to get sweaty, then plan ahead by choosing a printout of yoga moves you can do or yoga videos online. Vinyasa flows can still challenge your muscles without having to get your heart rate up too much.
With this information, you can be in control of how you feel and how well you care for your body no matter where you are. Now that’s what I call freedom! As they say, good health is true wealth. The investments you make in your health each day will continue to pay you dividends as you thrive into old age.
What are your favorite things to pack when you travel?