Do your health vision and goals stay in the rear-view mirror when you leave home in search of some rest and relaxation?
It’s easy to step away from our healthy habits when traveling. Our routines get disrupted, leading us to feel out of control. And once we’ve had a little too much __(insert tempting food and beverage here) __ or stopped exercising, it may be tempting to let other habits slip, too. We lose our vision.
But a little planning ahead can go a long way to keeping yourself focused on your health vision.
Pack up healthy habits for traveling
Prepare for adventure with comfortable shoes and clothing so you can plan to exercise. If packing space is a concern, wear sneakers on the airplane to reduce bulk in your suitcase. Roll up workout clothes and put in the corner of the suitcase. Add in a jump rope and elastic resistance bands for an in-room cardio and strength training workout.
Think about your food, too. If traveling by airplane, pack healthy snacks and meal-replacement shakes or bars in your carry-on bag. If possible, eat at home before leaving, so you don’t have to buy fast food at the airport. Healthy options are more readily available at airports now, but sometimes they take determination to find.
Some ideas for snacks you can take along with you: grapes, sliced in half and frozen ahead of time; carrot or celery sticks, homemade trail mix, almonds, and other nuts that you’ve already partitioned out into single-serve snack bags. And carry an empty, reusable water bottle that you can fill up once you’re through security.
These same snack and food ideas also work if you’re traveling by car, since you can pack them in a cooler. If I’m driving just a few hours and know I have a refrigerator at my hotel, I might boil a dozen eggs at home and take them for a healthy, on-the-go breakfast. And this works especially well if I’m attending a conference where schedules are tight.
Once at your destination
Stop by a grocery store (or a drug store with convenience foods). Small containers of non-dairy milks, bottled water if the tap water is a concern, Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, nuts, and other items will allow you to skip the pastry-rich continental breakfasts offered at hotels. And to snack without relying on vending machines and other less healthy options.
Exercise in your room, using an extra bath towel as a mat to do sit-ups, push-ups, planks or a brief yoga routine (you can find some on YouTube, including one of my favorites.) But if your hotel has a fitness center, it’s easiest to use that. Also, planning to exercise in the morning will give you the best chance of actually following through. If you can get up a half-hour earlier, think of how great you’ll feel by starting your day in a way that supports you.
Create accountability with your traveling companions, whether co-workers or family. Meet in the lobby at a set time for a walk around the city or some other physical activity. Walking is a great way to get moving and see your new environment. And many cities have companies that now promote active adventures – sightseeing tours that go from landmark to landmark by running, such as the Freedom Trail Run in Boston, or by bicycling. Before a conference one year in Utah, we had a great heart- and leg-pumping evening with Salt Lake Bicycle Tours
Traveling is a great opportunity to mix up your routine without totally giving up on it. Try to maintain a routine that benefits your health, to the best of your ability. But also lighten the pressure on yourself. Whatever you can do to focus on healthy habits is another step in the right direction.
Don’t leave it to chance. Plan ahead, just as you plan where you’ll stay and how you’ll get there. And when you come home, you’ll be healthier and happier, or at least not as far away from your health goals as you might have been otherwise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an entire section of its website devoted to travel precautions and Travelers’ Health, including during the ongoing pandemic. What are some of your healthy habits and routine when you travel? Share with me on social media or via my website.
Amy Hoogervorst is a national board-certified health and wellness coach, offering grace and space for a healthier you. She works with individuals and in groups, helping you align your actions to what you want most and create healthier habits that stick.
This article originally appeared as part of the “31 Steps to a Healthier You” series in 2017 and was updated in July 2022. You can read all posts in that series here. If you’d like to stay in touch, subscribe to get Amy’s free Well Check e-letter delivered to your inbox.