Eat healthy when travelling

There's always something that you can do to stay healthy at every leg of your trip

woman drinking water during travelDespite all good intentions, no matter what shape you’re in or whatever your exercise regime, travel is the great enemy. The minute you leave home, your routine takes an immediate vacation.

Since I can’t control the weather. I can’t control the political situation, and I can’t control who’s driving on the freeways. But I can control what I eat and how much I put in my mouth.

Expect the unexpected: Research where you’re going, including layover cities, so that you can make an unexpected delay useful. Explore the city or visit a museum. If you’re stuck at the airport, take a walk.

Don’t leave hungry: You know what it’s like to go to the grocery store hungry. That’s always a no-no. Make sure to eat a filling breakfast if you are flying in the daytime or a healthy dinner if you are flying overnight. The hardest part about being a business traveler is not having time. If you are running from the office to the plane, grab something healthy at the airport before you get on the plane.

Brown-bag it: Whether you are traveling by train, plane or automobile, the best way to control what you are eating on the road is to take it with you. So do what I do. Bring your own. In the past, I didn’t plan ahead and I ended up spending—or overspending—nearly USD 40 or USD 50 per trip buying stuff at the airport that I not only didn’t, need but also really didn’t want.

Healthy portable items: Once again, expect delays. Buy or bring meal-replacement bars, granola bars, nuts, dried or fresh fruit, carrots and celery, single-serve boxes of cereal, popcorn, yoghurt, and peanut butter sandwiches.

At the airport

Let’s be honest. You’re not going to burn too many calories sitting on that plane for hours, but one way to reduce stress and make sure you build exercise into your day is to arrive at the airport early and get in some extra laps.

The benefits of getting to the airport early are many. You can pass through security without being stressed. Or, considering most airport security, stressed less.

Giving yourself an extra hour to walk will go a long way toward meeting your exercise goal for the day. And let’s face it: As a result of draconian security procedures and people-unfriendly airport design, you’re going to walk whether you want to or not.

On the plane

Drink one cup of water per hour; choose soda [diet] no more than twice a day, preferably with food; get up and walk the aisle or stretch your legs every 90 minutes.

At the hotel

Simple adjustments make the difference. Let’s look at the way most people travel. They arrive at the hotel—after being abused by airports and airlines—and it’s late. They’re tired; they walk into their room, take off their shoes, turn on the TV, stare at the minibar, order a burger and fries from room service, log on to the Internet immediately, and then sleep poorly.

Translation: Arriving at your hotel is the beginning of the end of your diet.

So, to stay fit on the road, it’s important to enlist the hotel on your side.

I call ahead and have a salad, fruit and yogurt, an omelet, or hard-boiled eggs waiting for me upon arrival at my hotel.

I also get an apple or orange to keep in my room for the morning.

There is an alternative: On your way to the hotel, have the cab pull over at a nearby supermarket. Go in and buy bottled water and lots of fruit. When you arrive at the hotel, ask them to empty the minibar.

Perhaps most important, we all need to recognise that we really don’t change our lifestyles when we change our location. We need to disrupt those patterns.

At your destination

You won’t get an argument from me about walking. I’d choose walking through a city over walking on a treadmill any day. But I still don’t do it enough.

I take a walk when I get to my destination if time allows, especially if I reach by daylight.

Over the course of 12 months, I went back to the days when I was growing up in Manhattan and I resumed walking city streets. I figured each city blog was 1/20 of a mile. My trainer measured my stride length at 2.3ft. And I calculated my distances accordingly. Before long, I was walking a mile and a half every day—minimum. Now that may not seem like a lot, but it made a difference.

Before you leave: Preparation starts at home, before you travel

  • woman during exercise before travelKeep your exercise routine such that it’s easier to maintain on the road
  • Pack early. It will help you avoid a lot of last-minute stress
  • Don’t eat spicy foods just before bedtime on the night before you travel
  • Drink lots of water, because you are going to get dehydrated on the plane
  • Get a good night’s sleep. It will prepare you for the rigours of travel

Excerpted with permission from The Traveler’s Diet: Eating Right and Staying Fit on the Road [Villard, 2006] by Peter Greenberg. USD 14.95

This was first published in the April 2011 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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