Frequent Traveler Shares Her Favorite Rituals for Healthier Travel
Written by: Julie Anne Cormier
My top 5 tips for staying healthy on the go… Let’s talk travel. Last year I made 40 trips, and at times it can be nearly impossible to stay well and maintain healthy habits on the road. So, I’m sharing some of my favorite travel rituals that help me maintain my sanity and wellness.
What you’re up against:
1.Sleeping in different beds – your brain actually doesn’t let you sleep as deeply in unfamiliar settings – survival instinct.
How to help:
No TV in hotel rooms, ever. TV keeps me awake, and I’m the type of person that never wants to go to sleep for fear of missing out on something. The last thing I need is to get sucked into another episode of Shark Tank when I could be thinking through and planning my day. Usually before going to bed, and first thing in the morning, I mentally run through my major plans for the day, ordering them like a deck of cards, briefly reviewing each item. This takes a minute or so, and leaves me feeling prepared and calm.
2.Getting sick: the recirculated air on airplanes, in hotels, and conferences is loaded with baddies. Lack of healthy food options in airports or along interstates is real, lack of food in general if you’re running between meetings with no time to stop and eat, and not getting enough rest at night, all lower your resistance to bugs.
How to help:
Double up on vitamins, especially vitamin C, before and after trade shows, conferences, or anytime I’m going to be shaking hands with a LOT of people. Wash hands as a ritual when I enter my hotel room or home. And if I feel any sort of cold coming on, I try to get vitamins naturally through fresh fruit and vegetable juices.
3.Inconsistent routines: lack of exercise, or sitting for long periods of time during travel makes it hard to feel healthy, and if you don’t counteract all that sitting, then back mobility issues, lower back pain, and muscle spasms are probably waiting down the road.
How to help:
Dynamic stretching, morning and night – first thing in the morning and when I get home in the evening I do big swinging motions with my arms and legs in sets of 10, so for example, ten big sweeping arm circles forward, then 10 backward, ten big high front kicks on the right leg, then 10 on the left, same with back kicks. If I’m feeling frisky, I’ll add in a few back bends or bridges to get some spine mobility. This might be a warm up for my workout, yoga, or run, or just a quick reset all on its own. It only takes 2-3 minutes and very little effort, but it gets my blood circulating faster and helps me focus on a healthy mindset (see number 5!). Even if I do nothing but those 2 minutes of dynamic range of motion movements, I find that I’m more focused on good posture, and I feel better.
4.Tummy trouble: poor digestion, upset stomach, and metabolism inconsistency are often by-products of the road life. Eating at altitude can leave you feeling bloated, and more likely to skip on a proper meal. On the flip side, lots of big, heavy dinners when you’re entertaining business associates take their own toll. Skipping breakfast combined with a huge dinner is probably the worst combination, leading to a confused metabolism.
How to help:
Fasting an evening meal or eating light the day before a flight. When flights are every other day this gets tough, but even just keeping dinner light the night before an early morning flight helps me sleep better, and avoid stomach discomfort at altitude.
5.Always being “on the go” away from family and loved ones, and the ever-present need to “catch up” on everything makes it hard to carve out time in the mornings or evenings for a fitness routine (when you might have downtime in a hotel room). It’s so easy to get diverted to overflow emails, returning calls, working on things you’ve had to put off due to being away from your “desk” (read: ‘laptop’).
How to help:
Cultivate a healthy mindset – A healthy mindset is what encourages me to maybe go for a run, or choose not to skip breakfast in favor of emails, or to do a little yoga series or calisthenics first thing in my hotel room. A mindset isn’t a constant, it’s not a “thing” that I either have or don’t have. My mindset adapts, always learning and changing as my habits change, and it’s something that I develop and nurture by doing little things that culminate in a little healthier day. The key here is “little” things that give more energy than they take; some of mine are verbal affirmations, such as saying (out loud) in the morning “I’m happy to be awake,” small, but specific things like dressing well, keeping haircuts on point, and using healthy toiletries, made from natural ingredients, or by companies that I admire for their environmental commitments. And some sort of daily care for my body, such as exercise, or stretching, or even a few deep breaths of fresh air… these are things that used to be a frequent part of normal life, but so easily slip away when I’m on the go (what’s “fresh” air when you’re on the airplane-taxi-conference room cycle??). Consciously bringing them into my day to day gives me the slight edge in my mindset that accumulates, and drives me toward more healthy and positive actions.
Business Travel Life
Business Travel Life is an online resource supporting the road warrior lifestyle. We give business travelers the tools they need to maintain their wellness and productivity when traveling. The topics we cover include business travel tips, travel workouts, healthy travel hacks, travel products, general travel tips, and industry trends. Our goal is to make business travel a healthier experience – and to make healthy travel practices more accessible to all road warriors.