Developing a plan is the first and most critical step for staying healthy when you’re away from home. Knowing where your healthy eating options are and having a fitness plan will keep you from succumbing to your depleted will-power after a long day on the road. If you’re anything like me, I have lower self-control when I’m exhausted and away from home. Planning isn’t a time consuming process – I can usually develop my health trip plan in under an hour and I can promise you it’s the most important hour of my overall trip planning.
Healthy eating is the hardest part of traveling for me – it seems like all the convenient food options in airports, along highways and in hotels are heavily processed, loaded with crap or lack fruits and vegetables. This specific issue is what led me to start trip-planning and then launch Planes, Trains and Treadmills.
With a little pre-trip planning, there are plenty of options to eat healthy, high quality foods in most places – it just takes a little work. I usually write down a list of 3-4 healthy restaurant options at each step in my travel and destination before I ever leave my house that way I’m never without a healthy option.
Here are a few resources to help you create your list:
Search YELP.com – Yelp is a goldmine of information on restaurants. Start by searching for restaurants near the places you’ll spend most of your time (airports, hotels, office locations etc.) and pay particular attention to the pictures. Look for high quality foods with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetable options. The quality of the food will be pretty apparent in the pictures. Sometimes I’ll even look at menus to decide ahead of time what I’ll order when I go there. It may seem like over-planning, but I’m usually exhausted by the end of the day and my self-control is low so this helps me by-pass any urge to grab something unhealthy at the hotel. One word of warning – don’t assume all smoothie and juice shops are healthy. Too many of them are loaded with sugary juices and fruit purees that are worse for you than grabbing fish and chips at a local pub. Usually healthy smoothie shops will advertise that they use fresh fruit and vegetables on their website or Yelp page.
Check Planes, Trains and Treadmills – Yes, I’m shamelessly promoting my site here. I am building databases and guides that will keep you healthy on your travels. Check out the airport guides for healthy eating spots in most of the major airports in the United States.
Don’t forget grocery stores – Grocery stores are often over-looked, but one of the easiest places to get healthy snacks and great meals. I will usually stop by a grocery store (usually Whole Foods) on every trip to load up on snacks and sometimes even grabbing full meals. This is a great idea in areas where healthy restaurants are hard to find.
Ask your hotel – If you are staying in a hotel, call ahead and ask the concierge or front desk for healthy restaurant recommendations. In general, I find they are a wealth of knowledge and often over-looked. If you are staying at a higher-class hotel (like Starwood Properties), they may also have healthy options on their room service menus
I find that fitness centers me and because of that I work hard to stay consistent when I travel. I usually start by doing some simple research on where I am staying. I also have a TRX band and jump rope that I take on the road if I can’t find any other ideas.
Ask your hotel – If I am staying at a hotel, I’ll usually call and ask what fitness equipment they have in their gym and also if they have any deals with local gyms or fitness classes. In most cases, hotels usually have great deals with local fitness boutiques or gyms which usually aren’t advertised. All it takes is a simple call. Once I know what my options are, both in the hotel gym and local fitness boutiques, I can plan my fitness schedule. Don’t forget to call ahead to a fitness class to make sure they have space for you – classes usually fill up fast!
I also recommend asking the hotel about running and walking routes. Some hotels have print-outs that they will give you – some even have running groups that leave from the hotel (thank you SPG!).
Search Yelp and Google Maps– A quick search on Yelp or Google Maps will list all the local gyms and fitness studios near your location. I usually take that list and look at each gym website separately – I don’t think Google or Yelp do a great job at listing class prices, schedules and drop in policies.
Enjoy some In-room fitness – There are plenty of body-weight exercises that you can do in your hotel room with little to no equipment. I use a phone app called Workout Trainer by Skimble which has a free version and hundreds of workouts – some of which are all body weight. I also do a lot of pushups, crunches, lounges, wall-sites and squats which are all hotel-room friendly.
Make sure you are respectful to your neighbors – both next to you and below you. Because of this, I usually don’t recommend workouts that involve jumping or other loud movements.
There are a few items that I pack on every trip that helps me stay healthy.
Reusable Water bottle– Staying hydrated is extremely important and more difficult when you’re traveling. I always pack an empty water reusable water bottle when I fly and fill it up when I get past security in the airport. Remember – you can’t bring a full water bottle past security at the airport.
Healthy Snacks – I usually throw in a few healthy snacks in case of emergencies. You never know when you may get stuck in an airport or wake up hungry in a hotel room. Almonds, bananas, carrots, celery and apples are all great options.
Shoes, Shorts and workout shirts – Make sure to remember your gym shoes, shorts, shirts, socks and any anything else you typically bring to the gym. Except for the shoes, this stuff won’t take up much space in your bag.
Jump Rope and/or TRX – If my fitness options seem weak I’ll throw in a jump rope and my TRX bands. I have an attachment for the TRX bands that allow them to hook into any hotel room door and I find a patio or parking lot work well for a high intensity jump rope workout.