The intersection of travel and wellness

Hotel Gym Reviews

5 Tricks for Sticking to a Healthy Routine During Business Travel

I imbibe a few glasses of wine before dinner, because the cocktail hour's running especially long and I need to not look awkward.

Famished by the time we sit down, I dive nearly head first into the bread basket. Two rolls down and thinking about another,  I notice the guy next to me accidentally touch the remaining rolls. I'll stop at two.

A few appetizer courses follow; two main courses come next. We must sample both the surf and turf offerings, after all.

Uncomfortably full, I decide to pass on dessert. Yet it's a flaming creation made tableside, and I don't want to offend this talented pastry chef.

Several hours after the evening began, I finally head up to my room, pop some Tums and try to not think about food for, like, ever, or at least until the morning.

Sound familiar? This scenario is a pretty typical for FAMs or business trips in the travel industry.

For all the ways travel looks glamorous, at least to your outer circle (who might only know you through your Instagram account), it has pain points. It's relatively easy for many people to keep a healthy diet and exercise routine while at home. But it takes more effort and careful planning to stick with it on the road. 

Despite the hype each new year given to resolutions and diets, a new study says business travelers aren't necessarily adhering to their health and wellness regimens on business trips. While 54 percent of travelers acknowledge their wellness routine is usually disrupted by travel, only 40 percent say they try to stick to that routines when traveling, according to Carlson Wagonlit Travel. If you were traveling with a group of 50 of your closest friends, by that measure, only seven of them would prioritize health and fitness on the trip (and the other 43 might give them a hard time for it). 

Getting adequate sleep factors into wellness, too. Only 36 percent of business travelers from the Americas said they prioritized rest, according to the study. A slightly bigger group, 41 percent, say they are likely to exercise while traveling. 

Whew. Just getting through those numbers was a bit of a workout, wasn't it? I think we all need to remember that working in the travel industry is a marathon, not a sprint. Relationships take time to build; deals take time to come together; projects take many revisions and meetings to get right. To keep up—heck, not just keep up, but be on top of your game—with the hectic travel schedules and endless meetings that go along with all those things, you need to build endurance. And that starts with keeping your body in shape, finding a routine that works for you and sticking to it, no matter your geography.

Here are a few of my tips for staying healthy on the road. I'd love to know yours! Please share your ideas in the comments.

1. Keep breakfast simple.

If you're traveling to a new region of the country or world, eating the cuisine is one of the best ways to experience the culture. However, you don't have to do it at every meal. I always pack  homemade protein oatmeal packets for every morning I'm in my destination, then add hot water and top with fresh fruit. It helps remind me that food is fuel, and the protein keeps me focused and full until lunch.

2. Pack snacks.

This tip appears in nearly every list of healthy travel tips out there, yet I still see lines for overpriced candy, chips and sodas at airports. Even if you think you're not going to need a snack, pack one anyway. My favorites are RXBARs for their portability and ease of eating straight from the package (germaphobe over here). I also like to pack a small can of almonds, like these from Blue Diamond, to eat in the afternoon—and therefore save myself from the bread basket at dinner.

3. Scope out the hotel gym right after you check in.

Not knowing where the gym is or what equipment it's stocked with is a sure way to guarantee you won't use it. Go check out the fitness facilities the first day you arrive; take note of the cardio and weight equipment; and make a workout plan. I physically write down my workout plans on one of those little hotel notepads, and set it out alongside my workout clothes, shoes and iPod when I go to bed. Then it's up-and-at-'em time bright and early.

4. Always pack running shoes. 

Even if your hotel doesn't have a gym, you can always go for a run or walk outside—but not if you don't have the right shoes. Invest in a pair of lightweight joggers, like Nike FlyKnits, that you'll only use while traveling, if possible. Pack them in a simple shoe bag, like these from Amazon, or even in a plastic bag to ensure they won't get the rest of your suitcase dirty.

5. Don't clean your plate.

Those five-course dinners can sometimes be inevitable, and they likely go way beyond what you'd typically eat at home. But that doesn't mean you have to eat everything on each plate. It might be difficult at first, going against everything your mother taught you about cleaning your plate. It gets easier. When a dish is placed in front of you, try a bite and put your fork down. Focus on the flavors, the texture and the aroma of the dish. If it's really good, go back for a few more. Savor the bites and then retire your flatware  until the next course. I've found this to be an especially effective time to start a new direction in the table conversation, when everyone else has their mouths full. This is an easier method to stick to when the restaurant or hotel provides you with a menu of courses, so you know what's to come and how to pace yourself. At the end of the meal, you'll be comfortably satiated, not feel deprived and not counting down the seconds until you can take your pants off.