The ultimate healthy travel guide

It can be hard to stick to your wellness goals when you’re on the go, especially if you’re traveling for business. Between packed schedules and feeling out of your element, you might feel the urge to coast for a couple days. This guide can help you stay on track no matter where you are.

3 tips for a more nutritious trip

From the stocked minibar to the lavish business dinner, temptation is everywhere when you travel. And while airplane food is notorious for being terrible, the food in the concourse isn’t usually much healthier. Forget the overpriced greasy pizza or easy-access candy bars and stick to your nutrition goals with these tips.

Load up on healthy snacks.

Obstacles like getting stuck on the runway, missing lunch because of overlapping meetings, or having limited options for breakfast are inevitable when traveling. Plan ahead with a stockpile of healthy, non-perishable options in your bag. Ideas include nuts, healthy snack bars, whole fruit, single-serve, sustainably caught tuna packets, minimally processed jerky, or a shaker bottle with packets of protein.

Drink up.

Traveling by plane? The air in the cabin is even drier than the Sahara. Avoid dehydration by tucking an empty, reusable water bottle in your carry-on. Fill your bottle up after passing through security and drink throughout the trip. You need at least half an ounce of water per pound of body weight each day, especially when you’re traveling.

For an extra boost, pack a few green tea bags. Sip your water throughout the day and add a green tea bag when you need some extra neural stimulation. The combination of water, nutrients, and a little caffeine will help keep you going.

Make a travel meal plan.

Even if you feel like you don’t have control over your food choices, don’t throw in the towel. The key is to stick to nutritional routines.

  • Avoid airport food and bring your own snacks, or even bring a full meal from home if you have a long layover.
  • Once on the plane, turn down the complimentary salted nuts and crackers and stick to your healthy snacks instead.
  • Decline the soda and juice on the plane and at mealtime and go with water.
  • Start with vegetables, like a salad or a side of cooked veggies, and skip creamy dressings and sauces.
  • Stay mindful around bottomless options like rolls and sweetened beverages.
  • If a menu item isn’t quite right, see if you can substitute or ask for it to be prepared differently.
  • Choose lean proteins and fiber-rich carbohydrates. Think brown rice, potatoes, and quinoa.
  • Ask for a box when you get your meal to combat large restaurant portions.

Fit movement into your trip

You might feel too busy or tired for a workout, but it’s important to stay on track. And when you’re traveling, a little movement can go a long way. It’s especially good for your mind and body if you stick to your regular schedule, so if you’re an early-morning workout person, try to get up early and get after it. Use these strategies to help you stick to your routine.

Get moving en route.

Whether you’re traveling by plane or car, cramped legroom and long periods of sitting are an uncomfortable combination that can lead to blood clots and other health problems. Sitting for extended periods of time can also cause back pain because your lower back muscles often pick up the slack for glutes that stop working properly.

Avoid these health issues by moving around during your flight or during breaks from your drive with this seated movement routine. Don't worry, these exercises won't make you a laughingstock on Twitter. You can do them all in your seat without attracting unwanted attention. Download this PDF to print and take with you. 

Don’t neglect your training.

Once you get to your destination, explore your options. Use this time away from home as an opportunity to explore new gyms, some of which offer free admission to first-timers or visitors. Or if you’ve got time, go on a nature walk, trail run, or hike.

If you can’t get in your regular full workout, don’t just collapse in bed. Try bodyweight exercises in your room or even in the hallway if space is tight, or run the hotel stairs for a quick heart rate boost. No equipment? No problem. Use this on-the-road strength workout to help your body settle in. Download this PDF to print and take with you.

Stay centered away from home

There’s no doubt about it, traveling is stressful. Along with being away from familiar surroundings and your usual routine, you may have to deal with travel delays, lost reservations, and more. But with the proper preparation, you can keep a positive mindset no matter what hurdles crop up. Use these strategies recommended by Tiffany Grimm, solutions manager for the performance innovation team at EXOS, to stay centered while you’re on-the-go.

Roll with the punches.

Here’s a motto for your next vacation: “No matter what happens, we’re out to have a good time.” All vacations come with unexpected twists, turns, and delays so go with an open mind and commit to turning minor hiccups into adventures. You may find that the unexpected detours are actually the most memorable part of your trip.

Write it down.

Nothing is worse than realizing you forgot something important for your trip. Reduce stress by packing ahead of time and using a checklist on your phone or an old-fashioned notepad to make sure you’ve got everything you need. Here’s a list to get started on your carry-on.

  • Boarding pass (printed or on your mobile device)
  • Government-issued photo ID
  • Wallet
  • Prescription medications
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Headphones
  • Healthy snacks
  • Mints or gum
  • Books or magazines
  • Compression socks
  • Travel-sized toiletries
  • Water bottle
  • Tennis ball

Destress after the security checkpoint.

Airport security can feel chaotic. And the longer the line, the higher your stress level seems to soar. Once you’ve got your shoes back on and your carry-on repacked, reset your mindset with this body scan meditation while you wait for your flight.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine tall.
  2. Starting at the top of your head and working your way down all the way to your feet, consciously relax each part of your body.
  3. Bring your awareness to any areas of tension or discomfort and visualize more expansion, freedom, and ease.
  4. Once you're finished, relax your face and neck again, and invite three long, cleansing breaths into your body and mind.

Settle in at the hotel.

After checking in to your hotel, make time for a walk outside to soak up the sun and adjust your body clock. Then settle your brain and body before you head out. Lie down on your back or stomach and close your eyes. Take 10 deep breaths, letting your body melt into the ground and imagining it getting heavier with every exhale.

Once you’re feeling more at home, prepare for the day ahead with a quick shower trick. Alternate between hot and freezing water in the shower for 30 seconds each for about three minutes. Be sure to breathe deeply and exhale forcefully — or have some fun singing loudly.

Traveling can present unexpected hurdles to your wellness goals, but it doesn’t have to derail your progress. With the right nutrition planning, a goal to keep moving, and a flexible mindset you can return from your trip refreshed and ready to get back into the flow of things rather than dealing with the typical post-vacation withdrawal.

Want more ideas on how to live a healthy life every day? Check out the live well section of our blog.

About the Author

Kelsey Webb

As an editorial assistant at EXOS, I'm eager to help others improve every aspect of their lives through healthy living. I enjoy bringing effective strategies and information to light by working with experts in all fields.

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