Travel: How to Eat and Live Healthy when You’re On-The-Go

I know my posts have not been very frequent lately, and I apologize. My job takes a lot out of me right now, and I’ve been finding myself busier and more exhausted than ever before. Although it’s never a good excuse, I use my busy life and my job as my excuse for not finding time to write more posts. It’s not even that I don’t have time to write, it’s that I don’t have time to DO things that I can write about. I travel for work, and by that I literally mean that travel IS my work. So I’m never home. I try as best as I can to eat healthy on the road, but my schedule is so inconsistent that it is hard to stick to any real routines or healthy habits on the road. Lately, I only have one or two days a month in which I can actually cook at home (hence the lack of recipe posts!) Some people love living on the road, but it’s not a lifestyle I suggest for anyone who wants to make living healthy a priority. The combination of an inconsistent sleep schedule, a stressful work environment, being forced to eat out all the time, and having inadequate access to cooking facilities and quality fitness facilities = recipe for a health disaster (at least for me). Yes, yes, friends and family. I’ve been talking about it for months, and it’s true: I’m getting out soon!

I don’t mean to moan and complain. We ALL have busy lifestyles and all have obstacles that can get in the way of our health. But I have learned some tricks along the way. So here are a few ways that can help you stick to healthy choices while you’re away from home (or even while you DO get the pleasure of coming home every night but can’t seem to find that time to be healthy!)

Let’s start with food.

Yes, I always bring my own food when I travel, and people are ALWAYS asking me what I eat when I’m away from home. So here are my eatable go-tos when I’m on-the-go:

  • Cut up veggies and hummus
  • Hard boiled eggs (see previous post!)
  • Nuts and dried fruit (no sugar added)
  • Salads (a good way to use up whatever veggies you have that are going to go bad while you’re away!) For dressing, I just throw a few lemon wedges on the side, or take a small container of either salsa or olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Any fresh fruit. (Keep the little stickers on them if you’re traveling internationally to avoid trouble with customs!) Apples and oranges travel best, but I love bananas too (A tip: wrap your bananas in tin foil. It prevents bruising AND prevents the rest of the food in your bag from smelling like bananas.)
  • Turkey, cheese and/or avocado, with whole wheat crackers or on whole wheat bread.
  • Greek yogurt with granola
  • All natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • Oatmeal. I mix plain instant oatmeal with a scoop of protein powder and nuts or some fruit. Easily made in any hotel with the coffee maker, or on an airplane–just ask for hot water!
  • Tabbouleh, or my go to cold salad: chickpeas, sliced cherry tomatoes, cucumber, basil, and parsley with a little lemon, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Or I sub quinoa instead of chickpeas and add black beans.
  • Edamame, cooked or dried
  • Soup—I usually make a big batch at once and freeze it in individual containers. Then, when I leave for a trip I grab a few containers, and by the end of the day or the next day, they are thawed and ready to eat!
  • Single serve pouches of tuna or salmon (to top on salads or eat with crackers)
  • Any leftovers! (I love cold leftovers, so never having access to a microwave is never a problem for me.)
  • And when I don’t have time to prepare anything, I usually have good, healthy bars on hand to throw in my bag. I like Kind Bars, Larabars, Good Greens, Element Bars…the list goes on. There are so many good ones on the market today! Just read the ingredients, and make sure you know what everything is (i.e. it’s eatable). I also look for ones with lower sugar content and higher protein content. Or, I just make my own! (Another recipe to come soon… you know, when I have the time…)

And now let’s talk fitness.

Fortunately, I’m usually staying in hotels that at least have something they qualify as a fitness center, even if it’s just one run-down creaking old treadmill from the eighties in a basement (not exaggerating). Some are nicer than others. But when the hotel fitness center doesn’t cut it, or running outside isn’t an option, there are a few moves that you can do anywhere without any equipment. Yes, these are old school, but there’s a reason they are still around: done consistently, any move is effective!

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups
  • Tricep dips
  • Planks
  • Jumping jacks
  • Burpees
  • Jumping rope (sans rope still works)

…and so many more. I’m not a fitness expert. Just google “no equipment fitness/workouts” or anything similar and you’ll get millions of results with plenty of new variations on old favorites. I usually do a circuit of a combination of all of these moves, doing as many reps of one move as I can in a minute and then switching, no rest in between moves until the end of the circuit. Invest in a resistance band too. These are cheap and travel well, and give you thousands more options for hotel-room workouts!

  • Another go-to workout for me is running stairs. It sounds boring and old fashioned, but it’s SUCH a good workout. I find that five to six flights is a perfect interval for me. I run up as fast as I can, and then recover by walking down and repeat for about 20 minutes. Or, I just go slow and steady up and down for more like 30-45 minutes. You’d be amazed how empty hotel stairwells are. I just crank up the music on my phone or turn on an audio book and I can go for hours.

When I don’t feel like thinking as much about a workout, I just turn on some good music and rock out for a while. Yes, I have hotel room dance parties by myself on the regular. And I’m not ashamed. I might even jump on the beds sometimes. Okay, now I’m ashamed.

Or I just get out there and walk! Especially when I’m in a new city, exploring by foot is the best way to see the sights or find hidden gems.

A few more tips for staying healthy on or off the road:

  • Stay hydrated. Get a good BPA-free water bottle and carry it around with you everywhere! Refill often. I try to drink at least 64oz of water a day (about 2 liters), but usually more like 100oz or 3 liters on days when I’m up in the air a lot (altitude dehydrates you) or when I have an intense workout.
  • Get sleep (easier said than done, I know). Shoot for 7-9 hours a night. Without good rest, any other healthy practices are in vain. Sleep time is when your body recharges and heals! We keep hearing it because it’s true: get your zzzz’s!
  • Move as often as possible. Have you heard sitting is the new smoking? It’s true. Sitting so much is killing us. If you sit all day, try to get up and take frequent short breaks, even just to stand up (at least 5 minutes every 30-60 minutes. Get a smaller water bottle so you have to get up to refill it often!) Take the stairs, park farther away, pace your office while you’re on the phone… whatever you can. All the little stuff adds up.
  • Relax. Take a few minutes every day to do something you enjoy, talk to someone you love, meditate, or whatever it is that keeps you sane. Remember to breathe and count your blessings every day.

I hope these tips help you keep on track no matter what your lifestyle. Because remember, being healthy IS a lifestyle, not a fad or a temporary phase. It’s about forming good habits and making a lot of small choices that add up!

Oh, and be grateful if you do get to come home to your own kitchen every night–take advantage of it for me, because I don’t get that luxury!