Employee Wellness Blog

Traveling for Work? Here’s How to Prioritize Your Health

Posted by Robyn Whalen on Thu, Jun 07, 2018

Traveling for work can make it difficult to keep up with a healthy routine. You’re dealing with time changes, struggling to fit in some exercise, and usually forced to dine out. With today’s global nature of the workplace, it’s inevitable that you’ll be traveling for work at some point in your career. 

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Because frequent work travel can take a toll on your body and mind, it’s essential to learn some strategies for prioritizing your health on the go. Keep on reading to learn some healthy habits you can practice the next time you hit the road.

Diet 

Between road trips, flights, and hotel hopping, it’s pretty safe to say that you won’t have access to a healthy, home-cooked me during your trip. Many travelers resort to fast food or room service, but binging on too much processed foods can leave you feeling sluggish. Not to mention, a week’s worth of unhealthy meals can really set you back on your health goals. Some tips to help you maintain a healthy diet while traveling include: 

  • Do your research. Before your trip, scope out healthy eating options and grocery stores that are located near your hotel. Knowing what’s around your hotel before you arrive with a growling stomach will help you make better nutritional choices. 
  • Pack some snacks. Whether you’re flying or driving, give yourself some extra space to pack some healthy snacks. That way, you won’t be tempted to grab a donut in between flights or during a gas station pit stop. Almonds, healthy granola and protein bars, dried fruit, and whole-grain crackers are some great ideas. 
  • Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals is one of the worst things you can do for your diet while traveling. When you’re feeling really hungry, you’ll be tempted to scarf down fast food or unhealthy convenience store snacks. Be sure you keep up with your normal eating schedule while traveling, if possible.
  • Dine out responsibly. Chances are, you’ll probably dine out at least a couple times during your work trip. This doesn’t have to completely ruin your nutrition goals. Check out the menu before you arrive on an empty stomach, and find the healthiest option to order. For more tips on healthy dining out, check out this blog post

Exercise

Staying active can be tricky on a work trip. Since it’s not a leisure vacation, you probably won’t have too much extra time on your hands. However, it’s important to prioritize staying active on your work trip because physical activity will relieve some stress, help you get better sleep, and leave you feeling energized. Some tips to help you stay active while traveling include: 

  • Walk as much as you can. If possible, walk everywhere you go! Instead of taking a cab to meet a client for lunch, walk there or rent a bike. If you’re spending the whole day in and out of meetings, make a note to yourself to get up and walk around for about 10 minutes every couple of hours or so. 
  • Choose a hotel with a gym. If you have the opportunity to pick your hotel, be sure to choose one with a quality gym or lap pool. Schedule in 30 minutes a day to use the facilities. 
  • Pack some gear. Staying at a hotel without any fitness rooms? Try a hotel room workout! Pack travel-size fitness equipment, like a travel exercise mat, jump rope, or resistance bands. These are all light enough and small enough to sneak into your carry-on bag.

Always remember that some physical activity is better than none!

Sleep

Nothing throws off your sleep schedule quite like traveling. Changing time zones, early flights, and a jam-packed schedule can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Getting enough quality sleep is essential for your physical, mental, and cognitive health during a work trip. Some tips to help you get quality sleep while traveling include:

  • Prepare for the time change. If you are traveling to a location in a different time zone, prepare ahead of time. For example, if you’re traveling somewhere that is a three-hour time adjustment, adjust your bedtime bit by bit for about a week leading up to your trip.
  • Create a comfortable sleeping environment. Sleeping in a new environment can throw off your body. Be sure to pack a travel pillow, blanket, or any other sleeping accessory that you can’t sleep without. Adjust the lighting and temperature of your hotel room to mimic your room back home. Pack some earplugs as well! 
  • Watch what you eat and drink. Eating a big meal or too drinking too many adult beverages close to bedtime can lead to poor sleep. Always stay mindful of your dinner choices! 

Stress

Traveling for work is stressful. There’s really no way around that. It’s important that you check-in with yourself periodically and assess your stress levels throughout your trip. Some tips to keep your stress levels in check while traveling include: 

  • Practice self-care. Take advantage of any alone time you get during your trip. Even just 15 minutes of self-care each day will help diminish some stress. Pack a favorite book to read, meditate in the morning, or relax in the hotel hot tub after a long day of meetings.
  • Give yourself extra time. Rushing to and from the airport or trying to find your way to a meeting in an unknown city is stressful. Always give yourself some extra time in-between work obligations and while traveling.
  • Be a tourist for a moment. If you have any extra time during your trip, play tourist! Rather than watching TV in your hotel room, go visit a museum or take a stroll around the city. Having a bit of fun will help melt away some of the stress from traveling.

If you’re not careful, frequent work travel can wreak havoc on your health. Be sure to try out some of the above tips the next time you hit the road for work! 

What healthy habits do you practice while traveling for work? Leave some ideas in the comment section below! 

Mindfulness Guide

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Image created by Katemangostar - Freepik.com

Topics: Healthy Lifestyle, Career Tips

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