So you travel for work? So do I. In fact, I get on an airplane twice a week, every week. I know the NYC terminals like the back of my hand. I frequent so often that the barista at Starbucks is convinced that I work there. I change time zones on a weekly basis. I am a Management Consultant.
I came into consulting about a year ago as an experienced hire. As excited as I was about starting my new job, I was also completely worried about maintaining my healthy lifestyle. You eat out everyday? Networking events are key? Is there such thing as ‘The Consulting 15’? It took some trial and error, but here are 6 ways I’ve been able to maintain a healthy lifestyle while constantly traveling.
1. Be prepared.
You know you are going to fly out Monday morning. You know the airport is lacking in healthy food options. You know the food options on the plane are even worse. So come prepared! Pack fruits, raw nuts, and even full meals (although make sure they meet the TSA liquids requirements). I always pack fruit and raw nuts with me as snacks. For fruits, I prefer apples. Apples do not require refrigeration, stay fresh in a ziplock bag (unlike bananas), and keep you full. For nuts, I like packing raw, unsalted almonds or walnuts. Try packing a snack size of nuts in a ziplock bag to keep it to a snack portion.
If I have a long flight (which I often do), I pack a meal. I typically stop at Whole Foods or get some sort of salad to go. I understand that not everyone has time to make a special trip to get a meal prior to flying- so don’t! You are going to go grocery shopping or going to get some kind of meal in the days prior to your travel. So why not double up? Stop by the salad bar during your grocery run at Whole Foods and save it for your flight. Add an extra bowl on your Ubereats order and bring it with you on the plane. You will be so much happier and relaxed knowing that you have healthy, delicious food with you and don’t have to stress about finding your next meal.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Flying is incredibly dehydrating, so make sure you not only hydrate on the flight, but before your flight as well. I bring my Swell bottle with me everywhere that way I don’t have to purchase bottles of water. Fill it up before you board, and you’ll be good to go. And don’t forget to grab an aisle seat.
3. Do your homework
When you are traveling to a new location, do your homework. I spend an hour couple days before researching healthy restaurants. I check for Whole Foods or plant-based restaurants and eat organic ingredients whenever possible. That way when I arrive, I know exactly where to plug into Google maps and can avoid the stress of worrying about where to get my next meal. I do the same thing with exercise. I personally like taking megaformer Pilates classes, so I research local studios beforehand. If they are on classpass, even better!
4. Exercise in the morning
Work days can me unpredictable. If a workday is running longer than expected, you don’t want to stress about missing your evening Pilates class. Likewise, if your team is going out to dinner or happy hour, you don’t want to worry about missing your workout. Working out in the morning eliminates the stress of trying to squeeze a workout in later in the day.
5. Get into a routine
Often work travel can be an excuse to eat out, have an extra glass of wine, and take a week off of exercising. But of those of us who travel often (or like me, travel every week), that is not sustainable. The most important thing I like to do when I travel is pretend that I’m at home. When I go to Whole Foods or the local juice bar, I try to purchase multiple meals at once. That way I have a hotel mini fridge full of healthy meals at hand and don’t have to spend excessive amounts of time driving to get every meal every night (which could cause you to skip out on the gym!). Most hotels have mini fridges in their rooms and if not, most will bring one to your room upon request. So take advantage of this and keep meals in your mini fridge so you can avoid the added stress of fetching every meal.
6. Eat like your at home
When I first started traveling for work, I would often go to healthy, plant-based restaurants for meals, but tack on a vegan brownie or peanut butter cup to my order. (Because if it’s made out of plants it’s healthy, right?). You wouldn’t be eating this way at home, so don’t do this while out. The extra calories will add up quickly. Try to stick to eating the amounts that you would normally eat if you were at home.