Thursday, May 20, 2010

Business Trips – Healthy Style

Well I am finally home after having to be away for a couple days for work. I’ll be honest traveling for work always throws a couple challenges at me when it comes to staying on track with my healthy lifestyle. They throw food at you like you haven’t eaten in months and there are many hours spent sitting in a chair participating to back to back training sessions. Also, there is not much free time in the evening hours to fit in any physical activity or time to just distress from the day. Networking with colleagues is strongly pushed after training hours, which can lead to late nights as well.  
Healthy Business Travel is About Finding Balance

When I first began on my journey to better health I felt prey to these challenges and found myself off track for those couple days I was away. I ate with little regard to how much or the nutritional content (or lack of nutritional content) of food. I didn’t worry about getting workouts in either. Honestly, I just let the trip be an excuse to revert to old habits of poor eating, no physical activity, and threw my stress management plan out the window. The result was spending those days feeling pretty crappy. Oh and the guilt it would create when I returned would eat at me for weeks following.

It only took a couple of experiences like this before I recognized that I had to find a better way to manage these situations. If I could create a plan to manage my everyday life, there had to be a way to create a plan for business trips that would keep me on track.  So that is exactly what I set out to do. After a couple of trips I was able to create a plan that works pretty well for me. Now when I have to travel for work, I am able to stay on track fairly easy.

Since I know I’m not the only one that has health goals and is required to travel for work, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my tips for staying on track.

Business Travel – Healthy Style Tips

Scope out the Hotel Accommodations
I don’t normally get to pick the hotel I stay at because normally it is arranged by either my boss or by those who are hosting the training I’m attending, but I do get ample notice to which hotel I will be staying at. One of the first things I do is to check out the hotel’s website to see what I’m likely working with. Information I gather: Is there a fitness center?, Is there an in room micro-fridge?, Is there a pool?, Is the area surrounding walking/running friendly?, Are there restaurants near that I can eat healthy at nearby for meals that are not provided?   
Personalize Your Schedule
Another thing I get ahead of time is the schedule of what my schedule is for the days I’m in training. I take the schedule and use it as the base of a personalized schedule I create for the trip. I schedule in my workout times, sleep times, relaxation time, networking time, etc. into my personalized schedule. Once I have it all typed out I print it and make sure it is in my business notebook. Doing this ahead of time sets me up to be ready to use my time wisely and not waste opportunities to take care of myself.    
Healthify Your Packing List
Before I pack for the trip I actually write down a packing list so I make sure I don’t forget anything. I start with all the basics first like clothing, toiletries, computer, and business notebook/planner. Then I look at the accommodation information I collected earlier and determine what I need to bring with me to workout, relax, and stay on track nutritionally. This list normally includes things like workout clothing and shoes, workout DVD’s, resistance bands, healthy snacks, my heart rate monitor, a book, and my Ipod. Sure it makes me look like I’m packing to be away much longer than I will be, but I can’t complain that I don’t have what I need.
My Fitness/Healthy Snack Stash from my Latest Trip

Be Sensible with Food Choices
If your trip is anything like mine, normally are you are pretty much surrounded by massive quantities of catered foods throughout the time you are away. A majority of times these food choices are pretty unhealthy with a very limited selection of healthy options. For me, I follow the healthiest option approach. Meaning I try to select what I’m eating by trying to determine the healthiest option available. I keep an eye on my portions as well. Sure it might turn out to be a choice I won’t always make when I was at home, but my goal here is to do the best I can. When it comes to pre-scheduled snack times I evaluate if I’m hungry or not first. Just because they are providing snack time doesn’t mean you have to eat if you don’t need to. If I am hungry and the snack choices are pretty unhealthy then I dip into my personal snack stash.     
Stand Out From the Crowd
This one means being prepared to handle some peer pressure when it comes to certain things that you choose to do to stay on track. Some of the common things I deal with are pressure to indulge in poor food choices and to go out afterward to have drinks. You already are normally dealing with some of these issues when you are not traveling, don’t let the fact you aren’t in familiar environments derail you. Just use the same skills you use when you are on your home turf to deal with this. Keep in mind a lot of times when you are getting pressured about things like this it typically is because the person is trying to feel better about their poor choices.

Resources for Health Business Travel
Healthy Travel Network
Don't let business travel derail your fitness goals
Staying Healthy On The Road
Workout Tips for Business Travel

Quote of the Day: “Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.” ~ Julie Andrews


  1. That is a great post! I am definitely going to keep it in my back pocket. Unfamiliar environments can definitely derail!!


  2. AWESOME tips thanks for sharing!

  3. Traveling always throws me curve balls. And, same with all my clients who travel. It's hard for me to give them advice, other than to pack snacks and to "stand out from the crowd" like you say. It's a lot easier said than done though, when you aren't used to it, but practice makes perfect. If my clients travel a lot, I tell them to learn what type of foods that typically available, and look for those healthy ones each time (specifically yogurts, fruit bowls, and Subway actually!).

    Got the water last night!! Thanks a bunch. It's chilling right now :)

  4. Excellent tips! I don't go on many business trips but the last time I did in Jan/Feb I did scope out the hotel beforehand and knew they had a workout facility. I got up most mornings very early and hit the treadmill. Was very happy with my commitment. Then I split meals with a friend which not only saved us money but was a lot better calorie wise. It was a total win! I'll be going again in Aug. and this time plan to run outside if I can find a running partner or I'll just stick to the tiny little workout room. It was nothing to write home about that is for sure LOL

  5. Awesome post!!! Thanks for sharing your strategies - I travel a lot for work as well and completely agree that planning is the best path to success. For me the absolute hardest part is the expectation for socializing after work - I need to learn to follow your Stand Out From The Crowd strategy.

  6. I love that you have found way to succeed despite the obvious obstacles in the way! Good for you!!!

  7. Excellent suggestions. A little planning ahead can help you avoid slip ups when away from home.

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