Everyone needs a vacation (even if it means the occasional high-calorie treat or missed workout). The problem arises when these splurges go from occasional to common. Tight schedules, limited options, and unfamiliar territory make it easy for travel to derail your fitness routine. Take control and plan ahead using the following tips:
Dress accordingly. Exercise opportunities on the road won’t do you much good if you are unprepared. If your business attire doesn’t allow for athletic footwear, invest in a comfortable pair of dressy shoes. Rubber-soled dress shoes or stylish flats can make all the difference. At the very least, carry your athletic shoes in your carry-on. Stick with a comfortable, yet presentable, outfit so you can walk the terminals during a layover. The same preparation tips stand for road trips. A quick walk around the parking lot at the rest stop will stretch the legs and burn a few calories.
Make space for exercise essentials. Be sure you leave space to squeeze in fitness essentials. An exercise band or tube will fit in the outside pocket of your bag for hotel-room strength training. Consider a pair of tennis shoes specifically for travel that will smash or bend for easy packing. Fill a baggie with mixed nuts and dried fruit, energy bars, and fresh fruit for emergency snacks to make unhealthy options less tempting.
Use airport time wisely. Fitting in exercise during long layovers is getting easier. San Francisco International Airport has a yoga room, and other airports such as Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport have well-marked walking paths designated throughout terminals. Fitness centers located in hotels within or near airports often offer day rates for travelers.
Carefully weigh your food options. Convenience stores and gas stations may be the easiest place to stop while on the road, but they can be a nightmare for a healthy eating plan. Instead, visit the nearest roadside farm stand, or follow the signs to the Farmer’s Market where you can find fresh produce to provide healthy fuel. For meals, skip the fast food and stop by a supermarket for a prepared salad or healthy sandwich.
Explore local markets on foot. Visiting a market during your travels combines a learning opportunity, exercise, and healthy food into one adventure. Set out on foot if the market is nearby – every extra step counts. Take advantage of the fresh produce, and meals for a healthy breakfast, lunch, or snack.
Book an active excursion. Make a natural attraction part of your itinerary (where you are sure to do some hiking). Check for a Yellow Bike project in the city you visit. This will allow you to borrow a bike to see the sights while burning calories. If you enjoy road races, look for upcoming events at your destination. Local fitness studios may have active weekend retreats, or a boot camp class that you can join during your trip.
Use technology to your advantage. Online fitness classes can be found all over the Internet, and they provide a solution for exercise when you are confined to a hotel room. Use your laptop or tablet to stream an in-room workout. Before you leave for your trip, load your smartphone with exercise apps. Many apps provide strength-training moves, or yoga poses to do in the hotel when you are short on time and ideas. Log your foods and exercise with MyFoodDiary's mobile apps.
Get enough rest. Travel can leave you sleep-deprived and unable to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep for adults. Lack of sleep can result in weight gain. When you are exhausted from being on the road, make sleep a priority. Continue to choose healthy foods, but it may be wise to skip a workout when your schedule causes exercise to compete with sleep. Plan to get back to your exercise routine once you return home. But remember, exercise can improve sleep patterns if done at least three hours before bedtime. If you are having trouble sleeping on the road, a workout may help.