- Plan to plan ahead.
- Prep for travel days.
- Dine out smartly.
- Stress management matters.
Travel has been growing in the legal profession and, while it may sound exciting, traveling for work can take a mental and physical toll. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle on the road can be prone to roadblocks such as limited or no access to a kitchen, lack of an exercise facility, dining out more than usual, or simply letting go of normal standards for diet, exercise, and boundaries because it’s easier than figuring out how to manage changes to routine.
However, it is possible to maintain nutrition and self-care habits with some mindful pre-travel preparation and planning. Follow these healthy travel tips to take your wellness with you on your next trip.
As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Creating an action plan as part of travel preparations will significantly help you transition your existing healthy habits through your travel. With research at our fingertips day and night, there’s no excuse not to check some—or all—of these items off your travel “to do” list.
When booking a hotel, put in a request for a microwave and refrigerator to be in your room if these are not already included. Most hotels are used to accommodating business travelers’ requests and will be happy to comply.
Use the refrigerator to store fresh produce and ingredients for easy meals. Fast and healthy microwavable meals include oatmeal, an egg scramble (use a coffee mug, throw in some veggies), and frozen meals that include lean protein, veggies, and a carb. Stock up on nutritious and balanced snacks—hummus and carrots, nut butter and celery— that will keep you sustained and less likely to be tempted to order late-night room service.
Before you arrive, research grocery stores close to your hotel and plan a shopping trip. Many large-chain grocery stores offer pick-up or delivery so you can pre-order your food before you even leave home. If a grocery store isn’t in a convenient location, try Instacart or Amazon/Whole Foods delivery services.
I have a colleague who loves to map out daily running trails before he goes on a business trip. He is able to see the sights in a new city without missing his exercise. The fact that he is already planning each run means the likelihood that he’ll follow through is very high.
If you’re not a runner, find out if your hotel has a gym or special day rates at a nearby fitness center. If you enjoy fitness classes, read reviews on local studios, note class times that may work for you, or book some classes that fit your travel schedule.
If this trip is going to be busy from sunup to sundown, bring along some exercise bands or bookmark workouts on your laptop that you can do in your hotel room.
You can also opt to walk to a meeting or dinner instead of taking a car service.
You’re ready to go! Whether you’re driving or flying, keeping your energy level up and your cravings at bay is important. Convenience stores and coffee shops will be all along your route—in the airport or on the road—so avoid temptations by arming yourself with healthy snack options.
Inevitably you will have a few meals out at restaurants on your trip. If possible, take a look at the restaurant’s menu beforehand and commit to a healthy meal choice before you arrive. Don’t be afraid to ask your server for a different meal preparation (i.e., add more vegetables, take away potatoes), order an appetizer as your main course, or only eat half your portion. Put that fridge and microwave in your hotel room to use to reheat the other half at a later time.
Watch your alcohol intake when traveling. Overconsumption can lead to bad food choices, loss of sleep, weight gain, and bloating. Alcohol moderation can be especially difficult for those who wine and dine clients, but you can be strategic in what and how much you drink. Stick to a two-drink maximum and consume one glass of water per alcoholic beverage. Also, choose a drink lower in sugar and carbohydrates, such as red wine or hard alcohol (solo or with soda water).
Managing your stress can be pivotal to the success of your trip, therefore, when you’re on the road take a moment—or more—for yourself daily. For instance, you can download a meditation app and commit to a short meditation each morning or evening. Bring a leisure book to read, enjoy a movie at night, or book a relaxing massage if your schedule permits.
Small stress-relief breaks are helpful too! Practice this simple 1-4-2 ratio breathing exercise at any time. Inhale for 6 seconds, hold for 20 seconds, and exhale for 12 seconds.
Do not underestimate the value of sleep. You need 7–9 hours of quality sleep per night to be your best. Your body recharges when you have a good night’s rest and will provide you with the energy and mental clarity that you will need for the next day. If you know that falling asleep in a hotel is difficult for you, plan ahead by speaking with your health professional about supplements such as melatonin, valerian, or CBD oil.
On a business trip, it’s unrealistic to wholly replicate the wellness routine that you follow at home. However, instead of completely abandoning your personal wellness program, remember that something is often better than nothing.
If you can’t get it all in, find ways to modify your routine to find little wins here and there.
When you get home, don’t beat yourself up over a missed workout or a meal splurge. Give yourself grace and set up a plan to get back on your wellness track as soon as you get home.
With summer coming up, I wanted to add a note about personal vacation time as many in the law profession have trouble leaving the office behind when they’re out of the office.
A vacation is a time to unwind, enjoy time with family or friends, and recharge your batteries. It’s counterintuitive to take a vacation and be glued to your phone or laptop. If need be, set personal technology boundaries to free up your time (and stress level). Here are some examples:
While setting these boundaries may feel difficult at first, you will rapidly realize that enjoying your hard-earned vacation time without work interruption is not that hard after all!
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, following the above tips will help you prioritize your wellness, which, in turn, will make you more productive, less stressed, healthier, and happier during your trip.