Health Tips for Business Travel
We get this question all the time. What are your best health tips for business travel? We know, it’s hard. Business travel means changing schedules, client meals, hours behind the windshield, and late nights working from a new hotel every night.
In this article, we share our best tips regarding exercise, healthy eating, and quality sleep while on business trips.
health tips for business travel
1. Do Morning Workouts
Sticking to your exercise routine is critical to staying healthy while traveling for business. The best time of day to workout is when you can be most consistent. Based on my experience, that means the best time to workout is in the morning.
A morning workout sets the foundation for your day. Later in the day, especially while on business travel, priority lists grow larger and larger. Therefore, if you don’t work out in the morning, it might not happen. Ever hear the phrase “success leaves clues?” Well, here is a clue.
Pro Tip: During business travel, schedule and prioritize your workout as if it were a work meeting with your boss’ boss – it’s non-negotiable. Get up 30-minutes earlier than usual and start the day active with an exercise-induced endorphin release.
2. Don’t Be Married to the Gym
To optimize time and workout efficiency, don’t be reliant on access to a gym. You were born with the best work out equipment available – your body. To stay healthy on business travel, you need the freedom to do your workouts anywhere.
If you need a gym for your structured weight lifting routine, plan and book a hotel with a stocked fitness center. Outside of the gym, there is a world of workout opportunity.
For example, take a run outside or do body-weight exercises, resistance band workouts, or follow a cardio routine in your hotel room.
We stream our workouts from anywhere. Our Netflix of workouts is invaluable to our fitness quality and consistency.
Pro Tip: When traveling for business, pack a workout band (they’re just as effective as weights) in your bag. If you are traveling by car, bring some light dumbbells in your trunk.
3. Drink Water Always
Hydration is critical to maintaining your health while traveling for business. But, sometimes it’s hard to remember to drink even when you’re in a routine. On business trips when stuck on an airplane, behind the wheel, in a manufacturing facility, or a long meeting, it’s even harder to remember water.
To combat this, having water accessible is necessary. We recommend always having at least one re-fillable water bottle. Drink and refill it at every opportunity. Don’t worry about the bathroom breaks. They are a great reason to move your body, a health tip for business trips that we’ll cover later on.
Think of water as essential fuel for your body and resort to drinking more water before ordering another coffee or fulfilling an unhealthy food craving. Also, when hydrated, you will sleep better and be sharper!
Pro Tip: If you are in a situation where it’s difficult to refill your water bottle, bring along bottled water. Ryan was in sales and driving over 1000 miles a week, he would keep a case of water in the back seat. Always accessible and always ready to bring into meetings and manufacturing facilities. This was a favorite tip for health business travel he received from a colleague.
4. Plan Ahead for Healthy Snacking
Airports and convenience stores don’t have your back. It is challenging to find healthy snacks consistently on business trips. If it’s convenient, it’s probably highly processed and loaded with sugar or refined carbs. Our go-to healthy snacks back in the day was a Larabar, however, now that the BEACHBAR is available we travel with these since they are higher in protein and fiber, and lower in sugar.
In addition to snack bars, apples or bananas (we steal these from the hotel breakfast), hard boiled eggs, veggie cups, and string cheese (available at most convenience stores) are excellent snack opportunities. When the health food situation is dire, a veggie tray or pre-made salad should be available at the local grocery store.
We also travel with Shakeology as a daily healthy snack or meal. Not only does this fuel our day, and maintain healthy digestion when we’re out of routine, but it also is the highest bang for your buck meal or snack when it comes to nutritional value.
Pro Tip: Money you spend on healthy snacks or groceries for business travel is a company expense (or at least it was for us). When we were on a strict bodybuilding diet, we went grocery shopping and prepared meals ahead of time. Our companies always approved these expenses. Since your company values your health and well being, it never hurts to ask. We also have clients that can expense Shakeology for business trips.
Roadside lunch break consisting of rice, chicken, and salad.
5. Plan Ahead for Healthy Meals Too
Start your day strong. After your workout, treat yourself to a healthy hotel continental breakfast. If you can steer clear of the cinnamon rolls and biscuits and gravy, this is our simplest tip to stay healthy on business trips. Our go-to is oatmeal with raisins and walnuts. However, fruit, hardboiled eggs, wheat toast with peanut butter, or Greek yogurt with granola are also healthy choices. Stick to water or black coffee, no juice.
In our line of work, lunch and dinner were usually with customers. Whether you are alone or with customers, you always have control over your meals. Plan ahead, look for healthy options and scope out the menu. Then, all you have to do is make a strong recommendation to the group.
The TripAdvisor app and the Google Maps “Explore” feature are great tools to find popular, healthy restaurants. To evaluate the quality of the food, I always look at the photos. Additionally, the hotel concierge can help you with dining options and make a reservation if needed.
The planning doesn’t stop until you place your order with your health goals in mind. Avoid fried food, creamy pasta, cheesy pizza, greasy burgers, sour cream laden tacos, and chips and salsa. We have more tips ordering while dining out if you need help.
Pro Tip: Being healthy on business trips is hard. Be strong. Don’t worry about being called a sissy for eating a salad and skipping dessert or more drinks. Empower yourself and your decision. When I was in a sales role entertaining almost daily, I found that over time customers, and colleagues looked up to and respected me for making healthy choices. Over time, my influence helped them eat healthier.
6. Practice Mindful Eating
Research links extensive business travel with physical, behavioral, and mental health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, depression, anxiety, poor sleep, and alcohol dependence. Mindful eating helps ensure that you are ingesting quality food in the right amount, instead of permitting yourself to eat poorly as if you were on vacation.
This tip for healthy business travel is so important.Just because it’s on the company doesn’t mean you need to get an appetizer, main dish, a glass of wine, and dessert.
There are many fascinating healthy eating cultures around the world, but nobody has mastered mindful eating like the Japanese. “Hara Hachi Bu” is a phrase reminding them to only eat until 80% full.
Pro Tip: To be healthy on business travel, remember that you can rearrange the menu if you smile and ask nicely. This way, you aren’t limited to a salad. For example, you can get the grilled chicken breast and ask them to replace the gravy and mashed potatoes with steamed broccoli. Or, ask if you can have a side salad instead of french fries.
7. Drink in Moderation
Let’s be real, business is all about relationships, and sometimes there is no better way to bond than with a drink after a long day of meetings. That’s okay in moderation. Drinking in moderation is our most valuable tips to staying healthy during business travel.
We always limited ourselves to two drinks at all work functions. If you follow this health tip for business travel, it shows that you have self-control and helps maintain your health and professional edge. If you drink too much, you’re adding inches to your waist and ruining your night sleep.
Pro Tip – It’s hard to be healthy for business travel if you’re hungover. If you drink we highly recommend you start with water and go back to water between drinks. Order water with no ice so that you can drink it faster. Why? You’ll sleep better, and it will help you not have a hangover.
8. Manage the Stress
Business travel can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Find those hidden minutes in the day and invest them in your well being. For us, our morning workout was a great way to start the day stress-free.
Other helpful tips to manage stress during business travel include reading a good book before bed, listening to an audiobook in the airport or behind the wheel, doing a pre-flight yoga session in the airport, or make a FaceTime call to your spouse or family.
Pro tip: The best tip for healthy business travel: have a hot tub. Nothing beats a hot tub for stress relief at the end of the day. If you arrive at the hotel late and the pool area is closed, ask the front desk (with a big smile of course) if they can open for you.
9. Move Your Body
Stay moving and on your feet as much as possible. There are new studies out there linking inactivity with early death. Airplanes, desks, and cars are cramped, so try to get moving as much as you can. If you sit for 90-minutes, your body goes into a hibernation state, and your metabolism significantly drops.
Stretch at gas stations, gates, and if you spend a lot of time at a desk, we highly recommend you transition to a standing desk. In our experience, there are considerable benefits to using a standing desk, including increased productivity, reduced lower back pain, increased hip flexor range of motion, and improved posture.
All great things, but they come at a cost if you don’t do it right. You need to transition. Don’t go from 100% sitter to 100% stander after reading this article. You could injure your lower extremities. Take it slow and make sure you wear comfortable shoes or buy a fatigue mat.
Pro Tip: Here’s a health tip for business travel and a hotel room hack. We achieve a standing desk on the go by put the ironing board on the hotel bed. Be creative!
10. Get At-home Quality Sleep
If you know me, you know I am a stickler on sleep. Getting a great night sleep while on business travel is challenging but essential. Make sure you stay on schedule and avoid late nights (don’t cave into peer pressure). If you’re hydrated, not drunk, and in bed at a decent hour, you’re set up for success.
To take this health tip for business trips a step further, here are our tricks to ensure quality sleep. We never travel without our travel pillow (same type of pillow we use at home), face mask, and sound machine. This way, if you get one of those paper thin feather pillows, non-blackout shades, or a room next to the highway, you can still sleep like a pro.
Pro Tip: Put some ear plugs in your back pack. They are a must for getting sleep one the airplane.
What are your biggest challenges when traveling for business? Do you have a trick for maintaining your healthy lifestyle? Share in the comments section below.
- Just How Bad Is Business Travel for Your Health? – Harvard Business Review – “When we analyzed these data, we found a strong correlation between the frequency of business travel and a wide range of physical and behavioral health risks.”
- It’s the Grim Reality of Frequent Work Travel: Health Problems – The New York Times – “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they are hearing of a range of health problems in frequent travelers, from insomnia and weight gain to viruses. And they said they see a need for more comprehensive research.”
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Hey we're Ryan and Alex
The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “happiness engineers.” After eight years working as corporates engineers internationally, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — leading couples to engineer their best lives. The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship, as a couple.