Making Plans and Achieving Goals

Staying Fit While Traveling

Staying Fit While Traveling

I believe traveling is, hands down, the biggest obstacle to a healthy life.  Staying fit while traveling takes discipline, planning, and hard work.  Traveling takes you out of your routine and makes it extremely difficult to stick to a diet and get your workouts in.  Hotel gyms suck, fast food is abundant and who doesn’t like a few drinks at the end of a long day?  I typically spend 6-8 weeks a year on the road visiting customers, working trade shows and attending classes.  Over the years, I have figured out what works for staying fit while enjoying the city I’m visiting.  I am just returning from a long week in Las Vegas where I was working a trade show and I was able to lose weight and hit all my workouts.  Not an easy task in Sin City.

 Don’t Be Average

I am always amazed at how people will abuse their bodies at these trade shows.  It is like some of these people treat working these events as going on vacation or attending a bachelor party.  Based on observations of the people in my booth, here is a very typical day for the average worker:

  • Wake up hung over and tired
  • Head to the breakfast buffet for food and lots of coffee
  • Eat food brought to the booth for lunch which was either pizza, subs, Chinese food or BBQ
  • Keeping crushing coffee or Mountain Dew throughout the day
  • Start drinking alcohol as soon as the show ends
  • Have a couple cocktails at the bar while figuring out dinner
  • Eat dinner at the buffet, Circus Circus, Benihana, etc.
  • Back to the bar for more drinks while trying to decide what to do tonight which usually was either keep drinking or gamble and keep drinking
  • Go to bed around one in the morning, ready to do it all over again.

My guess is the average person in my booth was consuming around 8 drinks per day, 4-6 cups of coffee, 5,000 calories of crap, got about 4-5 hours of sleep and never once exercised.  Doing this for a few days could set your fitness back a month or more, easily.

Stay Fit While Traveling

Hit It Hard Before You Leave

Crush a workout right before you leave.  Try to time it so you get a great workout in within 24 hours of leaving for your trip.  This just gives you a little buffer to start your travels.  You will hopefully be a little sore and worn out so a missed day can just be looked at as a recovery day.  For this trip, I woke up at 2:20am to workout as my flight was at 6:00am.

Eat Light or Not At All

For breakfast and lunch, you should eat almost nothing or actually nothing.  You are typically very busy throughout the day anyway, so it doesn’t seem so bad to not eat much during the day.  Most of your eating will just be done out of habit so realize you won’t die if you skip a meal or just have two eggs and black coffee for breakfast.  Two days I didn’t consume any calories until dinner and the other days I would eat two bananas and 2 protein bars throughout the day.

If you do this, you can go out to eat dinner with everyone without blowing up your calorie count for the day.  You don’t want to be sitting at the all-you-can-eat-and-drink buffet at the Aria trying to eat less than 600 calories.

Move Your Body

Do something active every day.  It doesn’t have to be a 60 minute a jog.  Because, if you make that your goal, you will probably skip it.  Make a promise to yourself that you will at least do 10 minutes of push ups, sit ups, squats, lunges and stretching every morning.  Doing this first thing in the morning kind of sets the tone for the day in a positive way.

Try to pick one or two days a week where you can go to a gym and get a long workout in.  Use the hotel gym if it is decent or head to a local gym and pay for a day pass.  Luckily for me, the hotel gym was really nice so I hit that every morning.  Bonus if you can find a partner to go with you.  One of the outside sales guys is an amateur bodybuilder so we actually were able to train together which was awesome.

Hotel Gym Flex
Someone is looking a little more jacked and tan than me 🙁

Easy On The Booze

People love to drink and it is going to be everywhere.  You are tired from the day and unwinding with a free (gotta love those expense reports) drink always seems like a great idea. However, drinking is full of empty calories, disrupts your sleep, encourages you to eat more, dehydrates you and makes you feel worse the next day.  If you must drink, limit yourself to no more than 3 drinks.

Go To Bed

Your body needs rest and you can’t just run on caffeine for several days and expect it to function properly.  Most nights, you are better off just heading to bed after dinner.  If your colleagues are going to do something that actually sounds fun, then, by all means, stay up late.  Usually, they will just be getting half drunk while discussing the company’s problems and how to fix them.  You can skip that night.

Have Some Fun

If you are visiting a new or fun city, go out and do something.  See some of the sites, do some touristy crap, see a show or go to a festival.  Try to plan out one cool thing that you will do before you begin your trip and stick to it.  Don’t go to Vegas, Boston or Chicago and only see the hotel room and conference room.

Don’t Apologize

People are going to think you are weird for skipping meals, eating protein bars and going to bed early but don’t let them phase you.  You have goals that you are working towards and you can’t worry about negative peer pressure.  People will feel insecure about themselves and want to bring you down but don’t shrink to make them feel comfortable.  Don’t be afraid to say “no” to some things and “yes” to yourself.  Follow some of the advice above and you will be able to enjoy traveling a lot more and not ruin your fitness goals.  Good luck and safe travels.




15 thoughts on “Staying Fit While Traveling”

  • Good tips. I really hit the workouts hard before we left on vacation. I upped the intensity and had zero rest days because I knew it would be hard to get them in when we were traveling. Like you said, it provided a nice buffer. I missed working out that week but made up for it slightly by hiking around in the mountains. Anything to get the ticker moving.
    Mr Defined Sight recently posted…Moving Is A Pain But It Scratches An ItchMy Profile

    • Getting a couple hard workouts in before you leave just makes the vacation more enjoyable. Hiking is a great workout. You don’t always have to be in a gym to exercise.

      Thanks for sharing!

  • I don’t travel for work, but go to infrequent all day trainings. I know my brain needs the fuel and I love it when they have a fresh fruit tray. I limit my caffeine intake so you’ll find me with herbal tea bags for later in the day. I do gluten free, which is an easy pass on the pizza, and usually means a salad for lunch. It also let’s me pass up a mid afternoon cookie tray, and a granola bar in my bag covers me if I do need it, but I try not to snack then.

    • Hey Jacq, thanks for sharing.

      Sounds like a pretty solid strategy. A salad is great for lunch if it is available. I feel like most of those training classes I go to just have sandwiches every time.

  • Helpful! I always find I have a hard time getting exercise in during travel times due to it breaking my usual schedule/habit cycle. On my most recent trip I would wake up and do 15 minutes of light exercise in the room before getting started with the day. It was helpful in that while it wasn’t exactly burning hundreds of calories, it still kept me in a habit of exercising regularly, and it was also just a nice way to start the day.

    Thanks for sharing!
    The Wealthy Healthy recently posted…026 – Steve Sunday: Summer 2017 (SS)My Profile

    • Hey Riki, I completely agree that just doing 15 minutes can do a lot for you. Good choices tend to have a compounding effect. Even though a 15-minute workout in the room might only a burn a few extra calories it sets you up to make better decisions all day in terms of skipping the doughnut at breakfast and choosing to take the steps.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  • Very sound advice, Grant. And it should come in very handy as Mrs. G and I head off to Montana this fall for 11 days. I hear you about crappy hotel gyms. All I really need is a pull up bar, but this one simple piece of equipment is never part of the typical hotel gym. Sigh. When this happens I substitute archer push ups for pull ups. I then do my lunges and dips and I’m pretty good to go. Not an awesome workout, but like you said, if you can just get 15-20 minutes in a day, your body will appreciate it. And I love the suggestion to skip breakfast. I’ve been doing that for a couple of weeks now. And I don’t miss it. Lunch and dinner is really all I need.
    Mr. Groovy recently posted…If You Want To Be Happier, Create SomethingMy Profile

    • Hope you guys have fun in Montana. Never been but looks peaceful. Pull ups are a fantastic upper body workout. I’m sure you can find a tree branch in Montana to workout on 😉

      I’m all for breakfast if it means spending time with friends and family or if it is healthy. Getting two pastries because “I gotta eat something” is not okay.

  • Lol yeah, I go to a fair amount of trade shows myself. And people do treat it like a semi-vacation. Especially the ones at Vegas (we have at least 1 a year in our industry at Vegas). It’s crazy, sales reps and mfg reps, and co-workers start that second and third day hung over from the night before. And on that last day, typically people try to close up their booth by early afternoon even though it’s supposed to technically go on for longer. But it’s also because the tradeshow attendees are out and about and the traffic dies down on that last day. I try to book a hotel with a gym. If not, I do some jumping burpees =)

    • It was eye opening the first time I went to one. I was a couple months out of college and was thinking damn these people really like to party. I like to enjoy myself too I just don’t get drink yourself half to death when you gotta stand on your feet for 10 hours in the booth the next day.

      Somebody actually caught me taking a picture of a guy sleeping (passed out) in his booth on the last day.

      Thanks for commenting. Still, can’t figure out why sometimes you get flagged as a bot?

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