I always have clients return from vacation or business travel feeling frustrated that their healthy diet or therapy progress took a back seat while away. Traveling can make staying on track with your diet or exercises more difficult, but there are some easy things you can do to keep closer to your routine, it just takes planning.
If traveling by plane:
Stop at the airport newsstand by your gate and pick up a bottle of water and some healthy snacks. The effects of airplane dehydration can be felt up to a few days after travel, so be sure to replenish your body with good water during your flight. Choose some healthier snacks like fruit, almonds or mixed nuts to take with you on the plane instead of eating a big meal before you take off. You aren’t burning the high amount of calories you’d consume with a larger meal while sitting in a seat.
Be sure to check the airline’s magazine for tips on stretches and exercises to do in-flight to prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (blood clots) and stiff backs and hips, and DO them! Also, get up every hour when it’s safe to move around the cabin to stretch those legs and get the blood moving – and if you’re drinking your large bottle of water you’ve purchased, you’ll be getting up to use the restroom anyway!
Choose an aisle seat whenever possible. Not only will it make getting up from your seat easier to do, but will also allow you to stretch out your legs a little more in the aisle. This is especially important for people who have had lumbar back surgeries or are tall.
Instead of a travel pillow, take an extra sweater or sweatshirt and roll it up under your neck. Travel pillows are generally a little too stiff and push your head and neck into a different, atypical position, which can sometimes give you more neck pain. An article of clothing, or even a small towel, can be rolled up to the perfect size and give good support.
If traveling by car:
Stock up on healthy “road-trip” snacks at the grocery store the day before instead of stopping into the convenience mart at the gas station on your way out of town. Being you are traveling by car, you have the ability to take a small cooler with you and can take healthier snacks that are refrigerated. Also, pick up a gallon of drinking water to refill your water bottle on the road, and to have in your hotel room.
Get out of the car every 1-1 1/2 hours and walk to stretch your legs. Again, just like if traveling by plane, you should Need to get out to use the restroom every hour or so if you are keeping yourself hydrated! For those prone to lower back or hip pain, take a handheld roller (i.e. “the stick”) to roll out your quads, hamstrings, IT Band and calves when you stop.
Go to the grocery store when you get to your destination, either for healthful snacks for your hotel room or meals you easily prepare in an extended stay room or vacation rental. All grocery stores have similar items, so there’s no reason you can’t buy similar items as what you do at home!
For your suitcase:
Bring a tennis ball, resistance band and ice/heat pack with you. Use the tennis ball to roll out your traps, rhomboids, glutes, hip rotators, calves and feet, and the resistance band looped around your foot to stretch hamstrings, adductors and quads. Most hotels have a mini-fridge and microwave that you can use to cool or heat your pack (We love TheraPearl packs!)
Extra room? Pack your yoga mat. Not enough room? Use a large hotel bath towel to do some downward dogs, cat/cow and cobra for spine health.
Dining out: Choose salads with oil and vinegar on the side, or lean protein with steamed vegetables. Have to have a “corporate” meal at a steakhouse? Choose filet mignon with no added butter and steamed veggies. Feel pressured to have a dessert? Choose a bowl of fresh berries instead of creme brûlée or tiramisu!
Cheers to healthier travel! It can be done with a little extra planning, and your body will thank you!!