I currently travel twice per month for work for two to three days at a time, facilitating leadership development sessions for clients. When I started traveling for work I felt on top of the world. I was able to travel all across the country, do what I love doing, and best of all, it was on the company’s dime. I love visiting different cities, checking out different restaurants, and having a nice dinner with a couple of drinks.

However, it wasn’t very long before I started regretting these decisions and began rethinking what I loved about traveling. My health is my number one priority, and very few of my habits when I traveled aligned with my health goals. I’ve said for a long time that I never wanted to be the fat dude in a suit, and though I wasn’t at that point, some things needed to change.

Whether for work or pleasure, here are six steps to be healthy when traveling!

1. Know your goals and challenges

When you travel, what are two or three things you really want to accomplish? When I travel, my three things are to be mindful of my eating, work out every day, and get good sleep. While on the road there can be significant challenges to succeeding in all three areas.

When it comes to being mindful of my eating, realistically I am going to be eating out for every one of my meals. That in itself can be a hurdle. I need to pay more attention to where I am eating and the options on the menu. Working out every day can be a challenge as well. I don’t like running outside that much, which can be dictated by the weather, and I really like my gym time. The challenge here is many hotel gyms are hit and miss. Equipment might not be working properly, the layout of the gym might be funky, or options are just very limited. Sure, I could just go run outside and/or do push ups in my room, but I’d rather have a gym. Sleep just comes down to organization of my day and night. I control that.

Take some time to think about what you really want to accomplish and what challenges you need to overcome to be successful.

2. Get the right tools

Take a moment to think about what you want to accomplish. What do you need to be successful? To accomplish my nutrition goals, I need something to help me be aware of and manage my food information and choices. I use the website Loseit.com. I also downloaded its free app on my smartphone. Lose It! allows me to easily look up food, track my food for each meal, and it provides me with a nice pie chart that shows me the ratios of my protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake. This has allowed me to make smart decisions when I am eating out and finding menu items that align with my health goals.

For my workout goals, I refuse to roll the dice on the gyms at the hotels, so I have a membership to Anytime Fitness that I pay $35 per month for. With so many locations, I have yet to travel somewhere and not find an Anytime in the area. Now, it may not always be as conveniently located as your home gym, but if needed I will drive a little further to reach my goal. I know I’ve only mentioned a few resources here, but that is what works for me. You need to do your homework and figure out what works for you to accomplish your goals.

3. Get to know the area

Once I know where I am traveling to, but prior to booking my hotel, I open up Google Maps and look up the locations of: my client, Staples, my gym, different restaurants, Target, and Walgreen’s. Doing this research allows me to book my hotel in an area that is convenient to everywhere I want to be, making things easier on me, and most importantly reducing potential challenges in reaching my goals. Nothing will screw up your plans worse than thinking you know where you are going, realizing you aren’t going the right way, and spending more time correcting yourself.  At this point, it’s easy to say forget it, and run through the drive through on the way back to your hotel.

4. Make your plan

If you do steps one through three, making your plan should be a piece of cake. You should already know what you need, what you need to do, and where you need to be. I know that I typically arrive at my destination late afternoon or early evening the day before I have to do training. I take that time to make my round to the places listed above to get my “necessities for success.” Based on my training schedule, I will try to determine if I am going to work out in the morning or evening and what restaurants are in the area that align with my health goals. Before I arrive I have an idea of the flow of my trip and how I am going to accomplish my goals.

5. Prepare prior to and after arrival

You might say that steps one through four fall under “preparation,” and you’re right, but I’m taking it a little further. To prepare fully, prior to leaving I map out the most efficient routes to get everything I need in the shortest period of time and I email myself the link with addresses. I make sure I have my workout clothing packed and ready to go as well. When I arrive and I start getting my necessities; I’ll grab bananas, protein bars, a four-pack of protein drinks, a gallon of water, and other little snacks I might like that align with my health goals. The last thing I want to be is dependent upon the offerings of my hotel. If I get hungry or want a snack, I don’t like my only choices being the junk food or processed food in their little store or the meals in their restaurants. Having healthy snacks and water in my room allow me to have control. Once you do this a couple of times you’ll get in the flow, and the time it takes you to prepare will be minimal.

6. Execute

If you follow steps one through five, you will know your goals and challenges. You will have the right tools and resources. You will know the area and where you are going. You will have a plan to make it all happen and you will have control and confidence because you’ve prepared. There is only one thing left to do: do it! You’ve planned your work, now work your plan!

I never want to use the excuse of a busy travel schedule for not fulfilling my health goals. You just have to know your goals and have the plan and resources to accomplish them. Once you get in the flow of doing this, you will never stop. It’s too easy and you’ll feel too awesome. Now I fully recognize that what works for me will not work for everyone. However, I feel this can be a good starting point and you can personalize what works for you.

Feel free to share any tips you have for being healthy while traveling in the comment section below. Have fun and be healthy!

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