18 Tips for Staying Healthy While You’re Traveling

18 Tips for Staying Healthy While You’re Traveling

18 Tips for Staying Healthy While You’re Traveling

Traveling doesn't have to throw you out of your health routine. Here are 18 tips to make it work—even when your choices are limited to convenience stores and chain restaurants.

Natalie Doche
Last updated:
November 9, 2022
5 min read
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Maintaining a healthy routine and staying on point with your weight care goals is always challenging. When you’re traveling—between all the temptations, inconveniences, and distractions—it can feel like summiting Mount Everest. Luckily, fully enjoying your trip and keeping up your progress are not mutually exclusive. And when you stick to good-for-you choices in terms of food, movement, and sleep, you’ll feel less sluggish and low on energy when you get home. Win-win! Here are top tips for taking care of yourself on the road. Remember, you’re worth it.  

Stay hydrated.

When you’re out of your routine, it’s easy to drink less water than you would at home. Whether you’re on a road trip or lounging poolside, you might get distracted and forget to drink up. Or maybe you’re traveling on a train or airplane, and cut yourself off to avoid multiple trips to the restroom in transit. The thing is, when you’re flying you need even more H2O than usual. Higher elevation causes your body to use up more water. Meanwhile, plane air filtration systems, while helping to keep passengers safe and healthy, sap moisture from the air. It can all leave you feeling like a dried up raisin. All that to say: Don’t skimp on your water intake at any point in your journey. Set the foundation for extra hydration by drinking extra water, starting a few days before your trip. Don’t rely on the in-flight drink service—it’s just not enough. Grab a bottle or two of water after getting through security and set a goal to drink them before you land. Hydrating foods help too. Fruits and veggies are naturally higher in water than other processed foods, so having a salad for lunch or a produce-packed snack can go a long way toward keeping you well-hydrated. Get a good night’s sleep. 

This one’s a little tricky. The anticipation-filled night before a trip and the first night away tend to be more challenging. But sleep is important—getting enough plays a critical role in physical, mental, and emotional health, according to the National Institutes of Health. Sleep deprivation also affects hormones, which are tied to feelings of hunger. When you’re short on sleep, you may notice you feel hungrier than usual, or unsatisfied after a meal. To set yourself up for a healthy and successful trip, you’ll want to do everything you can to maintain sleep quality. Here are some tips: 

  • Think ahead. Traveling to a different time zone? Begin to adjust your evening schedule in small increments toward that time zone, three to four days before you leave. For example, go to sleep 30 minutes earlier each day.
  • Quick trip? Don’t bother. If you’re staying in a different time zone for only two or three days, try to maintain your schedule as much as possible. Go to sleep at the same time you would in your home time zone every day.
  • Pack comforts of home. Especially if you have a hard time sleeping in new environments, don’t be afraid to pack what you need—whether it’s a soft pillowcase, a thin blanket that can fit in your luggage, or a pair of cozy socks.
  • Bring sound effects. Do you like to sleep with a fan or a sound machine “rainstorm”? Bring a miniature fan or download a sleep sounds app on your phone to take your white noise of choice on the go. Prefer silence? Pack some earplugs—it’s hard to predict the noises you’ll hear in a hotel room or rental house.

Stick to a routine.

We know, we know. Travel is about anything but routine! But creating a simple one for yourself will do wonders while you’re out of town. You could make it a point to get outside for a walk to stretch your legs as soon as you wake up, or set up a cozy corner wherever you’re staying to unwind with 5 minutes of mindful breathing before bed every evening. 

Pack healthy snacks.

There’s nothing worse than being stuck in traffic or in a seemingly endless airport security line when you’re famished. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a survival snack pack on hand—just a few healthy foods to hold you over—when you’re in transit. Below are some great options (and remember to have some protein at snack time whenever you can):

  • Baby carrots
  • Apples, bananas, or oranges
  • Beef jerky (grass-fed when possible) 
  • Protein or fruit-and-nut bars (look for those with few ingredients and no added sugar)
  • Trail mix with dried fruit, nuts, and/or pretzels (pack in ¼ cup-sized servings) 
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich 
  • Roasted chickpeas spiced with your choice of spices

Know your gas station go-tos. 

Preparation is wonderful, but life happens to all of us. When you’re too pressed for time to pack DIY snacks (or just plain forget), don’t stress. Most convenience stores and gas stations offer at least some healthy options. Look for: 

  • Baby carrots and hummus
  • Single-serve cottage cheese and a piece of fresh fruit
  • Trail mix with dried fruit and nuts
  • Banana or apple, plus lightly salted nuts
  • Prepackaged hard-boiled eggs
  • Protein or fruit-and-nut bars (look for those with few ingredients and less than TK grams of sugar per serving)
  • Lightly salted sunflower seeds or pistachios 
  • Water (skip the soda and juice—neither is worth all the extra sugar)

Spend time outside.

As the saying goes, nature is healing—and being stuck inside all the time can take a toll. Even when you’re in a cold destination, when the weather allows, carve a couple moments out of each day to get outside, breathe in some fresh air, and center yourself. It’ll help replenish your oxygen supply, and give you some much-needed stress relief. 

Keep moving.

No harm in stating the obvious, right? Staying active while traveling takes a little more thought and effort, but it’s so worth it in order to maintain your fitness goals and keep your energy levels up (so you can do even more exploring!). Here are some ideas: 

  • Walk more. If you’re traveling for work, take a brisk walk on your lunch break—and enjoy the new city you’re in. If you’re in vacation mode, walk to restaurants and landmarks whenever possible. 
  • Discover trails. Before your trip, scope out local hiking trails to discover all that nature has to offer in the area. 
  • Hit the onsite gym. If you’re staying at a hotel, check and see if they have an exercise room. You might even discover new equipment you’ll love!  
  • Schedule a local class: Prefer a group workout? Search for boutique studios in your destination before you leave, or ask the front desk at the hotel if they have any tips. 
  • Do a basic circuit. A few sets of five classic moves—push-ups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, planks—are simple enough to do in a hotel room or nearby park. 
  • Bring an exercise band. They’re lightweight, take up almost no room in your suitcase, and take travel and hotel workouts to the next level.
  • YouTube it. Search for free, no-equipment-needed HIIT or bodyweight exercise videos on your phone. 

Stretch!

Stretching is so important for our day-to-day health and well-being, and travel can really throw our bodies out of whack. Think about how stiff you feel after a long car ride or sitting in a cramped airplane seat for hours. Getting in 5 to 10 minutes of solid stretching each day on the road can make all the difference in how your body feels—and help you feel more relaxed overall.

Make a restaurant game-plan. 

A little planning comes in handy when it comes to finding the right places to eat on the road. This can be one of the most fun parts of planning a trip—search for a few potential pit-stops ahead of time that have some delicious-sounding, reasonably healthy options. Check the hours and location, so you know when and where they’ll fit into your itinerary.  


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Published date:
November 9, 2022
Meet the author
Natalie Doche
Senior community manager

Sources

  • “Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency.” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency
  • Pejovic S, Vgontzas AN, Basta M, et al. Leptin and hunger levels in young healthy adults after one night of sleep loss. J Sleep Res. 2010;19(4):552-558. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20545838/
  • Schmid SM, Hallschmid M, Jauch-Chara K, Born J, Schultes B. A single night of sleep deprivation increases ghrelin levels and feelings of hunger in normal-weight healthy men. J Sleep Res. 2008 Sep;17(3):331-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00662.x. Epub 2008 Jun 28. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18564298/
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