I recently read two articles about travel fitness. One said that while you're traveling, you should keep up with 50% of your normal training and the other said you should keep up with only one-third. Both were written by well known fitness professionals and both said that you should NOT expect to keep up your regular exercise program while you are traveling. That struck me as kind of "lame" and I said to myself, "Why the heck not? Why do people have such low standards and demand so little of themselves? Why do they let themselves off the hook and scale back?"
Sometimes, of course, traveling is purely for a vacation – including a vacation from training. Occasional time off from intense training is beneficial and necessary to let your body recover and rejuvenate completely from chronic training stress, just as time off from the office is needed to disengage your mind for a while. It's also true that it really doesn't take much to maintain fitness once it is developed, and an abbreviated, but still effective, workout routine could certainly be used, if you choose, when you're on the road.
However, you still have healthy eating to think about and just because you're traveling doesn't mean you can't follow your regular exercise regimen. Why settle? If you want to continue to improve your physique while on the road, you can! Here are 10 ways that I did it on my last extended business trip that you may find helpful as well. It begins with a simple decision.
1. Decide to improve while you're traveling and to come home in better shape than when you left
Nearly every time I travel (the exception being if it's a complete rest and relaxation vacation), I set a goal to come home in better shape than when I left. The only reason most people usually come home with lower fitness and a few extra pounds than when they left is because they didn't make a decision to do otherwise. In fact, many people hold a belief that it's "impossible" to stay on their eating and exercise program while they are traveling! Why not get in better shape no matter where you are? The truth is, all it takes is a decision and some planning. I find it a fun and exhilarating challenge to improve myself no matter where I am in the world.
2. Write out your workout schedule in advance
There's nothing like writing your goals down on paper to keep your mind focused and keep yourself motivated. In addition to writing out goals regularly, preferably every day, you should also commit your training schedule to paper and especially when you are traveling. Write down the days, the time of the day and the exact workout you plan to do and you will be amazed at how easy you will find it is to get to the gym and have great workouts.
3. Get a hotel with a kitchen
The single most important part of my travel arrangements was to book a hotel with a kitchen. For me, not having a kitchen is not an option. If you don't have kitchen, you will be much more likely to skip meals, it's very difficult to eat 5 or 6 times a day (as required by any good fat burning or muscle building nutrition program), and you may end up at the mercy of restaurant, hotel or convenience store food. For my most recent trip, I stayed at Homestead Studio Suites, one of several national hotel chains in the USA which includes a full kitchen including a refrigerator, microwave, stove – the whole works. Exteneded Stay America and Marriot Residence Inn offer similar accomodations
On previous trips, if there wasn't such a hotel with a kitchen in the vicinity, I searched the internet for apartments for short term rental. You may be surprised at the type of lodging you can find and often you will be pleased with price as compared to hotels. I once booked a luxury condo for 7 days and it ended up costing less than the hotel I was first considering, and the hotel didn't even have a kitchen. Nothing beats a full kitchen, but you may also find that many hotels will provide you with a microwave and mini-refrigerator if you ask for them.
4. Go food shopping immediately after checking in
The FIRST thing I did after checking in was to make a beeline straight to the local grocery store. I took a shopping list with me because on past trips I found that I nearly always seemed to forget one or two small items if I didn't have the written grocery list. Once you have a fully stocked refrigerator and kitchen, your meal planning and preparation is NO DIFFERENT than it is when you are home.
5. check the local restaurant locations and menus and commit in advance to making healthy choices when dining out
Since I had a kitchen at my disposal, the majority of my meals were just business as usual. I cooked them right in my hotel room and brought them along with me wherever I went. However, when traveling, it's likely that you will probably be having quite a few restaurant meals.
I make it a habit to scope out the local restaurants in advance and even check their websites. Most have their menus online these days. I make a decision in advance whether it will be a regular meal or a "cheat meal." If it's a cheat meal, I enjoy whatever I want, but I always keep portion sizes in mind. For example, last time, I split a slice of cheesecake with a friend. Was I guilty? Heck no, it was my planned cheat day, I only ate half a slice and it was the first cheesecake I had in 12 months!
If you walk into a restaurant without having made a decision in advance whether you are staying on your regular meals or having a cheat meal, you are much more likely to have a "diet accident" and make a poor choice on impulse, especially if you're influenced by non-healthy-eating companions (don't under estimate the negative peer pressure factor). All it takes is one unplanned cheat meal and that can often lead to guilt. Then "all or none thinking" tends to set in and you may tell yourself, "Well, I blew it," so the next meal and then the rest of the week tends to completely fall apart as well.