Top Tips for Staying Healthy on a Business Trip

First, some semi-exciting news. I was down 1.2 more pounds at weigh in yesterday, making my total 11.2 pounds lost in the 5 weeks back on the new Weight Watchers plan.  That means I only have 10.4 pounds left until my goal weight, and I’m more than half way done with the weight loss this go-round! I am SURE this is going to slow down sometimes soon, but for now, I’m enjoying the ride. 🙂

I’m currently on a plane to San Diego for work and will be there until next Tuesday, so what better time than now to have a refresher course about staying healthy while traveling for work!? I travel 4-5 times a year for my job for several days/a week at a time, so I am always looking for innovative ways to stay on track while traveling.

I used to take the complete wrong approach to trips and just splurge the whole time and not plan at all. Not only would I feel lethargic, bloated, and have no energy, but almost always I would come back 5 pounds heavier. While this is not the end of the world, 5 pounds, 4 times a year = 20 pounds a year. Not good.

While a lot of these tips can apply to travel for both work or pleasure, the main difference for me about staying healthy on a business trip v. a personal trip is that your time is not your own on a business trip. Sure, you’ll have a little bit of free time, but I have a schedule for the whole time I am there. I have a little extra time during the first few days, but then starting during the weekend, I am working from very early in the morning (6am) until late in the evening (8-10pm) with only a few breaks to eat. If I was traveling for pleasure, I’d definitely plan for a lot more flexibility with my days and squeezing in workouts, but that’s not the case for trips like this!

After doing some research as well as a lot of trial and error, here’s what I’ve come up with for the Top Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling for Work.

  1. Research the hotel and the area you are staying at.
    • See if your hotel has a gym/fitness center.
      • If there isn’t a gym, figure out some workouts you can do in your room without any equipment – like lunges, jumping jacks, squats, pushups, planks, sit-ups, etc. Do some research and print out a few workout options you can do to bring with you. You can get in some great circuits with these types of exercises and really break a sweat! Also, you can ALWAYS go for a run or walk outside which is a great way to see the city and get some activity in!
      • If there is a gym, make sure you bring everything you need to workout, including socks, sneakers, headphones, and workout clothes! The last thing you want is to find the time to workout and not have what you need to do it.
    • Check the hotel website to see if there are refrigerators and/or microwaves in the rooms.
      • Did you know that you can request a refrigerator in your room because of “dietary restrictions”? I called ahead and told them I needed it for that purpose and they are giving me one for the whole length of my stay free of charge!!
    • Research to see if there are any grocery stores in your area. There is a grocery store less than a half a mile from the hotel that I’m staying at, so I plan to head there almost immediately after I arrive to stock up.
      • If you have a fridge, stock up on nonfat milk, greek yogurt, babybel cheese or string cheese, hummus, baby carrots, or anything else you can think of that’s easy to eat on the go quickly.
      • Either way: Stock up on whole grain bread, oats, nut butter, whole fruit, dried fruit, granola bars, almonds/walnuts/nut of choice, or any other non perishables.
      • If there’s not a grocery store near you, or there are some specialty items you’re not sure if you will have access to, bring them with you. I packed peanut flour with a measuring spoon so I can mix it into oatmeal in the mornings for extra staying power.
    • Pick out a few restaurants you want to check out while you are there. You can even glance at online menus and come up with some healthy options so you don’t find yourself stranded/without a plan.
  2. What to Bring With You
    • Reusable Water Bottle. This one is essential. Empty it out before you go through security, and then fill it back up as soon as you are through. Having a reusable water bottle with you will help you keep drinking water throughout your trip and stay hydrated, whether you have time to work out or not.
    • Pantry Staples – Listed above, but its important. If there are special things you like and pretty much need (for me, peanut flour right now), make a little room in your suitcase to bring them with you. Granola bars, nuts, nut butter packets (single serving sized ones are perfect), etc.
    • Workout Clothes – If you don’t think you’ll have time to workout, still bring one set just in case. You’ll be very happy if you end up with some time you weren’t expecting!
    • Snacks – You never want to be hungry and have the cookies that they serve (speaking from personal experience!) as your only option for a snack. Not only will it not be satisfying, but you’ll crash! Top picks for me are almonds, granola bars, and whole fruit like apples and bananas.
    • Utensils and bowls/plates – This is a biggie for me. If you’re planning on eating any of your meals in your room, you need to have some silverware to eat it with! Even if you’re just going to have nut butter on bread, you’ll need a butter knife to spread it with. Think about this while you’re planning what to bring!
  3. Schedule in Workouts
    • I do this in my every day life and it helps SO much to actually schedule it in. As soon as I get my schedule for these trips, I look at when I’m free and where I might be able to squeeze a workout in. I have a lunch break on Friday for 1 hour, so my plan is to go to the gym and do the 5k pace run that’s on my training plan, take a quick shower, and be back within the hour.
    • If you don’t have any free time during the day, wake up 10 minutes earlier to do a few sit-ups, planks, jumping jacks, etc. You’ll feel so much more energized throughout the day.
  4. Plan for a Splurge.
    • This one is especially important for me. If I try to be “too good” during a trip, I’ll inevitably give up and throw in the towel and eat everything in sight. This one can correspond with researching restaurants in the area. Find the place you want to have your big meal out, and plan it for the last few days of your trip. Focusing on that will help you stay on track for the rest of your time there and not make you feel deprived.
  5. Set Realistic Expectations.
    • Realistically, you’re not going to be able to stay on track as much as you can at home where you’re in your normal routine and cooking your own meals. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting expectations that you can’t achieve. Hoping to workout every day you are there if you don’t have the time to will just cause disappointment. Instead, focus on making the best choices you can make, and squeezing in activity wherever and however you can.

Wow this list turned out longer than I thought it would, but the bottom line: be prepared.

Do you travel for work at all? What are your best tips for staying healthy while traveling (for work or pleasure)?

24 Comments on Top Tips for Staying Healthy on a Business Trip

  1. Katie
    January 19, 2011 at 9:16 am (10 years ago)

    Great post! And AWESOME job at your weigh-in! You are doing amazing 🙂

  2. Victoria (District Chocoholic)
    January 19, 2011 at 9:38 am (10 years ago)

    I travel for work all the time (five trips in January and February alone), and your suggestions are great. One nice thing my organization will do is pay up to $15/day for useage of a fitness facility as a guest, so I try to find a nearby gym or pool if the hotel facilities are inadequate. Being able to do this often means waking up at 4:30 am, but it’s worth it.

    I agree with the one-indulgence rule, though sometimes I’ll skip this if it won’t be worth it. BBQ in Austin, yes. But last week, I was in Palm Beach Gardens and all the food available was so-so; the indulgences just weren’t worth it. Good thing I travel with my own high-quality chocolate stash.

    And peanut-flour is a must-have for business trips. You can get it through security, and it’s a low-fat, high-protein option, which can be hard to find on travel.

  3. Sruthi
    January 19, 2011 at 9:46 am (10 years ago)

    You go girl, you are dropping quite some weight.

  4. Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle
    January 19, 2011 at 9:50 am (10 years ago)

    I travel a lot for work too and I think that keeping the pressure off yourself (don’t stress about food or working out too much) but still being aware is the most important thing. Plan on doing what I call the “bare minimum” every day…so 10 min of ab work, some squats, and pushups. Eat a good breakfast and lunch and splurge a little at dinner. The bare minimum is easy to accomplish no matter what the circumstances (i.e. if your hotel doesn’t have a gym, if you don’t have a fridge, if you forget workout clothes, etc.)

  5. Liz
    January 19, 2011 at 10:13 am (10 years ago)

    You are so awesome on WW! I’m really proud of you.
    I travel for work probably around 6 times a year, and these are all great tips. I usually have the option to pick my hotel so I always pick one with a gym.

  6. Erin
    January 19, 2011 at 10:20 am (10 years ago)

    Great GREAT tips! Its so easy to tell yourself that its a trip so just splurge. Grr… 😉

    Congrats on your hard work paying off!

  7. Jessica
    January 19, 2011 at 10:37 am (10 years ago)

    I love this list! Thanks for sharing. I don’t go on office trips but any time I go out of town for a weekend or vacation I have a really hard time staying remotely on track. I’m going to really work on that.

  8. Amy @ Second City Randomness
    January 19, 2011 at 10:46 am (10 years ago)

    Love the tips! I was a little more than peeved to find out it’s an extra massive charge to use the fitness center in our hotel in Vegas… still trying to figure that one out being as how it’s in the middle of training. My friend keeps telling me running on the strip will be fine, but I don’t like running on the sidewalks in cities because I don’t enjoy dodging people and having to stop every other block. Ugh!

  9. DefineDiana
    January 19, 2011 at 10:52 am (10 years ago)

    Those are some great tips. I never thought about the water bottle one but that would save so much money on bottled water too.

    One thing that I find is that if you don’t have a microwave but do have a coffee maker you can still cook oatmeal. Just get some instant oatmeal and use the hot water from the coffee maker. You can also heat up soups in cans this way too. Place the can in the hot water and let it sit on so the burner plate is on and it will heat up your soup in about 10 minutes.

    Sometimes you have to get creative in the hotel room to save money and calories!

  10. Katie Photiadis
    January 19, 2011 at 11:14 am (10 years ago)

    Great post, Beth! I think your tips are awesome–particularly in regards to planning a “splurge” and setting realistic expectations for the trip. It sounds like you’re going to do great!

    Also, congrats on the awesome SV! You are so close to goal!!

  11. Sarah
    January 19, 2011 at 11:46 am (10 years ago)

    Great tips! Some hotels even has gym clothes that you can use (if you’re not bothered by wearing previously worn garments). I always take one pair of workout pants, tops, sports bra and just rinse them in the sink each day to keep them from getting too nasty. Have a good trip!

  12. Kimberley
    January 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm (10 years ago)

    Hi Beth! I used to live in San Diego! Let me know if you need any San Diego recommendations and enjoy your time there- I miss it!

  13. Marjie Scheib
    January 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm (10 years ago)

    Thanks for the great tips! I will be taking my first extended business trip to Las Vegas in March, 8 days!! With no micro or refrigerator in my room. I did find a great tip on another site. Suggestion was $19 Hot Pot. You can heat water, soup and cook oatmeal right in the Hot Pot. Temperature setting from warm to boil. I plan on packing it and lots of the other items you suggested. Thanks again, great timing for me to plan.

  14. RickGetsFit
    January 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm (10 years ago)

    Hi Beth – great blog! Thanks for the tips on the hotel. I always try to get a hotel with a gym, like you suggested, but I never make the plan to use it. Good suggestion on that – cheers!

  15. Katy (The Singing Runner)
    January 20, 2011 at 1:04 pm (10 years ago)

    These are great tips! I never knew that you could request a fridge for dietary reasons! Definitely doing that on my next trip!

  16. Kathy @ newlywedindc
    January 20, 2011 at 7:48 pm (10 years ago)

    Great tips! I travel about once/month for 3-5 days at a time for work, and I do a lot of the same things. I’m a runner, and I always do a little research on Google Maps ahead of time for the area I’m staying in to look for good running routes…some parts of America can be very un-runner-friendly (and potentially unsafe, whether it’s because of 6-lane highways with no sidewalks, or sketchy under-populated areas). I often am eating my meals with co-workers or clients so can’t eat much in the room, but I do my best to make healthy choices when eating out, and bringing things like fruit and energy bars just in case.

  17. Monica
    January 21, 2011 at 9:53 am (10 years ago)

    This is such an incredible post, I bookmarked it for my next trip so that I can review before leaving for a work trip at the end of February.

    FIrst, huge congrats on your success! You are so inspiring and your progress is amazing!

    Second, what do you think is different for you this time around with WW? You are so focused and it is really paying off.

  18. Brett
    January 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm (10 years ago)

    Hi Beth!
    Love your tips! I travel extensively for work and have maintained my health and fitness throughout the million miles of travel. It is definitely not easy, I know. I actually started in order to help people navigate this tough topic. Would love for you to stop by Beth!

  19. Dione Harjo
    January 29, 2011 at 10:11 pm (10 years ago)

    Beth – Great planning and post! Last year I traveled 25 weeks out of the year, this year they have cut our budgets significantly so I won’t be traveling as much. My first trip is the week of Valentine’s and I will be going to Tucson to LaPaolma Resort. I have been to this hotel before and it is way out in the middle of nowhere! The cost of the meals are outrageous. My co-worker and I shared a salad for lunch one day, two sodas was $32! Over the years I, too, have learned many of your tips. I usually pack my own utensils, tuna, sandwich thins, peanut butter, granola bars, water bottle, anything that will help me stay on plan. What is peanut flour? Where do you get that?

    The bad thing about this upcoming trip is that we are required to pay $50/day for meals (breakfast and lunch) out of our per diem. For one I always bring my own breakfast and lunch, then I have a sensible dinner and I never spend that much a day on my meals. Not happy about it at all, because then I think I have to eat it I paid for it! I am really hoping they have some fresh fruits/veggies. I am taking some ziplock bags with me because if they do my plan is to take some back to my room for my evening meal coupled with some tuna and string cheese, which I will pack in my suitcase.

    I usually carry an apple, small peanut butter cup, and a tuna pack with me going to/from and that is what I eat at the airport; plus I usually get a skinny vanilla latte. Thanks for the post it is a great reminder that we can stay on plan while traveling.

  20. Latina Barbi
    June 6, 2011 at 4:50 pm (9 years ago)

    I wish I would have read this BEFORE I went to Florida for work… now I’m back in San Diego! Enjoy our beautiful city!


3Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Top Tips for Staying Healthy on a Business Trip

Leave a Reply