We all know how hard maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be (Hello, UberEats!). Throw long travel days and multiple days on the road into the mix, and any health routine goes out the window.
According to a study conducted by travel risk management company On Call International, one-third of business travelers say business travel stresses them out, and it’s easy to understand why (Forbes).
As an industry stacked with road warriors, we can relate – all too often, sourcing quick yet healthy meals while balancing your trade show and event work responsibilities can seem nearly impossible.
According to the same study by On Call International, of the 1,000 known business travelers surveyed, 44% said that they’re much more likely to eat an unhealthy meal while traveling than at home. Additionally, 54% said that they are less likely to exercise on a work trip than when not traveling. Even if you aren’t a frequent traveler, these disruptions in diet and exercise can take a toll.
As a current college student and a marketing intern for Nth Degree, travel is a regular part of my lifestyle and I’ve developed some tried and true tips for staying healthy on the road. Don’t worry, these tips also apply to your next fun and relaxing vacation to help with that stress level previously mentioned.
1. Don’t leave eating healthy up to chance; pack your snacks.
Airports are notorious for placing bags of candy and chips right in your line of sight as you walk to your gate, chipping away at even the strongest-willed among us.
Driving to your destination is, unfortunately, not much better. You’re left with choosing the lesser evil between gas station food, a fast-food drive-through, or taking a long detour for a healthier option.
To maintain your sanity and your health, I recommend packing one or two nonperishable snacks with you to ensure you have a healthy filling snack when you need it and to avoid any unnecessary temptation.
Some of my personal favorites include RX bars, made with only five all-natural ingredients, or a handful of your favorite nuts and seeds.
2. Dehydration is the enemy of air travel, and que water bottles are the hero!
According to physiotherapist Yasmin Badiani, planes can have a humidity level of 10-15% (Marie Claire). For reference, the deserts around Las Vegas have an average humidity level of 30% (CurrentResults). This low level of humidity can cause extreme dehydration if not adequately accounted for. In an average 10-hour flight, men can lose over half a gallon of water, and women can lose almost half a gallon.
For convenience as well as being eco-friendly, I recommend an easy-to-clean reusable water bottle. With the water bottle refilling stations popping up all over the country, it’s almost easier to refill than to buy a plastic water bottle! This water bottle from que is lightweight and easily collapses to half its size, making it a no-brainer for those long travel days.
3. Avoid empty calories.
Even if you think you’re making a healthy choice when ordering a salad, the dressing may be adding up to 1,000 “empty” calories (EverydayHealth). Even worse, many salad dressings can be packed with high amounts of saturated fat, sodium, and sugar, which almost negates the health benefits of the salad itself (Harvard Health) – yikes! According to EverydayHealth, a restaurant salad can have as many calories and as much fat as ordering a burger. When presented with this burger vs. salad question, still order the salad. However, to save yourself from these empty calories, I recommend ordering the dressing on the side.4. Watch what you drink.
Caffeinated drinks, while often crucial for those early mornings, can start your day with unnecessary sugar and calories. There are 300 calories and 45 grams of sugar in a small Caramel Frappuccino® from Starbucks, and honestly, no one orders the small when getting ready for a trade show or event!
At the risk of sounding like white noise, soda is not a good alternative. It is loaded with a simple sugar, fructose, which does not fill you up in the same way that digesting glucose found in starchy foods does (Page, Effects of Fructose vs. Glucose).
According to the American Heart Association, the average male should intake no more than 37.5 grams of sugar a day, whereas the average female should intake no more than 25 grams per day (Healthline). Just one of these drinks can tip you far over the recommended intake of sugar per day, and who can stop at just one?
Although this section isn’t about alcoholic drinks, it is worth mentioning. A glass of wine or a beer has upwards of 150 calories, and a cocktail can have up to 600!
5. Plan your meals with as much care as you planned your event.
One of my favorite tricks, is to choose my dining spots in advance so I’m able to review the menu ahead of time and predetermine what I will order.
It’s easy to let hunger override your desire to eat healthily and instead opt for the most delicious sounding and filling meal on the menu. When I’m hungry, I also negotiate with myself on my health-plan reasoning things such as, “You walked up-and-down the show floor for hours, you deserve that large bowl of pasta” or “You’ve been putting together that exhibit all day, go for the side of fries.” However, if you’ve already looked at the menu and have your order set, you can make a logical decision rather than a stomach-fueled one.6. Portion control is your best friend.
Depending on your level of daily activity, three restaurant-sized meals a day is too much for the average person. Instead, opt for sharing with a coworker, saving half for later, or ordering from the small plates or appetizer section of the menu.
Some restaurants are accommodating to this issue, and half-portions are available upon request. My rule of thumb at a restaurant is that it never hurts to ask. If there aren’t any smaller plates available, you can always opt for grilled vegetables or fruit instead of fried and heavy alternatives.7. Perfection is unattainable.
Ultimately, do not let your stress over remaining healthy ruin your chance of acing that event or exhibit.
Perfection is impossible to attain, and awareness of these tricks and effort in implementing them is half the battle. It’s unreasonable to expect that during the go-go-go that is our industry, that the ideal meal scenario will always be available on the road. Instead, reassure yourself that something is better than nothing, and make the healthiest decisions with the options you have.
Are you a #RoadWarrior with a healthy travel tip of your own? Click on the link below, like our Facebook page and the first 10 people that post a favorite healthy travel tip (photos welcome), tag Nth Degree and use #GetAQue will receive a free Que bottle from Nth Degree!