By John Bobey
Whether you’re travelling for work or play, the last souvenir you want to bring home is a few extra pounds. According to recent studies, we’re logging more miles in the air than ever before, and that wanderlust is expected to double in the next 20 years. When you add in falling prices at the pump (road trip!), a trend that’s expected to continue, it means you’ll likely be away from home—and your usual fitness regimen—more and more often.
In a way, that’s great news (hotel bars and expense account meals!). And in another way, that terrible news (hotel bars and expense account meals!). Fear not—with a little prep and planning you can enjoy that business trip or holiday guilt-free (and yes, still have that martini at the bar and a steak on the boss).
1) The best way to make sure you don’t forget to pack your workout gear is to never unpack it. Always have a bag at the ready. When it’s time to replace your running shoes, reserve the old pair as your travel sneaks (there’s surely enough life left in them for that), and dedicate a lightweight pair of shorts and a quick-drying tee (we know a great brand) to a small waterproof bag you can toss in your luggage.
2) When it comes to airline and gas station food, sometimes the best option is, as Anthony Bourdain puts it, to “go hungry.” Along with your workout gear, throw a few low-sugar, well-balanced energy bars (our friends at Health Warrior make a great one) in your bag to stave off hunger on the way to your destination. Plus, if you roll into your hotel late, you’ll have something to get you through to breakfast instead of paying $36.50 for a bag of chips and 11 M&Ms from the mini bar.
3) Today, even the worst hotel gym is pretty good. After all, you’re not out to set a new PR, you’re there to get in some quick weights and 30 minutes on the treadmill. You don’t even need any equipment to get a great workout. By the time you’ve watched CNN cover the same Breaking News! for 45 minutes, you’ll be done. Not only is consistency the secret to staying in shape, but later when you order the Filet with Béarnaise sauce, you’ll have earned it.
4) There’s no better way to explore a new city, be it Paris or Poughkeepsie, than by running its streets. Ask your concierge to draw you a quick map of a three-mile loop, and start the day with some cardio out while seeing the sights. Local parks also offer a great excuse to escape the hotel and work up a sweat.
5) We’ve made unbelievable strides in the field of hotel mattresses and pillows. Luxuriate in the high thread count and use this time away to log a solid eight hours of sleep. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: It’s one of the best things you can do for your health.
6) When travelling for business, expense accounts can be dangerous—really, would you order that third Old Fashioned and the Toffee Cheesecake if you were paying for dinner? (Well, maybe.) Try not to eat like there’s no tomorrow, because there is—it’s when you have to fit into your suit and give a presentation.
7) Lastly, embrace your inner Indiana Jones. Of course vacations are fun, but that doesn’t mean business travel has to be punishing. No matter where you go, there is something you can’t do or see or experience where you live. Try that regional food, see that live band, or spend a few hours strolling an idiosyncratic exhibit at the quirky local museum. Even the tightest schedule usually has some flex in it, and you owe it to yourself to squeeze in as much living as you can while you’re there.
Remember, fitness isn’t just about diet and exercise—it’s also your state of mind. We are largely creatures of habit, and a disruption of your routine doesn’t have to mean it’s room service and SportsCenter until you return to your regularly scheduled program. Stimulate the brain, body and soul while on the road, and you may find that you come home with the cobwebs cleared and a fresh perspective (and no extra lbs.). Just make sure you wash those gym clothes and air out your sneakers…no need for your carry-on to smell like a gym bag.
John Bobey is a writer/producer living in Los Angeles whose work includes The Today Show, Huffington Post, Saturday Night Live, and The Late Show with David Letterman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.