Are you planning the vacation of a lifetime? Maybe you’re gearing up for yet another business trip or packing gifts for a visit with relatives. Whatever the destination, if you’re feeling fit and healthy, you may be concerned about losing ground or getting sick on the along the way. So, how can you stay healthy while traveling?
Bettye Allis, regional sales manager and former fitness instructor at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, is an avid traveler and fitness enthusiast. She’s developed some techniques for herself that help you stay on a healthy track from the moment you leave home.
“I want to hold my own while traveling,” says Bettye. “My goal is to maintain my health and fitness on the road, so that I can get right back into my regular fitness routine when I get home.”
In the air
Because most travelers fly, Bettye suggests a number of pre-travel preparations to keep you feeling great during and after the flight.
• Make a small travel kit to go in your carry-on bag. Take hydrating spray for your face and hair, a hand sanitizer, eye drops if dry eyes bother you.
• Fill your water bottle with green tea.
• Take an over-the-counter cold prevention product or similar megavitamins designed to help ward off infection from the dry, re-circulated air in planes.
• Pack your own food, making sure to include the same fresh whole grains, fruits and vegetables that regularly keep you healthy. Airline and airport food are notoriously poor candidates for good nutrition.
• Drink lots of water as you fly.
• Get up and walk the aisle, do simple stretches.
• Avoid alcohol.
On the ground
Your next best friend is a pedometer. Especially when you’re on the road, you can strive for 10,000 daily steps. So strap it on before you go.
“Never sit in the airport,” says Bettye. “Walk between planes!”
If you’re dressed for business travel, change into a comfortable pair of walking shoes, grab your rolling carry-on and keep moving. Remember that you’ll be sitting again for hours in the air.
Away from home
Once at your destination, health and fitness can still figure into your routine. Bettye suggests planning your activity route to include lots of walking. Book your hotel in a safe part of the city, perhaps near a park or fitness facility. If you rent a car, park at a distance from your destination and enjoy the walk. Keeping aware of your surroundings, you can also walk to appointments, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and make good use of the fitness facilities and swimming pools available at most hotels.
Better yet, if you travel frequently to the same destinations, make friends there and plan ahead to exercise with them during your stay.
If you prefer to exercise in your room, Bettye suggests that you travel with a yoga or Pilates mat, your favorite exercise video or DVD, or an exercise tube – a stretchy rope used for resistance training. Another often-overlooked tool is your laptop computer, a convenient substitute for free weights.
If you’re coming to the Ranch in Tucson, Bettye urges you to attend Michael Hewett’s 8-minute workout class. Easily memorized, “you’ll learn the ideal exercise routine for busy travelers.”
Food for thought & fitness
What about eating out? Be aware of the foods you eat and work a little harder to maintain a healthy diet. Order whole grains whenever possible, and take your own low-calorie salad dressings in little packets. Ask for sauces on the side and use sparingly. Select dishes cooked with olive oil instead of butter.
“And you can ask to have your order split, with half of the meal boxed up in advance,” says Bettye.
This keeps your portions manageable.
Bettye also carries a little journal to record the number of servings of fruits, vegetables and proteins she eats every day, along with the final number of steps on the pedometer. That information tells her whether to take a walk after dinner, how vigorously to exercise, or how to adjust her diet and activities for the following day.
Plan for everything
Beyond staying fit, think ahead in the event of illness or injury away from home.
“Come prepared,” says Bettye.
Don’t pack medications. Carry them with you, along with your normal vitamins, allergy remedies, first aid items, copies of prescriptions (including eyeglass prescription) copies of credit cards, insurance card and drivers license. Program your doctor’s number into your telephone, and call if you become ill.
“And as obvious as it sounds, take the right shoes,” she says.
Foot fatigue or injury can curtail all of your best fitness intentions on the road.
According to Bettye, “none of us really has an excuse.”
Whether you’re winging your way to an exotic New Year’s Eve in Venice, a hometown holiday reunion or another business convention, you can feel just as good when you return to your doorstep as you did on the way to the airport. Maybe even better.