Sticking to a healthy routine when traveling for work is easier said than done. Follow these tips to maintain your health — and sanity — on the road.
Do you sometimes feel your health is at the mercy of your hectic jet-setting job?
Maybe you’re a consultant who wakes up early every Monday to catch that 5:00 a.m. flight. Or you frequently take exhausting cross-country business trips.
A healthy routine is essential to eating well, getting exercise and sleeping the recommended seven to eight hours each night. From jet lag to fast food, business trips make it tricky to stick to that routine.
While your friends may be envious of the free open bars, steak dinners and first-class travel, you feel like your health and state of mind are at risk.
Splurging every once in awhile is OK. But partaking in these activities for weeks at a time can damage your health and contribute to conditions such as high blood pressure and obesity.
So when you get ready for that next business trip, try to stick to a healthy routine by following these tips:
1. Use the company AmEx differently
Traveling with the company corporate card means eating three-course meals three times a day, right?
Forget that you’re “supposed to” expense as many indulgent, rich meals as you can squeeze in during your trip. Go a different route. Abuse your AmEx to buy healthy meals and snacks.
To prevent overindulgence at mealtime, fill your bag each morning with healthy snacks like granola bars, trail mix and pretzels. It should be enough to hold you over until your next meal.
2. Channel your inner hermit
You may feel compelled to attend every networking event or stay late at the happy hour organized by the conference you’re attending because more schmoozing will help you climb the career ladder, right?
In reality, mingling for hours on end, night after night, can not only be mentally exhausting, but also detrimental to your immune system.
Dedicate at least two hours a day to time for yourself. Put down your BlackBerry and shut off your computer. This time is for non-work activities.
Since you’re removed from other responsibilities and your friends while traveling, you can easily slip into a pattern of overwork. Burnout syndrome happens to the best of us, so make sure that when times are especially hectic, you get a little bit of alone time.
3. Explore your surroundings, not the hotel gym
Sure, you could sacrifice precious hours of sleep to wake up at the crack of dawn and hit the fitness center. But that will only contribute to your exhaustion. Since your schedule for the day is already packed, don’t worry about rigorous treadmill sessions. Cut yourself some slack.
If you have some time, explore your surroundings. Check out the local park or walk a loop around your hotel. A brisk 20-minute walk in the morning before you start a long work day can make you more alert. Like they say, a healthy body is a healthy mind.
4. Watch your booze intake
A glass or two of wine at a company dinner or happy hour is OK. One drink can get the conversation started and ideas flowing. In fact, studies show that a glass of wine a day can help protect against strong risk factors for diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
But there’s a difference between a couple of drinks and closing the bar down. (Click here to Tweet this thought.) Although it may be fun in the moment, keep in mind these people may be potential networking contacts. And you probably have a long day tomorrow.
So put your game face on, follow the two-drink rule and be professional. After that, stick to tonic water (or head back to your hotel room to get some sleep).
5. Set expectations with your boss
You may feel pressure to perform your regular job duties while also fulfilling obligations at your work event. Keep in mind you’re only one person and can only spread yourself so thin.
Before leaving the office for a week of business travel, set expectations with your boss. Discuss what you can realistically accomplish while also performing travel-related duties.
Are you ready for your next business trip?
When faced with the challenges of a fast-paced job, you can easily fall victim to a lazy lifestyle and slack on your health habits.
But following a simple, healthy routine will do wonders for your stress levels, relationships and overall well-being.
Making these changes overnight may be tough, so don’t be too hard on yourself. On your next business trip, try to focus on at least one of these tips and go from there, conquering your diet, sleep and exercise routine one city at a time.
Pretty soon, you’ll be jet-setting like a pro.
A southern girl at heart, Allison Parker is a 20-something writer embarking on a new life in Chicago. A victim of wanderlust, she is the editor of her blog, alli in the city, narrating her travels across the globe. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.