What’s up party people? Happy Tuesday! I’m in Chicago for work this week for team meetings and a little bit off the grid. I wish I could tell you that my feed was going to be filled with delicious Chicago food, but we’re staying at the Midway Marriott and not venturing too far out of this area. It’s pretty much just meetings all day every day. Since I’m traveling for work, I wanted to talk a little healthy work travel. It is definitely something that a lot of people (including me) struggle with.
When I first started traveling for work about a year after college graduation, I really struggled with finding a balance (I was also struggling to find balance in my normal life, but we’ll save that for a different post). I swung one of two ways. One, eat insanely healthy, say no to drinks with coworkers, get zero sleep fitting in workouts, and be overall miserable. Two, say screw it and basically act like I was on vacation. Yes to all the food, all the drinks, and I would be equally miserable.
After a few years of this, I’ve finally gotten it down to a place where I am confident in my ability to stay balanced on the go. There are a few factors I consider when thinking about healthy work travel. Keep reading below to see what they are!
The first question I ask myself is how much travel do I have coming up or how much travel have I recently done? If I haven’t traveled much recently and don’t have much travel coming up, I tend to relax a little bit. Work travel can be fun and a great time to bond with coworkers. Try the local food, drink a beer, stay up a little late (if it won’t interfere with meetings the next day), and bond with coworkers from out of town. I’ll fit in workouts where I can, maybe go on a run to see a new city, eat healthy when I can, and just not stress about the rest.
If I have been traveling more frequently (lately it’s been weekly) I take a different approach. When I am traveling weekly it is so important that I eat well, exercise, and don’t go overboard on the drinks. It is so easy to get wrapped up in work travel that you think you’re on vacation. Listen to your body and give it what it needs.
That being said, no one wants to be the lame coworker that has no fun on trips. Enjoy your time and do the best you can. If dinner and drinks are non-negotiable, then make smart choices during the day. Wake up 15 minutes early to try and do a quick HIIT workout in your hotel room, choose the salad instead of the burger at lunch, drink water instead of that third latte. Don’t obsess, just do the best you can with what you have.
Am I traveling alone?
When I am traveling by myself it is so much easier to stay on my routine. Even if I have not been traveling frequently if I am flying solo, I always make health a priority. I stick to my routine. I wake up, work out, eat a healthy breakfast, do the best I can during the day, and then I eat a healthy dinner and hit the hay early. Alternatively, if I took a red eye out or switched time zones and I’m totally zonked. I sleep in, eat healthy, etc. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
If I am in a group, I tend to be more relaxed. As I said above, bonding with coworkers is important (to me) and I never want to be that person bringing down the mood. If everyone wants to go to a family style dinner, I won’t be the odd one out ordering my own meal. Instead, suggest a few healthy options to order along with the rest.
How long am I gone for?
If I am gone for 24 – 48 hours I tend to be a little more lenient with myself. 24 – 48 hour trips are most often a whirlwind of meetings, time spent in Lyfts, and airports. It’s hard to stick to a routine when you’re on a trip like that. I usually find keeping up with work to keep my stress down and staying on a normal as possible sleep schedule are the two most important things here.
If I am gone for longer than that, it is easier to get into a routine. Longer trips allow you to settle into the hotel, adjust to the time change, find a class to take, or check out the hotel gym.
Overall traveling for work (or for pleasure) while fun, is also so exhausting and hard on the body. I sound like a broken record, but I really believe the key to success is listening to your body when you’re traveling. Do the best you can, make good choices, but allow yourself to enjoy your time. Memories always outweigh calories so try to let some of that anxiety go.
I’m in Chicago this week for work Monday night – Thursday night and next week I’m in Boston for work Sunday night – Tuesday morning. Both trips are for very different purposes and I can see them having very different health outcomes. I’ll report back next Wednesday on what my routines looked like for both trips.
What are your biggest healthy work travel tips?