Business trips can be great. You get a hotel room all to yourself (major key if you have a roommate or young kids at home), expensed dinners out, and a chance to explore a new corner of the world that you might not have seen otherwise.
However, with the change in scenery comes a break in routine — a break that can often spiral into an all-out indulgence fest if you’re not careful. Let’s face it, work dinners often go hand-in-hand with wine, bread, and dessert; long days of conferences and meetings aren’t really conducive to staying active and getting your 10,000 steps per day.
We’re here to save you. Here are our top tips for staying healthy on a business trip.
Stick to Real Foods and Reasonable Portions
It’s pretty easy to grab some fries and a soda at an airport fast food stand and tell yourself that you had no choice for a healthier option. Well, we’re calling you out on that. Healthier choices are all around you at the airport, the hotel, and the conference center; you just have to be dedicated enough to look for them a little bit.
At the airport and on the plane, take advantage of the fact that you can pack your own snacks by stuffing your carry-on with fruit, almonds, veggie sticks with hummus, low-sugar protein bars, and other portable TSA-compliant snacks. Stash the rest of your snacks in your hotel room to grab in-between meetings. Healthy snacks are key, people.
When eating meals among colleagues, focus on making healthy choices and eating reasonable portions instead of thinking you have to skip meals altogether (that’ll only backfire as your appetite starts to get bigger and bigger). Get up early enough to eat breakfast at the hotel, going for fruit, yogurt, egg whites, and cereal rather than fried bacon and biscuits and gravy. A healthy breakfast will power you through until lunch.
Keep lunch on the smaller side (like a salad or a whole-wheat sandwich, no mayo), and avoid the inevitable pastry table that mysteriously shows up with the coffee cart in the afternoon. At dinner, go for seafood and lean protein, and fill half your plate with veggies. If you absolutely can’t turn down the triple-chocolate cake (and who are we to judge?), settle for having a few bites rather than a whole wedge.
Stay Hydrated on the Plane and at Happy Hour
Sure, you probably know that you’re supposed to stay hydrated on the plane, but TSA restrictions often sabotage your water bottle before you even make it to your gate. Your savior? The humble reusable water bottle. Stash it (empty, of course) in your carry-on, and fill it as soon as you’re through security. Aim to drink 8 oz. for each hour you’re on the plane.
Got a networking happy hour to attend? Enjoy a beverage or two, but make sure to have a glass of water in between drinks to stay hydrated and sharp when talking to colleagues. Even better idea — make your drink of choice a club soda with lime (everyone will think it’s vodka and not question why you aren’t drinking).
Most hotels now have at least a rudimentary gym that allows you to fit in a quick 20-minute session before you start the work part of your day; for some extra motivation, you can download a free app like Nike+ Training Club or Sworkit to program a bodyweight workout (read: no equipment) just for you. You can also grab your running shoes and explore your surroundings on foot (just check with the concierge first to make sure you’re in a safe place for runners). Or, if you’re a ClassPass member, you can use the Flex option to take group fitness classes in a place other than your home city.
Got absolutely no time to work out? Aim to get 10-15,000 steps per day, walk instead of cab or shuttle whenever possible, and take the stairs rather than the elevator. Sounds like a small step (#puns), but you’ll add activity to your day without even realizing it.
The recurring theme among these healthy business travel tips? Planning. If you know you have a client dinner at a steakhouse in the evening, eat a salad for lunch. Stuck on a plane for three hours? Pack some homemade trail mix and walk around the terminal before you board. And of course, stay hydrated throughout the day with your trusty BPA-free reusable water bottle.