In 2016, about 488 million business trips were taken around the world. In the U.S. alone, 1.3 million business trips occur every day and I am usually one of these statistics!
Workers have been hitting the road more and more in recent years, which is important to note because staying healthy while traveling can be challenging. When we travel, we’re away from our usual routines and comforts, but with a little preparation and forethought we can stick to our health and wellness goals. Many of the tips I share below I use personally to help me maintain my best health and wellbeing while traveling.
Well-being tips for traveling employees
Come prepared with non-perishable healthy snacks, like nuts, apples, and snack bars (check the food label as some of these are packed with added sugars). They may come in handy when your plane is stuck on the tarmac for three hours.
Bring a reusable water bottle. Staying hydrated helps maintain your energy level and mood. Drinking water can also help with managing weight.
Shop around – literally. Most airport restaurants offer healthy foods like yogurt, fresh fruit, and salads. Make sure you take the time to explore beyond the burger joint. Also, when I am traveling alone, the supermarket becomes my restaurant. I swing by to get my healthy snacks and often I can buy a full healthy dinner there, too. I always ask for a refrigerator in my room to store the leftovers.
Be strategic with menus. Since you can’t always choose from a wide variety of options for restaurants, use the following tricks when ordering food.
Look for “grilled” and “steamed” instead of “fried” and “breaded” – here’s a whole list of watch words for menus.
Drink water instead of beverages with added sugars like soda.
Ask for dressings, mayonnaise, butter, etc., to be placed on the side.
Keep a food diary. To stay accountable with your healthy diet goals, note what you eat with a notebook or use a mobile app on your phone. That way, you can keep yourself honest even when you’re away from your usual surroundings and routines. I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers and I track everything I eat, every day, and it helps me maintain a healthy weight.
Use a fitness device or app that tracks your steps. Some wellness programs actually use the activity recorded on these devices and apps and reward you for your efforts to keep moving.
Take your equipment with you. If you’re able, pack some lightweight fitness gear like resistance bands, and some gym clothes or a swimsuit if you’re hitting up your hotel’s gym or swimming pool. You can take a yoga class using your mobile phone so the excuses for not exercising are becoming more limited.
Take stretches anywhere. Whether you’re a passenger or driver, remember to take breaks to keep the blood flowing. If you’re on a plane, you won’t have much leg room but you can manage a few simple stretches in your seat.
Get your sleep.
Minimize jet lag. If there’s a big time zone difference between your arrival and departure, try to adjust to the new time zone. Attempt to soak up as much sun as possible so your body’s internal clock can acclimate to the new time zone.
Practice good sleep hygiene. Stop “screen time” with your computer and mobile devices an hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted from these devices can disrupt your body’s internal clock, but know that some devices have settings where you can adjust or turn off the blue light. I often get distracted and end up missing my desired time to fall asleep so I set an alarm which is a signal for me to start to wrap things up and head into the bedroom.
Make sleep a health goal. Is getting more sleep a personal health goal? Some organizations offer health coaching as a benefit to their employees. A health coach can assist you by providing guidance and support with a number of health goals, including sleep.
Lastly, one way to ensure good sleep is to eat well and exercise (see all of the above!). Foods loaded with sugar, salt, and fat can give you a rough night, but maintaining an exercise routine usually helps people sleep more.
Remember, workplace wellness isn’t tied to one physical location. When implemented successfully, it should extend to employees’ entire lives, both in and out of the actual workplace, so that they are making healthy choices 24/7. For more guidance and ideas about helping employees become healthier and happier, visit HumanaWellness.com.
These non-insurance services are provided by Humana Wellness.