By Suzanne Forster, Real-Life Health Coach, Life Evolyoution
As planners and organizers, we are always on the run. Although we excel at planning our events, board meetings and so on, when it comes to looking after ourselves when we’re away from home, most of us fall flat. We’ve been so focused on our job that we’ve forgotten that in order to do our job well, we absolutely need to look after ourselves!
Poor travel habits lead to sleep challenges, jet lag and a myriad of other impediments that arise when dealing with a change of environment, different time zones and deviated routines. This can increase the chance of health risks like obesity, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels; none of which we want.
Recent studies have found that frequent travellers are 260% more likely to rate their health as poor to fair. Do you want to be a part of that statistic? Certainly, the answer is, “no.” The central question, therefore, is, what do we do about it? The good news is, there are lots of measures we can take to travel healthier and they’re not difficult to implement.
I’ve picked the top three challenges association professionals face when travelling:
We need it to live and we definitely can’t ignore it! Food is the biggest element, and often the biggest challenge, to healthy travel because it affects how we feel, what we think, how clear our decision-making is and how people perceive us. We need to fuel our bodies with fresh, whole foods to get through each day and be at our optimum.
Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned can help you eat healthy while travelling:
- Taking a probiotic is key for a healthy gut and can also prevent an upset stomach. You should be taking a good-quality probiotic every day, whether you travel or not.
- I pack food and take it with me, whether it’s on the plane, in a car or train.
- If travelling across the border, it’s important to remember that fresh fruits need to have the labels on them.
- Hummus, cut veggies, salsa, almond butter and crackers, crunchy snacks and nuts are all good choices for a healthy, quick bite to eat.
- If you encounter the worst case scenario and have forgotten to plan your meals and snacks, look for the healthier options (salads, yogurts, etc.) wherever you are.
- Don’t travel hungry as it will drain your energy and wreak havoc with your blood sugar level.
- Locate the grocery store nearest to the hotel you are staying at so you can pick up fresh fruit, bottled water and snacks if necessary.
- It’s critically important to have snacks with you. We need to eat nutritional and substantial food every four hours and it needs to be at out fingertips!
- It’s true what they say; breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Breakfast stabilizes blood sugar, revs metabolism and can prevent you from devouring an entire box of cookies before lunch. Breakfast also improves concentration and hones your cognitive ability.
- Every meal should be a combo of high-fibre carbs, lean protein and healthy fats. It’s key to have protein at breakfast, like eggs with toast and fruit or a complete, balanced protein shake with greek yogurt.
- If you’re eating in a restaurant, be selective and order a la carte, so you can avoid the fries, creamy sauces, pancakes and other add-ons. Be particular and ask for what you really want, even if it’s not on the menu.
70% of our body is made up of water and by the time you feel thirsty, you’ve lost over 1% of your body’s total water amount. Water can increase energy, metabolism, reduce joint and back pain, and help digestion. Dehydration contributes to jet-lag, chapped skin, dry eyes and mouth, headaches, and constipation, all of which can be avoided by taking these steps:
- Planes have a humidity level lower than the Sahara Desert. You can guess what that means; you need to be well-hydrated before getting on a plane. Make sure to drink lots of water in the days leading up to a flight.
- On a plane, it’s key to have one cup of water every hour. I actually consume up to two cups every hour. I know many of us don’t like using airplane washrooms, including me, but the payoff is worth it.
- Alcohol is dehydrating, and coffee, tea and soft drinks are diuretics, so they wring more fluid out of your body than they bring in. Try hard to stay away from drinking too many of these beverages when travelling.
- Once you’ve landed, make sure to have water with you at all times.
- To avoid using disposable water bottles, pack your own empty water bottle. In most hotels, you can refill the bottles for free at the fitness centre.
- After a long flight (or travel by any means), a soak in a hot tub will help replenish body water directly through your pores.
This is one of the tough ones, given our industry and the pace at which we all work. Yet, sleep is absolutely key to being at the top of your game! If you don’t get enough sleep you can suffer from moodiness and irritability, the inability to cope with stress and increased difficulty in making decisions.
Travel induced insomnia is quite common. This is your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t working right. Here are a few measures you can take to get a better night’s rest when away from home:
- Make your hotel room as much like home as you can. Bring family photos, candles, comfy slippers, or other objects you use at home.
- Keep your pre-bed routine as similar as possible. Turn off technology 90 minutes before bed, use the wake up call service instead of your phone as the alarm (turning your phone off might even be the best solution), moisturize to keep your body hydrated and make the room as dark as possible.
- If you’re out with clients, members or at an event, alternate between alcohol and water. Alcohol is a REM inhibitor so it pulls your body out of rapid eye movement sleep, which is where most of the benefits of sleep occur.
- Try stretching or doing a few yoga poses before bed. This helps put your mind at ease, steadies the breath and reduces muscle tension
Adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep a night. I know this is not always realistic, but anything you can do to relax yourself will help. After all, sleeping well will improve your memory, spur creativity and lower stress. If you’re ever in New York City, check out the Benjamin Hotel; they actually have a sleep expert on staff!
When we spend so much time away from the comforts of home, shouldn’t there be a way for us to feel energized, be able to start each day as if it were going to the best day ever and be excited for what amazing experiences or wins that we’ll have that day?
With a little creativity, you can still take care of yourself while you’re away from home, no matter how often you may travel. It just takes a firm commitment to self-care and some proactive planning. Travelling is part of our lives, so why not make it a health experience that you look forward to?
Suzanne has worked in the business events industry for over 20 years sharing her knowledge and skills as a member of the Toronto Congress Centre, then with Learn 2. She is currently living her dream life owning her own business, Life Evolyoution, where she helps clients find their happy.