Travel is a part of life no matter if it’s for work or pleasure, with family, friends, or solo. Being in a new place with different people, choices, and obstacles, will almost always force you to deviate from your current nutrition and training routine.
But whether you’re a short car ride away for the weekend or overseas on a long vacation, you want to be able to come back and be at your best, not 10 steps behind.
So how do you enjoy your travels but also stay on track to your goals?
Spoiler alert – you don’t have to choose between depriving yourself of fun indulgences & packing 20 frozen meal prep containers OR going hog wild eating and drinking everything in sight.
I was recently in Asia for about two weeks and while I did not track my food or hit my regular strength workouts, I followed the basic principles below to stay on track. When I came home I was actually under my pre-vacation weight and was back on track just as soon as I recovered from my jet lag 😉
Here are my top 5 travel strategies to help you continue progressing towards your goals no matter where in the world you are.
1. Pack Food
Depending on whether you’re traveling by car/train or by plane, your ability to pack food will vary. But either way, you should focus on packing high quality snacks that will help you avoid fast food or worse airport options.
Food I packed for Asia:
→ Whey Protein
→ Amazing Grass Daily Greens + Probiotics Powder
→ Quest Bars or One Bars (high protein)
→ Natural Beef Jerky
→ Nuun Tablets (because I knew I would be sweating a lot in 99% humidity)
This may seem like a lot of food to fit in a carry-on and well, it was! I joked with my husband that my luggage was more like a food bag with some clothes in it than the other way around.
It may seem like overkill, but since I was gone for over a week and knew my grocery options would be very different at my destination, it was worth it to me. And once I consumed everything, I had plenty of room for souvenirs!
You can tell by the above list that I was mainly worried about protein because depending on where you are, meals might not necessarily focus around protein like some tend to do in the US. For example, a common meal I ate in Asia was a noodle/rice soup with a TON of veggies but only a sprinkling of your meat of choice.
Without my supplements and bars I would estimate that my daily protein intake would have been less than 90g of protein per day, while my current goal is 145g. Plus, I’m focused on building muscle right now and you can’t do that without adequate protein!
I started every day with movement (see #3 below), fresh fruit, and a whey protein + greens shake. And greek yogurt if I could find it!
More on the importance of protein HERE.
If you are driving instead of flying, I highly suggest packing a cooler. That will give you way more options of packable foods to help you continue fueling your body well on your trip.
2. Structure Your Meals To Include Protein & Veggies
As mentioned above, I knew protein was already going to be lacking in my meals abroad so I made sure to always order an entree with protein. Additionally, it can be hard to eat your daily dose of veggies when eating out, so make sure your meal also has a vegetable or two.
When eating out, scan the menus for protein and veggies. Whether you are tracking your food or not when you travel, you will almost certainly be eating higher carbs and fats when eating meals prepared by someone else.
This is because the combo of fats and carbs is calorie dense and our brain sees it as delicious (thanks to years of evolution) and is also why many restaurant meals taste so good. Unfortunately, this makes those meals nutrient poor and lacking protein. To avoid this, make sure you are always ordering a meal that includes BOTH protein and vegetables.
Restaurant Meal Ideas:
→ Grilled chicken salad
→ Curry dishes (with added protein)
→ Soups (with added protein)
→ Egg scrambles
→ Steak/fish/roast chicken & veggies
Eating meals full of protein and veggies is almost guaranteed to keep your calories in check, help you feel full and satisfied after your meals, and ensure you are consuming essential vitamins and minerals.
Breakfast most days – eggs with veggies and very strong coffee.
Lunch/Dinner – chicken curry with mixed veggies and white rice
3. Move Your Body
If you are able to find a gym to drop into while you travel and stick to your current training routine, that’s ideal! Try to choose a hotel that has a gym so you can squeeze in your morning workout (I say morning because motivation tends to dwindle on vacation afternoons). But if that isn’t possible, look up body weight workouts to do while you’re away.
Finding a gym might not always be a feasible option depending on where you travel, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting in quality movement every day.
I personally love to walk around wherever I’m visiting to explore and also get my heart rate up. I usually end up with almost two hours of physical activity on my FitBit most days during a vacation.
It’s easy to get in 20,000 steps while sightseeing!
What saved my workouts on my recent trip was my EmPack (use code EMPOWER for a discount). It is a backpack that converts into a weight training bag when you fill the collapsible reservoirs with water. This is the only bag I brought to Asia and it was perfect! It’s a secure and comfortable travel backpack/carry on and allowed me keep up with strength training while I was gone.
Here are some of the EmPack workouts I programmed for myself in Asia. These can also be done with anything heavy you find in your hotel room!
Full body circuit 20 AMRAP:
- 10 Push press
- 10 Bent row
- 10 ea. Single leg DL
- 10 Front squat
- 20 Plank shoulder taps
- OH reverse lunge
- Good mornings
- Bicep curl
- Tricep dips
- Burpee over pack
Butt Blaster – 5 rounds – 12 of each:
- Death march (walking single leg DL)
- Lunges on slider (towel)
- Dead bug with weight held over chest
- Hip thrusts
- Lateral lunges
Upper body – 5 rounds:
- 5 push up to weight pack pull through
- 10 OHS
- 10 Skull crushers
- 20 Russian twist
- 10 Curl to press
Full body – 5 rounds:
- 20 strict press
- 10 ea single arm row
- 10 ea split squat
- 20 stiff DL
- 30 sec weighted plank
At the end of the day, the biggest key is movement in general and when you can train, TRAIN! That’s why inside the Boom Boom Elite, we have programmed Hotel Workouts for the members who travel often.
4. Stay Hydrated
Pack a water bottle!! If you don’t have a travel-friendly water bottle that you can take everywhere with you, it’s time to invest in one. I personally love Hydroflask, but get whatever suits you that’s plastic-free.
Long hours of travel can wreak havoc on your hydration levels as well as your gut. Have you ever felt your skin totally dry out over a plane ride? Then you know just how dehydrating those travel environments can be.
Be sure to refill your water bottle after security and don’t be afraid to ask for extra water on the plane.
Sitting for long periods of time can also cause swelling in the body, which combined with different food consumption when traveling leads to GI stress. Drinking plenty of fluids will also help flush your system while keeping you hydrated.
When traveling, you may find yourself in a very different climate, sweating more than usual and packing Nuun hydration tablets may be beneficial. I had one in my water almost every day in the 99% humidity of SE Asia and loved the taste and electrolyte boost.
The amount of water you should consume while traveling will vary depending on where you are, how much you’re exerting yourself, and your salt consumption, but aim for ¾ – 1 gallon of water per day.
5. Rest & Recharge
Last but certainly not least, take time to rest your body and mind when you travel. Being in a new place can be overwhelming so don’t forget to slow down and enjoy yourself, especially if you’re on vacation.
Your opportunities for relaxation may vary depending on the purpose of your travel, but since you are out of your routine take advantage of the change in schedule to add in some time for yourself.
Try out some of the below ideas on your next getaway to help you unwind:
→ Listen to guided meditations on the plane/train/in the car
→ Sit and take in the new scenery around you – savor the slowness
→ Sleep in
→ Splurge for a spa day
→ Unplug from emails and social media
→ Read a good book
→ Try a new activity you can’t do at home
→ Don’t over-schedule yourself
Taking time to let your body and mind fully relax while you travel will allow your motivation and energy to be renewed upon returning home. Diving back into your routine when you’re home with a refreshed perspective and calm headspace will aid your fat loss or performance goals.
Traveling can be fun, exhausting, exciting, and relaxing all in one, but no matter what kind of trip you take, you don’t have to totally derail your progress. You still get to make decisions every day that can get you closer to your goals no matter where you are.
With a quick trip to the grocery store and a little planning, you can keep your body healthy, fit, and happy while trotting the globe.
This is a blog written by Caroline Ofenstein. Caroline is Certified With Precision Nutrition, NCI, CrossFit, and is also a Boom-Boom Performance Nutrition Coach. Caroline is our go-to source for CrossFit Nutrition AND bridging the gap between Aesthetics and Performance, which is where she has recently pushes a lot of her focus in order to help people understand how they can achieve both performance and the lean physique we all strive for.