I’ve been flying airplanes since I was 16. Aviation has taken me all around the world. From places such as the Maldives to the Canadian Arctic. I know a thing or two about travelling. Sometimes I imagine how airline pilot’s looked in the golden days of aviation. The picture back then would be completely different from today. Back then a typical airline pilot would have looked something like this:
Nawww just kidding but you get my drift.
I’ll admit, if you work in aviation or travel a lot it’s hard to stay healthy and in shape. Yes the lifestyle of a pilot, flight attendant or a person who travels does present unique obstacles that don’t exist with the typical 9-5er. These obstacles don’t neccessarily have to turn into walls though. If I can manage to develop healthy habits while travelling there’s no reason the average person that does a few business trips a year, or a vacation or two, can’t either. I have a family, a mortgage and hobbies just like everyone else does. With a bit of careful planning, anyone can GUARANTEE that their fitness goals stay on track while travelling.
Here’s a few things I’ve learned over the years that might help you out next time you hit the road:
Before I travel anywhere I first accept the fact that I will not be able to do my usual routine.
- I won’t make it to the gym 5 days per week.
- I may not have all the gym equipment I need
- There will be no powerful blender.
- No organic, perfectly ripe and hand-picked strawberries for my post-workout smoothie either.
- I also accept the fact that I will not sleep for 8 solid hours every night (not that I do anyways with our little guy at home).
And that’s all OK.
What I do at home is what I do at home. When I’m on the road, I’ll have to pick and choose my battles. I realize I have to do the things that will make the biggest impact on my health and fitness regime.
Before I travel for pleasure or work I do my research on the hotel I will be staying at. I usually try to call/email ahead of time and ask if I have a small kitchen (at no extra charge) or at least a small mini fridge. This should not be an issue with most hotel chains. Next thing I look for is if the hotel has some sort of gym. If not I scope out the area either on the hotel website or Google maps/earth. An empty parking lot or a small grass patch at the rear of the hotel makes a perfect area for a quick workout. I also look to see if there is a grocery store nearby.
Taking your own food on the road
If you’re travelling within your own country have at her. You can pretty much take any type of food through security and on board. Raw, cooked, blessed……whatever. Food in airports and on airplanes is crazy overpriced and generally pretty crap. It’s all loaded with sugar, salt and weird preservatives you can hardly pronounce. In fact, I’m so sick of airport and airline food I’ve actually purchased a special carry on size briefcase that turns into a cooler:
This is all fine and dandy but when travelling to different countries it starts to get a bit trickier. Do your research before you travel and find out what types of food you are allowed to bring into different countries. I usually start to depend on sealed packs of nuts, trail mix, tuna can’s, dried fruit or some type of packaged jerky.
These are generally okay as long as they’re sealed by the manufacturer. I’ll also pack some protein powder and a shaker cup.
If food is scarce and you’re dying of hunger, sometimes making a quick protein shake can help tie you over. As a last resort I’ll sometimes pack a couple of protein bars. I’ll only eat these as a last resort.
- If you’re bringing real food to the airport make sure you freeze it ahead of time. You usually will have a hard time getting through security with ice or ice packs unless you’re travelling with an infant (ie. who needs bottled breast milk or formula)
- If you’re tight on space or don’t have a fancy bag like mine, you can carry food (even diced up chicken or veggies) in Ziploc bags. Also pack some plastic utensils. These are usually okay. Then you can eat the contents right out of the Ziploc bag and toss it when you’re done. It may not be ideal but it’s healthy and you won’t feel all bloated and gross from eating the garbage on board or in the terminal.
- Water is the biggest rip off at the airport or on the airplane. Bring an empty water bottle and once you get through security fill it up at a water fountain. Or use the protein shaker you packed. Saves you like $5-10 in one shot. There’s no airport that will not allow you to bring an EMPTY water bottle through security. Bonus you can use it while you’re travelling around your destination.
Where’s the gym bro?
A hotel gym packed with the latest Rogue or Life Fitness equipment would be ideal but likely ain’t gonna happen. Make use of what you got.
- Even if your hotel doesn’t have a gym you can always do some body weight exercises such as old school push ups, sit ups ect. Hell even a local playground makes a decent gym. Just don’t be weird. Put down the selfie stick and Go Pro if there’s kids around. Parents don’t like that shit even if you’re Instagraming yourself.
- As a general rule I try to walk everywhere when I’m on the road. I’ll be realistic though, depending on weather, I will usually walk anywhere if it’s within 30-40 minutes. Anything longer and I’ll see if my hotel has a courtesy bike. Last resort is usually public transit or cabs/uber.
- No treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical? No problem! One thing I always carry with me on a layover is a skipping rope.
Go ahead and laugh. You think skipping is for your little sister? And push ups for your weird uncle Marvin that always wears 70’s style sweat suits and tube socks? Think again. Try skipping consistently for even 5 minutes without stopping and then come talk to me.
One of my favourite bodyweight exercises on the road is called “Pushing Annie.” “Annie” is originally a CrossFit benchmark workout. “Pushing Annie” is a workout that has been tweaked by CrossFit coach and affiliate owner Jason Abney. This workout doesn’t take that long and it gives you a full body workout.
It goes something like this:
50, 40, 30, 20, 10.
50 push ups
40 push ups
and so on….
Time yourself. The goal is to do this as quickly as possible and rest as little as possible. It’s not as easy as it looks.
In case you’ve never heard of a double under:
If you can’t do double-unders you can always substitute with a jump knee tuck:
Lastly Google or youtube “bodyweight workouts” or “bodyweight exercises”. You will find a million different ideas and workout to do just about anywhere, with little or no equipment required.
Point me to the nearest pub sir….
I wrote a post a while ago about taking a vacation from health and fitness. Sometimes you just need to live a little and not worry so much about what you’re putting into your mouth. That’s okay, if it’s planned. If you’re trying to stay on point with your health and fitness regime, navigating the menu and food options in different countries can be tricky.
When eating out especially in different countries I’ll admit I’m sometimes “that guy” that asks a million questions. At first I was always shy but now I’m usually quite direct and tell them exactly what I want or how I want something cooked.
Eating out tips:
- Most restaurants and hotels in touristy areas want your business enough that they will do their best to accommodate your particular needs.
- Some people will lose their shit if they read this but another thing you can do is just say you have an allergy to a certain food. I know this is wrong and there are lots of people out there with serious food allergies, but when you’re in a foreign country it can be hard trying to communicate. “Allergy” is generally a pretty understood term regardless of where you are. Most places will usually bend over backwards for you. In touristy areas, the last thing any business wants is to make a tourist sick and ruin their Trip Advisor score.
- Remember that empty water bottle I told you to bring through security so you don’t get ripped off at the airport? Well most hotels have gyms equipped with filtered water. So there’s nothing wrong with just taking the elevator down to the gym and filln’ er up on your way out to explore the city. This may sound incredibly cheap, however, the next time you’re travelling in a third world country or touring around an expensive city……you’ll thank me.
The take home here should be that a little bit of forward thinking will go a long way.
With some careful planning I guarantee you will come back from your next trip feeling like you’ve stayed on course and not blown your diet or exercise goals. That’s all for now from this airline guy. So anyone out there have any other travelling tips? Did I miss something? Comments are always encouraged.
Keep the blue side up
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