Your plane touches down. You grab your bags. You hop in your car, and you head home. Sitting on the couch on your first day back from an amazing trip to someplace you’ve never been, and all you can seem to think about is “I feel gross. I need to detox.”
If you’ve traveled before, you’ve been there. We’ve all been there. Too much delicious food, too many frosty beverages, and too little physical activity. It is the curse and blessing of travel. Indulging and letting go are all part of the experience, and they should be. Unfortunately, that experience leaves us feeling less than optimal and sends us on a 2-week mission to get back on track. The good news is, as with everything in life, it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are 3 very basic hacks to your everyday healthy travel routine you can make to keep the post-travel detox depression at bay, without sacrificing the experience itself. Let’s get to hackin’.
Hack #1 – Physical Activity
Even if you’re on a physically active trip that involves hiking, biking, walking, etc., it is still likely not enough to make up for the plate of gallo pinto, and 6 pack of Imperial you enjoy that night while planning tomorrow’s adventure to Arenal volcano. Your body needs high-intensity, weighted movements (even if only your own body weight) to kick your *ss in gear, both physically and mentally. The solution? Take 10-15 minutes (that’s it!) each morning and crank out a quick, but tough, bodyweight workout. How? All you need is 4 movements: the Air Squat, Pushup, Situp, and Burpee. These can be done literally anywhere. Your hotel or hostel, the beach, the park, anywhere.
- Choose a time domain somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes.
- Choose a number of reps for each movement.
- Do as many rounds of those reps as you can within the time domain you chose.
Want a quick example? Put 12 minutes on the clock. Do as many rounds of 3 Burpees, 5 Pushups, 7 Situps, and 9 Air Squats as you can in that 12 minutes. Travel can be busy, but you and I both know, we all have 12 minutes to spare. Mix it up. Make it fun. It will be over before you know it, and you’ll thank yourself.
Hack #2 – Eating Window
You’re about to freak out. Don’t freak out. Keep calm and read on. You don’t need to be eating for 12 hours/day. It’s true. No matter how many articles you’ve read on eating 37 small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism high, no one needs to be eating from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. Choose an 8 hour window each day to eat within, and stick to it. For most people, it’s easiest to skip breakfast and not eat until lunch. I personally eat everyday between 1pm and 9pm. “But I thought breakfast was the most important meal of the day?!” Look at the person telling you this, and ask yourself if the proof is in the pudding. Minimizing your eating timeframe to 8 hours/day:
- Naturally minimizes the amount of food you consume in a day.
- Gives your gut 50% longer each day to recover and repair itself. This is especially important when traveling and eating food you’re not used to eating. Your body and roommates will thank you.
- Allows you to wholly appreciate the experience and meal you’re having, without the feeling of being on an extended food and drink binge.
It sounds tough. It’s not. The first 2 or 3 days will be a little different, but nothing a cup of coffee (or 3) won’t take care of (yes, you can drink coffee outside of the 8-hour window!).
Hack #3 – Fringe Foods
Sandwiching your trip, and sprinkling the trip itself are meals that I would classify as “fringe foods”. These are the meals we eat when we’re on the go, just trying to get from one place to the next. They include airport meals, gas station stops, and meals on the plane. It’s the meals we mindlessly consume just to keep our bellies full while preparing for our next stop, and they can be the worst meals of all. McDonald’s at the airport, microwaved chicken alfredo on the plane, and Funyuns at the gas station. They don’t add anything of substance to our trip or our bellies, yet they can make us feel the worst. The good news is it’s an easy fix.
- Skip the TCBY line at the airport, and head to the bookstore instead. Grab some mixed nuts, beef jerky or other no carb foods, and water and you’re on your way. Think of airport eating as “What do I need to get me through?”, instead of “What do I need to make me full?”.
- Plan your travel periods to be outside of your eating window (see hack #2). That way you don’t even have to think about it. The Burger King line becomes a lot less tempting when you’ve made up your mind ahead of time that you’re not eating. As an added benefit, you’re minimizing your risk of having to use the airport or airplane restroom, which we can all appreciate!
- Focus your hunger on the ceviche you know you’ll be consuming on the beach of Dominical in a few hours. It will be worth the wait. Getting rid of the fringe foods allows you to more fully appreciate the local fare you get to eat and experience. Local fare = appreciate, indulge, and enjoy. Fringe foods = reduce, remove, repair.
That’s it. 3 simple adjustments and you’re hacking your way to healthy travel. The best part about it? You’re going to feel better, you’re going to save money, and most important – your journey is going to be more enjoyable. Going to be putting these hacks into practice? I’d love to hear about your experience with them! Comment below or shoot me a note to email@example.com. Cheers to your health.
Adam is the founder and CEO of Bodeefit, a daily bodyweight fitness company. He is also a head Crossfit strength coach in Denver, CO and startup veteran with Bodeefit being his 5th startup he has founded or worked for.
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