Recently I had the opportunity to work with a terrific group of trainers, each from a different organization. We had a lot of fun sharing experiences, stories and tips for better training. One of our exercises involved sharing ideas for times when training schedules get heavy, and you are either traveling across the country, the world, or even across your city. How do you keep yourself motivated, de-stressed and energized during these times? Here are 27 tips we shared.
1. Bring snacks. Choose healthy, non-refrigerated items you can carry. Things like fresh fruit or protein bars that you can pick up on the road, or carry your own.
2. Stay hydrated…with water. You can bring your favorite water bottle and fill it at the airport or wherever you are working. Keep drinking throughout the day.
3. Use zinc or an over-the-counter supplement to ward off colds. You come in contact with a lot of surfaces, and a lot of people while traveling.
4. Take time for nutritious meals and avoid fast food as much as possible. One of my favorite treats when traveling is to try a good, local restaurant. Your sponsors or a travel guide will generally tell you about great restaurants in the area. If you can get past eating alone, you can have some unique meals. (My trick is to go for dinner early; before the dinner crowd takes over.)
5. Stay at hotels that offer quality breakfasts. This generally saves you time and hassle, especially since you probably already have a full day. Make sure you get some protein; eggs, yogurt or cottage cheese. And take a piece of fruit or energy bar with you for later.
6. Grocery shop instead of eating out constantly. If you are staying for an extended time, more than a few days, choose a hotel with a kitchenette, then shop for a few easy-to-assemble meals. Even a take-out salad and some fresh bread will taste good and you won’t have to search out a restaurant.
7. Walk. I know you walked through the airport, but then you sat for hours on your flight. Once you arrive, find a place to walk outside, even for ten minutes. Fresh air, sunshine, wind in your hair. You need to move and you need to be in nature at least for a little while. An outdoor shopping area or a public garden are great places to walk around and be around other people.
8. Use the hotel exercise room. I don’t like them either, but I do like how I feel after doing a little exercise. You may need to be creative if the equipment is not what you are used to, but we know it is good to switch it up. At the least, do a little cardio and then a good, long stretch. I bring my workout gear and music on any business trip longer than one night.
9. Swim in the pool. If you are a swimmer, this is a natural choice. Even if you are not, the water may be soothing, and it may be enough of a novelty to motivate you. Since I am not much of a swimmer, I often sit by the outdoor pool and relax after working out in the exercise room.
10. Visit local health clubs. Maybe the hotel has an arrangement with local gyms or health clubs. Maybe your local health club has a branch where you are working, or maybe you can buy a day pass. I can almost guarantee it will be posher than the hotel exercise room, and it might even feel like a special treat to work out, then sit in the hot tub or sauna.
11. Take a class. Some large hotels and conference centers offer classes you can take. Whether it is Tabata or Yoga, you are sure to learn something a little new, and you might enjoy the motivation of working out with other people. Generally you will pay a nominal fee, and you might find yourself less likely to skip out on something you paid for. Another option is to take an online class, for example, take yoga classes from sarahbethyoga.com or search on You Tube.
12. Count your steps. I was surprised when I started using a fitness tracker that my training days didn’t automatically add up to as many steps as I had imagined. (Apparently I am often standing still, or sitting.) A fitness tracker will remind you to move, take a walk, or use the stairs. I find it informative and inspirational.
Mind and Spirit
13. Meditation/mindfulness. Whatever practices you do at home, adapt for on the road. For example, you can meditate in your room instead of turning on the TV. You can bring your favorite meditation music or a guided meditation you like. Roll up a few towels to sit on. Face the window if you can, especially if sunlight is streaming in.
14. Breathing exercises. Any time you feel stressed or tired, take 5-10 minutes to breathe mindfully. Even a mindful breath or two while driving can help ward off stress.
15. Do a daily reflection, then discard the day’s events. As each day comes to an end, take mental notes on what went well and what pitfalls occurred. Certainly, take a moment to reflect and celebrate the positives, then make note of what could have gone better, or what you need to correct. Then, let it go. Start each new day with a clean slate.
16. Fly in the night before. I make it a point to fly morning or early afternoon so I arrive early enough to get my bearings, do a little sight-seeing if possible, and check in to my hotel early enough to relax and prepare for the next day. If time permits, I like to meet my sponsor and walk through the logistics for the following day.
17. Arrive early to account for jetlag and reduce stress. This might mean arriving a day or two earlier than your training session, but in order to feel great and do your best work, this might be a smart tactic. Maybe you can work remotely or even take time to get to know the area you will be working in.
18. Keep your voice tuned up. Try creating a concoction of hot water, vinegar and honey. Or a salt water gargle. There are good over-the-counter mouthwashes to combat dry mouth, which can be caused by the dry air on airplanes and hotel rooms.
19. Learn formal breathing and vocalizing techniques so you can protect while projecting your voice. Using your diaphragmatic muscles instead of your vocal cords for breathing can make a huge difference. Your voice is one of your most valuable tools for training or speaking, so protect it. A great resource for all things vocal: B Vocal
20. Step away from the laptop and have free time. Unplug an hour before you want to sleep. Take a few hours after work to just get out in nature or have a nice dinner, or exercise. You do need a break and a chance to recharge.
21. Nap/sleep. The night before a session starts or the first night in a hotel (or both) can be stressful enough to disrupt sleep. Then you get up early and engage body and mind all day long. I often take a 20-30 minute nap right after a session, then get up recharged for exercise or dinner. If you can get to sleep earlier, you probably should.
22. Melatonin. Many people swear by melatonin as a way to regulate sleep patterns. Try it at home before taking it on the road; my daughter in law swears she sleeps 11 hours when taking it, which might not be what you want. For some of us, it’s just enough to guarantee a deeper sleep.
23. Noise control. Ever stay awake all night in a noisy hotel. Dogs barking, doors slamming, people talking loudly outside your door; ugh! Bet you have been there too. One hotel I stayed at actually gave guests ear plugs; not a great sign. If you have them, you might want to pack ear plugs just in case. You can also keep the room fan blowing all night (as opposed to going off and on all night!) or use an app that creates white noise of your choice.
24. Change shoes. You may not even feel that your feet are tired until you start walking to your car or to your hotel, then it hits. I remember so vividly working in Baltimore years ago wearing heels and having to literally hobble all the way back to my hotel. Put a pair of flats or sneakers in your bag, or in your car, and switch them out before making your way wherever you are heading after work.
25. Take advantage of local spas or the hotel hot tub. You may not have or make time for a facial, a pedicure or a massage at home, so why not schedule it for while you are out of town? It is something positive to look forward too, and should be a relaxing treat.
26. Go shopping. Again, you may not have time to window shop at home, or take the time to peruse the shops in your own town, but why not do it on the road, if it gives you pleasure? I personally find it fun to locate a new shop and buy myself a small treat while I am on the road. Maybe you would as well.
27. Bring something from home. It might be pictures of loved ones or pets. It could be a great book. Your favorite pillow. Or even a hobby, like the novel you are writing or your knitting needles. Choose something memorable and comforting. Enjoy!
Thanks to all of you road warriors who shared these great tips. I would love to know what other ideas you have, and how you keep happy and healthy while on the road.
Happy travels and successful training.