How to stay healthy while travelling: Tips from a pro

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We’ve all been there: long flights, jet lag, late nights, small rooms… do we need any more reasons to skip a workout? Between the hustle and bustle of travelling and keeping to an itinerary during a trip, it can be hard to find time to workout. And with all the excitement that comes with travelling, exercising might be the last thing on your mind. We get it. That’s why we turned to a pro to show us the best, most effective ways to exercise while travelling. Whether you’re stuck on a plane for hours, have a tiny hotel room to work with or you just want to stay healthy during your travels, we’ve got you covered!

Personal trainer and nutritionist Kara Crow dished out a few tips and exercises you can take with you anywhere.

Kara Crow: Personal Trainer and Nutritionist
Kara Crow: Personal trainer and nutritionist

Kara is a personal trainer and nutritionist from Stowe, Vermont and currently resides in the Boston area. She has been working in the fitness and health industry for almost six years, but has a lifetime of experience. As a young girl, Kara took up skiing and instantly fell in love with the sport. Through hard work and determination she found herself a spot on the United States Ski Team, which allowed her to travel to amazing places like Norway, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy and Chile, over the course of two years. With all that travelling she had to find creative ways to exercise, so she’s sharing with us her tips on how to stay fit and healthy – even on the road.

Exercises for small spaces

Kara put together a body-weight cardio routine that can be done in a small space, like a hotel room. She suggests you go through this routine four times, timing yourself each round. Your goal is to go as fast as possible, trying to beat your previous time. Here’s the routine:

20 squats
10 burpees
10 reverse lunges (each leg)
10 push-ups
10 plank push-ups
30-second side plank hold (each side)
10 side plank dips (each side)
10 cross crunches (each side)
30 seconds of mountain climbers
30-second plank hold

The routine targets all major body parts, giving you a quick and convenient full body workout with total body movements. To be sure you get the most out of this routine you want to work as hard and as fast as you can. You should be out of breath when you complete the four rounds.

A bonus tip from Kara? If you need a little extra weight during the routine you can always fill an ice bucket and hold it while you do your squats and reverse lunges. You can even hold your suitcase, books or anything else you find that substitutes as weights.

Airplane exercises

Now what about spaces that are even smaller than a hotel room – like an airplane seat? Well, Kara has a workout for that, too. Now we don’t suggest you start doing jumping jacks in the middle of the aisle, but there are a few things you can do right in your seat to help your body during long, and even short, flights. Here are a few exercises you can do every 30 minutes to keep your blood flowing while flying:

10 stomach contractions (flex your ab muscles and hold it for 10 seconds, then release)
10 leg raises (each leg)
20 ankle circles (each ankle)
10 inner thigh squeezes
10 shoulder raises (be mindful of the people around you!)
10 external rotations (again, be mindful of the people around you for this exercise, too)

If you’re in the mood for more movement, but are stuck on a plane, you can always walk to the restroom and do some squats in private. And while you are at it, you could even lunge walk back to your seat!

Stretching

As important as it is to exercise, it’s equally important to stretch. Here, Kara demonstrates a few stretches you can do in your hotel room.

Downward dog stretch
Downward dog stretch
Pigeon stretch
Pigeon stretch
Upward dog stretch
Upward dog stretch
Toe touch stretch
Toe touch stretch
Split stretch
Split stretch

Nutrition while travelling 

WATER! WATER! WATER! It is extremely important to stay hydrated while travelling(especially when you’re up against that dry in-flight air). Aim to drink double the amount of water you think you need when flying. Kara is surprised to see how many people don’t use the restroom during a flight. A good indicator of how hydrated you are is (as expected) the amount you get up to use the restroom. Plus, getting up to use the restroom is a good excuse to move around, as you should be moving every 30 minutes to keep your blood flowing. On an airplane your blood flow slows down, which is why you need to counteract that with movement and hydration. Kara also suggests avoiding alcohol when flying, as it can cause dehydration. If you’re set on having a drink, just be sure to have a glass of water with it.

Stay hydrated! (Image: dinnerseries)
Stay hydrated! (Image: dinnerseries)

Along with water, it’s important to eat during travel days. Airlines don’t always have the best selection of free snacks, so try to bring your own. Here are some Kara-approved items to pack for your flight:

Almonds
Cashews
Walnuts
Bananas
Apples
Other fruits
Plain Greek yogourt (try adding a banana to it for some flavour)
Carrots
Cucumbers
Celery
Other vegetables
Hummus

Be sure to pack healthy snacks (Image: ollesvensson)
Be sure to pack healthy snacks (Image: ollesvensson)

If you’re a granola bar person, look for raw, all-natural ingredients, and bars that are low in sugar (five grams or fewer is pretty good). The fewer the ingredients, the better. Kara suggests Kind Bars or Lara Bars. She also suggests bringing protein powder and mixing it with water once you’re on the other side of security. Protein shakes are a great snack to help keep you full for a longer period of time, and they give you the proper nutrients to aid your body while under the stress of travelling.

If you have some extra time at the airport and you’re looking to grab a bite to eat, try to stay away from breads and grains. Processed bread and grains can cause inflammation in your body, which can lead to swelling when you’re 10,500 metres in the air. If a sandwich is your only option, opt for whole wheat or whole grain bread and consider making it an open sandwich by removing one piece of bread. Also, try to stay away from fried foods and instead opt for grilled or steamed options. It’s important to be aware that broiled and sauteed dishes tend to be cooked in a lot of butter or oil, which is fine, but remember: everything in moderation. Some extra tips for eating out: when ordering a salad ask for the dressing on the side; eat slowly; eat till you are 80 per cent full; and avoid the bread basket and appetizers. Many people don’t realize eating some bread and an appetizer can sometimes equal a whole meal!

Do you have any tricks to staying healthy while travelling? If so, write in the comments below!

Featured images: effjohn and jerryonlife, dumbbells_adjusted via Flickr CC BY 2.0

How to stay healthy while travelling: Tips from a pro was last modified: July 28th, 2015 by Brittany Dietz
Author: Brittany Dietz (279 posts)

Brittany has travelled to London, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Mexico, The Caribbean, Canada and all over the U.S. She's passionate about travel and has big plans for future trips! Brittany is a Content and Social Media Executive at Cheapflights.