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A couple of weeks ago, I went on a business trip. We had a lot of meetings so we were cooped up in a room most of each day. Although we stopped for lunch and a late night dinner, we were literally living on biscuits and tea. I could feel my clothes getting uncomfortable and my body getting unhealthier every day. It got me thinking about how I could be healthier while travelling. Especially business trips where we have long meetings and very little time to do exercise and eat healthy. Here are some ideas for you to try next time you travel.
On the plane
- Keep hydrated: Alcohol and softdrinks, even if they’re free, are not your friend. Drink plenty of water. Preferably bottled if they offer it. I have my doubts about the quality of water stored on the plane. If there is no bottled water, I’d rather drink tea.
- The plane always seems to be freezing so layer up to keep warm: I take socks and a pashmina or scarf in my carry on.
- Clothing: Wear comfortable clothes. I wear soft black pants that are smarter than yoga pants but they’re elasticated so they don’t strangle my waist or restrict my legs. Dress in layers so you can take off or put on as required.
- Exercise: Get up and walk around if you can. If you can’t get up, do some exercises in your seat. The inflight magazine will have some exercises to prevent deep vein thrombosis.
- Sleep if you can. Use a neck cushion to support your neck.
- Makeup: I don’t wear makeup on the plane. Flying is already stressful for the body and skin so just keep your face clean and moisturised. If your skin feels parched, try a refreshing hydrating mist.
- If you get anxious flying, try essential oils. Black Chicken Remedies* has an essential oil blend in an inhaler that may help calm your mind.
- Meditate: Use the take off and landing time to meditate. Towards the end of the flight when there isn’t enough time to watch a whole movie, just close your eyes and listen to a guided meditation.
- Shoes: Wear something easy to take off and put on. I usually do ballet flats. Wear shoes to go to the bathroom. Aeroplane bathrooms are disgusting!
- Getting your luggage off the carousel: Move in close and drag your suitcase off. If you stand too far away and bend your back to lift a heavy case, you could injure yourself.
Hotel or serviced apartment?
When I stay in a hotel with breakfast included, I tend to eat a LOT more than usual. And all those pastries and little muffins calling out to you every day … Well, the best thing to do is get a serviced apartment, and here’s why.
- You can get your own food and eat closer to what you normally eat. I normally get some breakfast cereal, yoghurt and fruit. Enough for every day of my stay. Hotels don’t have crockery and cutlery in your room so you’re forced to eat out or get room service. In an apartment, you have more flexibility and can cook if you want.
- There’s more space so you can spread out. You’ll have a separate space where you can work and watch TV. I’m not a big fan of computers and TVs in the bedroom. Blue light and bad Feng Shui!
- Some serviced apartments will have an in house restaurant and gym, or something close by.
- If I’m there for more than a few days, I want to wash my clothes. In a hotel, you have to use their (expensive) laundry and dry cleaning service. You also don’t know what detergents they use so if you have sensitive skin, you may want to take your own detergents.
- I usually try to get a place close enough to walk to the meeting venue but far enough for me to get a walk in without getting all sweaty and killing my feet if I’m wearing heels.
- Except for breakfast, we usually have lunch out unless the meeting is catered. You’ll probably have a number of options. Stay away from heavy, greasy foods. Go for something with lots of vegetables. Salad bars are good options so you can choose what you want. Smoothies are also good. If it’s cold, I like Asian soups with rice noodles, some greens and chicken.
- You can also get some healthy snacks instead of resorting to biscuits.
- Dinner is usually with colleagues. If it’s shared, get extra vegetables as sides. Sometimes the guys will order steak and chips and don’t ask for vegetables but will eat them if they’re on the table. Limit the alcohol consumption, especially if you have to work the next day.
- If you’re in a serviced apartment, you can get whatever you want. I’ve tried some “healthy” frozen meals – sorry, they were not what I would call edible. But if you find something you like, go for it. If I’m staying long enough, I might get some easy to prepare foods like eggs, vegetables, wraps, hummus, fruit.
- I try to find the closest supermarket or convenience store after checking in so I can get my breakfast stuff and snacks first. Once the meetings start, I might not have much free time to go shopping during regular shopping hours.
- Load up on Vitamin C or zinc to boost your immune system – flying, jet lag, long days and late nights are stressful so you’ll be more susceptible to germs.
- Hotels usually have a gym. Some apartments have a gym or can give you discounted access to a gym nearby so ask before you book your accommodation if you like going to the gym. Some people just go for a run. I know people who have bought bikes on long business assignments or hire bikes for a few days, especially if they have to stay over a weekend.
- Sometimes I prefer to do yoga in my room. I just use a hotel towel for a yoga mat. You don’t have to “dress up”” or rush to make a class. You can also listen to your own music. And then you don’t have to go very far to shower.
- Also the walk to and from the office or meeting venue counts as exercise!
The hotel or apartment will provide soap, body wash, body lotion, shampoo and conditioner. If you have sensitive skin or are concerned about the quality of the products, take your own. Decant a little of your favourite skincare products into travel containers instead of taking the whole bottle with you so you can continue with your regular skincare routine. Be sure to get quality containers otherwise they might leak. I also pack the little bottles into a ziplock bag so if they do leak, the mess is contained in the ziplock.
Check out the Biome’s shampoo and body bar – save space with this natural combo that nourishes hair and moisturises skin at the same time.*
Why not pamper yourself a little while you have some time to yourself. Business trips are the only time I get some quiet time to myself.
Sleep is very important to maintaining your health and keeping you alert in meetings. I seem to sleep better in hotel beds now. It used to take me at least a week to get used to a new bed so I got very little sleep for the first week of any business trip (and then it was usually time to go home!). If you struggle to sleep in a strange environment, try these tips:
- If you’ve travelled to a different time zone, go to bed and wake up at the same time you normally would in the new time zone. Your body will adjust much more easily and you won’t suffer jet lag as badly.
- Bring your own pillowcase so you have something familiar to comfort and calm you.
- Make sure the room is dark. A sleep mask may help (and you can use it on the plane too).
- Stick to your regular pre-bed routine.
- Hotels and apartments usually have a variety of teas available – try camomile tea. Stay away from caffeine.
- A warm bath or shower just before bed will relax you.
- Adjust the room temperature so that you’re comfortable. If you’re too cold or too warm, it’s difficult to sleep. Wear socks to bed if your feet are cold.
- Soothing music will help to calm you.
- Breathe – a few deep breathes will relax you.
- I do this colour thing that relaxes me and I’ll usually fall asleep before I finish the whole process. Lie in bed with your eyes closed. Breathe in and imagine the colour red flowing in through your toes and spreading upwards throughout your whole body to the top of your head. As you exhale, the colour recedes and flows down towards your toes and leaves through your feet. Do the whole process with red again. Then go through each colour of the rainbow twice (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). If you haven’t already fallen asleep by the end of the rainbow, you’ll be verrrrry relaaaaaxed.
Although travelling for work, might be exciting, it does involve long working hours, not eating properly (or overindulging), and being out of your natural environment. All of this is stressful – on your mind and body. Use some of these tips to keep you healthy while on your business trip. Your business trip will end up being your little retreat.