There are so many things I love about traveling – new foods, going out to local bars with new friends, exploring new places. When traveling long-term, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in all the social activities that you forget to take proper care of yourself, mentally and physically. I’ve learned this the hard way, so I’ve developed seven tips and tricks (including some great products) to help us travelers stay healthy and fit as we’re hopping from one destination to the next.
1. Create a Routine and Stick with It
A lot of people tell me they can’t imagine being on the road full-time for months on end, and that’s probably because when you imagine long-term travel, you think of it in the same way you would a vacation: days filled with beaches, eating out, and wasting the hours away relaxing. While I definitely do those things at times, the kind of travel we do is a lifestyle choice, and for me, it always helps to have a routine. At home, I would wake up, walk my dog, grab a coffee, and start my workday. Then I’d have lunch, hit the gym, and make dinner for myself. So when I’m traveling, each morning I wake up early, head to the same coffee shop, have a few productive hours at the coworking space, do a workout, and end the day either cooking dinner or enjoying a meal out with friends. Not only does the routine help me settle into a new location more quickly, it keeps me accountable for getting work done (avoiding ‘vacation brain’), and helps combat homesickness.
2. Pack Healthy Snacks
I’ll admit, my favorite part of traveling is the food. I have a serious passion for trying everything and anything I can get my hands on wherever I’m visiting. And while tearing into French pastries, Thai curries, and fried mystery meat is extremely satisfying, it can also be hazardous to my health (and bikini body). So I do my best to save the indulgence for times when it counts, and avoid eating junk food when I can. This starts with what I call ‘travel food’ – meals in airports, on airplanes, and the unsatisfying and especially unhealthy food we eat just because it’s there and we’re traveling. Airplane food contains 20-30 percent more salt and sugar to make it taste like you’re not 30,000ft in the air. I bring plenty of healthy snacks like granola bars, trail mix, cheese sticks, and dried fruit to keep me satisfied. And surprise surprise, when you aren’t stuffing your face with greasy airport pizza and the sad, microwaved airline food, you feel exponentially better when you arrive at your destination and head straight for the first amazing food spot.
3. Find a Workout Routine that Works for You
This one is a no-brainer. Working out, wherever you are in the world, is the best way to stay fit, feel good, and maintain a healthy mind. Most of the time I’m only in a city for a month or less, so joining a real gym is prohibitively expensive, so I rely on great online workouts and apps if I can’t find the motivation myself to go for a run or do yoga. Running around and traveling can really be exhausting at times, and integrating a solid workout into my daily routine has worked wonders. On our retreats we always make sure our participants are living in a great location close to plenty of amenities, including gyms, so we can all stay healthy and fit together. We also often organize group yoga, Crossfit, and bike tours to mix things up.
Hydration is always important, even when you’re not traveling, but it’s especially important when we travel to tropical climates where we’re getting lots of sun and sweating out precious water. I bring a refillable water bottle with me wherever I go, which makes life easier and helps cut down on plastic bottle usage. Chugging lots of water will help combat all the sugars in the Thai iced teas and mojitos I’m such a fan of 😊
5. Cook Your Meals
Like most people, going out to eat is one of my favorite things about traveling. But it can get expensive and it’s difficult to control the nutrition of food you order in a restaurant (not to mention you sometimes don’t even know what’s in it!). I try to cook a dinner for myself at least twice a week while traveling, and this helps me eat healthier and also feel a bit more at home wherever I am. Foreign grocery shopping is lots of fun, but finding the right spices to make familiar recipes can be difficult. One cool thing I discovered is this mini spice kit, perfect for tossing in my suitcase and making whipping up a tasty meal easier. If our PACK is traveling to a location where we have full kitchens, a favorite part is always the potluck dinners we host weekly. Each person cooks a dish and brings enough for the group to share over drinks, laughs, and games. There’s nothing better than a home-cooked meal to make it feel like a family.
6. Sleep, sleep sleep
Anyone who knows me knows I’m the world’s worst sleeper. I get 3-4 hours per night at best, and have learned to function on fewer. But when I travel there are other things at play like jet lag, late nights out, and even 2:30am wake up calls to hike an active volcano, so I have to take matters into my own hands. I keep this great sleep mask, these amazing earplugs, and a white noise app on hand at all times so sleep is much, much easier. If you’ve ever not gotten enough sleep, you know that a good night's’ sleep is the difference between a perky, happy, productive, social you and a grumpy, clumsy, zombie garbage monster, so GET ENOUGH SLEEP!
7. Find a Community
Working while traveling long-term takes guts, perseverance and a commitment to go beyond the typical 9-5 workday. Even though we are location-independent, working remotely doesn’t have to mean isolation or reclusiveness. A great way to get started is to join a coworking space. Or try out some of the great tools out there. There are at least 13 digital platforms that exist as online networking and education for telecommuters. Carve the path that is going to bring the most joy and productivity to remote working.
Finding a community that shares this lifestyle is crucial for success, and joining a retreat like ours is a great way to do that. We work hard to curate a group of professionals excited to learn about the world and focused on inspiring projects. When you travel with our PACK, you have access to great accommodations, coworking spaces, workshops and activities, and most importantly, an inspiring, encouraging community.
I hope these tips help you stay healthy, happy, and productive as a traveler. If you’re ready to get the most out of your location independence and find an awesome community to travel with, check out our upcoming locations and as always, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments, and ideas.
Michele and the PACK team