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5 Tips to Stay Healthy & Productive While Traveling

My daily routine helps keep my productivity, health, and focus where I want it. Traveling can be tons of fun—new connections, new places, new experiences—but can also be torturous to daily routines. I use a handful of abbreviated workout routines and nutritional tricks to help keep my body and mind sharp while traveling.

Introduction

Traveling is like game day—preparation only gets me so far. Ultimately, I’m left to deal with whatever may cross my path, and I’ll be nowhere near my comfort zone while doing so. I’ve carefully crafted my daily routine over the years. Being able to fall into lockstep with some semblance of its familiarity helps me feel and function better on any trip. After all, what’s the point of traveling if I’m going to feel like shit the whole time I’m there?

Tips to Stay on Routine While Traveling

Not only does maintaining my daily routine—as best as possible—help me while traveling, but it also helps reduce the amount of recovery after traveling. I want my business trips to be productive, but I also want to be productive the moment I get back.

A day wasted anywhere is still a day wasted. The following tips help me stay sane, productive, and positive while traveling. They all have some basis of scientific support by my favor for each is ultimately rooted in positive personal experience.

natural supplements in bowel1.Prebiotics + Probiotics

Digestive health is very important to me and something to which I give daily consideration. There’s a medical condition known as Traveler’s Diarrhea that is exactly as it sounds. This condition is characterized by notable shifts in gut bacteria that ultimately lead to diarrhea (R).

Even if you don’t get diarrhea, traveling is likely to cause a dramatic shift in your gut bacteria. This shift is especially true when traveling longer distances and crossing multiple time zones (R). Research shows that taking prebiotic and probiotic supplements can lower the risk of traveler’s diarrhea and help support healthier gut bacteria (R)(R).

I find FOS-containing prebiotics and Saccharomyces Boulardii both extremely helpful. S.Boulardii is a spore-forming bacteria with a lot of science to support its health benefits. FOS is a type of soluble dietary fiber that supports the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. One other thing: I always make sure my supplements are from a quality supplement brand.

hand holding a melatonin softgel2. Melatonin

There’s a tiny part of the brain called the Pineal Gland. Among other functions, it secretes a hormone called Melatonin. This compound helps maintain the body’s natural circadian rhythm. This helps signal when it’s time to go to sleep when it’s time to wake up, and it even plays a role in regulating appetite and feeding schedules.

Melatonin is available as a supplement and can help reinforce your natural sleep/wake cycle when traveling. Research has shown melatonin is very effective at reducing—if not eliminating entirely—the effects of jet lag (R).

When traveling to different time zones, taking melatonin at your normal bedtime (now in local time) can help limit the effects of jetlag. Melatonin also helps regulate gut bacteria, so it’ll also likely help reinforce the added benefits of prebiotics (R)!

breath in cold air3. Intermittent Hypoxic Training (IHT)

Part of my daily routine is lifting weights, moving around, and breaking a sweat. I rarely find myself having access to a decent gym when traveling and often don’t have time to go on 2-hour walks. To address this, I’ve tried to come up with ways to maximize what little exercise I’m able to squeeze in.

Intermittent Hypoxic Training is, in my opinion, much like tricking one’s body into believing it did more exercise. The premise is simple; rapidly oxygenating your blood then exercising until what feels like complete de-oxygenation, all while doing some form of exercise.

I find hyperventilating and then holding my breath while doing push-ups and free-standing squats work well. Two to three sets of this routine leave me feeling as if I’d hit the gym for a full hour.

man meditating on mountain at sunrise4. Meditation

Meditating has gained much popularity in the past few years. I won’t say that I am the master of any meditative technique. I’d argue just the opposite. I imagine any Zen master would scoff at how casual my meditation practices are. They’d probably argue they look too akin to a “nap” to be considered actual meditation.

The simplest of meditations is to focus on your breath. Just take deep breaths and try not to focus on anything else. Acknowledge any thoughts that may enter your mind, but don’t give them your attention. Pretend they are the water swirling around you as you float down a river. Yes, they are there, and you may not be able to escape from them—but your real goal is to find the current.

That current is the source of my meditation and helps bring be focus throughout the day. I assume my day is going to leave me a bit stressed. In preparation for this, I allot two periods of 15 minutes to meditate. Once right before lunch and once right before dinner. These help me “reset” and transition into the next segment of my day.

empty blue plate5. Skipping Meals

Traveling inevitably brings about situations where I’m forced to make the decision of eating something that’s likely to disagree with me or not eating at all. Research shows that such practices of intermittent fasting provide several benefits including better blood sugar stability and metabolism (R). Personally, I find the peak of shorter-term fasts (<24 hours) gives me a boost in energy and focus.

I don’t recommend skipping meals while traveling if you’re not familiar with how your body responds to intermittent fasting. For me, I know what to expect from the cycles and how far I can push things. I also know how to recognize when I go from hungry to a carnal ball of hormones that shouldn’t be making any important decisions.

I regard the ability to skip meals while traveling the real advantage. It takes away the pressure and/or anxiety associated with eating foods that may disagree with me.

Final Thoughts

I don’t travel particularly often but when I do, I find these tips help make things go much more smoothly. These actions help my body stay on a schedule as close to its normal daily routine as possible. Whether I’m skipping a meal where the only option was fast food, taking S.Boullardii to help settle my gut down, or taking melatonin before bed—my real focus is able to stay on enjoying my trip.