Healthy Traveling for Road Warriors — Tips


The Wall Street Journal recently featured an article on a Columbia University public health study, which found that very frequent travel leads to higher incidences of obesity and other health risks.

Although this is the first study of this issue that I’ve seen, its results are far from surprising. Whether traveling by plane, train or automobile, travel presents challenges of all sorts and the most life-threatening challenge is maintaining one’s good health. But with a commitment to the task and a willingness to put in some extra effort, there are certainly things that can help the uber-traveler maintain good health. Here are some tips:

Traveling by car:

  • Bring an ice chest with food and drinks that you can keep cool with ice blocks. When you get to the hotel, put the ice blocks in the mini-fridge in the room and you’re set to use them again the next day when you reload your ice chest.
  • If you’re on a multi-day trip, pack a pallet of drinks. When you start to deplete the cold drinks in your ice chest, add more so you have an ongoing supply of cold fluid.

Travel  by plane:

  • Pack an empty plastic bottle. After passing through security, fill the bottle with water and use it throughout your trip.
  • Carry snacks that don’t need refrigeration. Don’t eat food sold or served on the plane. The airline’s concern is not healthy eating but low cost. These two are rarely compatible.

Airplane snacks:

  • Bag of veggies (carrots, celery, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli)
  • Bag of raisins and nuts (walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds)
  • Sandwiches (make ahead of time at home or buy at the airport – Au Bon Pain, found in many big airports, makes healthy sandwiches to order)
  • Bagels and crackers

Travel Meals:

  • At the hotel, ask about a nearby Trader Joe’s or health food store. Most hotels have a microwave, so you have a wealth of opportunity such as soups or frozen meals.
  • If you have to do a business meal, remember that most restaurants will cook to order. Instead of fish in cream sauce, ask for the fish grilled with some lemon for seasoning. Stay away from the bread basket and desserts. If you end up in an ethnic restaurant, search for something simple and as plain as possible. Don’t feel as if you’re torturing yourself – go ahead and enjoy a glass of wine (just one)!

Exercise on the road:

I’ve written before about things you can do in a hotel room for exercise. But how about when you’re driving, sitting on a plane or spending hours at an airport waiting for a connection?  Here are some tips:

  • Pay attention to your posture. Sit tall with your upper body relaxed. When walking with bags, balance them so you’re not listing to one side, walk tall and pick up your feet.
  • While sitting, do isometric exercises. Tense your butt and hold for thirty to sixty seconds. Release and do again. You can do this with all parts of your body. You’re getting some body work and no one is the wiser.
  • Get up, walk around and do some stretching. This is easier if you’re driving, but very doable on a plane or at an airport as well.

As I mentioned, maintaining good health takes commitment, even when traveling. You have to be willing to put in a little extra effort. For years I’ve been practicing the health and exercise travel tips I’ve shared with you. Sure, I occasionally get a strange look, but I’m way past that. When you return from a trip and clock in at the same weight as when you left, and you don’t feel sluggish or wiped out — you’ll realize that you’re on to something and it’s worth the effort. I promise.


About Cherie

Cherie Gruenfeld, Boingo's official butt-kicker, is an Ironman age group champion and world record holder. She is a grand masters triathlete — a sport in which she didn't even start competing in until her 40s — proving that top fitness is achievable at any age. She has raced in more than 25 Ironman triathlons, has 18 wins overall, and has won her age group at the Ironman World Championships a whopping 13 times. She's also an incredible fitness coach with great insights on goal setting and fitness on the road. Have a question for Cherie? Email her at You can also learn more about her non-profit organization, Exceeding Expectations on Facebook.
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