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Remote Wellness: A guide to staying healthy when travelling
People who travel frequently often experience challenges staying healthy due to difficulty accessing fresh food, kitchen and gym facilities when away from home, as well as managing good sleep patterns across changing time zones. Interestingly, research indicates that professionals who travel frequently for work are more likely to be obese and have poorer self-reported health than people who travel less often1. On the other hand, travelling for pleasure has been reported to have positive outcomes for people’s mental health by increasing well being, happiness and life satisfaction2-4.
Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Nutritionist, Rachel Hawkins, shares her tips for staying healthy when travelling below.
Tips for eating a healthy diet when travelling
- When at airports, try to order meals that are high in fibre, protein and healthy fats as they will help to keep you feeling full and satisfied whilst travelling. An example of this would be a tofu or chicken salad topped with nuts or seeds or a wholemeal roll with salad, avocado and a high-quality protein.
- Always have healthy snacks on hand. Great portable snacks include muesli bars, roasted chickpeas, air-popped popcorn, freeze dried fruit, nuts, seeds and even protein powders such as Nuzest Clean Lean Protein which can be mixed with water to make a shake.
- If travelling for work, plan ahead and pack food to take with you! Non-perishable food items such as wholegrain crackers or rolled oats can be packed in your bag, while perishable food items such as precooked meats, cut vegetables or single-serve yoghurts can be taken in a cooler bag and transferred to the bar fridge in your hotel room upon arrival.
- Book accommodation that has a kitchen or kitchenette. Having use of simple appliances such as kettles and microwaves will enable you to cook basic meals. For example, vegetables can be steamed in a microwave and eggs can be hard-boiled in a kettle.
- If buying food from petrol stations or convenience stores choose healthier options such as air-popped popcorn, fresh fruit, trail mix, yoghurt or chia pods, fruit/veggie packs with dips such as hummus or nut butter, pre-made salads or wholegrain sandwiches and unsweetened beverages such as water, coffee and tea.
Tips for staying active when travelling
Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend that people accumulate 2.5-5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity or 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity (or an equivalent combination of both) per week5. This can be very difficult to achieve if you are travelling frequently, however there are a few things that you can do to try and stay active whilst away from home.
- Go for a walk or run. This is a great way to get out and explore the area you are staying!
- Increase daily activity. Travelling offers an opportunity to see and do new things. Consider walking or cycling as your mode of transportation for the day or try an activity that will keep you active such as hiking or surfing.
- Book accommodation that has a gym facility. Most hotels are equipped with gyms that have basic cardio and weight machines. Check your hotel gyms opening times upon check-in and plan your visits. A quick 30-minute workout is better than nothing.
- Look up local facilities. If your accommodation doesn’t have a gym facility, or you prefer group fitness classes, do a bit of research before you travel to find out if there are any gyms near where you’re staying. Most gyms are happy to offer single visits to people who are visiting the area.
- Utilise technology to help keep you active. Advances in technology mean that its easy to stay active when your away from home. Download a fitness app and do a guided workout in your hotel room or gym. Check out our favourite fitness apps here.
Tips for caring for your mental and social well being when travelling
- Schedule personal time. Travelling for business purposes can be stressful. If possible, schedule some personal time in for yourself each day to help manage stress. This could be as simple as a 30-minute walk in the morning before meetings or scheduling an hour in the evening to unwind after a busy day.
- Stay connected. If travelling alone, it can be easy to become disconnected and feel lonely. Stay in touch with family and friends and make the effort to meet up with workmates or friends in social situations whilst away.
- Utilise technology to help manage stress, anxiety and sleep. There are a number of incredible meditation and mindfulness apps available which can be downloaded for use anywhere, anytime. Three of our favourites include…
A mindfulness meditation app developed by psychologists with programs designed to assist people in dealing with pressure, stress and challenges of daily life.
Best for: Meditation.
An app which allows you to learn the skills of meditation and mindfulness through hundreds of guided sessions on topics such as managing stress and anxiety, sleep, productivity, exercise and physical health. There is also an option of self-directed meditation for those who practice meditation regularly.
Best for: Meditation, mindfulness and sleep.
Price: Free for some content. $12.99 AUD/month subscription cost for access to full library.
Guided mediations, sleep stories, breathing programs and stretching exercises.
Best for: Meditation and sleep.
Price: Free for some content. $12.99 AUD subscription cost for access to full library.
For diet, exercise and wellness tips for staying healthy when living or working in remote areas, read Remote Wellness Part 1: A guide to staying healthy when living or working in remote and rural areas.
- Richards C, A & Rundle A, G (2011). Business Travel and Self-rated Health, Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 53:4 (358-363). Accessed https://journals.lww.com/joem/Abstract/2011/04000/Business_Travel_and_Self_rated_Health,_Obesity,.4.aspx
- Dolnicar S., V. Yanamandram, and K. Cliff. (2012). “The Contribution of Vacations to Quality of Life.” Annals of Tourism Research, 39 (1): 59-83. Accessed https://www.researchgate.net/publication/256987230_The_Contribution_of_Vacations_to_Quality_of_Life
- Nawijn, J. (2011). “Happiness through Vacationing: Just a Temporary Boost or Long-Term Benefits?” Journal of Happiness Studies, 12 (4): 651-65. Accessed https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225589172_Happiness_Through_Vacationing_Just_a_Temporary_Boost_or_Long-Term_Benefits
- Sirgy, M., P. Kruger, D. Lee, and G. Yu. (2011). “How Does a Travel Trip Affect Tourists’ Life Satisfaction?” Journal of Travel Research, 50 (3): 261-75. Accessed https://www.researchgate.net/publication/249701196_How_Does_a_Travel_Trip_Affect_Tourists'_Life_Satisfaction
- Australia Government Department of Health. Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. Accessed https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines
The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and is general advice. It should not, nor is it intended to be, relied on as a substitute for individual medical advice or care. If the contents of this, or any other of the blogs in this series raises any concerns or questions regarding your health, please consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.