11+ Healthy Travel Tips for Business Trips
Business trips are the perfect opportunity to exit your comfort zone and immerse yourself in another culture, at least for a few days.
But you don’t have to return home from a productive work trip with a gnarly stomach bug — or worse. Or fall off your training schedule and cheat on your diet for every single meal. Especially now, taking steps to keep yourself healthy during any sort of travel is vital.
So, how do you stay healthy while traveling for business?
Before you schedule your flight, book the hotel room, and pack your luggage, read this — our 15 favorite ways to put health first while on the road.
Start Every Day With a Healthy Breakfast
That old saying is absolutely true:
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
A nutritious morning meal replenishes your body’s glycogen stores (or energy) and recalibrates blood sugar levels.
This early-morning energy jolt will prepare you for a day full of meetings, flights, and decision-making.
Make a pit stop at your hotel’s banquet hall between 6 and 10 A.M. for a FREE buffet-style continental breakfast lined up with fresh fruit, healthy snacks, coffee, and eggs.
Or, start your day with healthy food, like almonds, whole-grain granola bar, or dried fruit for an on-the-go bite.
Drink From Sealed Bottled Waters (and Drink Regularly)
Traveling abroad for business often means sacrificing the modern luxuries we take for granted at home — including safe, filtered tap water.
Smart Water Magazine advises against drinking from the tap in 187 countries, either due to contamination concerns or possible gastrointestinal discomfort.
If your business trip doesn’t bring you to these locations, sealed bottled water is your safest hydration option:
- The United States
- The United Kingdom
- Saudi Arabia
Avoiding the local drinking water also means ordering beverages without ice cubes. Ice often contains locally sourced water and can cause an unwanted case of traveler’s diarrhea mid-trip.
When pre-packaged water bottles aren’t available, the next best option is water purification tabs like Aquatabs. Just drop a tablet into a liter of water, wait 30 minutes, and the water is ready to drink.
Avoid These Foods and Drinks
Business trips are the perfect opportunity to experience a different culture and treat your palate to new tastes.
But if your food is mishandled, unwashed, undercooked, or left-out food, it can become a hotbed for bacteria like salmonella.
Skip these foods and drinks while traveling to avoid food-borne illness:
- Just about any “raw” foods like seafood, salads, or produce
- Tap water and ice cubes
- Buffets, unless you get there as the food is served
- Alcoholic beverages, especially if you’re unsure of their origins
- Pre-packaged perishables
- Unpasteurized dairy
- Foods sold by street vendors
Look to These Foods and Drinks Instead
Now that you know which menu items to politely pass on, which foods are the safest and healthiest to eat while on the road?
From a safety standpoint, pre-packaged non-perishable foods are the best food options while traveling. That includes goods with long shelf lives that don’t require refrigeration, such as dried fruits, nuts, canned soups, dry pasta, and jerky.
From an “I don’t want to cheat on my diet if I can help it” stance, the best foods are those you cook yourself.
Many hotel suites include in-room kitchenettes with refrigerators, sinks, stoves, ovens, kettles, and microwaves.
For trips lasting a week or more, visit the grocery store after your flight touches down to stock up on healthy ingredients.
Or, if your big “work adventure” is just a few hours from home, try meal prep!
Cook your own meals the night before your trip, seal them in plastic food containers, and then stash them away in a temperature-controlled lunchbox. Store them in your room’s refrigerator, and pop them in the microwave for a ready-to-eat meal in minutes.
Stick to a Balanced Diet
Staying healthy while traveling begins with a balanced and nutritious diet, similar to the one you follow at home.
But between the pastries, sweetened beverages served with restaurant meals, and delectable desserts, we tend to overdo it on the carbs while traveling.
This carbohydrate overload can cause bloating, mid-day energy crashes, and even mild weight gain.
Diet-tracking apps like MyFitnessPal are the most reliable way to monitor your indulgences on the go. Simply log each meal to your food diary to keep your calorie, fat, protein, and carb intake as close to “normal” as possible.
Book a Hotel With a Fitness Center
Even if it’s cramped or a three-minute walk from your room, many big-name hotel chains have on-site fitness centers for guests to use — free of charge and sometimes 24/7!
These mini-gyms typically include a collection of free weights, resistance training machines, and cardio equipment like treadmills and rowers. Squeeze in a modified version of your usual workout before showering and shifting to “business mode.”
Or, book a hotel near a park, fitness trail, or beach to log a few miles before sunrise. Exercise is a great way to start your day and sharpen your thinking and problem-solving skills before meeting with the movers and shakers.
No Gym? Work Out In Your Hotel Room!
Are you among the 50% of Americans suffering from gym-timdation — or gym anxiety? Or do you prefer home workouts to the traditional gym?
Hotel rooms offer 330 square feet of space on average, and that’s more than enough room for a heart-pounding training session.
Best Hotel Room Workouts
Here are some of the best exercises you can do privately in a hotel room:
- Sit-ups and crunches
- Triceps dips (on a sturdy chair)
- Mountain climbers
- Ab rollers
- Resistance band exercises (i.e., squats, curls, shoulder presses)
- Single-leg squats (with one foot propped on the bed behind you)
Join a Gym With Multiple Locations
The average gym membership gives you access to a single “home” gym, likely the one in the strip mall closest to your neighborhood.
Yet, some gym chains like Planet Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, and LA Fitness sweeten the deal with membership upgrades like “all-club” perks. For an extra $10–40/month, you gain unlimited access to hundreds of club locations in all 50 states.
The PF Black Card, for example, allows for 24/7 access to 2,000+ club locations, including those in tourist destinations and metro hubs. Book a hotel room near the closest PF to continue your exercise routine on the go.
Take “no days off” to a brand new level!
Walk or Bike Whenever Possible
The daily downtime is the best time to explore the city, try local cuisine, uncover “hidden gems,” or run errands before hopping on your return flight.
Be strategic about your hotel reservations to avoid relying on cabs, buses, and trains. If you’re up for it, chase down your daily 10,000-step goal by traveling on foot.
Book a room near your destination and within walking distance of public transportation. If you’re visiting a major city like New York or Philadelphia, rent a bicycle as part of the city’s bike-share program, or hop on a scenic bike tour.
Always walk or bike if it’s within ten blocks and in a safe area!
Know Where the Local Hospital, Pharmacy, or Urgent Care Is
Nobody plans to fall ill or become injured while traveling for business. But mapping out your surroundings before the trip is the best way to prepare for those unexpected medical woes.
Scout out nearby hospitals, urgent care centers, or walk-in doctor’s clinics in case you come down with food poisoning or sprain an ankle.
For less severe injuries or illnesses, like jet lag or minor cuts, know where the closest 24/7 pharmacy is.
Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize
Even with daily room service, traveling can expose you to lots of germs and bacteria. Protect your immune system by stocking up on hand sanitizers and disinfectant products.
As soon as you check in, wipe down all hard surfaces in your room with anti-bacterial sprays or wipes (like Lysol):
- TV remote
- Light switches
- Bedside tables
- Door handles
- Drawer handles
- Toilet flushers
Don’t forget to wash your hands often, especially if your business trip involves plenty of hand-shaking, shared items, or unclean tables and chairs.
Pack Your Medications
We know what you’re thinking: isn’t that obvious?
If you take daily medication for conditions like high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, high cholesterol, or diabetes, skipping even one dose can make you feel miserable (at best) and be dangerous (at worst).
Before you leave for your trip, request refills on all of your prescription medications, even those you use on an add-needed basis.
It’s better to have more than you need than interrupt your travel plans with a last-minute telemedicine appointment to get a refill.
Bring Sunblock and Aloe Vera
Some trips will bring you to exotic, sunny, beachside destinations that feel closer to vacations than business trips.
But if you’re in the construction, power, or energy industries, these locations can also expose you to a damaging amount of direct sunlight.
Sunburns can develop in as little as 15–20 minutes without sunblock. The Skin Cancer Foundation also reports that your risk of developing melanoma doubles if you’ve had 5+ sunburns in your lifetime.
Wear a hat and long sleeves outdoors, cover all visible skin with sunscreen, and reapply sunscreen every two hours.
Learn How to Wind Down While Traveling
While they sometimes feel like mini-vacations, traveling for business can also land you in a stressful, high-anxiety atmosphere. You’re often up against jet lag, excitement, nervousness, and time-zone adjustments.
To get a restful night sleep and prepare for a big day ahead, here are some ways to wind down:
- Booking a room at a hotel with a steam room or massage parlor
- Putting the phone, tablet, and laptop away an hour before bedtime
- Returning to your room the same time each night to wind down
- Dimming the lights while you relax before bed
- Practicing yoga, deep breathing, or meditation in your hotel room
- Scheduling “just for fun” activities like sightseeing, attending shows or sporting events, or participating in physical activity
Leave yourself time each day to unwind, relax, pamper yourself, and reset for the next day. It will help you to stay healthy and productive on your trip.
Prioritize Routine, Quality Sleep
One of the toughest parts of business travel kicks in after dark:
Thin-walled hotel rooms, in-room distractions, and early sunrises can disrupt your usual sleep schedule and leave you groggy or grumpy the following day.
Unfortunately, those aren’t the easiest feelings to shake before a 7 A.M. investor meeting or 12-hour shift.
If you’re a light sleeper, pack a set of earplugs to drown out noisy neighbors and a sleep mask to block out the rising sun.
Remember to draw the shades before your head hits the pillow for a dark room until your alarm goes off.
On the journey to getting enough sleep, consistency also makes a world of difference. Try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time each day, sticking to your typical bedtime schedule as much as possible.
And if you’re one of us who struggle to fall asleep on a strange mattress hundreds of miles from home, pack a bottle of melatonin supplements in your carry-on. Melatonin can regulate your sleep cycle in the first few days after arriving.
Staying healthy while traveling doesn’t have to ruin the excitement of business travel. Each of our travel tips can promise a safe, healthy, and productive trip.
As a reminder, here are some things you can do to stay healthy while traveling:
- Eat healthy foods
- Stay active
- Balance desserts with fruits and veggies
- Practice a regular sleep schedule
- Sanitize germ-ridden surfaces
And if you’re looking to save money on travel, sign up for a free Hotel Engine account today!
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.