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21 Ways to Travel Better

kapil b / flickr

The first secret for a road trip you can feel great about is not much of a secret at all: Pack. More specifically, pack with your health in mind. This is what mini bands and granola bars were made for, so make it a point to bring them with you, along with everything else you need to maintain your fitness—and your sanity. Then use these 21 tips to adjust your training and diet away from home. Instead of feeling rundown halfway through your trip, you'll return feeling stronger and more refreshed, and ready for your next adventure.

1. Travel Lighter

Who says travel has to set you back in the gym? Try to form a new, healthy habit while you're in a new environment. If you want to drop 10 pounds, for instance, set a specific and manageable goal for yourself. Not "I'm going to lose weight this trip," but more like "I'm going to eat more frequently, say, four times a day, and squeeze in two hotel-room workouts." May you return from your trip with all your luggage and a newly formed habit that you can build on.

2. Don't Forget Your Tennis Ball

You can use it in place of a foam roll for regeneration—to alleviate sore spots and speed recovery. With a little creativity, you can modify just about any exercise in your training program. No physioball at your hotel gym? No surprise. Do your Ys and Ts lying facedown on the floor or try them standing in an athletic position, with your knees and hips bent, chest up, and shoulders back.

3. Water Down Your Day

Drink two glasses of water when you wake up. Research shows that this habit alone can boost your metabolism for more than an hour. Then down another two glasses of water at each meal and continue hydrating before, during and after your workout to stay energized throughout the day. If you're not sure if you're drinking enough, use this simple equation: Aim for 0.5 to 1 ounce of water for every pound you weigh. So a 200-pound guy should shoot for 200 ounces, or about 6 liters of water a day.

4. Train Your Glutes

You spend a lot of time sitting when you travel—on the plane, in airports, and going to and from your hotel. That means your hips are flexed and your butt muscles turn off. But you can train your glutes in your hotel room with bridges. Lie on the floor with your back flat and your knees bent. Squeeze your glutes to raise your hips, and then lower them. To help keep your body in a straight line from hips to shoulders, think about extending your legs at the bottom of the move and keep your eyes focused straight up at the ceiling.

5. Order Salad Dressing on the Side

Cut calories by ordering your salad dressing on the side when you eat out. Otherwise, you might end up with a bowl full of dressing and a side of lettuce and veggies. Just add the amount of dressing you need with a spoon. Or, better yet, dip your fork into the dressing and then the salad. You'll eat fewer calories and still enjoy the taste of dressing with each bite.

6. Request a Lunch Portion

We all know portion sizes at restaurants are out of control, but if you're not one to leave food on your plate, just ask for a lunch portion. Many restaurants will serve you a smaller version of the meal you order for a reduced price. This is a great way to control your portion sizes, manage your waistline, and maybe even save some cash.

7. Schedule Your Meals

You schedule everything when you travel. Why not your meals? Start the day with breakfast, and then eat every 2.5 to 3 hours, for a total of 5 or 6 meals a day. By grazing throughout the day, you'll be less likely to gorge at any moment, especially late at night, and you'll feel more energized and focused throughout the day.

8. Find the Nearest Grocery Store

Just because you're on the road doesn't mean you can't cook. No kitchen in your hotel room? A grocery store still offers more nutritious choices than most restaurants. Plus you can stock up on healthy snacks like fruits, nuts, yogurt and energy bars. One of the pleasures of vacationing is the cuisine, so choose a meal to eat out every day. By building the rest of your meals with foods from the grocery store, you'll feel better about eating out and you'll look and perform better as a result.

9. Eat Protein at Every Meal

When you look at your plate, you should see a lean protein source, some brightly colored carbs that are rich in fiber, and some healthy fats, either from fish or olive oil. This balance gives you more energy, helps you build lean muscle, and regulates your blood sugar levels.

10. Prepare for Flight

Before flying, take a spin through a movement prep series and any prehab exercises you have time to do.

11. Sleep, Drink, Relax

Aim to drink water in the hours leading up to your flight. Try to include an antioxidant complex and vitamin C, and rest as much as possible. If it's an overnight flight, hydrating and having a carbohydrate-rich meal will help you fall asleep on the plane.

12. Don't Sit at the Airport

You're about to spend hours on a plane, so why sit around waiting to sit more? Use the minutes just before your flight to walk, stretch, and drink water.

13. When You're Free to Move About the Cabin, Get Moving

Get up in the galley area to stretch your hip flexors, hamstrings, chest and back.

14. Practice Healthy Habits on the Plane

Try to drink 4 ounces of water every 15 minutes. Bring your own food, such as jerky, nuts or fruit. Wash your hands often and keep them away from your face. And move your pillow in and out of your lumbar spine.

15. Never Skip Breakfast

Your morning meal does more than rev up your metabolism and refuel your brain and body for a productive day—it keeps you looking strong. By breaking your fast in the morning, you avoid a nasty process called "catabolism," whereby your body taps lean muscle reserves for fuel. So protect your hard-earned muscle by eating something—anything—when you wake up. And remember: Coffee might give you the jolt you need, but when it comes to building and maintaining muscle, you need to fuel with real food.

16. Drink Less Coffee

Choosing green or black tea over coffee will help you feel better, especially in your travels, since powerful antioxidants in tea removed damaged cells. If you must drink coffee, try cutting back on the cream and sugar.

17. Use Your Bodyweight

The most useful piece of exercise equipment ever invented is still your bodyweight. You can build strength with bodyweight squats, push-ups, bridges and dips. And you can improve flexibility and mobility with your movement prep routine. Try to take a few minutes to do movement prep every day, regardless of where your travels take you.

18. Use Travel Time for Recovery

There are many ways to train when you travel, but you also shouldn't stress about missing a workout. If you're a frequent traveler, plan your workouts so you can recover on the road. Psychologically, it's important to regenerate, or reload, in all aspects of your life. You'll return from your travels invigorated and stronger, and ready to perform at even higher levels.

19. Stand Tall

A simple way to look and feel better, wherever you are, is to sit and stand up straight. Perfect posture will dramatically decrease your potential for injury in the lower back, knees, ankles, shoulders and elbows. Keep your shoulder blades pulled back and down and your tummy drawn up and in. If you're standing with perfect posture, your ears should be in line with your shoulders, your hips with your knees, and your knees with your ankles. If you're seated, you should be able to draw a line straight through your ears and hips.

20. Reset Your Clock

After flying, the first thing you want to do is move. You've been sitting on a plane, maybe for hours, so walk and get the blood flowing with movement prep.

21. Soak Up the Sun

Another way to adjust your body clock is with natural sunlight. When you arrive at your hotel, instead of just crashing, grab a sports drink and a high-protein snack and go for a walk outside. You'll stimulate your mind and prepare your body for the trip ahead.

Tags: Travel, Work, Planning