When it comes to our health, there’s a marked difference between traveling for leisure and traveling for business. Holidays bring dips in the ocean, fresh coconut water, massages and grilled seafood dinners, amounting to an epic rejuvenation of body, mind and soul. Business trips - on the other hand -often bring manic races through big cities punctuated by croissant-heavy breakfasts and warm white wine at networking events, several hours after you wanted to be in bed.
Conventional wisdom dictates that it’s inevitable to pick up unhealthy habits while traveling for work. But the consequences of sacrificing your standards at the alter of midnight room service are grave.
A Columbia University study found that heavy business travelers – those on the road three weeks per month – are twice as likely to be obese compared to those who travel just one to six. Less frequent business travelers don’t get off too easily. Near-half-time travelers are more likely to have trouble sleeping, and higher levels of smoking and alcohol consumption.
The good news is that business travelers are increasingly aware of the impact on health. Our research shows that awareness among business travelers of maintaining healthy eating habits is growing momentum. Overall 38% of business travelers eat healthier food while on the road. Meanwhile, 42% work hard to adhere to health and wellness routines in 2019 compared to 38% in 2017.
Here are seven ways that employers and employees can stay healthy.
- Plan ahead and simplify– You don’t have to go to the extremes of Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs and wear the same outfit every day to minimize decision-making. However, if you plan your outfits, organize your schedule to a tee, and bring print-outs with you – you’ll have the mental capacity and clarity to make the most of an important business trip.
- Buffer zone – Endless hash browns on an expense account? We know you’re a high-roller. A buffet is hard to resist. But you can beat temptation by creating a buffer zone between you and the buffet. Choose a hotel that only offers the option at breakfast. If you’re faced with a buffet lunch and dinner too, it could test your willpower.
- Cool runnings – Choose a hotel room with a fridge. Store protein shakes, fruit and carrot sticks and any other alternative to fat and sodium-rich restaurant and takeaway meals.
- Start clean – Lengthy dinners and drinks are commonplace on business trips. Have a light, protein-packed breakfast and lunch and hydrate constantly. By the time dinner rolls around you can partake without guilt, and 3000 calories already under your belt.
- Brain food – With so much to take in and adapt to, work trips can be mentally taxing. Paradoxically, they’re an opportunity to make an impact with your most creative and inspired ideas. Avoid the temptation to start and end the day scrolling through social media and firing off emails. Set aside 20 minutes to read an inspiring book, do a guided meditation or visualize yourself succeeding in your goals for the day ahead.
- Class Act – Find a hotel that offers fitness classes or is near a fitness or yoga studio. Apps like MindBody and GuavaPass will show you where to find your nearest class. If you schedule one in advance, it will be less easy to make excuses.
- What a difference a day makes – Can you add a day before or after your trip to soak up your surrounds and decompress? Traveling somewhere new can do wonders for inspiration but it requires downtime away from a laptop.
Making small changes to your travel program and habits while on the road, can boost productivity, well-being and overall health and happiness, “Maintaining healthy habits while traveling is nearing the top of the priority list for travelers around the world,” said Niklas Andreen, CWT’s Chief Traveler Experience Officer. “At the end of the day, being in tune with what matters to your employees is indispensable for retaining and attracting the best talent.”