Ways to Stay Healthy While Traveling

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Author: Alex McCoy of http://www.fittravellife.net

As a healthcare professional, it can be hard to stay on top of healthy eating and exercise with a normal schedule. We give and give to our patients and our jobs are extremely physical. We often get home from work with just enough energy to pop in a microwave meal and plop on the couch.

Add in moving every 3 weeks, coordinating new schedules, and trying to experience local food and culture. It quickly seems like healthy living as a healthcare traveler is an impossibility.

The thing to remember is your own personal health does matter. It can be a priority! And you can balance healthy living along with all the adventures that traveling has to offer.

First, figure out what style of workout you like to do.

If you dread what you are going to the gym for, it will be even easier to come up with an excuse to skip that class or workout.

Try experimenting with different styles of classes or workout routines. Take advantage of free passes for new members. Google clubs that go on hikes or bike rides on your area. Find something that will not be a chore on your day off and that will get you excited to get a little extra movement in.

From there, be sure to have a plan for that activity at each subsequent assignment.

If you wait until you arrive at a new location to find your gym or workout studio, it’s already too late. The first week of orientation is stressful and confusing and the last thing your brain is going to want to do when you get home is put time and effort into researching places to go workout.

As soon as you lock in your apartment for the next assignment, start looking for gyms in the area. I like to start on Google maps and search what gyms will be closest to my new location. If none of those interest me, I will use gym locators on websites of places where I like to work out, such as CrossFit or Orange Theory.

Once you arrive, make the grocery store your first stop.

While unpacking and settling in right away can seem like the tempting thing to do, I highly encourage fellow travel nurses to head straight to the store once their car is unloaded.

Grab some quick healthy snacks to have on hand like yogurt cups, pre cut veggies or a rotisserie chicken. I also head straight for a 12 pack of sparkling water because I am inevitably dehydrated after road trips.

Then you can head back to your new place and unpack while you munch on some healthy food rather than heading for the closest take out or delivery place.

Look for fun ways to explore your new area on foot.

One of my favorite ways to explore a new location is to get out and hike. Getting in a nice uphill hike often leads to some great views of your new home and is a cool way to get a new perspective of where you will be living.

If hiking trails aren’t plentiful where you are working, try to find a cute downtown area with some boutique shops or even a city park. Even the smaller towns we have lived in have had some sort of city square or walking trail area where you can get out and move a little while exploring at the same time.

Don’t make every day a “Treat Yoself” day.

While living in a new location every three months lends itself to feeling like vacation you certainly can’t eat like you are on vacation for three months at a time.

As a foodie myself I understand this struggle all too well. That is why I make a conscious effort to indulge on my days off and maintain pretty strict nutritional guidelines on the days I work. Pack your lunch, avoid extra calories in alcohol or soda, and try not to keep junk food at home. That way you can indulge in some more “fun” foods on your days off without completely ruining your healthy progress.

Get into a good sleep routine.

Three months in each location is a blessing and a curse. It seems like plenty of time to see everything you could imagine, but by the end of an assignment you may find yourself rushing to fit in a few last-minute trips or sightseeing musts.

Slow down every once in awhile and remember that while we are traveling to see new places it is also important to get enough rest and take care of your body. The more stressed and exhausted you feel, the more likely you will be to skip a workout or opt for junk food. Do not underestimate the effect that the go-go-go lifestyle of travel healthcare can have on your overall well being and take steps to avoid the burnout from lack of sleep.

Finally, make a conscious effort to transition these habits between assignments.

Even if you aren’t perfect each time, keeping up a routine between assignments is key to long term success as a traveler. Our brains and bodies love routine and feeling “normal” every once in awhile, so set yourself up with habits that can translate to other locations along the way.

Once these routines and habits are established, evaluate potential obstacles that may come with moving, and make a plan for how to tackle them head on. Head into the inevitable transition times with a plan, and you will see your fitness continue to progress alongside your travel career.

Are you a travel healthcare professional with advice or insight to share with the traveler community? We would love to hear from you! Learn more about writing for the TravCon blog HERE!

Published March 31, 2019


About the author: Alex McCoy is a pediatric travel nurse who runs Fit Travel Life–a coaching service and community for travelers looking to stay fit on the go. She also volunteers at TravCon with fitness-related activities and the annual fitness challenge.

Alex travels with her husband and their two pets, and loves finding the best local coffee and wine. 

Alex McCoy
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