Prioritizing Health and Wellness While Traveling For Work

Kim Monaghan

Prioritizing Health and Wellness While Traveling For Work

As a busy career professional, it’s challenging to prioritize health and wellness on a daily basis. So many responsibilities including work and family can force you to push your own nutritional and fitness needs to the back burner. This is where A Healthy Career comes into play. The experts sharing their wisdom on this site are here to help you rethink and reprioritize so that you once again prioritize health and wellness in your life. And thankfully, they make it so easy. With all these wonderful tips, guides, workouts, recipes and inspirational advice, how could you not feel better about your wellness plan while on the run?

Speaking of wellness on the run, what about all of you busy career professionals who have to travel for work? Talk about the impossible. You don’t even have access to your own gym or refrigerator to help you stay healthy and well, so how do you manage on the road?

Emma Watterson lives with her husband, son, and mother-in-love in Virginia Beach. She is a civilian government employee for the Navy’s Environmental Division and a holistic health coach that loves helping other busy parents and professionals to balance their home and work life. On top of all that she has going on in her life, she is regularly on the road or overseas for work. While she typically travels at least one week a month, recently she was on a 30-day rotation in Japan. But as an expert in health and wellness, she has found a way to continue to prioritize her own health and wellness as well as helping her family and clients do the same.

On a recent trip to Tokyo, Emma not only found time to focus on wellness, but was willing to be interviewed on how to prioritize health and wellness while traveling for work. Here is what she shared:

Car, plane or train? What do you do to stay germ free on the road? If I’m within a six-hour radius of where I’m traveling, I will rent a car to travel. Otherwise, I’m on a plane, so in my purse, I carry a mini bottle of essential oil hand sanitizer. While traveling in Japan, I noticed many people wear facemasks. This is a way to keep your germs to yourself and also protect yourself from other germs (or pollen if it’s allergy season). I wash my hands or use my hand sanitizer after touching handrails, etc. prior to eating or drinking water. In Japan, they always give you a damp washcloth or wipes to wash your hands before eating. 

Also, I usually travel with a small container of apple cider vinegar (alkalizing to the body—illness and cancer thrive in an acidic environment; also a great cure for hives!); a few essential oils (help with staying calm and supporting the immune system); and my vitamins/supplements. 

Does this frequent traveling take a toll on your health and wellness?When I first started traveling, I tended to stay up late and eat different foods than my normal routine and would end up with a cold after traveling. Now that I’m a more seasoned traveler, I realized I needed to make health and wellness a priority so I can be of more assistance and able to perform my job well. Being away from my family can be emotionally challenging as well, so I make sure I keep in touch with my family and loved ones while away.

So what do you do to stay healthy while on the road? When I travel, I practice extra self-care: going to bed earlier, taking a bath before bed (warms core temperature and signals body it’s time for bed soon), going grocery shopping to pick up a few items so not only am I saving money by not eating out for every meal, I can include extra vegetables and healthier foods. I also listen to positive affirmations and meditation music to go to sleep. 

What about getting plenty of exercise? Most hotels have a workout room/gym and/or even a pool. I always pack my swim suit and gym clothes! If the hotel doesn’t have a gym/pool, I have a couple of apps and a Fit Bit with me so I can workout in my room. You can also check out local gyms (some even offer free intro sessions)! Fortunately, I have free access to a fitness center on base through my job and I am lucky to have a supportive boss!

What kind of food do you tend to eat when you are on the road? When I’m traveling, I look for lighter meals such as salads and small snacks, or I bring something from home. Eating heavy meals while traveling can make you sleepy, which can be dangerous if you have to drive. When I drive, I cut up vegetables including carrots, celery, cucumber, cauliflower and bring nuts/seeds.

What about dining in foreign countries? While traveling in Japan, my coworkers were extremely helpful in pointing out good restaurants to try. As a Navy civilian on TDY (tour of duty) for work, I have access to the commissary (grocery store) on the base, as well as to a local grocery store. I brought some protein powder with me, as well as my vitamins and supplements, including a multivitamin, probiotics, fish oil capsules, and collagen. I also have access to a full kitchen in my hotel so I can cook my own meals. If I don’t have access to a kitchen, there is usually a refrigerator/microwave in the hotel room. If no microwave, I can use the coffee maker to make hot water, so I can just add hot water to make soup or heat up frozen vegetables or make hot cereal.

Any tips for hydration? I always travel with a reusable water bottle. Most airports have a water bottle filling station near the water fountain or bathrooms. Water can be super expensive in airports, so I always search the water fountains out first and keep my water bottle full once I get past security. If I’m driving, I bring a couple of full water bottles and some homemade Kombucha to keep hydrated.

What are your go-to snacks while traveling? Definitely cut up vegetables such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, cauliflower with hummus or guacamole, nuts and seeds, nut or seed butter and avocados with sea salt. Yes, I always carry a tiny jar of sea salt in my purse. And protein powder.  

Any other tips for staying healthy and well while traveling? Communication is so important, especially if you have a family back home. I call my family every morning and evening, even if it’s just a few minutes to tell them I love them and to wish them well on their day or to see how their day was. I also love writing letters, birthday cards, and postcards and always bring one home to my son wherever I travel!  

I also prioritize reading, meditation and some spiritual practice while traveling. I don’t watch much television, so instead of filling up my evening or morning with negative news, I read a positive or self-help book or meditate, even if it’s just a minute or two to collect my thoughts for the day and take a moment to be grateful for my life. You can also read sacred passages of choice, find new recipes/meal plans online to try back home, write in a journal, draw or color.  

I am one of those people who absolutely loves traveling for work or pleasure. I also love learning and exploring new places, so I always check out a website called Atlas Obscura, a guide to the world’s wonders, or look up running trails or local parks for suggestions as to where I can get out, take walks, get some fresh air and exercise while soaking up the landscape and culture. 

Kim Monaghan, PCC, RYT, CPBS is the owner of KBM Coaching & Consulting LLC, a boutique Human Resources Consulting and Career Coaching Firm serving a national clientele. 

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*Always consult with your physician prior to experimenting with any exercises, recipes, health advice and nutrition initiatives shared in this blog.