Make and Keep Habits for Healthy Travel, With These Easy Steps
May 5, 2015
Do you travel often, or perhaps you’re headed out on an extended trip? Well, here are some tips on creating and keeping healthy habits to make the most out of travel and life.
Healthy habits are great! However, when you are on the road there are a myriad of things that can disrupt your normal routine. Changes in venue, equipment and time restraints can throw all your good intentions out the window.
Despite the difficulties there are some very good reasons to create good habits, particularly when travelling. For a start, there are so many new things to process in each new environment that a standard routine gives your brain a chance to rest and process within a comforting structure. Habits and routine are also a way of automating micro steps towards your goals, maintaining forward momentum is a great way to get where you’re going faster. Plus, the satisfaction you will feel after sticking to your habits and reaching those goals will be immense!
If you do okay at home but your routines fall apart once you hit the road or you want to introduce a new thing into your life but have a hard time with all the uncertainty of travel, I would suggest focusing on building a morning and evening routine that is flexible enough to continue your good habits whether you’re at home or out on the road.
Some Positive Habits to Consider
Before we get into the nitty gritty here are a few good habits for travellers to get into. If you don’t already have a habit in mind, choose one of these to start working with:
Exercise – It’s easy to lose the motivation to keep active after sitting on a bus all day. But exercise helps your body stay fit and healthy so you can do more.
Eat well – Travel often means eating out night after night and it’s easy to fall into the greasy food trap. However, a balanced diet will fill you with more energy for your many adventures.
Communicate – On the road it is easy to become isolated, whether your challenge is sending that postcard that you promised a month ago home to Mum or going downstairs in your hotel and telling someone about your day. Humans are inherently social creatures and sharing can help abate a lot of home sickness.
Reflect – Keeping a journal, whether to record memories or for self-expression and development, it is a great way to process the immense amount of new input your brain receives in a new environment.
Relax – Both business trips and extended holidays can be stressful. Make sure to set aside some time in your schedule for quite time. Read, meditate, or go to sleep at a decent hour. The world and its demands will still be there in the morning.
Look after yourself – This is really a string of small habits: think about something that you always forget - stay hydrated, put on sunscreen every morning, do your language practice, take vitamins or set goals for each trip.
Be compassionate - Travel is stressful and stress brings out the worst in people, whether you are dealing with hawkers in a bazar or colleagues in a boardroom, take a moment to smile and consider others needs and motivations. Then record your experiences in a journal or meditate on them. You will find that when you foster compassion for other's you become more patient and have more positive interactions.
How to Make Habits Stick
Start small - Make a list of the habits you would like to include in your life and then choose the ONE habit that you feel most drawn to.
Now take that goal and micro it! - Say the habit you choose was to work out half an hour every day, choose the smallest possible section of that goal. Try say, doing one sit-up a day or walking one flight of stairs a day.
This is your new simple habit - You can choose to do 20 sit-ups but you have only committed to doing 1, something so easy you can’t back out.
Keep track – Recognize when you complete your new habit, even if it’s just a small tick in the corner of your calendar.
Reward yourself - Hit a 5 day streak? Have a piece of chocolate, paint your nails or watch your favourite movie. The desire for the reward will wane but the habit will stick with you.
Cut yourself some slack – You’re not always going to hit your goal so be prepared for this and try to keep the self-talk positive. The important thing is you start fresh tomorrow. Don’t put off starting back up till next week or next trip.
Habit stack – From your micro goal, stack the next healthy habit on top, i.e. every evening I take the stairs up to my room. From now on when I unlock my door I immediately do 1 sit-up, and then take a shower before relaxing in front of the TV. In this way you can see you are building a routine by fitting in the new activities you have introduced into your existing sequence.
Bonus Tips to Reach Specific Goals on the Road
So you have identified your goal and broken it down into micro habits, however you still want to know how to maintain those habits while you are away from home. Well part of that is considering your travel plans when you set your micro goals, making them anywhere, anytime accessible. Here are some more tips for translating those habits discussed above into actions that can be done in any location you find yourself in.
Train with the locals, in a foreign country? Who cares! Go to the gym, a dance or martial arts class and get inspired by the new influences.
Active tourism: don’t just sit on a bus, take walking tours, canyon or kayak, keep your body as stimulated as your mind.
Wear a pedometer: set a step related goal and wear your pedometer on your daily sightseeing.
Hotel workouts: there is not much that can’t be achieved with a skipping rope, a resistance band, and your favourite YouTube workout.
Active hobbies: take up an activity that keeps you moving. Try juggling, yoga or geo caching.
Eat well –
Make your own food, even if there is no kitchen. Some breakfast cereal and sandwiches for lunch is easy to prepare in your room.
Vitamins: before leaving consider if fresh fruit and veg will be available. If not, take some supplements to keep you in top form.
Be informed: there are always healthier options available, so choose somewhere to eat where you can see how the food is cooked and what with, then choose baked over fried and fresh over frozen.
Carpe Diem, meaning seize the day. Basically become a yes person: “Would you like to tag along to see…?” Yes! “Do you want to share dinner?” Yes! Take advantage of every opportunity presented to you.
Post cards are easy: one line and the folks back home will be delighted to hear from you.
Post at odd hours if you don’t want to communicate directly. Post on social platforms while the folks back home are asleep. They will be able to see what you’re up to and comment for you to respond to in your own time.
Choose a theme: if it’s all too overwhelming start with just one thing like describing only your meals or draw only pictures.
Share your journal: take photos or excerpts from your journal and post on social media. When you know there is an audience awaiting regular updates you will be more inclined to write.
Cues: always write at the same time every day or leave your journal on your pillow so you remember to write before bed each night.
Bullet points: don’t try to write an essay, just bullet point your day, you can always fill in more info later.
Like minded companions are a huge help so travel with someone who has similar priorities to you.
Budget time: look at the time you will be traveling and chose a percentage of that to set aside for quiet time.
Choose active relaxation: it is OK to do nothing! Choose at least one activity to relax that doesn’t involve a high level of stimulus.
Look after yourself –
Create cues to remind yourself to do things: pee is yellow not clear? Time to drink some water.
Product placement: want to remember to floss, leave floss right beside your tooth brush.
Alarms: if all else fails set a phone alarm as a once a day reminder.
Be companionate –
Motivational material: read books and articles that help teach positive tools.
Recorded meditations: when you start meditating it is often easier to follow along with a recorded meditation than go it alone.
Journaling: have conversations with yourself, you will be surprised at how wise you are.