This week I had a quick trip down to Atlanta for a business meeting. Left on Tuesday afternoon, came back on Wednesday afternoon. Traveling tends to completely hose up my weekly food and running routine, though I’m starting to notice some patterns. Without further ado, here are seven things that it is important to remember when traveling:
#1 – Calories consumed in an airport count. So one of the associations that I’ve always had with traveling is an all-bets-are-off mentality about food (though, to be fair, that was a common mentality whether I was traveling or not). This was both about quantity (hey – gotta fuel up so I can sit on this airplane or in this car!) and quality (immediate access to beef jerky and Dr. Pepper and cheese danishes? Umm, OK!). I’m not sure where that association came from, but as far back as I can remember it has been there. It is as though travel food magically is different than “regular” food. So, yeah … it is not. Crappy food is still crappy food. And too much of it is still too much of it. Walk away from the fried chicken.
#2 – Water is your friend. We hear that airplanes dehydrate us all the time. We hear it so much that we might be tempted to ignore it, or block the message. Yeah – don’t do that. Because dehydration on airplanes is real. That little thing that you twist to get the cool air blowing on top of your head? That thing is blowing almost perfectly dry air that is nearly guaranteed to make your skin itchy, chap your lips on the spot, and drive you to extreme thirst. And ginger ale, while great on airplanes, doesn’t do the rehydration thing enough. Drink your water.
#3 – Bring your running shoes. They are a pain in the ass to pack. And you might wind up not using them while you are there because of unforeseen timing pressures. But if you don’t bring them, you are guaranteed to miss a workout. Guaranteed. Just knowing that I’d have to justify having brought the damn things is sometimes enough to get me to get up and go for a run. Take your shoes – you’ll be better for it.
#4 – Plan accordingly for treadmill access. Whichever hotel you’re at almost certainly has a fitness center. Most of them that I’ve seen have a large stability ball, a weight-machine-system thing, an elliptical or two, and at most 4 or 5 treadmills. Some only have 2 or 3 treadmills. Now, because you were traveling and didn’t want to pack anything more than shoes, socks, shorts, & shirt, you aren’t geared up to run outside. You’re also in unfamiliar territory and may not want to risk getting lost. So you plan on getting up and hitting the treadmill for those morning miles. You … and everybody else in the hotel. Rush hour (roughly 6am to 8am) at the hotel fitness center is almost certainly going to be busy. And unless you are OK with the elliptical or something different, you may be disappointed by treadmill access. If possible, plan to go during a strange time (evening, middle of the day, etc.) or get there earlier than you normally would. Also – treadmills suck.
#5 – There will be doughnuts. When people are hosting a meeting that includes out-of-town guests, they naturally want to be seen as hospitable and accommodating. They want to be good friendly hosts. And for whatever reason, that usually means doughnuts. Plates and plates of doughnuts. They’re going to look yummy. And let’s face it – they’re going to BE yummy. There are several ways to deal with this – politely eat half of one, or even a whole one that you considered in your broader day’s meal plan, or claim you’re diabetic or whatever. But you’d better have a plan for how you’re going to deal with that glorious plate of doughnuts, or it is going to deal with you.
#6 – Shit happens. So on my trip this week, the travel gods were not with me. They chose yesterday to get the pound of flesh they were owed for a largely uneventful travel season for me. And that meant, for a large list of reasons, I was stuck looking for dinner in suburban Atlanta at roughly 11pm on Tuesday night. And I was unable to resist the siren call of the black letters in the yellow boxes.
Yep – Waffle House. And I’m just going to straight-up tell you like it is … my triple order of hash browns (scattered, smothered, and covered) was glorious. Glorious. And I don’t feel guilty. However…
#7 – If you know that kind of thing is likely to happen, plan accordingly the rest of the week. Yeah – I knew that was likely to happen. So I’ve mostly planned accordingly. But you DO have to plan accordingly, because otherwise the whole thing will come off the rails. How do you stay on plan and strategy when you travel?