While travelling, it can be especially hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle - but it’s certainly not impossible! I usually gauge how “healthy” I’m going to be while away based on what I’m doing; if it’s just a vacation, I’m much more lax with my diet and exercise. However, I find that sticking to my routine while I’m at a horseshow helps me feel better and more equipped to deal with the long days of competing. Although it’s important to have fun with friends at horse shows, I think it’s important to remember that we are still athletes and need to fuel our bodies properly in order to perform our best. I don’t think that being healthy needs to detract from the exciting and fun aspect of being away from home, so I thought that I’d share a few of the things that help me stick to my goals while I’m travelling.
It’s the oldest trick in the book and you’ll find it in every post, video, or advice column about fitness, but DRINK YOUR WATER!!! Even if you’re normally good about staying hydrated at home, travelling is when a lot of people slip up and don’t drink enough. Whether you’re on vacation or at a horseshow, both trips can be filled with long days in the sun, and it’s especially important to make sure you’re staying hydrated. I know that it can be hard to carry a bottle around all day, so I usually have a rule that if I don’t feel like I’m getting enough water, I start grabbing one every time I pass a food vendor and drink it by the time I get to where I’m going. Bringing a reusable water bottle is a also a great idea so you always have water on hand, plus you can add a TFE logo sticker to it!
Both vacations and horse shows can be trips that screw up your usual eating routine. At horse shows especially, it can be hard to find time to eat a real lunch. I find that on days that I don’t have proper meals at normal times, I just end up snacking on whatever I can find, which usually isn’t the healthiest stuff. The easiest way for me to make sure I get solid meals in is to know the schedule, that way I know when I might have breaks during the day, or when my friends might be able to grab something for me. I also make sure to eat a big breakfast. That way, I could have lunch anytime from 11:00 to 2:00 and still feel satisfied. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have snacks during the day, just that they should be to supplement your meals, not replace them.
This tip might seem a little strange in a post about travelling, but I swear it’s easier than you think. If I know that where I’m going doesn’t have places for me to buy healthy snacks, I always bring them in my carry-on. Things like protein bars are so easy for me just to throw in my bag and know that I’ll always have a good snack if I need one. The second part of this tip is that the world is your kitchen. As long as you have a fridge and a supermarket, you can make any meal in your hotel room. Even though I usually eat out for lunch and dinner during weekend trips, I always go to the grocery store and buy yogurt, fruit, and granola for breakfast. That way, I know that I will get a nutrient packed meal to start my day, and I get to wake up a little later! If you don’t feel like the eating out situation is great where you are, I love buying things for a salad or grain bowl from whatever grocery store is there, and I usually add some sort of protein from the prepared foods section. What I’m basically trying to say is that even if you don’t have a full kitchen, it is entirely possible to make healthy meals yourself.
One of the things that helped me the most to stay healthy while I’m travelling was to figure out how to order healthy meals at restaurants. There are tons of super detailed articles on the internet about this topic if you’re interested, but I usually stick to a few basic rules. 1: pick dishes comprised mostly of veggies. 2: include good sources of lean protein and complex carbs. 3: sauces/dressings on the side. 4: sharing is caring. 5: avoid dishes with descriptions that include words like fried, pan-fried, cream sauce, etc. Using these guidelines, I can almost always order or modify a dish on the menu to fit my goals.
You can workout anywhere in the world. It’s pretty easy to think of cardio workouts, like running, swimming, or biking, but it’s possible to strength train while away as well. The easiest way to do this is to look up at-home/no equipment workouts on Instagram or YouTube. Some of them will require minimal equipment like resistance bands, but I usually plan what workouts I’m going to do so that if I really need a piece of equipment, I can take it in my luggage. Something that I like to do is to put together exercises from normal workouts that I do that just so happen to be equipment free. For example, I’ll combine moves from both workouts in the TFE Core Strength Program to make a full ab circuit. That way, I’m only doing moves that are familiar to me, but still getting a full workout. TFE also has fun cardio/ab circuit and full at home workout in their Instagram story highlights. You can also take advantage of local gyms and classes. A lot of gyms will give you a temporary membership (depending on how long you are there) or have some sort of trial system that you can use. There’s also pretty much always a class-based studio, like SoulCycle, Orange Theory, etc that you can go to on a day-by-day basis.
This is something that I’m trying to remind myself more often, but I think that it’s especially important while travelling. What I mean by this is that it is always better to eat just a little bit better or do a short workout, even if you’re not being as “healthy” as you normally are. It can be super easy to lose motivation when you don’t have the same ability to eat and workout that you do at home. For me, I can find myself thinking that it’s pointless for me to go on a 20 minute run when I would normally go to the gym for and hour, but then I try to remind myself that it’s better to go on that short run than sit at home and not get any proper exercise. The same thing goes for nutrition: it’s better to eat the chicken and potatoes instead of the cheeseburger, even if you would have normally had a salad.
A lot of the things that I try to keep in mind while travelling are basic health tips, but I find that the easiest way to stay healthy when you’re not at home is to strip it back down to basics. These are just a few things that work for me, but the most important thing is that you balance fueling yourself properly for the day and enjoying your time in a different place. All in all, I hope that this post gave you some ideas for your next trip!
-TFE Ambassador Ellen Mollerus
16 year old hunter/jumper from New York