No sooner had the ink dried on the stamp in my passport from London Gatwick Airport, I was off to Heathrow to catch an early morning flight to Chicago, Illinois, USA for a week long work conference at our global head office.
I arrived back at our flat in Shoreditch, London around 5pm Monday evening and immediately kicked back into London life. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, unpacking, re-packing, e-mails- you name it. In less than 12 hours I would be getting up at 4am for my flight to Chicago.
Travelling for work is significantly different than travelling for pleasure and as such it presents significantly different challenges to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Use these no-nonsense tips in the next several-part installment titled “Keeping Fit on Business Trips” to stay on track.
Travel day tips for long-haul flights
1. Eat breakfast. More specifically, eat breakfast at home before you leave. Having a proper breakfast of complex carbs and protein means your energy levels will be sustained to get you through a busy morning of travel prior to getting on the plane. I recommend a ½ cup of cooked oats, with cinnamon and berries plus 4-5 egg whites. No time to whip up eggs? Opt for a protein shake instead.
Don’t make the mistake of skipping food at home by grabbing a bite at the airport instead. By the time you finally get around to eating, you will have been on the go for an hour or two meaning you are already running low on fuel and chances are you will make poor dietary choices or over eat. Besides nothing at the airport will be as cheap (and as clean!) as the food you make at home.
2. Pack your lunch…in Tupperware. This might sound ridiculous, but one of the smartest things you can do on a long haul flight overseas is make your own food in advance and pack it into your Tupperware. Not only are you guaranteed to get a balanced meal of proteins, complex carbs and greens, but you can also use the Tupperware later in the week for meals that you bring with you to work.
For my flights to Chicago, I opted for lean chicken breast, wild rice, and asparagus, broccoli and tomatoes for lunch and a snack of low-fat cottage cheese, apple slices, cinnamon and crushed walnuts. Looks a heck of a lot better than airline food.
3. Drink LOTS of water…. I know I have said this before under my tips for Keeping Fit on Holiday, however this is especially important on long-haul flights.
Aim to have a minimum of 2 litres with you on the plane for long haul flights. For my 8 hour, 30 minute flight to Chicago I purchased 3 litres once clearing security, 1 litre which I drank before the plane even took off. You cannot under estimate the amount of water you need and no number of tiny refillable cups will sustain you on a long flight.
Bonus, staying hydrated means your skin, hair and nails stay in good condition as opposed to cracked, dry and sore.
4. …and choose an aisle seat. If you are drinking lots of water, you are going to need to go to the bathroom. A lot.
When I set out to start Fit, Fun & Free, I promised myself I would talk about the taboos behind living a healthy lifestyle that always left me puzzled. If you are drinking water you will need to pee and often without warning. By choosing an aisle seat, you are able to pop to the bathroom if and when you need without waking your seatmates.
5. Catch some Zzzz’s. If you are flying for business, chances are you have a busy schedule awaiting you in your destination with back-to-back meetings, conference calls and lots of now unanswered e-mails. Catching some solid shut eye will ensure you are rested and full of energy when you land.
Pack a blowup neck pillow, bring a sweater to accommodate the varying temperatures and an eye mask to ensure you get the dark you need to fall asleep. No flight will be 100% comfortable so make the most of it and come prepared.