How I stay healthy while travelling
We think of travel as a break from our actual lives, where we can do, eat, and drink what we want. But for people whose jobs or lifestyles mean they’re on the road a lot, ignoring their health quickly becomes unsustainable. Just ask touring musician MIKE THOMPSON, who knows better than most the importance of looking after yourself when you’re away from home.
I’m on the road at least a few months of the year. As a touring musician, work regularly means travelling the world to play shows. It’s a fun life, but it can also be really exhausting. When I’m travelling, my body and mind both get really worn out.
Your health can take a hit when you travel. My circadian rhythm gets a real knock about. I’m normally awake late at night, then up first thing in the morning for a flight. It’s hard to cook for yourself in hotel rooms and sitting on planes or waiting at airports for hours means I’m not as active as I’d like to be.
I used to not pay attention to it so much. I’d have a few beers most nights, eat whatever takeout food I could find, and spend my time between gigs in a fairly inactive state, just chilling in my hotel room watching TV or looking at the internet on my phone.
I got burned out pretty quickly. My body was basically shouting at me that it wasn’t getting the nutrients, mental stimulation or physical activity it needed. It was pretty clear I needed to make a change.
If you have a routine at home, do your best to keep it up on the road. I make extra effort to be healthy at home, especially after a tour, so I try and replicate those habits as much as I can when I’m travelling.
The key is in the small things. I started planning ahead by looking up the nearest grocery store to where I was staying. I’d pick up some fruit and healthy snacks so I didn’t feel tempted by the packets of chips that do the rounds.
I still go to restaurants, but I try and choose lighter options. I’ll go for the Thai salad or fresh fish instead of heavier things like pizzas and pastas. If it’s an option, I like to get the whole crew to throw in a couple of bucks each and cook up a big veggie-laden meal for sustenance. The guys pretend they don’t like it, but I know they do.
Make use of any amenities you have. Most hotels have gyms and some have pools, so it’s about waking up that extra half hour early and getting in some movement to start the day. When I do that, I find it really has an overarching effect on the whole day that follows – I am in a better mood, I play better at the show, and I sleep better that night. It’s great to get it done first thing in the morning, then you have the whole day to enjoy.
It’s easy to get dehydrated on flights. We fly a lot, which can also take it out of you. I always make sure I have more water than I need and something to snack on that won’t make me feel sluggish if I’m sitting for hours.
Hitting the pavement is a great way to see a place. When we actually do arrive, I make use of any between time by getting out there and walking around whichever city we’re in. It’s a great way to get a feel for a place while keeping your body moving.
I try not to be too hard on myself. At the end of the day, I know travelling is a transient state, so while I aim to stay healthy, I‘m much easier on myself than I would be at home. I just remind myself that I’ll get back on track as soon as I can.
(As told to Taryn Stenvei)
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