I spent last week traveling for work and vacation. For anyone that goes on the road frequently, one of the biggest challenges we face is maintaining the habits and routines that we create when we are at home. However, new adventures are also part of the fun when we travel somewhere. We get to mix things up, go different places, try new things, and hang out with different people.
I love to eat. I’m always interested in trying new foods and eating different things when I travel. At home, we tend to eat healthy meals at the house and much less healthily when we occasionally go out. When we go out, I typically just order whatever I want and run a little more the next day if I eat too much. At home, I also rarely take the time to turn on the television and if it does come on it is often a single episode of one of our favorite shows on netflix or prime. I don’t have the opportunity to spend as much time vegging out watching sports center like I did years ago. However, vacation is different. I seem to throw all routine out the door and spend my time eating, drinking, and watching whatever comes my way.
Giving Up What We “Love”
Right after we got married, Ms. SE and I cut the cord and have been going cable-less for the last several years. It was a major change of routine at first when we decide to forego some of the conveniences we had grown accustom to. Although I rarely traveled for work, when I was on the road I would always look forward to just spending the evening going out to dinner then watching sports center on repeat as I turned off my brain. Right after we decided to get rid of cable, there was still something in the back of my mind telling me that I was missing out. When I had the opportunity, I indulged due to my perception of missing out under normal circumstances.
When it comes to eating, I find that I feel a lot better when I’m eating healthy food and working out consistently. Part of my brain wants to take it easy and eat whatever is available, yet another part is sending me guilty messages explaining that I’ll feel better in the long run if I take care of my body. When I’m at home, the long-term mentality sets in and I make wiser choices. Eating unhealthy food that taste delicious can be a fun treat on the rare ocassion. However, I find that after being on the road- or simply away from home for any length of time- I start to crave the health and routine. For many years, I considered making financially sound or healthy choices a hardship, but with a few mental changes I’m flexing the healthier and financially sound part of my brain.
A Break That Makes Us Better
I love to travel. But what I love even more is traveling around and feeling good, both during the trip and when I get home. I remember taking vacations of luxurious over-indulgence only to feel worse mentally and physically when I got home due to the way I treated my body during my time off. We took a trip to Colorado this year for the first time and it was unique because we were much more active than usual. We spent more time doing outdoor activities rather than just sitting around eating, drinking, and resting the days away. We actually went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of semi-healthy food to make smoothies and have delicious breakfast foods. We still had plenty of treats and even watched some television, but there were many other parts of the trip that were adventurous enough to keep us active.
I would enjoy the day where my vacations are active, yet relaxing; where I actually feel healthier and better rested when I get home. I’ll still take the time to turn off the brain every now and then and indulge, but I’ll plan it out and call it the excessive infrequent luxury that it is. And I’ll try to limit the amount of nasty food and tv, even when I’m away from home. I know I’ll feel better in the long run.
Developing Transferable Habits
For occasional travelers, developing good habits outside of the house can be really difficult. Our routines change but the time we are gone is typically so small we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what we need to do to stay healthy or active on the road. The biggest tip I’ve found that works for me is simply getting up early and getting the important things done before the day begins. For me, it is often working out, running, reading, writing, or preparing for the day. If I can get a few important things done, even on vacation, before the rest of my day begins I tend to feel better and actually be much more consistent. I find that I often can work around crazy dining days by eating light meals for breakfast or lunch and then eating heavier meals when I’m out with family, friends, or coworkers.
When it comes to having some screen time, I find that I feel better if I plan around watching something really fun on television. I really enjoy watching sports so I’ll try to plan activities before and after games, and then actually sit and focus when the program comes on that I’m truly interested in. If I have nothing else to do, I’ll try to read a little non-fiction, write a little bit, or spend as much time as a I can talking and learning from the people I’m visiting or vacationing with.
Once you have been eating healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, going out to McDonald’s simply doesn’t give you long term satisfaction. It may feel good for the moment but when you get finished you feel gross and sluggish.
Take vacations at a slower pace. Build in time to get in some exercise, slowly cook some healthy meals, and spend time doing outdoor or unique activities instead of thoughtlessly flipping through hours of cathode rays. If you want to watch something, be intentional and give it your full attention. We all enjoy relaxing, but being mindful- even on vacations- can help us recharge our batteries and live healthier, fuller lives.