When I first began regular business traveling in the 1970s, most people considered working out to be a form of mental illness.
Things are very different now. There are usually good gyms in almost any town. You will find people running on the street in the most remote locations on earth.
But, some issues will always be there, like traveling across time zones, and dealing with the disruption of your personal schedule. But, keeping up your training while traveling has become less of a problem over the past decades.
If your travel is a onetime event, such as a vacation trip, you can decide how much training you want to do before you depart. If you regularly travel, it is essential that you develop a plan to train at your destination to minimize the disruption to your program.
For over 30 years I regularly traveled from Seattle to the east coast of the US. One or two trips a month were part of my normal pattern. Through planning and a variety of trial and error learning, I learned how to train with minimal disruption.
There was a five-year period in my working career when I traveled internationally almost every month, and tossed in a few domestic trips between the overseas jaunts. It was either learn how to train on the road, or give in to the physical ravages of life on an expense account.
Travel by car presents some issues, but going across several time zones is not one of them. You spend the day sitting in a car, but dont have to deal with the disruption to your body clock that you do when flying.
Success begins with a plan. If you have no plan, your plan is to fail!
Start by packing your workout clothes and any other training stuff you cant live without.
Next is planning what you will do when you are there. For example, I regularly made 10-14 day trips to Russia and Ukraine (from Seattle). This meant planning at some serious workouts overseas.
Travel across many time zones introduces another wrinkle that you dont confront at home: jet lag.
The search for an antidote for jet lag has gone on for decades. Thus far, no Magic bullet.
I didnt develop a perfect solution, but did come up with a method that minimized the disruption to my body clock.
First off, during the flight I was either working or sleeping. I found that if I slept for a large chunk of a long trip, the disruption to my bod was far less than if I stayed awake.
Second, drink lots of water. Airplanes cabins are like living in a food dryer. On a long trip you will become dehydrated. Drink at least one 8 oz cup of water for each hour you are in the plane. A bit more would be OK. Note that I said water, not beer, wine, or soda. These dry you out.
Third, a mental trick that is easier said than done. Basically, tell yourself that whatever time it is at your destination is the time you will be on. If you sit in your seat and wonder will I be wasted when I get there?, you probably will.
Flying east is more disruptive than flying west. When you fly east (to Europe) you will be shortening your sleeping time. Suddenly you only have four hours of sleep instead of eight.
If you can manage it, when you arrive immediately start living on local time. Dont take a nap. Go to sleep at bed time at your destination. This can be grim at times.
If you have the luxury of taking a day or two before your trip to adjust to the time change, you can start living at home as if you were already at your destination.
Going west you chase the sun, and so you have the sensation of departing at one time, flying for a very long time, and arriving only a little bit after your left. For example, coming back from Moscow, we would leave about 2 PM, fly for nine hours and arrive in New York at 4 PM.
Chasing the sun is an easier adjustment, but you will still be fatigued.
But, back to what you do when you arrive at your destination.
When you arrive have a short workout. This will help you adjust to your new location.
If you are a runner, you should have minimal problems. In just about every city and town in the US (and Europe) running is a normal activity. Take a short leisurely jog (or treadmill session) and it will help you recover from the flight.
The same applies to weight trainingjust do enough to remind your body of the fun you have when you lift weights.
If you go to a gym, do several exercises with light weights and high reps. The purpose is to get moving again.
Stick in a few minutes of cardio on a treadmill or rower.
The whole purpose of this adaptation workout is to get rid of the bodys residue from riding ten plus hours in a seat the size of a garbage can.
If you dont have access to a gym, do a few calisthenics in your hotel room. Pushups, deep squats, burpees, leg raises, etc. will do just fine.
Tell yourself that this is going to help you adapt to the time change. Your body may scream for a nap, but you are best off doing a light workout and going to bed on local time.
After you have been at your new location for a day or two, you can think about doing your regular workouts again.
Depending on your needs and desires, most big hotels these days have a workout room. These are rarely adequate for power training, but they may have some useful equipment. Occasionally I found full barbell sets, and a good selection of dumbbells. Most often, the equipment was lamebut clearly better than nothing.
If you want to find a well-equipped gym, you should be able to find one on the internet either before you depart, or when you arrive.
The number of decent gyms around the planet has increased dramatically since I first began traveling. Now it is possible to find well equipped facilities almost anywhere.
This is especially true in the United States. Even the smallest town will usually have some type of weight training option. I even found a well-equipped power gym in a tiny town in one of the most remote parts of the US.
When you find a gym, the vast majority will allow you to pay for single workouts if you dont live in the area.
I have even managed to talk my way into high school weight rooms if there was no gym in town.
In the first few days after you arrive, the quality of your workout will probably not be what it would be if you were home. Your strength will be somewhat diminished, and your endurance not quite up to what it would be at home.
After 2-3 days, you may be able to do what would be a regular workout for you. Your bod will have adjusted to the time change, and you will have shaken off the effects of the flight.
Depending on the length of your stay, and your work commitments, you can train pretty much as if you were home.
If you dont have access to a good gym, keep up the bodyweight training in your hotel room. You will most likely be pleasantly surprised at how well this keeps your strength up.
One thing you should NOT do is use your travel as an excuse to pig out at meals and abandon any semblance of training. It is too easy to say, coach never taught me how to live on an expense account, or on vacation, anything goes.
The bottom line is to plan ahead, and you can travel with minimal disruption to your training program. This is particularly true if you travel on a regular basis to the same locations.
Richard