Ever since I began competing in 2009, I have become a high maintenance traveler. It’s almost impossible to avoid becoming high maintenance when things like finding a gym and locating clean food are foremost in one’s mind. I’m not saying that it’s not possible to stay on track with workouts and food while traveling, but foraging for certain “fitness” resources becomes an essential part of prepping for a trip in a fitness person’s life.
I honestly believe that it is always possible to create intense workouts in any location by performing plyometrics, calisthenics, climbing stairs, running on the beach, etc. However, I also know that those of us who love lifting weights go through iron withdrawals when a gym is not available during travels. My first question when a trip is being booked is, “Where is the closest gym, and how is it equipped?”, rather than what sights there are to check out. No hotel room routine or outdoor workout will ever feel as good to me as weightlifting.
Road trips are the easiest since a car can be loaded up with meals and water, but I am always concerned about whether there is a refrigerator in the hotel room at my destination. Though I am resourceful and can put my food on ice, food spoilage is almost inevitable after a couple of days. Packing food when traveling by plane is much trickier since certain food items either travel poorly or are not allowed by TSA. If you need to bring a lot of food and decide to check in your food bag, be prepared for the possibility of lost luggage. My food bag was lost for 24 hours on one trip when I was traveling to a national contest, all because the airline had cancelled a flight, yet had neglected to reroute my food after they booked me on a replacement flight! I also had to spend the night in a freezing cold airport terminal during that trip, so by the time I got to my final destination, I was exhausted and frustrated. When I discovered that my food had been lost, I literally began crying. Eventually my bag was found and delivered to me, but 7 pounds of chicken and beef were on the verge of spoiling by the time the bag was back in my possession.
Traveling abroad holds even more challenges for the fitness person, since many countries don’t offer clean meal prep services. Even if a local market is located, how will food be prepped if your hotel room lacks a kitchen? I am currently facing this challenge as I prepare for a trip to Hungary. I will make sure to pack a bunch of whey protein, Quest bars and nuts to at least ensure that I meet my body’s daily protein needs. I have also looked into purchasing prepped meals and having them shipped to the hotel on the day of my arrival. Thank goodness I will be staying in a room with a kitchenette when I travel to Sydney, and can cook up a bunch of fish and chicken once I arrive there.
I know that those of you who are not involved in the fitness industry must be reading this and thinking that I am nuts, while those of you in fitness will be able to relate to what I have been saying in this article. The thing is, I don’t want my body to rebel from radically different eating habits or food choices, so I will uphold my high maintenance perspective and do everything in my power to eat clean. Most countries tend to consume whole foods and aren’t in the habit of eating copious amounts of fast foods, a fact which I am thankful for. I look forward to consuming the local produce and trying new foods while staying clean.