My Approach To "Being Healthy" While On The Road (And The Habit I Cut Out For Good)
Wow, to think I've been traveling in my adventure van (aka Toad) for 6 months makes me shake my head in disbelief. It's been wonderful, hard and eye-opening. My daily life happens from this small interior space that has an ever changing backyard that's typically on BLM or wilderness land (with the occasion parking lot or street parking in an urban setting...not my favorite).
Before I drove away from Minnesota, my heart home, I needed to get my mindset right. I declared this voyage to embody slow living. I didn't want to be driving everyday, changing parking locations all the time, and trying to visit every cool place near by. I wasn't going to try and 'do it all.' I wanted to be open to the quiet moments that allowed me to spend more time in a place, get to know it and maybe even see changes in the weather, seasons, plants and animals. I discovered that being a bit more grounded helped keep anxiety down and allowed to me feel connected. What a gift!
My style of "being healthy" on the road has developed with a lot of trial and error and although I'm still working out some kinks, I wanted to share some practical ways I feel good and take care of me (mind and body) on the road.
Mostly in hopes that when you travel (be it camping, driving, flying or staying in a hotel) you will have a few tricks up your sleeve and feel less derailed on your routines when you venture out and come home.
Here we go!
Have The Right Mindset (Part 2)
In addition to slow living and saying buh-bye to all or nothing mindset, I embrace the philosophy of "yes, and..." It shows up it improv comedy but it also helps me have less of a restrictive mindset around food, movement and enjoying myself.
Our culture is so wound up with work that when we travel or vacation it tends to be a big release, a free for all, eat and do whatever you want. Which, to be fair, may feel good in the beginning but it catches up and by the time you're heading home you feel like shit, you're thinking you need to start back up at the gym Monday morning and get going on that diet you've been meaning to do.
Yeesh, no thanks.
"Yes, and" says... "Yes, I'll have a drink and pizza and I'll order a side of veggies. Yes, I'll stay up late around the campfire with new friends and I'll prioritize sleep the next 2 nights. Yes, I'll go for a couple hour bike ride and get my work done with better energy and focus." Pretty nice, uh?!
Don't limit yourself to 'this' or 'that.' Include it all and you'll be a more balanced you.
Clean H2O and Fresh Food Options
I fill up on clean water literally any chance I get. Most often it's at a gas station, pay by the gallon water fill tank or when visiting a friend at their home. I have a reusable water bottle (well, a couple. Ok, 3) but one that has a straw so when I'm driving, I don't have to open the bottle and I'm free to sip away safely.
I have begun to seek out food trucks instead of restaurants because a) they feel more unique and fun that I get to chat with the people making my food b) I've noticed the portion sizes of the meals are often smaller, so naturally I eat less and feel better when I leave and c) you get to eat outside (major bonus).
Groceries stores are my favorite because my dollar goes father and I LOVE to cook. Plus, buying fresh food is a big priority and I can be selective based on what's local and in season.
I'm totally one of those people who thinks about their next meal while eating the current one (can ya blame me? I'm a foodie). Meal preparation before a long drive has saved me in the moments where I'm hungry after hours of driving and I'm less tempted to snack because I thought ahead and created a beautiful, simple meal.
Intentional Exercise and Wandering Walks
In a new location, I'll look up nearby trail systems or natural open areas to hike, standup paddle board and ride my gravel bike. Venturing off for a couple day bikepacking trip or a half-day hike is important to me, not only for not only my physical health but my mental health, too. No matter where I travel, I get out of the van and move my body in nature, even if it's on my mat practicing yoga or lifting kettlebells.
I also need a good stroll. My partner, Lucas, and I love a good stroll with no intended destination or length. He loves a coffee walk in the morning to think and organize his thoughts and I enjoy an impulsive walk as work breaks from the laptop or after a meal to look for interesting flowers, plants and trees.
Go To Bed First, Wake Up First
I've been an early riser my whole life and also never seemed to sleep in, even as a teenager. I've grown to love the early mornings even more when I starting noticing how much better my mood, responses to life's curveballs and emotional resiliency was when I meditate or journal (or both). Depending on the weather, I'll sit on the floor of the van or roll out my mat outside and dive inward anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. The days I don't do it (rare at this point) I clearly get agitated around 2pm.
Basically, I prioritize sleep like it's my job which then makes it easier to wake up in the morning.
Being Social AND Solo
See what I did there? A little "Yes and..." ;)
It's important to have social time and personal time. Both make a difference in how you process your experiences, feel connected and recharge your soul. I got caught mid-winter spending a bit too much time on my own and started to feel physically distant and in my head about silly things. I made a shift and started to surround myself with more people for support in person and virtually.
I also love a good digital detox. Most weekends, I dip away from social media, work and answering emails to be 100% present and let my brain come down from being hyper-connected. This has been an absolute delight and although I used to feel extra pressure to always be available for coaching clients, I now have boundaries around when and where I'll be available. I've noticed now when I show up, I show up!
Small sound bites of other ways I stay healthy on the road
- I locate the toilet the night before so in the morning I know where I can poop (be it a real toilet or where I'll be digging a hole)
- I travel light with very few physical possessions, even when I flew to Illinois to visit family for 2 weeks I only had a carry-on
- Kind of obvious but I wash my hands often
- I am forever in love with having low back support while driving (I use a neck pillow for flying placed upside-down around the base of my spine
And as promised, the habit I stopped doing for good....eating while driving! No open bag of chips, apple, granola bar, or candy. This may seem small but it stopped me from eating when I'm bored or anxious, which is usually when I would reach for those things. I keep all of the food in the back and our of reach from the drivers seat. When I'm hungry I stop the van and eat, simple as that.
A Thought To Leave You With
I love travel plans with good bones but I will always leave space to go with the flow and be spontaneous. Your daily health is just like a good vacation. The best one is not when every minute isn't planned. Embrace the winding road and the non-linear path ahead.