If you’ve ever travelled for any longish period of time, you’ll know it goes something like this:
You spend months prior to your trip at the gym (because you’re going to meet your soulmate and fall in love out there, of course).
You spend the first week of your trip eating shitty food like pizza and kebabs and loaded fries – basically whatever is on the corner by your hostel.
You meet some mates and start getting friendly with the booze, because you’re on holiday, duh.
After one month you’ve put on 5kg but it’s cool, you’ll start running every morning now.
You go for one run.
After two months you’ve put on 10kg but it’s cool because you’re seriously going to start running now.
You don’t start running.
You get a cold.
Now you’re feeling better and you could start running, but you decide to just start eating salad for dinner, because you uh, don’t have good running shorts or something.
You eat one salad.
Now you decide it’s too late, you’re just going to binge eat and drink beer because you should just enjoy the rest of your holiday.
Six months later, welcome home. You’re officially a fat ****.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY.
After many jaunts on the road, I’ve finally learned how to kick this “traveller’s disease” of beer bellies, pimply skin, runny noses and sore throats.
In fact on my last couple of trips, both six months long with a lot of sleeping on floors, long buses and trains, sleepless nights and a super tight budget, I didn’t get sick at all. Maybe a few sniffles for a day. Compared to my first few years on the road where I spent entire weeks in bed coughing up gunk, I felt invincible.
The best part is, it doesn’t require anything fancy and expensive. Fifteen minutes every morning and you’ll be returning home in better shape than when you left. Promise. Detailed below is my (patent-pending) Bren On The Road Don’t Be A Sick Fatty Wasting-Your-Trip-In-Bed Traveller Five-Step Plan:
1. Get your Daily Greens
It’s not a secret (or maybe it still is for some) that vegetables are what keep us sexy. Unfortunately on the road it’s not always possible to be eating healthy home-cooked meals every night. Honestly – what do you do when you’ve just gotten off a 12 hour bus ride and it’s after midnight? You go to the 7 Eleven for a hot dog and a Milo.
Luckily in the 21st century it’s possible to get a serving of daily greens without a vegetable garden and a kitchen. I’ve been using green powders (even while not travelling) for the last year and they’ve been awesome. Dried and powdered veges are certainly not as good as fresh greens pulled from the ground, but they’re definitely better than a few shreds of lettuce in a Family Mart sandwich.
There are many brands out there so do your homework and find a reputable brand available in your country. The powder I always travel with is Earth Grown Nutrients by Onnit – one of my favourite brands. I drink it daily on short trips, every other day on longer ones. It comes in small, easy-to-pack containers and the ingredients mix is just awesome. Mix it up in a glass and knock it down in five. Got your greens for the day and so, so easy.
2. Snack smart and healthy
Most of us are not used to spending the whole day wandering around cities and taking photos for hours, so we tend to get hungrier and thirstier than usual. That means on the road, we tend to snack hard.
One bit of cookie dough won’t hurt, right?
It’s even worse in the hostel when people are passing around M&M’s and bottles of wine.
Try and flip the script and eat snacks that actually give your health a boost rather than a drag.
My favourite snacks – nuts, carrots and protein bars. I used to eat Burger King at the airport as a treat for the long flight ahead (isn’t it weird how there’s always a Burger King by your gate?). Now I always have a few bars and a bag of nuts on any flight. If I pass a supermarket, I buy a few carrots and apples and eat those if I’m hungry at night or looking for breakfast. I still eat all the good stuff I find on the street, but I balance it out with something good. And I always drink a lot of water.
You may think this is needle-in-a-haystack type stuff, but if you’re snacking every day that’s going to add up to maybe fifty or a hundred carrots on your trip. Ask your doc – it makes a difference!
3. Get Spiced
Spices are huge right now. Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon – we’re finally learning what many ethnic communities have known forever – spices are one of nature’s best medicines.
When I first revamped my diet I spent months travelling with actual spices – little bottles of turmeric and slabs of ginger, trying to cook and make tea with them whenever I could. Inconvenient obviously, but it worked.
Then the guys at Onnit came out with their spices-based supplement which was the answer to all my backpacking prayers.
What’s in it?
A blend of immune-boosting mushrooms, turmeric, ginger root, oregano leaf, lemon peel and a bunch of other good stuff. I take a few supplements on trips but this is by far my favourite; completely food-based, all-natural, packed with goodness and locked in an easy to take capsule. I simply throw a couple of bottles in my backpack before a trip and I take it daily. I love it. You can grab a bottle for yourself here, or if you prefer just get your spices the old fashioned way. Both work!
4. A scoop of honey
Down in New Zealand and Australia, we grow up with Manuka honey. It’s not until we hear people raving about it across the world that we realise how awesome it actually is.
The health benefits of honey are not a secret, but Manuka is honey on steroids. Across the interwebs you’ll hear people raving about using Manuka honey to kick colds, cure the most stubborn staph infections, heal up wounds (all of which I’ve done myself too, by the way) and you wonder why more people don’t know about it. Well today I’m telling you about it. I won’t list all the studies – you can browse them for yourself.
So what do you do with it? While a lot of people use it for dressing wounds and so on, I mostly just eat it. I travel with a jar of it wherever I go and take a teaspoon most days, or a few teaspoons if I’m feeling a little weak.
It can be expensive if purchased overseas, but you can grab some decent brands on Amazon like this one. If you’re travelling through Australia or New Zealand, just pick up a jar at the supermarket. I don’t have any preferred brand; just grab anything with a UMF rating of 10 or more. Ooh honey.
5. Fifteen minutes of sweat
The one you were dreading.
How do you exercise on the road? Sometimes you’re sharing a dorm with 10 other people, and unless you’re flush and splurging on a nice hotel, there won’t be a gym you can get swole at either. Here’s a secret: To exercise on the road you just need your arms and legs and fifteen minutes. And I know sometimes you just can’t be arsed, but I’m sorry I cannot hear all your excuses over all these great ideas I’m about to give you. These are things you can do that are fast, free and as good as any gym workout:
- Plank for as long as you can. Then do it again. Then again one last time. You’ll go home with rock hard abs. I plank in the airport all the time.
- Do a set number of push ups every day. My number is 100 but start at whatever you want. Even if it’s just 20 – you can do 10 in the morning and 10 at night. Over a month that’s 600 push ups. Takes less than five minutes.
- Do squat jumps. Aim for a set number each day. All you need is two legs and a chair.
- If there’s a washing line or soccer goal or children’s playground, do some pull ups.
- Do a HIIT workout. Takes less than five minutes and burns massive calories. This one is my favourite.
- Yoga. Learn some basic poses, then get your yoga on for 5-10 minutes. Easy.
- Shadow box.
- Skipping. If you don’t have a rope, shadow skip.
- Lift. You can do it anywhere with resistance bands. I travel with these bands and use them all the time for both working out and rehab. You can get a full lift with them (for example), and you can do it anywhere, even when sitting in a train station (yeah I’m that guy). They literally weigh as much as a sock and will fit in your pocket. You can grab them on Amazon for 30 bucks. Be warned though, everyone in your dorm is going to want to use em!
There it is friends. Drink your greens. A spoonful of honey. Pop a spiced up pill. Pack a bag of nuts. Sweat for fifteen minutes.
HOW EASY IS IT. And it all fits in your backpack like a pair of shoes:
Catch you on the road with your six pack.