How I Stay Healthy When Flying 100k+ Miles A Year With My Wife (And Co-Founder) & Our Baby
As the founder and CEO of mindbodygreen married to my fellow co-founder and chief brand officer, Colleen, we have to travel quite a bit for work. Travel almost destroyed my health 10 years ago but it also was the inspiration behind mindbodygreen and our mission to make wellness accessible—especially for serious travelers like us! (More on that here!)
So what does travel look like for us in 2018? We are on the road almost every other week and try to bring our 1-year-old daughter Ellie with us as much as we can. Ellie was on 22 flights in her first year on this planet and has only had one meltdown on a flight! (This was when we were on the tarmac for two hours so she was just expressing the frustration all the other passengers had. I wished I could scream, too!)
Traveling with our infant daughter can be complicated and difficult, especially when we are trying to maintain our wellness routines as a family, however, we've found that certain things work really well no matter what obstacles travel throws our way.
One thing that makes wellness possible for us is staying at hotels that make wellness easier when you don't have the time to "discover wellness" in an unfamiliar city. We often don't have time to check out the hottest new yoga studio in town, we just need to find what works for us in the hotel and its immediate surroundings. We're also loyal when it comes to brands and have been staying at Starwood properties for years and really love how Westin has made wellness accessible to travelers who value wellness AND family. There’s also something to be said for great service when you show up to a hotel late at night after a long day of travel and you’re met with a really easy and pleasant check-in. This has been huge for us with Ellie (more on that later). We always try to upgrade when we fly as well—what’s the point of having so many frequent flier miles if you’re not going to use them? I’m 6’7” and Colleen is 6’0” and when you throw Ellie in we need all the space we can get!
But beyond finding a great hotel that makes wellness easier, what else do we do to keep healthy on the road?
1. You have to eat well.
We always try to carry superfoods snacks with us. This could be everything from cashews, goji berries, and KIND bars for Colleen and almonds alongside lots of bar choices for me like Bulletproof, Primal Kitchen, EPIC, RXBAR, or Quest. It's getting easier to find great, healthy snacks in airports with chains like CIBO Express doing a tremendous job here. We also drink a TON of water and try to load up on veggies before and after our flights. I might even drink too much water as I'm constantly going to the bathroom on any flight I'm on (but hey, that means I'm moving my legs, right?!). I'll also try to drink coconut water when I can. I've found that if I let myself get dehydrated I can get seriously jet-lagged. And I always take a probiotic daily (whether I’m traveling or not). When it comes to Ellie we travel with Plum Organics, Beech-nut, and Happy Baby squeeze packs.
2. You have to sleep well.
I try to avoid sleeping on planes and NEVER take red-eye flights. When we get to our hotel at nighttime, we always blackout the curtains, lower the temperature to 65 degrees (a Frank Lipman, M.D. tip), and turn off devices creating an electronic blackout. If the trip is under 3-4 days, we'll also try to stick to our native ET time zone rather than adjust. (Although some experts would disagree here, for us this alleviates the pain of the adjustment flying back east). Finding a hotel with a great bed is also huge and when you find it, stick with it. Westin has their famous Heavenly bed and more hotels are following suit, recognizing that a great bed can make all the difference for a great night’s sleep. There are studies that suggest that it takes two nights of sleep to adjust to a new surrounding so the more familiar you are with your hotel, the better you'll sleep on your first night!
Colleen is a runner so will try to run in the morning and I'm a big walker so I'll go for a long walk with Ellie first thing in the morning. We love how the Westin hotels have local running maps so you can easily find good, safe, and scenic routes. I'll use this time to explore, grab coffee (always black!) and use it as my own meditation in motion. There's something really special about walking a new city in the morning when it's just waking up—especially with a curious baby! I track my steps with a Fitbit so will try to do at least 5,000 in the morning and 10,000 for the day. When you're traveling, it's often easier to get a lot more steps as you move around town for meetings and hike through big airports so it's something I always try to do.
4. You need to feel good after a long day.
When we travel for work, Colleen and I are usually in back-to-back meetings all day. So when the end of the day comes Colleen loves a great bath and I'll generally opt for a hot shower (sorry Wim Hof!). I meditate for 20 mins and use mbg’s essential guide to meditation class. Colleen will either join me as I meditate or she’ll wind down with herbal tea.
5. It's gotta work for work.
Uber-cool, faddy boutique hotels simply don't work for work. Who's really comfortable in a room that's as big as a closet with thumping music coming from the elevator, and a hotel restaurant that looks like a nightclub in Vegas? We're more productive and relaxed when our hotels feel more like a sanctuary and less like a nightclub. We always need great high-speed internet, a desk, and space to work. Sometimes that means having access to great meeting rooms as well. It's gotta work for work!
6. Make time to play.
With baby Ellie, it's important for us to have things like a family-friendly hotel where the front desk manager doesn't look terrified when you request a crib, or the server doesn't stare at you when you ask for a high chair and one scrambled egg and half an avocado. Late checkout also matters (it always takes longer to travel with a baby!). We'll also try to stay the weekend if we're traveling on a Thursday or Friday. Ellie has actually done most of her swimming in hotel pools (there aren't a lot of pools in Brooklyn). This gives us time as a family to really put the "we" back in wellness.
With all that being said, travel can still be challenging, and it's not always pretty for us, but it's definitely getting a lot easier to maintain one's wellness routine on the road with thoughtful brands who understand that a healthy lifestyle isn’t something you leave at home!