Do you travel a lot for work? Do you find yourself needing to eat at a hotel restaurant night after night because you are getting back from meetings too late to venture elsewhere? Do you want to save money when traveling for work? If you answered yes to at least one of those questions this post is for you!
Each year my colleague Jana and I attend a conference in California or Florida. These conferences are a great way for us to get new ideas for our wellness program at Drake and to keep up with the latest trends in our industry. We recently spent five days in Ft. Lauderdale at ECA Thrive. Our conferences keep us very busy with little down time – usually 30 minutes or less between sessions. Over the years we’ve become smarter about how to eat healthy and save money while spending five days away from home in a hotel. Here’s how we do it:
Refrigerate: When booking your hotel ask for a refrigerator for your room. This will make sense momentarily.
Grocery Shop: Each year we find a grocery store (shout out to Ralph’s in Gas Lamp district!) and go shopping upon arrival to our home away from home, aka the hotel. These groceries help keep us fueled throughout the conference (we do a lot of exercising) and keep us less stressed when needing to find a meal in a short amount of time.
When shopping, think about what meals you can easily eat in your room and get items for those and any snacks you might need. We always need food for breakfast and usually lunch so we stock up on a variety of items. Here’s my grocery list from the past trip:
Vegetables: Sliced carrots
Fruit: Raspberries, bananas, apples, dried apple rings, dried apricots
Protein: String cheese, peanut butter, hummus, Greek Yogurt
Carbs: Crackers, granola, sandwich thins
Fats: PB, string cheese
Beverage: Gallon of water, Silk Almond Milk
Miscellany: plastic flatware, paper plates
If you plan to do this I definitely recommend you go for a refrigerator in the room so you can shop beyond shelf-stable foods. I try to hit every major food group and make sure I can get at least three servings of fruit in my room each day. I find vegetables are easier to get at restaurants but fruit can be scarce with the exception of fruity desserts; but let’s be real, those don’t count. I also get foods that can be combined easily to make my meals more interesting. For example, I can add granola, a little PB, and bananas to my Greek yogurt for an on-the-go breakfast.
Is my grocery list perfect? Absolutely not. Am I eating things I normally don’t? Absolutely. Eating on the road is tricky but ultimately it’s about eating as healthy as possible under your current circumstances. I was able to have healthy meals and snacks with the foods I purchased and save a little money here and there. When I’m traveling for non-work related events, such as family vacations or when I go abroad, I don’t tend to stock up this much (although I always get fruit for the hotel room) but for trips that are very scheduled such as business meetings or conferences, this helps keep me less stressed and healthier.
What can you to do make travel for work healthy for your budget and waistline? I challenge you to try this instead of the drive-through!
P.S. One other thing Jana and I did at the conference was pledge to take the stairs. We were staying on the 11th floor and took the stairs on all occasions but two – when we had our luggage coming and going. You actually see quite a few people in the stairs at fitness conferences because that’s just how we roll!
P.P.S. If you are a fitness professional and looking for a conference, ECA Thrive is definitely worthwhile! Lots of fun presenters, up-to-date information, and energy!