Staying Healthy While Traveling: Maintain Your Fitness Goals & Win!

Looking for tips on staying lean while traveling? Get ahead and stay fit, even on the road, with the following helpful guide!

Traveling? Been there, done that... NINE times this year! Business travelers, here you go! A guide just for you.

It is very difficult for people who travel to eat healthy. You don't want to blow months of work in the gym, getting and staying lean, in one week-long business trip.

I travel often enough that I am ALWAYS going to be on one or two trips during a contest prep diet. So I am basing this on my experiences and success at not "blowing it" while traveling.

Since there are many variables, I plan to break the article down like this:

  • Basic eating guidelines
  • Using gyms out of town
  • The traveler that makes his/her own arrangements
  • The traveler that has to have corporate make his/her arrangements
  • The traveler that drives for a living
  • Where to eat clean
  • Recommended supplements and accessories that travel well

I will be basing my recommendations on the following assumptions:

  • You have access to transportation - rental car or cab
  • If no transportation, there are restaurants onsite or within walking distance
  • Your clients / coworkers / dinner companions are not total junk food eating slobs who pick the nastiest places in town (sorry to those who fail on this one, can't help you)

Basic Eating Guidelines

The goal is not to keep a pre-contest diet, we're just trying to keep good nutrition and feed the muscles to help recover from workouts.

The ultimate goal is to try and keep a healthy diet while at the mercy of numerous distractions, lackluster accommodations, and clients that always want to eat out at questionable establishments. You will still need to shoot for the regular 5 meals per day and may need to rely heavily on supplementation to get enough protein.

Using Gyms Out Of Town

In the Over 35 section of the forum, we have a thread dedicated to gyms in different towns that are great to workout in. Check this thread and see if you can find a good one in the town where you will be staying. If it is close to your accommodations, call them and try to work out a deal to get some workouts in without paying some kind of stupid $15 per day crap.

Talk to the gym manager, explain that you travel a lot and try to maintain a consistent workout routine. Many times these guys understand the situation and will cut you a break on the standard 'walk in' rate.

Also ask the hotel if they have a gym. Chances are you'll hear, "we have an exercise room." Ask for elaboration. I have seen "exercise rooms" with a treadmill and bike only, and then some with up to 50lb db's, a universal machine, and several cardio machines. This may or may not be enough for you.

Look at the length of the stay and what you really need to accomplish. Ask if they have a reciprocal agreement with a nearby gym. Many hotels will have this type of agreement and even if it is a modest gym, it's better than the "exercise room."

Worst case, find out if there is a gym nearby, map it out, and call the manager like you did above. I have been very successful at getting some breaks from managers because I explain that I am a serious exerciser, I pick up after myself, and chances are his gym area will be cleaner when I leave than it was when I arrived. Remember that you are a guest and act accordingly. This way, if you return, you will be welcomed back.

Pack lightly for the gym and be prepared to modify and adapt to the available equipment and time constraints. You need to be flexible, you are not trying to set any personal bests, just keep the workouts going. Belt, straps, and music player (have you heard what some gyms play?) should get you by in 90% of circumstances. Take your own towel from the hotel, remember to bring it back.

Traveler Making His Own Arrangements

You have a distinct advantage over many people in large corporations with "corporate deals". You are able to pick a hotel with a refrigerator, microwave, and even a full kitchen for longer trips.

Ideally you would pick the hotel with a full kitchen and make your own breakfast, dinner, etc. But, since those are not always accessible, you need to at least get one with a refrigerator and microwave.

With these tools at your disposal you are now able to buy some healthy pre-cooked meals you can reheat. I recommend pre-cooked chicken and some of the healthier choices in the grocery store deli sections.

Frozen vegetables are available in steamer packs. There are numerous prepared frozen meals that are actually healthy and tasty nowadays. You can also store milk if you like that in your shakes.

You want to pack the following items: Shaker cup, protein servings, bars, pre-workout supplements, and vitamin and mineral supplements.

While you CAN pack things in Ziploc bags, powder in little baggies in carry on luggage can raise eyebrows in case you ever get "randomly" searched.

I have seen Ziplocs explode when packed in check-on bags, so be careful where you store them if you go that route. There are better choices in prepackaged forms.

Make sure the bars travel well and do break apart easily, leaving small crumbs that may fall on your shirt and melt into a nice little stain for you to be stuck with for the day. I will cover recommended travel choices in another section.

Traveler With Corporate Making His Arrangements

First, find out the names of the people in the travel department, what snacks they like, and send them a big box of them twice a year. This can definitely help getting 'special requests' handled more easily. Also remember to email and thank them for getting any special accommodations for you.

When you find out the hotel in which you will be staying, call ahead and request a room with a refrigerator at least. If you are lucky enough to be able to swing the refrigerator and microwave, you've got it made. Otherwise, you will need to pack enough supplements to take up the slack.

You will need to use shakes that mix well with water and ice. There are great choices in prepackaged form. Find the ice machine early, so you don't spend 15 minutes walking around the halls in your shorts the next morning.

You want to pack the same items I listed in the last section: Shaker cup, protein servings, bars, pre-workout supplements, and vitamin and mineral supplements.

Again, make sure the bars travel well and do not melt when in the trunk of a cab, shuttle, or rental car. I will cover recommended travel choices in another section.

If you must drive after arriving:

Follow many of the suggestions for the driver below, but some quick hints. Arrive, check in the hotel, find a grocery store, buy a $5-10 styrofoam cooler, pack it with ice and the necessary supplies, and use this for the trip. A good shaker cup and some MRP packs may be necessary for this trip. (If I can survive north Texas and Oklahoma in August this way, so can you.)

Traveler That Drives For A Living

You need some accessories. A good cooler is a must. One with a built in detachable cold pack is preferred. You also need to buy some good microwavable containers. You will need to use convenience store microwaves, so know how much cooking time you need for each item you must reheat.

Plan your gas and bathroom stops when you need to eat. Select a large gas station/food mart, and be polite and ask to use the microwave. Buy a Coke Zero so you are a customer, and heat up your food. If they ask, the phrase "I'm on a special diet" should answer any questions.

Pack foods that do not melt or spoil fast. You want to be able to pack them and not worry if it is a 100 degree day. Remember to crack the windows just a bit to allow heat to escape. I also highly recommend a window shade, this can keep the inside temperature of the car 10-20º cooler than if you don't use one.

I always recommend packing a high protein RTD in the cooler, just in case. You also need Uncoated bars that will not melt in some heat.

The Stax System is a solution that helps with storing and packing food for the road in one simple, easy to use case. See the end of the article.

Where To Eat Clean

This is one of the most difficult parts of travel to overcome, unless you know the basic tricks.

Let's say your lunch/dinner companions suggest Big Momma's House of 'Fried Everything'. Wow, this could get ugly. But it's easy to suggest, "hey, you know, I'd really like a steak." Now this opens up a much better selection of restaurants. Almost every steakhouse worth your patronage will have some lean choices, you just have to ask for them.

Here's HOW NOT to ask. "Dude, like I'm a bodybuilder and I need to keep my saturated fats and simple carbs to a minimum, especially this late, can you help me out?" Crickets chirp, tumbleweed blows by, companions and waiter stare at you like you're a freak.

Here's HOW to ask. Get the waiter over next to you and ask, "Can you help me out, I'm really trying to watch my cholesterol, is there any way to get the steak and steamed veggies prepared WITHOUT butter and sauces?"

90% of the time the answer will be, "Sure, no problem, let me make sure to tell the cook."

Your reply should be, "Thanks a lot, that would really be appreciated."

It works, trust me, I use it all the time. I can find healthy Mexican, Chinese, etc... by ordering the right items and asking for them to be prepared with "no oil or butter please". (Once I figure out how to get healthy lasagna, I'll be golden. I'm working on it, I'll let you know.)

Places I can personally recommend: Logan's Roadhouse, Chili's, TGI Friday's, Outback Steakhouse, Texas Steakhouse, Hooters (grilled chicken sandwich, no mayo, side salad instead of fries, "But Honey, it's not the girls, really. I had to get a clean chicken sandwich somewhere").

Many of your upscale hotel restaurants are also more than willing to accommodate these requests. Be smart and pick the right places and things are much easier.

Now, what happens when you are rushed and you, or you and the group, have to stop at a fast food place. OK, Burger King and Wendy's BOTH have grilled chicken sandwiches. Drop the mayo, drop the cheese, NO fries, glass of water or diet soda.

You can easily escape without a waist breaker. No chicken sandwich? Burger, no cheese, no mayo, no fries, with a water or diet soda. Even many fried chicken places have a grilled breast of chicken sandwich.

Try to figure out what is available BEFORE the hungry stomachs take over. Having a plan is half the battle, the right choices are the other half.

Good luck on this, see if this advice helps on your next business trip.

Supplements & Accessories that travel well in a suitcase & briefcase



Required to travel without breaking apart

Pre/Post-Workout Supplements

You can pack your tablets/capsules, but these will quickly take up room in the vitamin case. Easily accessible and well traveling powders are:


I suggest using your favorite thermogenic in the vitamin case, I like - CEL N-Cinerate and Magnum Nutraceuticals Heat for a start.

Vitamin & Mineral Supplements


Many of these are in MY suitcase, let me know what's in yours.

Supplements And Accessories that travel well in a car & cooler


  • Cytosport Protein RTD - Non milk based RTD is very tasty and refreshing, perfect for coolers, 40 grams of just protein.
  • IDS New Whey 42 - "test tube" design makes them compact for suitcases or small coolers. Very tasty and very quick. Also made in a 25 gram version.
  • Labrada Lean Body RTD - great tasting, perfect for coolers, good serving of protein and carbs for the driver

You can carry packets of powders, but these can easily get messy while driving. Even the best shaker cups can leak a little.


Must be able to handle heat without melting, all of these are uncoated bars

Pre/Post Workout Supplements



Triaxiom Fitness Stax System - this thing is cool, three containers each for protein and carbs, a timer to remind you when to eat, it's own organizer carrying case, and its own custom sized freezable gelpack. This may seem like a big investment at first, but it should give great payback with ease of use.

It goes together nicely, stays cool enough for the day, and the containers seem to be relatively durable after a half dozen or so uses. It's pretty cool as it comes with a full explanation booklet and the timer is a nice touch for those of us with a bit of A.D.D. I mean ~$55 for a cooler, cold pack, containers, timer, and meal planning guide is a pretty good deal once you break it all down.

An additional simple soft sided or hard sided cooler for bottled water and diet sodas will save you a lot of money down the road. Buy a "6-pack" cooler block and it will make things much easier. It will sit between the cans and keep all of them cold.

I would also recommend keeping a roll of paper towels and some handiwipes in the car at all times. Accidents can happen.


As always, preparation is the key to staying on track. The old adage, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail" is very true when it comes to traveling.

I travel between 4 and 10 times a year. Many of these trips are for 3-4 days at a time, and most of them have me moving from hotel to hotel.

I have learned the lessons above during the last several years. They have helped me successfully travel during a contest prep and not get off track. I hope they can do the same for you.