Maintaining a routine while traveling is probably one of our most challenging obstacles. We as humans are very into a set routine when we are at home in a controlled environment but are easily thrown off. Things can fall apart rather quickly. One reason is that it’s difficult to create a new routine within 24 hours, especially since most routines are developed and perfected over a much longer period of time. Another reason is that it takes a great deal of discipline. Staying on a routine or starting a new modified one when traveling takes more effort than usual. Lastly, fatigue from travel can weigh heavily on us making it more difficult to stay motivated.
The first 24-48 hours can be the hardest. Staying on track with diet and holding a sound routine takes discipline, the “know how,” and proper planning. Discipline refers to your ability to do things you should when you really do not want to or feel like doing. The “know how” is knowing how to make modifications to your routine given the time table, situation, and pace of travel. It is important to have an idea of your schedule, food availability, hotel accommodations, and of course gym locations. These should be established before you leave so you have a projected plan on how to maintain the bulk of your routine. Things will not always go as planned due to an ever-changing environment of the unknown, so it is important for you to be flexible. Adapt to make changes when needed as each day unfolds. No need to stress when things do not go exactly as you planned. Aim for consistency over perfection. Understand that things are not going to be perfect. Finally, without planning you have nothing. “Winging it” can work, but for the vast majority of people it does not. It adds unneeded stress and often leads to poor sleep, missed gym sessions, and worst of all, horrible food choices. This then leads to feeling sluggish, bloated, and very unmotivated to follow your routine. You definitely do not want to make the process difficult. Planning reduces stress and increases the confidence to maintain that routine when things get tough.
Why is discipline so important when keeping a routine? Well motivation is unreliable, and it comes and goes when things get tough or inconvenient. There is a huge misconception that people who stay on track or who are successful in what they do are motivated all the time. This could not be further from the truth. They have a lot of discipline and do not rely on motivation. They do thing they should do even when they really do not feel like it. When things get tough can you still stay on track? If you do not have discipline, failure is almost inevitable. Sure, planning and having the knowledge makes things easier, but discipline is what you need to get started and see your goal through to the end.
The next component is the “know how.” How do you travel with food, where do you train, and how do you stay organized and formulate a new schedule given your travel obstacles and events? The first step is to figure out food availability and storage, gym locations, driving distances, and places you have to be if you are traveling for work or to attend events. Food is very important because the quality and quantity of food will affect your energy levels. Lower quality food will make you feel tired, which will make it that much harder for you to stay on schedule. It’s not easy to diet when traveling. Still, I have been everywhere and have been able to maintain a perfect diet even when I was in preparation for a show. It really boils down to what length you are willing to go to maintain your diet and routine. It may require you to pre make food in bulk and cart it with you. If you know how to do it, it’s possible to bring both perishable and non-perishable options—I have made plenty of videos showing how to travel with food in cars and even planes. It just takes a bit more effort. Don’t want to food prep? The next best thing would then be to figure out how you can mimic your diet the best you can with your available options. I highly recommend bringing some back up meal replacements such as Animal Meal or Animal Snak bars so you are not left without anything to eat or only terrible choices.
The last component is planning. You must plan where and when you are going to eat and train each day. Winging it day by day does not end well for most. I recommend preparing your meals the night before or mapping out how and where you are going to get food the next day. It is all about starting the first portion of the day with a set schedule or plan. It’s also a great idea to train first thing in the morning to ensure you get your training in. When it is delayed to later in the day, we too often never end up making it because of a change in plans or we are too tired. This will also get you up and out of bed at a specific, consistent time each morning. Speaking of sleep, you really should keep a consistent sleep schedule when you arrive and stick to it even if there is a change in time zones. It might take a day or two not to feel so jet lagged, but toughing through the first day to reset a sleep pattern will make your whole trip that much better. Getting to sleep and waking up around the same time each day is more important than you think. Some variance of 60-90 minutes is totally acceptable, but prioritizing sleep is another must and will greatly enhance the quality of travel and make you feel better all around. Sleep and food must take priority. Everything else will be better if those two are on point. Keeping consistent and close to 90% of your normal habits is vital.
It is very possible to stay on a good routine traveling anywhere in the world. While your adjusted routine will most likely not be perfect, you have to make do with what you have. Make the effort to establish a new modified routine. Many people fail to do this—it’s hard and requires discipline and knowledge—but trust me, if you try this once, you will see how much better you feel overall while on the road.