As an avid movement enthusiast, maintaining some shape (the good kind) while traveling is always top of mind. Following three years of intense travel, and encountering my share of “difficult” travel situations, I decided to developer practical tips and techniques for maintenance, and even progress, during travel. In addition to my little cues, there are many resources to read up on from Tim Ferriss to Ido Portal among others. There are apps, snacks and backpacks, all designed to give you the travel experience you want and need.
To stay in line with my overly conscious (some may call this awareness) approach to the body and wellness, I like to view travel as a system. There are many components to be considered; and fundamentally, there are interchangeable movements that can be performed on a plane, in line at a cafe or even between meetings.
I like to start the trip off with a small bag of essentials. You may refer to Ido Portal’s “bag o’ goodies” which is similar to what you’ll find in my bag.
NOTE: The contents should not take up so much room that you need a separate bag to transport. This should fit in your suitcase.
Bag O’ Goodies
Plane rides can be grueling. As they are notorious no-sleep-zones, passengers find themselves sitting for extended times in an uncomfortable, not to mention, problematic position. There’s also the added bonus of stress. If you’re not careful, you may find the airplane to be a one stop shop for your very own supplemental cortisol aggravation tool.
First, I like grabbing beef jerky (free of nitrates and LOW to NO in sugar) and a mixture of ORGANIC brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, dried apricots, and raisins. You can get the jerky at your local Snap Kitchen or Robb Wolf’s Well Food Co and take care of the nuts and dried goodies in your local supermarket’s bulk section (this is an exceptional deal). Additionally, having snacks available (which I am usually not a fan of) can be exceptionally useful when controlling blood-sugar levels that inevitably transmute by the nature of travel, unpredictability in dining locations, social outings, and sleeping times. NOTE: While shopping, purchase enough to consume a hand full, and as we so often forget, make sure there is enough for not only the leg home, but enough to offer a neighbor. I believe that socializing on trips not only speeds up flights, but as my dad has said for years in effort to convince me to trim my hair and beard, you never know who you’re talking with (not to).
The next useful tool to bring along for the plane ride is a new favorite of mine, thanks to Todd Paul, The Captains of Crush Hand Gripper. After studying Charles Poliquin and Ido’s take on grip and the important role it plays in testosterone, body composition and overall strength, I can see no reason to not keep this one their person at all times. It also makes for a great supplemental climbing tool and stress reliever.
An easy program for plane rides: 10 sets of 8. gripping and releasing at 3 second intervals. You rest your hand while the other works.
NOTE: While they have not been confiscated yet, I did receive some push back from Finnish airport security for having “this illegal device” in my carry on.
Carry Around — This is what you can squeeze in a bag along with work/travel material. For me, I like carrying a set of gymnastic rings, bedrock or luna sandals, a resistance band for shoulder mobility work, a lacrosse/TP therapy ball for myofascial release, and swimming attire.
What can you do with all these?
I’ll start with the rings. You may think these impractical, but by keeping them on my person, you can get very creative with where you hang them. Places to hang rings: horizontal tree branches, pull up bars, beams, and swing sets in parks.
NOTE: I’ve found that hanging alone is incredibly effective for maintaining grip and pulling strength along with undoing any imbalances and aches you may have accumulated during the trip in the shoulder, scapula and chest. For hanging ideas, see Ido Portal’s blog and hanging challenge. Seven minutes a day will go A LONG WAY. If I can find a place in Russia to hang, the reader most certainly can.
Now to my personal favorite, the barefoot sandal. These are the ultimate travel companion. If you want a simple and fold-able pair of shoes that will free your feet from the work shoe; if you enjoy people glancing down at your feet (this is a great conversation starter and a proven method of meeting people while traveling) or if you are interested in testing barefoot-inspired footwear, these are for you. Typically, while traveling outside the states, I find these to be “fitted” for the walking cultures in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia
NOTE: Find my blog on barefoot trail running, a boon anywhere.
Next, the resistance band. This is an incredibly small but powerful tool for the traveler. I own a litany of them and find smaller bands to be most useful during travel. To get the most from your band, try out Ido Portal’s ROM (range of motion) routine or any number of scapular strengthening and mobilizing exercises. The scapula and shoulders are the first to go for me while traveling. Any support for them is immeasurably helpful.
NOTE: These are not the only exercise that can be performed while traveling. If you have time, which seems to be scarce during my travels, check out some exercises here.
Now to the myofascial release massage ball. Without fail, I will leave the plane with numerous aches, ranging from lower back issues to shoulder and leg tightness. This ball is an incredible tool for quickly unlocking those twinges. I roll on it in the morning, which seems to be the best time for active release, and approach it in the evening only if there are some nagging issues. I use the TP therapy ball and approach for identifying issues and techniques for eliminating them but a racquet ball is suitable.
NOTE: Any myofascial work may leave significant bruising and pain. I suggest studying a bit and attempt to work with these tools in every day life before subjecting yourself to their wrath on a trip of business or leisure.
Swimming gear… You never know when you might end up swimming in the Baltic Sea, San Francisco Bay or an Olympic swimming pool. I’ve ended up in them all and been very happy to have proper attire on my person. Tim Ferriss did an excellent job outlining some minimalist traveling tips, and one of them was a quick dry towel, swim suit and goggles. They fit in the meshy pockets of your backpack and dry before you can get to your airbnb to hang them up.
NOTE: Goggles are my favorite travel companion while swimming. I tend to lose them and rarely spend over $10 on a pair. Additionally, salt water can burn the eyes, and if you’re into “danger,” you can always find an adventure swimming in the darkness below you.
If you are interested in extra levels of support, I suggest taking a look at Lift App. It’s a great tool for developing habits. I’ve used it to track bed-making, reading, hanging, etc. and really enjoy the accountability piece. I’ve found this to be a little easier than the true QS approach as I’m still not convinced we’re measuring the right things, easily.
However, if you are interested in a more integrated QS approach to wellness and travel, Apple may be on to something with the iPhone 6. You may also find this platform, Exist, interesting.
Again, traveling can be a huge setback in your training or it can be a time of maintenance and support for you. I choose the second option. Remember, sleep well, travel hard and walk intentionally on your travels.
— C Scott —