Expert advice on how to stay healthy while traveling

Americans are traveling like never before. This summer saw historic increases in airline ticket purchases as adventurers flocked to make up for time and experience lost to the pandemic. In July, airline ticket sales were 35% higher than in July 2019, according to industry data. This seismic shift from people buying goods in favor of buying services has given rise to a new term: revenge travel.

And while it should certainly be good for the soul, it’s not exactly good for the body. Weight gain is an unfortunate side effect of taking in those beautiful sunsets by the beach—especially when there’s a piña colada in hand. In fact, before even arriving at their Instagram-worthy destination, most vacationers have already let themselves go. A study shows that the average air passenger consumes about 3,700 calories during a long flight.

For some it’s just part of the fun… After all, you’re on vacation. But as long-distance travel becomes more common, many are making a living — and a living — off the road. And maintaining a healthy routine here is quite a challenge. Steele Smiley knows all too well what it’s like. When I first caught up with the fast-casual impresario and healthy living guru in early 2021, he was busy traversing the country building his Crisp & Green restaurant chain. Today, the CEO oversees 200 stores in 20 countries (they have opened a store every 6 days in 2022).

Now he’s launching a Mexican-inspired fast casual called Paco & Lime. It will debut in Minneapolis this fall. Before that, the impresario sat down with him Forbes to talk about how he stays healthy on the road. Tip: you’ll need to put down that Piña Colada and forget about the airplane food (a glass or two of wine with dinner is fine, and you should always pack your food fare for the flight). It’s not necessarily glamorous, but it gets the job done. Read more of his advice below.

How often do you travel for work?

Steele Smiley: “My parent company, Steele Brands, has over 250 stores either built or under development in 25 states, with more stores being added every week. So I travel widely for work – looking at potential sites and meeting with franchisees. I also personally go to as many openings as I can. My personal time is my business time and vice versa.”

What are some top tips for travelers looking to stay healthy and fit while traveling?

SS: “Make every day the same – just adjust the clocks for time zone changes. This means always making time for exercise. I treat a travel day the same as a day at home and stick to the schedule regardless of location.”

How do you schedule time for this along the way?

SS: “Waking up earlier is the key. I run every morning regardless of location and temperature; the cold of winter in Minnesota or the heat of summer in Florida. But the most important thing is not to fall out of the home routine just because you’re away.”

And does this also apply to your diet?

SS: “Absolutely. It should come as no surprise that I eat what my restaurants sell: healthy, nutritious food. But I also keep it mostly identical along the way and that includes time of my meals too: breakfast, lunch, lunch, noon and dinner. Stick to your routine as much as you can.”

This is definitely a small task for most travelers. What are some ways to help maintain consistency?

SS: “I viscerally monitor my activity through technology—from my Whoop band, to Therabody leg sleeves to my blood sugar monitor—all play a very critical role in my performance to keep my schedule.”

So people don’t necessarily need to travel less to stay fit?

SS: “Definitely not. Travel is mandatory in multi-unit consumer business. I need to be where my franchisees are and be with my customers. My key is to make every day the same. This may sound boring to some, but it is the right recipe for my body and my businesses.”

What is the one keyword that provides the secret sauce of your success?

SS: “The intensity. I put the same intensity into my training, nutrition and recovery as I do into building my companies. Without that intensity I wouldn’t have the stamina to grow my businesses at such an aggressive pace.”

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