By Crabby McSlacker
So yeah, I'm lucky enough to be married to a globe-trotting corporate go-getter. Since I'm a flexible semi-employed slacker, and an enthusiastic tagalong/leech, I get to travel a lot. Awesome, right?
But for those of us who are somewhat neurotic about health and fitness, travel comes with a few challenges. In particular, there is often tension between two competing agendas:
On the one hand: life is short! I want to dive headfirst into all the exciting and delicious and possibly excessive experiences that traveling to a novel destination may provide. Because who knows when I will ever be back? Live for the moment! Savor! Wallow!
On the other hand: I travel too often to go into full WTF mode every time I leave home.
Art: Harold Anderson via James Vaughan
Not only would it be dangerous for my long term health; I can't even enjoy myself if I don't keep to at least a semblance of a healthy routine. Feeling too gluttonous, slothful, and guilty can put a damper on any potential peak life experience.
Plus, even without decadent travel temptations, maintaining some sort of healthy balance requires a fair amount of extra effort on the road. Advance planning has to make up for lack of access to one's usual "go-to" resources.
As it happens, I'm packing up today for another adventure. We leave tomorrow! And as I get ready for our trip, I realize that a huge percentage of the items I'm tossing into the suitcase bear at least some relation to health and fitness.
Wanna see some of the stuff I'm taking along?
Is this too goofy? Do normal people do this?
No matter where we travel, I try to make sure we're staying somewhere I can get to a fitness center at least a couple times a week, either in our hotel or somewhere nearby. (And unfortunately"fitness center" sometimes means a shitty little closet-sized room with a rusty set of barbells and a stuttering rickety treadmill and a circa 1980 exercise bike. But whatever).
Sometimes, it just isn't practical to get to a gym, but on this trip, we're good. Both hotels have fitness centers.
(And why yes, pictured above are the very same blue shorts I've been working out in since I started the blog in 2007! I love them; they have ample pockets and are made of titanium or something; they never wear out. Check back in 2047; I'll probably still be wearing them, at least if I can still get 'em on around my Depends).
Well, here's a hint:
Yep, we're talking back injuries. The blue thing is a inflatable travel lumbar pillow.
And the yellow orb?
Well, I'm not sporty enough to be bringing it it along in case I get the opportunity for an impromptu game of lacrosse.
But just ask your physical therapist: lacrosse balls are one of the cheapest, most effective and portable massage tools for attacking knots and spasms you can find. Lie down on 'em or lean against a wall and wiggle. You'll look like an ass, but what the hell, you'll feel better.
Often hotels have swimming pools, and I always bring stuff which will allow me to do a few laps. I hate swimming for exercise--but for some reason always hate it less when I'm in a hotel pool.
Accck, time zones differences!
But sleep is important to health and mental sanity so you gotta give it your best shot.
Long flights mean a risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis, at least if you have hypochondriacal tendencies. I try to remember to bring compression socks and get up out of my seat and stretch in the aisles and make a total nuisance of myself on a frequent basis:
Beach Gear and Sun Protection
One of the great things about travel is that you get the chance to try activities that you don't get to do in Real Life. Sometimes these involve oceans or warm weather that may not be typical for your particular latitude. And just to review: it is not healthy to sunburn the bejeezus out of yourself!
So I was excited when I realized that our itinerary meant I might be able to justify buying a "rash guard" (the blue thing).
Well, it's a snug-fitting shirt made of high SPF fabric designed to keep you from chafing under a wetsuit, or from frying if you are out on the water all day. It's something surfers apparently wear, and surfers are cool, right?
Of course though there is NO F--CKING CHANCE IN HELL I am going surfing. (I am quite sensibly scared of big waves, and would not seek them out voluntarily). However, I like to snorkel.
The thought of trying to keep my back sufficiently slathered in sunscreen all day, especially given the degree of difficulty in working around bathing suit straps, makes the idea of donning a cheerful blue protective garment very appealing.
Note: further research suggests that what I bought might a swim shirt, not a rash guard. But whatever.
Half of these I can't even remember why I'm taking. Nonetheless, I've got a handy pill container which always gets the TSA people so excited they feel the need to sprinkle the contents all around to show me just how seriously they take their jobs. The note actually seems to help in airports where the security folks speak English as their native language. Which means I will probably be picking up a crapload of pills strewn around my suitcase when I arrive at both our destinations.
Nothing says "vacation" like a bad case of diarrhea, hepatitis, malaria or diptheria right? Not to mention plain garden variety mosquito bites.
(Note: the Cipro was unused last year in Africa and only just expired a few days ago. I figure what the hell.)
Health-Related Things Not Pictured Due to Laziness
Active Wear: Virtually all my clothes--except for a cocktail dress required for a gala dinner (I'll even be wearing, god forbid, high heels!)--are designed to facilitate lots of urban rambling, beach wandering, trail hiking etc. Being a fashion-challenged middle-aged soft-butch don't-give-a-crap-what's-trendy crankbucket makes it easier: my shirts are comfy, my shoes are sensible, my pants and shorts all have handy pockets, my windbreaker actually keeps me dry when it rains even if it is not a style featured on the Paris runways etc.
As I discovered in Budapest last summer, something as simple as a few Ibuprofen for a spazzing-out back can sometimes be complicated to obtain abroad. So yeah, I'll be toting some advil, dramamine, allergy pills, band-aids and neosporin and who knows what else I may think of today.
Health Related Things That Are Pictured But I'm NOT Bringing
If we didn't have fitness centers along the way, I'd totally bring small packable fitness thingies:
And I'd totally be bringing an activity tracker if mine weren't broken! Foreign destinations=mega-steps=major smugness. Damn!
So Where the Heck are We Going?
For some reason, possibly just to be obnoxious, I'm feeling coy about revealing our two destinations just yet.
I'm even thinking if I can get my act together, it might be fun to post a couple of ambiguous but partially revealing pictures and drop some hints here and there, and turn it into a guessing game. Or not! But either way, be forewarned, there will likely be a massive photo dump when I return.
Note: if you are Facebook friends with either my personal page or my wife's, it is possible she might let the cat out of the bag prematurely, so please refrain from guessing at the location of future pictures if you have obtained Inside Info.
So, what do you guys try to remember to pack when traveling to make it a healthier experience?