Balancing Fitness and Travel.

It’s that time again. We’re stepping into fall which will become winter (sooner than most of us are ready for) and with this comes another stress inducing season: the holidays.

The holidays can be great – you get to see family, eat comfort food, celebrate – however, you also have to see family, will probably overeat more times than you should, and will probably be under the stress of all the holidays have to offer, plus traveling. But that’s the thing, it’s actually really hard to keep yourself on track with health and fitness goals when you are traveling unless you go in with a plan – so just like all the other planning: do your research!

1. Figure out facility access

Check out the terrain and weather if you are a outdoor runner. Check out local parks if you like that kind of outdoor facility. If you are a gym person with a membership, check if there is a location near where you are staying that you are covered for or that has an affordable day rate. If in a hotel, review their options including costs, times, and available equipment. If you know what you will have access to and a concrete idea of what you can do when you get there, you will be much more likely to take the initiative and keep up your routine.

2. Have a concrete plan and schedule around it.

If you schedule an hour or two where you are dedicated to your workouts, again, you will be much more likely to do it. Your best bet is probably going to be scheduling your time in the morning because the rest of your days are probably going to fill up with all the other things you are actually traveling for – or for holidays, you will probably be full of heavy food that will not be conducive to any kind training!

3. Think about adapting your workouts for travel.

I’m in the middle of a runner training program which means that a week from Saturday while camping, I am going to have to run 8 miles around the SCA camp ground – unfortunately, not something I can rearrange. However, I’ve been loving the FitStar Fitbit apps which have short, easy workouts which use a quick fitness test to customize workouts for your needs and ability. The app is free, many of the workout plans are free, and many are designed specifically for travel! I’ve used the regular FitStar as well as FitStar Yoga and have enjoyed both. These are designed to be no excuse workouts so while traveling and trying to stay on top of your goals, these lend much needed assistance.

4. Enjoy yourself but be conscious about how much you are putting in.

As we have definitely mentioned, traveling especially in the holidays is probably going to change the way you eat. You’ll have higher sodium, heavier meals, and bigger proportions so continuing to watch your portions is a good idea. I’m not saying don’t indulge yourself – I know I’ll be having my mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pie whenever offered, but maybe think twice before grabbing that second plate! (If you feel like you are missing out – at least with family! – you can always ask if you can take home a dish of leftovers (flatter the cooks and you’ll be able to make that lovely holiday last much longer!). And don’t forget to get in your healthy veg in alongside all the heavy hitters.

5. Don’t forget, taking it easy once in a while can be good for you (in moderation!) 

If you can’t work in as much time working out as you want to when traveling, no matter the kind of traveling you do, remember not to stress the small stuff. Your muscles need rest and sometimes taking a week off and resetting your body can actually help keep you going – the important thing is to pick it back up after and not let travel-lag get in your way. If getting in your workouts is giving you more stress than it is relieving with all those extra endorphins, it is okay to skip it (or change it for a quick yoga Youtube video).

I know, I know, this week was a bit of a mix of travel and lifestyle but the two are never mutually exclusive. If you don’t take care of yourself when traveling and when you’re not, you won’t be able to do all the super cool things you want to do when you are traveling.

So stay active, travel well, and always be prepared.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Balancing Fitness and Travel.

Should Children Travel?

Whether you are a parent wondering if your child is ready for an amazing trip, a child trying to convince your parents (logically) to let you travel, or someone like me, looking back at the travels you had as a young person to see how they changed your life, this is a very important question to ask as the world becomes more and more global.

Obviously, based on my passed posts (see this post about my baby niece traveling!), my answer is a resounding yes.

I’ve been traveling since I was very young – I was almost two years old in England when I threw away my bottle and learned how to crawl out of my crib, moving to a big girl bed. Before I graduated middle school at the age of fourteen, I had already been to Italy, Japan, England, Australia, Mexico (if barely) and across the US and back. I had stayed in hotels, locals’ houses, farms, military housing, and apartments. I had traveled by train, bus, car, taxi, and motorhome.

I’ve been teaching off and on for the past few years and whether I am talking to students, parents, relatives, or acquaintances, it quickly becomes apparent which people have traveled and explored outside of their comfort zone – home. This isn’t just because of stories that they are able to tell or not tell. There is a way of looking and talking about the world that is most easily accessed and discussed by actually experiencing them.

My final trip before graduating eighth grade was a three week trip to Australia with 40 other students and three chaperones as a People to People student ambassador.

I was thirteen years old and had never gone anywhere so far without my family – either extended or immediate – and never for so long.

On this trip, I had to monitor my own spending, watch that I was eating properly, do my own laundry, figure out calling cards (yes, this was before wide use of cell phones and decent international plans), deal with an ever changing rotation of roommates, plan my time – such as free-roaming time and morning schedules – according to a larger groups schedule rather than my own desired summer sleep in. This is more than most of us do voluntarily at the beginning of our teen years (I met people in college who still had not mastered these skills).

Now, I am not saying that the People to People Program is perfect (I’ve known many people, siblings included, who had mishaps and less than fun experiences), however, my trip was amazing. 21 days in Australia was a great amount of time for a single coast. If I was planning it myself, I would have spent more time in each place, however, I wouldn’t have been able to experience a school stay, a home stay, a farm stay and so much more without being part of the group. Take into account that this trip worked because it was a single country (and only part of it), unlike many other offerings.

But back to should kids travel.

This trip, as well as my other trips, was expensive but what I learned about myself exceeded any expense.

I gained confidence in not only myself and who I wanted to be, but in my opinion and place in the world. I struggled in school and at home in the years leading up to this trip, but going helped me refocus on what I wanted to achieve from trying out for football and challenging stereotypes to earning high honors to start high school off on the right foot. I had some anger and emotional control issues but by getting the chance to stand on my own and figure it out for myself, I was able to learn how to take time to balance myself – a pretty big thing for an emotional teenager.

Every time we push our comfort level, we gain the chance to learn more about ourselves and the world. Sure, there are many things we give up to do this, whether for ourselves or for children, but these experiences can’t be replicated and not letting kids experience this when they can, doesn’t give them the chance to grow.

Near or far, let kids travel. That’s all.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Should Children Travel?

To Splurge or to Save.

A Disaster in Planning: The hours of misguided hiking with all our baggage (in more ways than one!). Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Summer 2013.

This week, I was talking to a friend who is planning a trip for himself and his family, and he was talking about how hard it is to stick to a budget and he has no idea where to cut corners that will not cause an uproar from the rest of his brood.

In planning any trip, this is one of the hardest questions you will be faced with and, unfortunately, there is really no cut and dry answer – no specific place you can always cut down on.

The question you really have to ask yourself is: what do you want out of your trip?

If you love food, why would you skip out on trying out local foods even if they pushed your budget a bit. If you can’t sleep unless only you are in a single room with all your luxuries, that’s where your money has to go (you cannot not sleep when traveling). And on and on and on.

This in no way means that you shouldn’t have a limit, but it does mean that you need to work on what you will regret giving up.

My friend is currently trying to convince his family that renting an apartment in London is the best plan since most of their budget has been spent on expensive lodging elsewhere. London hotels are so expensive and every flat I’ve rented has been cheaper yet very well maintained – really think about how you can get around those higher prices whenever you can and your budget will thank you.

On the other hand, my sister and I tried to skimp on lodging when we went on out UK trip which led to the disaster that was Stratford-upon-Avon. The hostel we booked was miles outside of city center which meant that by the time we walked there, all the sights were closed down for the day. I’m all for exercise, but I would have much rather have spent more money for closer accommodations that would have let me spend more time wandering rather than marching.

It’s really about what you are going to regret in either money you miss out on or in the experience you don’t get because you are worried about money.

In London, we went to an attraction called The London Experience which (thank god(!) was free) ended up being a bad cheesy historic horror show followed by a bad horror maze filled with all the worst features of horror mazes, including the dreaded, static-filled squeeze machine. Again, we got in for free because of the London pass, but otherwise we would have had to spend money because the description was bad and we assumed it was a real history tour.

Then in Edinburgh, we opted out of going through the castle because it was too expensive and we had plenty of other things to do. Now, however, I regret not just doing it. I’ve heard great things about it since coming home and would love to compare it to all the other castles I’ve explored.

Yes, these are all relatively small things in terms of the great scope of all the things you will do when traveling but you can never guarantee the chance to do these things again and you will have to go back out and pay your bills so the balancing act is an important one. Your best bet in all things is to find a happy medium and really work on the fine points of budget to travel.

It’s all pretty self-explanatory but if you want to plan it out research, research, research. Start with making a list of the things you don’t want to or can’t skimp on; food, lodging, castles, full tours, ect. or pick a theme you can’t miss out on and build from there. Keeping yourself specific and then building your working budget will truly be your best friend. Finally, leave wiggle room and don’t sweat days (as long as it’s not most days) that you go a bit over budget.

So go, plan, budget, research, wiggle and, as always, have fun!

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

To Splurge or to Save.

For the Want of a Tech-Plane…

It seems odd in our day and age of everyone from our oldest citizens to our youngest plugged in at all times – smart watches to mini-computers on our phones and tablets to digital book readers to individual TVs on airplanes – that any planes that travel across the country (I’m talking the 5 hour flight across the continental United States or the equivalent LA to Hawaii plane ride) could not be built to keep up with us.

The majority of  planes will have all the extravagances we’ve come to somehow need from an USB port to your individual television that allows you to pick your own entertainment – whether games, shows, movies or radio – but, as I learned coming home from Boston, not all these planes have been updated. Again, I’m not talking the dingy plane from LA to San Francisco here (this flight is an hour so, of course, you don’t have time to use the extra amenities).

With this in mind, it’s important to always have some back up supplies whenever you are planning on getting into an airplane – especially if you have little ones! And I know that I have spent the last two weeks talking about what a pain it is to have stuff in a carry-on bag when space is limited, but if you pick well, these are a few things you really should have.

1. Book/Book Reader.

Personally, I am a classic book person – paper and weight – however, I fully understand peoples love of electronic book readers that allow you to bring as many books with you as you want with none of the heft to worry about. If you bring the electronic version (and this really goes for anything that needs a plug to charge), you must, must, must pre-charge! Not to mention bringing all of the needed chargers so you have something to read on the way back. Again, I love a book-book – no need to charge, worry about the charge, and I love the feel of weight transfer that happens once you get passed the center of a novel.

If you don’t remember to pack one – or if you haven’t hit a book store in time for getting to the airport – stop by the airport bookstore. Many novels have started getting their start here and the variety is seriously worth looking through. I have worked in publishing and the airport novel is a real thing!

2. A portable battery pack.

These come in all shapes, sizes, and loads now and, if you plan on using your phone, you will really want one. Again there are things you will really need to check here. Just like any other electronic, you must charge this before hand or it really won’t do you any kind of good. Remember that the charger for the battery pack is not usually the same as the chord you use to charge from the pack but you will need both. Finally, remember that these really are necessary when you’re on a lower tech plane since they won’t have the installed USB ports!

3. Sketchpad/Notebook.

If you are stuck on an airplane for hours, why not let yourself get creative? Take the time to unplug from everything – for me, this excludes music – and just go for it. If you want, here are a few ideas to get you going. First, on one short ride (an hour which was more like 40 minutes with take off and landing) I did a sketch page of character poses and designs – no erasers and just go. Don’t forget to write the start and finishing time as well as your when and where.  My second suggestion is for sketching or writing. Put your music on shuffle and for every song write a small ficlet or a small sketch inspired by the song but only lasting as long as the song plays (this means 2-5 minute outputs) and again, title and date them.

This mean you most definitely need to remember your supplies (whatever those may be), including sharpeners, extra lead and erasers, just in case.

4. Downloaded movie.

Sometimes, despite all the data telling us we should, we just don’t want to unplug. Our lives are so busy, all we want is a few hours we have to spend on a plane catching up on a new movie we missed or an old favorite that just lets you unwind. Again, you have to bring your charger because you will definitely need it – and remember that you’ll have to really think about your device! Everything from storage and data needs to size may cause you issues. You can also look at what your airline offers. You may not have all the built in tech features but you may get wifi and some have downloadable offerings – all you have to do is bring the device to play the features.

5. A personalized Sleep Kit.

Another way to unplug is to just take a nap. This isn’t always easy with aisle sizes shrinking, more people in the plane, and all the other noises that are just part of plane travel You can customize this for your own particular needs. You can pack everything from melatonin or other sleep aids, eye mask, ear plugs, ect. Then if you want to really use the time to get in the beauty routine, consider adding in your favorite, hard working moisturizer, eye cream, and lip balm. Flying is rough on your skin and it’s a flight, not a runway show; why not use the time to your benefit?

That’s it for my suggestions. And let’s just be honest, whether you flight is tech’ed out or not, if you pack well and make your choices based on your needs, are any of these really a problem to pack?

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

For the Want of a Tech-Plane…