Heading home for the holidays, but want to make sure you stay somewhat healthy (and sane) while you’re there? I got you.
Pack for Your Activity Goals
My main tip is always to pack for the trip you’re actually going on, not the one you’re hoping to have (i.e if you’re going to be at the house with your family the whole time, the ‘going out’ clothes can probably get cut down). When you’re packing, aim to pack properly for an active trip. Admittedly, this is easier for me because my regular clothes (leggings, sweater) are not that far off my workout clothing (leggings, long sleeve) in December. But the worst trips have been when I packed for being home and hanging with the family, and left out my warm activewear. Of course, it snowed like crazy and while I wanted to go out and run in it, I ended up mostly inside in my shorts and tank top doing yoga. Which is lovely, but not what I would prefer. Basically, don’t forget to pack what you need to get outside.
Plan the Right Timing for Travel
I am not really a morning person—I wish I was, and I try to be, but it’s not natural for me. But early flights and early starts to long drives still happen, and while getting up at 3:30 AM sucks more than getting up at 4AM, it doesn’t *really* hurt much more, so I always try to get up with enough time to at least do my AM 15 minutes of yoga and core, or—even better—get outside for a quick run. It makes travel feel a lot less crappy. If you’re hoping to get in a full workout, I highly recommend doing it before you leave, and taking a later flight if needed. When you do get home, your plans will almost always be F-ed. Decide what matters most to you: extra time at home, a full night of sleep, a couple mid-day working hours en route, a run when you get there… Know before you go and plan accordingly.
Flying Home? Consider a Rental Car
I love my family, so much. But we live pretty out of the way, so walking or riding to the store isn’t super easy, and the weather can make it completely impossible. So when we don’t drive home to visit, I’m much more inclined to rent a car at the airport rather than depending on my family to pick us up, then deal with drop-offs, plus trips to the store, running errands, etc. Also, nice to drive to trailheads for better walks/runs/rides! Rental cars add to the travel budget, of course, but they also take a lot of strain off the situation, and a lot of the time, it’s under a couple hundred bucks to get one for a few days. If you’re in debate, I can tell you that it’s almost always worth it.
Make a Work (and Workout) Plan
If you do work remotely, traveling home can mean a major disruption to your work schedule if you don’t set some boundaries. (I always struggle with this—my family knows that I work remotely and work a lot, but that doesn’t stop most of them from assuming we can make time for pretty much any activity.) So, usually, I try to block off a few hours every day that are sacred / do not disturb. (I try to get on their schedule to make this work, so when most of them are at work, I’m at work, or on weekends, while they sleep in, I get a couple hours in early.)
…But Carve Out Time
When we’re home for holidays—or any visit, really—I try to make solo time to hang with each family member. (This might get us some weird looks when we go to the breakfast spot we all love three days in a row so I can go with mom, dad and sis, but it’s worth it.) I find that it’s easy for everyone to get distracted in the house, doing chores or just watching TV, so the breakfast dates followed by nice long walks really add a nice dimension. (I think this is especially nice to do with parents/siblings when you’re home for a holiday that’s packed with extended family and friends.)
Yoga All Day
I know I sound like a broken record here, but a few minutes of yoga every day is never more important than the holiday season. Like walking, it helps with digestion, but it also helps to calm you down in a stressful family situation, and it keeps your training routine somewhat solid even when you’re not hitting the gym or making time for long rides or runs.
Water. So Much Water.
It’s SO EASY to OD on booze and coffee if you’re at home and it’s the holidays. So make sure that you’re getting a ton of water in as well. (I know with my family, water isn’t the most well-loved drink, so often I forget to keep filling my cup and sipping.) During the colder days, swap for herbal tea, like a lemon ginger, so that you’re also helping promote digestion. (Very key on the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.)
Bring Your Grocery / Food Staples for a Happy Stomach
This is a two-parter. First, travel can wreak absolute havoc on your stomach, and it can be brutal to try to eat healthy while on long flights or drives. That’s why I bring greens powder and collagen (in single serve packets) on every trip, as a just-in-case. Second, when you’re going home and know you’re going to be eating all of your mom’s amazing cooking all freaking weekend, it’s really helpful to swing by the grocery store on the way to the house and stock up on your regulars so you’re not at the mercy of your parent’s cereal cabinet in the morning. For us, that means grabbing sweet potatoes, eggs, spinach, almond butter, apples and coffee. Pretty much covers our breakfast, plus most of Peter’s sweet potato snacks. We also always have Epic bars and protein bars handy, and all of that guarantees that we’re not just grazing on stuffing and pie during the day.
Find a Group Ride or Run; or Explore
Get out of the house and make some new friends, or at least explore the area—even if you grew up there. Take one day for a long, slow workout to burn off that last holiday meal and enjoy being outside. (Use Strava or MapMyRun to find local groups or routes.) I also love this or taking an actual yoga class in a studio!
Take a Walk
Speaking of getting outside, if you’re trying to take a bit of an offseason break, make sure you’re still walking a ton. Pretty much universally good advice. It helps spur digestion, perk you up after a long trip, and give you some good quiet contemplation time or give you excellent time to catch up with your crew. Cannot say enough good stuff about making time for walking.