Recovery Tips for Athletes When Traveling

Traveling can be an incredible experience for adventure and opportunity; however, for athletes, it can also present unique challenges when it comes to recovery and maintaining their fitness and wellness routines.

That being said, with the right tools and techniques, athletes can ensure that their health remains a top priority even while on the go.

As an athlete myself who travels frequently, I can attest that any plane trip — no matter how long or short the flight — can wreck havoc on my hips and spine.

Another point I can ensure: it is completely accessible and manageable to stick to a fitness and recovery routine as an athlete with ease whenever you travel.

Seven Recovery Tips for Athletes

Recovery is crucial for athletes to perform at their best, and travel should not hinder this important aspect of their training. Whether you’re a professional athlete or a fitness enthusiast, there are various strategies you can adopt to prioritize your well-being while traveling.

Here are my seven top recovery tips for athletes when traveling.

1. Get in the Right Mindset

In the simplest way of thinking, an athlete isn’t an athlete because he or she trains every once in a while or when it’s convenient.

An athletic mindset is driven for consistency, dedication and perseverance — there’s no if, it’s a WHEN. 

With the mindset in place, the next steps are developing a routine. A routine will have your mind in a “no excuses” zone, with a step by step process that you can take with you anywhere.

For example, I have my morning routine of waking up, mediation, two glasses of water, one coffee then running and stretching for at least 10-15 minutes each morning.

This is my routine in Los Angeles, Miami, Mexico City, London, Ibiza and beyond. It stays consistent. Thought-less. Just wake-up and go. 

2. Do Your Research Ahead of Time

Does the hotel you’re going to have a fitness center? Are there run routes you can take advantage of? Is the location close by to a market, outdoor farm, or source healthy snacks and foods that you can bring back to your room and snack as as you need. 

Plan ahead with your food strategy as well. Pack raw nuts, your favorite bars, protein powder, almond butter packets, whatever you crave. I even bring my favorite wraps and sprouted bread at times when visiting other countries, because I know how my body feels better eating consistent foods when I need to perform. 

Further, know the environment you’ll be visiting. Is the elevation higher than at home? If so, plan to pack some electrolytes to off-set altitude sickness. Is the location prone to food-borne illnesses and stomach bugs (my stomach in Mexico for years)?

Plan to pack more foods or eat only those that have peels you remove. Being mindful of your digestion and nourishment needs to balance the recovery you’ll need for both athletic performance and traveling. This is extra crucial to avoid depletion. 

3. Allow for Relaxation Time

Taking time for relaxation and self-care activities such as meditation or deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress levels and promote overall well-being. Slow stretching, mayofascial release, having a travel massage tool and event calming scents in your carry-on can be useful.

Journal if you’re a writer looking to get some unconscious thoughts out and indulge in plenty of passive exercise time, meaning slowing down your nervous system allowing it to recovery. You may even find you bounce back stronger in your routine because of this allowed self care slow time. 

4. Proper Nutrition When Eating

Another technique that athletes can employ is proper nutrition. Traveling often means eating out or relying on convenience foods, which may not always align with an athlete’s dietary needs.

Planning ahead by packing healthy snacks or researching local restaurants that offer nutritious options can make a significant difference in maintaining optimal health while on the road.

Be OK to ask for your preference in foods if you have dietary preferences and know you’re prioritizing your health above all. 

5. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Lastly, staying hydrated cannot be emphasized enough. Drinking enough water throughout your travels helps flush out toxins from your body and aids in muscle recovery.

This tip goes for any traveler, but especially for athletes. The additional sweat you expel when exercising can deplete your body drastically of fluids and important nutrients and vitamins like K, potassium and electrolytes.

6. Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is a vital component of recovery, especially for those athletes constantly on the go. Whether you are a frequent traveler or staying at a hotel for business or leisure, ensuring quality sleep is essential to recharge your body and mind.

In the hustle of our daily lives, it’s easy to overlook the importance of sleep in our overall well-being. However, when we prioritize restful nights, we give ourselves the opportunity to fully recover from physical and mental exertion. 

Hotels play a significant role in providing an environment conducive to good sleep. While you cannot always be in control of the bedding and amenities, you can pack a travel eye mask, ear plugs, white noise machine and lavender spray.

Create a routine at home that you can implement when you travel to get you into the sleep zone.

7. The Cool Down

Remember that being an athlete doesn’t mean you have to compromise your health when traveling.

By incorporating these tools and techniques into your routine, you can ensure that your recovery remains a priority no matter where your athletic journey takes you.

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