I am on the road, in day 4 of an epic road trip. Having traveled extensively throughout most of my adult life, it became abundantly clear to me that maintaining Healthy Rhythms while on the road is a non-negotiable. I know from experience that without them we fall miserably out of rhythm and the implications for all aspects of our lives – and the lives of others – can be disastrous.
To be sure, maintaining healthy rhythms while traveling almost always looks different than when you are in your normal routine. So advanced planning is required. Various modes of transportation, whether you are traveling for work or pleasure, and whether you are traveling alone or with others are all factors that dictate how much flexibility & control you have over your time and circumstances. All the more reason that having a plan is critical.
Years ago, I heard a great message from a pastor in a podcast (they weren’t called podcasts at the time, so it was a while ago). He was addressing people who traveled for work, and his particular topic had to do with avoiding temptations. His message was clear; if you leave home without a specific plan for avoiding temptations, you are setting yourself up for failure. For example, back in those days most hotel rooms had adult movies available right on your in-room TV. The system allowed parental control to restrict access to those channels. Part of my plan was to restrict access to those channels even though I was traveling alone. Yes, I could always un-restrict that access because I was the “parent” at the controls, but the act as a part of my plan solidified my decision in advance that I was not going to watch adult movies.
Maintaining healthy rhythms goes well beyond just that example, though. Work travel puts you completely out of normal routine with meetings all day, dinners in the evening and e-mail to be answered late when you get back to your room. Your advance plan has to then include as many of your normal healthy rhythms as possible, such as a bedtime routine (even if later than normal) that gets you prepared for sleep, and staying connected with those back home on a pre-determined regular basis. Physical health maintenance might not happen as often, but make a plan to include it as often as you can. The point is, it looks different, but do not abandon your rhythm on the road. It is worth the extra effort.
I am currently traveling purely for pleasure. It is a bucket list trip, catching three professional sporting events in three different cities over the course of a 16-day trip. Planning was completely in my control, so I planned just enough driving each day to allow me a morning rhythm and evening rhythm much like I maintain at home. And today is a layover day so that I can get some things done (like blog posting) in addition to keeping my normal healthy rhythm throughout the day.
Pleasure travel is not always this flexible, though. Here is one basic truth about Healthy Rhythms that is really important – it’s okay to take a vacation; it’s okay to take a day off. This is the beauty of healthy rhythms as opposed to rigid routines (see last week’s blog post). That said, even vacations will be better when you maintain some semblance of your rhythm. Again, planning ahead is important. Maybe that sounds like work and not a vacation, but I’m willing to bet that your vacation involved some advanced planning anyway