Traveling for work always sounds glamorous, until you are packing your bags every Monday for the 6am flight, just to return on Friday on the 8pm flight. If you work in rural areas across the country, your food options are limited, the accommodation can be quite terrible, and navigating through all of this, you still need to also be fit and healthy, because travelling does take its toll on your body.
If your travelling involves going to South Africa’s bigger cities, or even Africa’s bigger cities, finding a hotel with a gym, or just close to a gym, can be quite convenient– Virgin Active has some great gyms across the country and you can upgrade your membership to be able to access all of them (which might seem expensive, but if you are there every week or every other week it might be worth it).
I travel to Gauteng from Cape Town at least once a month. I used to spend hours searching for places to stay, but we’ve now found the three or four spots that work for us. Paying a little bit more, we often stay at the OR Tambo City Lodge; they have their own gym and you can find both healthy and not-so-healthy meals at their restaurant.
From Joburg, we then travel to some of the more rural towns. I quickly learned to skip the Simba chips and sweets at the gas station, and to rather opt for water and biltong or droëwors (especially if you are travelling in the Northern part of the country; these small towns have the most delicious biltong).
Chances are that you’ll have to have dinner at a restaurant with clients or colleagues, and then it’s best to go for some meat and salad. Try to avoid the chicken schnitzels and other fried goods that tire you out and make you feel bloated. I’ve often ordered a burger, just to take off the bread (and not just because I am gluten sensitive). Feeling tired from those carbs is not great for your 3pm meeting.
Drink loads of water. This is a tricky one, because you do not want to be the person constantly asking for a pit stop, but keeping hydrated is key. Especially when you go from a coastal area to the inlands, as it dries out your skin almost immediately. Entertaining clients might involve some alcohol, so if you want to be able to keep up the next morning, you need to stay hydrated. I usually order a whisky with loads of ice and just let that melt before taking a few sips here and there to seem hospitable.
If you are going to be staying at one place in a rural town, it might be wise to pack some running shoes and head out for an early morning jog, but if you are going to be visiting several towns, keeping up your exercise regime is tricky. I therefore always try to take the stairs, do some basic bodyweight exercises in the morning and even some yoga if I feel up to it. There are several fantastic yoga and pilates follow-along videos on YouTube that you can do in your hotel room The best part is that they require minimum props.
Keeping up with vitamins is another great way to deal with your body adapting to the different climates. I always have a bottle of Viral Guard handy to keep up my immune system, as well as some magnesium supplements to aid in keeping a healthy sleep pattern and to deal with those achy limbs.
In my opinion, it is important to make things as simple as possible. Try to never be late and frazzled (there’s nothing that confuses your day like missing your plane). Invest in good, decent luggage. One of the best backpacks I have ever owned is my Thule laptop bag – a tad bit more expensive than other backpacks, but worth every cent. I use my bag every day and it fits comfortably, effortlessly on my back.
The very last piece of advice I can give you is to try to travel with someone that is not fussy. This means someone that is easy-going and someone that can appreciate the quiet moments.