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Long-haul flights, breakfast buffets, endless cocktails—traveling can take its toll on your body if you let it. Emma and Carla Papas, aka The Merrymaker Sisters, share their tips for staying in tip-top shape on the road and in the air

1. Pack your lunch

We are not fans of plane food at all, so we vote to bring your own! You can even pack food for international flights. For our Canberra to New York flight we packed homemade paleo chia puddings, a loaf of homemade paleo bread (wrapped in packs of four slices each), avocados (mashed with salt, pepper and lemon to keep them from going brown), two containers of fruit (chopped cherry tomatoes, strawberries, apples and oranges), Loving Earth chocolate and Aussie macadamias.

2. Resist the urge

We love wine or a delish cocktail but we don’t drink on planes. It’s so easy to get dehydrated and alcohol just makes it worse! Drink the water. There will be so many chances to imbibe once you land.

3. Keep it fluid

Bring a big water bottle [on board]. It can get pretty annoying asking for water all the time and depending what section you’re sitting in the staff often get too busy to deliver those teeny bottles or cups of water every 30 minutes. Also, never ever use the excuse of ‘I hate getting up to use the toilet when I drink too much water’—getting up is a good thing!

4. Stretch it out

Stretch when you’re up and about for bathroom breaks. Walk up and down the aisles. Stretch out in your seat as much as possible, moving your feet and arms and fingers. You can even do some yoga in that tiny area next to the bathrooms. The more you move about the better, we say! You don’t want come home with a bad back!

5. Don’t dry up

Prepare for dry skin. Bring a mini moisturizer and lip balm. Easy-peasy. We once did face masks on the plane—this was a bit random, especially when a slightly tipsy [Australian TV presenter] Karl Stefanovic came out of business class and sat in front of us! He found it very entertaining.

6. Get in the zone

Neither of us sleeps very well on planes (except for that time we got bumped up to business class—we slept for 10 hours straight that flight!). So usually it means we are dead tired when we land but we force ourselves to adjust to the new time zone. The easiest way is to arrange something on day one. On our most recent trip to the US we were staying with friends and had dinner plans—although we were completely exhausted we stayed up until 10pm and then slept until 11am. Boom, we were adjusted!

7. Eat light

We don’t go for hotel buffet breakfasts—we prefer to try out the cafe scene, if there is one. And we don’t eat bread these days so we don’t need to worry about bloating! If the buffet comes with your accommodation, enjoy the eggs, bacon, spinach and fruit, but skip the bread and baked goods (you don’t really need them anyway).

A packed lunch, Merrymaker style
A packed lunch, Merrymaker style

8. Ditch the guilt

We vote to not let your guilty feelings get in the way of having fun. If you want to skip the diet, own your decision and don’t waste a second feeling guilty. Get back into healthy eating the day you land. For us we try and stick to eating as healthy as possible, but we know it’s harder when traveling. Plus, food and holiday cocktails are just the most fun! Relax, enjoy!

9. Get walking

When we traveled to Europe for eight weeks we stayed in hotels with gyms, so we worked out most mornings (but that was during our obsessed-with-working-out stage). These days we have a better, healthier and less-obsessed workout regime. In New York, for example, you walk 20,000-30,000 steps a day. We count that as a great incidental exercise day! For shorter trips we might do a mini 15- to 30-minute workout to get the body moving. Even just some yoga or Pilates in the hotel room works a treat!

10. Be prepared

Always pack Band-Aids because blisters on feet suck. Then you need [insect repellent] Aerogard for bugs and mozzies, and antihistamines just in case.

11. Travel light

We always travel with face cleanser, moisturizer, body wash, primer, foundation, mascara and a hairbrush. We usually pack more and get annoyed with way too many products, so we think next time we’ll stick to these!

What’s your attitude to health and fitness when you travel? Share your thoughts with #momentum travel or comment below.

Main image: Alamy

Merrymaker Sisters: Rialba Photography

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