April 18, 2024 8:00 PM
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Staying Healthy on the Hustle: Tips for Tradeshow Road Warriors

by Danelle Dodds, Exhibit City News


The world of work-related expeditions is fast and furious, with minimal concern for the health of the dedicated masses driving it. Long hours and back-to-back appointments collide with unfettered hospitality events. Meals are either few and far between or gluttonous feasts that rival Nero’s banquets. Sleep is minimal, and mindfulness is a figment of your imagination.

On average, 1.3 million travelers take to the sky daily in the name of business travel. According to a recent survey, traveling for business represents 75% of airlines’ annual profits. As the fuel that feeds the machine of commerce, business travel is a fundamental cog in the economic engine. Whether you’re on the road for a high-profile trade show, pipeline-changing client presentations, or critical networking, your interactions directly tie into potential revenue.

With so much on the line, performing at your peak is paramount. But how do you physically and mentally stay in strategic shape when the professional nomadic lifestyle has the health chips stacked against you? When you’re responsible for lighting the flame, how do you ensure you’re fueling your fire to stay on top of the food chain?

We mined the minds of two experts in the health and wellness field for some guidance. They shared their best practices for remaining your best self while on the road.

Our Experts

Debi Kinney is the founder and owner of Hello Coaching. She is an ISSA-certified nutrition coach, elite personal trainer, transformation specialist, and fitness coach. Kinney is also a Destination Management Certified Professional (DMCP) and was a card-carrying member of the hospitality industry for 25 years before committing herself full-time to the health community. As a former general manager for a successful national destination management company, Kinney is well-versed in the grind of entrepreneurial excursions. With hospitality professionals making up more than a 1/3 of her client base, the topic of healthy habits while traveling has become a popular coaching conversation.







Sandi Jacobs is the president and founder of Life with Zest. Her company has been committed to improving the health and vitality of busy professionals for more than two decades. As the former sports director for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, her focus was keeping travelers moving. During her time as a former marketing contractor for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and an advertising executive who spent 80% of her 30 years in the meetings and exhibition industry traveling for business, Jacobs has lived the challenges her clients face today.







Best Practices


Before we begin, it is important to note two things. Our experts are not doctors. Every individual is different. If you have questions about your approach, consult your healthcare professional. Secondly, healthy living doesn’t occur in a vacuum, especially amid job-related journeys. Each gear is interconnected to power the motor. “Incorporating all of these tips and tricks in tandem is key to creating a healthier, happier, holistic system,” Kinney advises.


Your first steps begin before you even hit the airport. Pre-planning for your health while traveling is crucial for success. “Most people don’t plan to fail, but they fail to plan,” Kinney laments.

  • Stock up on high-nutrient-dense foods that you can travel with. Select items that will help keep you satiated while on your flights, on the show floor, and for those late-night cravings. Nuts, energy bars, nut butter, and dried fruits without extra sugars are easy to pack and travel well.
  • Pack your favorite hydro flask to ensure hydration is always at hand.
  • Research your area. Find the menus of the restaurants you may visit and choose options that work with your health goals. Look for nearby grocery stores or quick marts where you can grab snacks if you cannot pack them.
  • Select flights that suit your body clock and personality when you book travel. Give yourself appropriate time to recover and become show-ready.
  • If you’re actively engaged in a fitness routine, pre-select the days you plan to work out and schedule them into your day.

Making Time for Mindfulness

An essential key to quick thinking is to be present and clear-headed. Practicing mindfulness while traveling will help keep you on your toes.

  • Spend a few meditative moments at the start and end of every day. Apps like Calm or Headspace offer guided meditation in various time blocks.
  • Keep a journal or pad of paper near your bed. Daily writing improves your mood and clears your mind. Capture daily gratitude and brilliant ideas or purge your mental to-do list onto paper.
  • Take a tech break. Stepping away from the laptop and cell phone before diving into or ending your day will help you decompress.

Add Water

Hydration is the cooling system that prevents burnouts. Keep your water flowing regardless of where your appointments take you.

  • Drink half your weight or a minimum of 100 ounces of water daily.
  • If you struggle with water intake, try water infusers for more flavor.

Feed the Engine

The food you consume during the day is the fuel that powers your performance. “Food is mood,” Jacob states succinctly, “If we want to be on the top of our game on the road, we must keep our body functioning at its optimum level.”

  • Don’t operate on an empty tank. Eat pre-packed snacks if you’re on the show floor or between appointments.
  • Chase the rainbow. Color coding does not have to be reserved for your calendar. Choose vegetables and fruits that are vibrant and colorful. They will help fill you up, and you’ll also be consuming essential vitamins that keep your mind sharp and energy high.
  • When at client dinners or hospitality events, look for options that are grilled, broiled, boiled, baked, roasted, seared, or steamed in their preparation.
  • Aim for the “Magic 3”, which is a balanced plate of healthy protein (soy/tofu/lean meats), healthy fats (avocado/nuts/olives), and carbs (non-starchy vegetables).
  • If imbibing, choose wine or clear mixers and clear liquor over sugary cocktails. Limit your intake. Not only will you feel better in the morning, but you’re also less likely to socially slip if you over-consume.

Move Your Body

You can’t go from zero to 60 without changing gears. Even simple movement fires up the electricity in your brain. To run efficiently, you’ve got to move.

  • Move whenever you can. Take the stairs, walk to your appointments, or take brief strolls during breaks.
  • Plan activity-based excursions when entertaining clients.
  • Incorporate stretching, cardio, or activity to start your day. If you have a fitness routine, schedule the days you’ll hit the hotel gym. If you are a novice, follow videos made for beginners.
  • Stretch whenever you can. It will help release toxins and tightness you’re storing in your muscles and keep you nimble for whatever life throws your way.


Of all the recovery advice noted above, sleep is the one most impacted by your choices. Sleep will slip through your fingers if your mind is racing, and your belly is full.

  • Avoid eating a few hours before bed. Giving appropriate time for digestion allows your system to slip to slumber more effectively when it’s time.
  • Avoid the static. Turn off the TV, put your phone down, and step away from the laptop. Studies have shown that exposure to electronic devices can suppress the green fairy of melatonin needed for dreamland.

Staying sharp while on a company mission doesn’t have to overwhelm you. Even small steps are moving you in the right direction. With some forethought and action, you’ll stay ahead of the curve as a well-oiled machine.

If you have tips or tricks for healthy living on the go, join the conversation here!

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