A guest post from MAJ Brian
MAJ Brian (last name held per his request) read my post on best travel gifts, and our recent post on travel tips, and got inspired. He reached out to us, and we offered a guest post. So, here are his ideas for travel gear and exercise tips while travelling:
1. Items to bring along.
a. Backpack: Eagle Creek Ricon (two bags in one) – Cost $185 on Amazon.com. Color is black and grey, fitting in with your military bags. The smaller version, 65L, can be used as a carryon bag. Designed for travelers with shoulder straps and waist band that stowaway, turning the backpack into more traditional luggage.
b. Personal Comfort: Eagle Creek Eye Shade – Cost 12.50 on Amazon.com. Even has a pocket for the Eagle Creek ear plugs mentioned below. Less expensive version only costs $10.00. While they may look funny on your head, great comfort item for long flights or chartered bus rides (due to cut backs in travel funds).
c. Personal Comfort: Eagle Creek ear plugs – Cost $7.50 on Amazon.com. Most comfortable ear plugs to sleep with. Comes with a carrying case. Always great for traveling in commercial or military aircraft.
b. Personal Comfort: Quixote Down Travel Pillow Large – Cost $99 on Amazon.com. The best travel pillow I have found. While it’s more expensive than most travel pillows, the goose down fill is awesome and doesn’t flatten out when you use it.
e. Technology: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones – Cost $269.00 on Amazon.com. There are cheaper versions of noise cancelling headphones on the market, can’t go wrong with these. They are a must have for long flights and really block out the aircraft/background noise. Bose even offers a payment plan using your existing credit card at a cost of $22.50 a month, paid off over 12 payments. Or just use some of those airlines miles you’ve racked up.
f. Clothing: Patagonia Down Sweater Vest – costs $151 on Moosejaw.com. After being issued a vest in a previous until and traveling overseas with it, I decided to buy one for myself. Worn with a sweater or long sleeve button up shirt, these down (or synthetic) vests are perfect for traveling on airplanes and sitting in airports. I enjoy them because I tend to get hot wearing full jackets, but these keep you warm even in the window seats and feel less bulky. One note of caution, if you are wearing civis when stuck outside manifesting for a flight or bus ride to a training event or exercise recommend a long sleeve jacket. While vests are great in the airport or on the airplane, my arms do get cold when stuck outside waiting for 3+ hours, usual military hurry up and wait experience.
g. Sleeping: Big Agnes Lost Ranger Sleeping Bag – Cost $239 on Amazon.com. Much more comfortable than the issue sleeping bag and even fits inside the issue bivy sack so it won’t stick out too much. The accompanying insulated sleeping pad ($89 on Amazon.com) is also a must have. Sleeping pad slips inside an exterior sleeve on the sleeping bag, so you’ll never roll off of the pad. Additionally, the insulated pad is a must on a cold concrete floor or the floor of an aircraft. Stops a significant amount of heat loss.
h. Sleeping: Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) Hammock – Cost $54 on Amazon.com. Perfect for staying off the floor in a C-17 (or even C-130) for those long flights. The floor of an aircraft can get freezing cold. Perfect for swinging between a CONEX and the wall of the aircraft. This of course is if the crew chief lets you string it up, but I’ve always had good luck. Once less person lying on the ground. Recommend ENO Atlas Straps ($29 on Amazon.com) to assist with hanging it up.
i. Accessory: Grid-It Organizer – Cost vary, but $10-$20 on Amazon.com. Perfect for holding and securing ALL the cords we take with us when traveling.
a. Exercising while traveling can be challenging, but also great opportunity to try something new. I find that while I’m TDY I’m able to get to bed earlier and motivated to get up well before that 0800 meeting or class in order to get in some PT in a new and unique place. Below are a few recommendations on maximizing your PT while TDY.
b. What to bring.
– Jump rope, only takes up a small space and great addition to any workout.
– Only two sets of civilian PTs. Wash your shorts and tee-shirt in the shower. Hang them up to dry to recycle them for the next day. Clothing just needs to be moisture wicking in order to dry within 24hrs.
– Minimal cold weather gear. If it’s that cold, run on the hotel treadmill.
– Plastic grocery bags for your sweaty clothes when packing your bags. Sometimes the hotel closet has plastic laundry bags you can use.
– Recovery Drink: Beachbody Results and Recovery Formula. At $50 a tub (30-day supply) it isn’t cheap, but the best tasting recovery drink out there. And active duty military can join beachbody.com as a coach for free (no joining fee or monthly dues) and get a 25% discount on their products.
c. What to do.
– Use the hotel gyms and be creative. To determine if the hotel has a decent gym, recommend you look at pictures of the hotel gym online and hotel reviews before choosing where to stay. And don’t be afraid to stay in on base lodging for easy access to the military gyms. With the change in hotel operators across DoD, you might even get points depending on which base.
– See if the hotel has an agreement with a local gym or if the gym offers a one day pass discount to active duty military. Some gyms have let me in free when I tell them I’m military and in town for training. For example, the YMCAs in Raleigh, NC let active duty military from outside the Triangle use the gyms for free.
– Staff off the elliptical. It is USELESS.
– Go to crossfit.com for the Work Out of the Day (WOD).
– Go to tabataexercise.com for other exercise ideas, many of them don’t require weights or even a gym.
– Get a copy of P90X or Insanity on your laptop or iPhone/MP3 player. Don’t need much space for either workout program and all you have to do is get up, get dressed, and hit play!
– Find a yoga study and try Bikram (hot) yoga. Most studios let you in free the first visit. Don’t be afraid to try something different.
– Look online for local running groups to link up with.
– Finally, minimize the drinking. Nothing puts a buzz kill on PT like staying out to drink. Get to bed and get up for that awesome workout.
Hooyah, MAJ! (sorry, Hooah for my Army pals 🙂 Thanks for the post, I agree that exercising can be very difficult while travelling, but can also be incredibly rewarding. I personally like to run around cities and towns I’m visiting – it’s a two-fer, because I think it’s a great way to see a lot of city, and get a good workout while you’re at it. One cool way to have fun, see an area, meet cool people, and get a great workout is partake in a hash run. (don’t worry, it has nothing to do with drugs). It’s kind of a scavenger hunt run through the backcountry or woods, it’s usually with large groups of young fun people, and it involves drinking! Probably every city in the world has a hash group, you just need to google it. I used to hash every saturday in Guam, and it was my favorite thing about the island.