It’s one thing to be able to win at home with 70,000 fans cheering you on, but it’s another challenge entirely to do it on the road. So much of my career success has been defined by winning big games away from home – even just this year, we had to win three straight road playoff games to earn the chance to come back home and play for a Super Bowl in Tampa.
It probably won’t surprise anyone reading this to hear how important preparation is to me in nearly everything I do, on and off the field. Thanks to 22 seasons (and over 170 regular season road games) in the NFL, I’ve developed healthy travel habits that help me consistently perform at the top of my game. These are foundational principles that help me power through the stress and discomfort that comes along with long flights, hotel rooms, and life on the road.
These may be tips from an NFL player, but much like the TB12 Method itself, that doesn’t mean they only apply to elite athletes. My approach is simple, and whether you’re a marathoner traveling to a new city for a race, a busy professional out on the road, or a parent in need of a getaway, I know that my approach can work for you too. Here’s how I do it:
01 It All Starts With Pliability
I’m very fortunate that I have my Body Coach and TB12 Co-Founder Alex Guerrero with me most of the time when I’m on the road. When Alex is around, we’ll spend at least an hour or two a day working on my pliability and ensuring that my muscles are ready to handle everything game day throws at them.
I don’t go anywhere without my Vibrating Pliability Mini Sphere. When I’m not with Alex, it’s the next best thing and helps me get pliable no matter where I go. It’s small enough that I can easily fit it in my backpack or suitcase, but it still gives me the deep muscle stimulation I need to enable my muscles to recover when I’m on the road.
Here’s what I do: Whether you’re in the car or on a plane, travelling for even just a few hours can create a lot of tension, tightness, and soreness throughout your body. All I need is 5 to 10 minutes with my Mini Sphere a few times a day and I’m able to fully relax those muscles and get them back into a pliable state. Focus especially on the muscles in your legs, as well as your upper trap, neck, and shoulders – travel impacts these muscles the most.
02 Always Make Time for Hydration
Regardless of the situation I’m in, I know that I’ll always have control over my hydration. Whether I’m in the comfort of my own home or I’m on the road, my goal is to reach what I call my hydration baseline – half of my bodyweight in fluid ounces of water throughout the day. For me, that’s right around 112 oz of water at a minimum!
Hydration is especially important when I’m flying. The relative humidity in the climate-controlled cabin of a plane is right around 10%. Compare that to the average humidity of the Sahara Desert, which is 25%, and you start to get a better sense for why your body feels so dry and dehydrated after a few hours on a plane.
Here’s what I do: I don’t go anywhere without my water bottle and electrolytes. Regardless of the length of the flight, I’ll try to drink somewhere between 8 and 12 ounces of electrolyte-rich water per hour. This kind of consistency keeps me on track to reach my baseline and prevents the humidity from negatively impacting me when we land.
03 How I Snack on the Road
Travel often brings out the worst in people’s eating habits. I know it’s convenient to grab a greasy fast food burger at your airport terminal or during a long drive, but with a little preparation it doesn’t need to be that way. Airports certainly aren’t known for their nutritious food offerings, so you want to be as selective as possible. I’m always thinking about what I can do to make travel easier for myself, and health snacking is at the top of that list.
Regardless of the environment I’m in or the options available, my goal is to eat as many seasonal, plant-based organic foods as possible. At the end of the day, if you’re in a situation where it’s not possible to eat right, you want to make balance and moderation the goal.
Here’s what I do: I manage my hunger and avoid unhealthy snacking by packing a Lemon TB12 Protein Bar, as well as some of my favorite nuts and seeds – including almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. I love to pack our TB12 Plant-Based Protein packets with me too – they’re delicious when you mix them with water and give me the protein I need to power my body through the stress of travel.
04 Mastering My Sleep
Sleep is an opportunity to relax every part of your body, and is critical for all of us to recover for the next day’s activities. If we don’t get the right amount of it, especially when we’re away from home traveling, our mental and physical performance will inevitably suffer. It’s well-documented that I adhere to a consistent sleep schedule, and the key for me when I travel is doing everything I possibly can to stick to that schedule.
When I’m on the road, I like to make sure that at least one part of my sleep schedule stays consistent. Even if I can’t get to bed at the exact same time as I normally would, I like to keep my wake up time as consistent as possible so I don’t throw my body out of its natural rhythm. It’s all about building a routine and sticking to it!
Here’s what I do: There’s no place like home, and there’s definitely no bed quite like your own. When I’m sleeping in an unfamiliar hotel bed, I like to focus on controlling the things I can control. Just like I do when I’m at home, I’ll avoid using my phone or watching TV for at least 30 mins before bed and focus on my nightly meditation. If I’m preparing for a game, I like to work through some visualization exercises to get my mind right headed into the game – if not, I like to take a few quiet minutes to reflect on my day and the things I’m thankful for.
05 Always Bring Bands
There’s no better way to work out on the road than resistance bands! Even bringing one band along with you can provide a great functional workout and help keep your muscles active and engaged. I don’t go anywhere without my TB12 Resistance Bands, and you’ll often see me on the sideline before a game using a band to get my muscles activated and ready to perform.
When you’re on the road and off your normal routine, you can help set the tone for a good day by exercising in the morning. I love to start my days on the road with movement of some kind, even a short active recovery workout can help get the day started in a positive way.
Here’s what I do: Resistance bands are incredibly easy to travel with, and I’ll usually just bring a few long and short looped bands with me on the road. I can do a full-body functional workout in my hotel room – you can’t beat that!
06 Don't Forget to Pack a Winning Mindset
This is a big one for me. Being on the road often means stepping outside of my comfort zone and facing new challenges. I’m 21 seasons in and it still isn’t getting any easier to be away from home and in a hostile environment, but I draw confidence from my mindset. I embrace these challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow – you’re never too old to push yourself forward and continue to grow.
I’ve always tried to focus on making the best of whatever situations life throws at me. I can walk onto the field armed with various strategies, ideas, and hypotheses about how the game will play out, but in the end I have no idea how things will turn out. It’s the same when I travel – I can’t control whether I get stuck in traffic or my flight is delayed – the only thing I can control is the way that I react.
Here’s what I do: I don’t like to focus on negatives or make excuses, I gain nothing if I get angry or frustrated. I use these opportunities to confidently step out of my comfort zone. I stay positive in the face of whatever challenges come my way and do my best to learn from every experience. If I don’t sleep well in a hotel room during the first night away from home, I think about what I did before bed and how that may have impacted my sleep. Did I go to bed too late? Did I eat too close to bedtime? Did I use my phone in bed? By asking questions like these instead of getting frustrated, I’m able to learn and grow as a result.