Tom’s Tips for Success on the Road

Tom’s Tips for Success on the Road

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 – like when 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 23 seasons (and many 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 power me through the stress and discomfort of long flights, hotel rooms, and life on the road.

Much like the TB12 Method itself, these tips don't only apply to pro athletes. 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, my approach can work for you too. Here’s how I do it.

It All Starts With Pliability

I’m very fortunate to 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 that game day throws at them.

I don’t go anywhere without my Vibrating Pliability Mini Sphere, either. When I’m not with Alex, it’s the next best thing to keep me pliable on the go. It’s small enough to easily fit it in my backpack or suitcase, but it still gives me the deep muscle stimulation I need to recover. All I need is 5 to 10 minutes a few times a day, and I’m able to get my muscles back into a pliable state. 

Whether you’re in the car or on a plane, traveling for even just a few hours can create a lot of tension, tightness, and soreness throughout your body. Focus especially on the muscles in your legs, as well as your upper trap, neck, and shoulders – travel impacts these muscles the most.

Always Make Time for Hydration

Regardless of the situation, I’ll always be in control over my hydration. Whether I’m in the comfort of my own home or 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 ounces of water —at minimum.

Hydration is especially important when I’m flying. The relative humidity in the climate-controlled cabin of a plane is right around 10-20%. Compare that to the average humidity of the Sahara Desert, 25%, and you can get a sense why your body feels so dry and dehydrated after a few hours on a plane.

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 consistency keeps me on track to reach my baseline and prevents the humidity from negatively impacting me when we land.

How I Snack on the Road

Travel often brings out the worst in people’s eating habits. 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.

Regardless of the environment 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.

I manage my hunger by packing a TB12 Plant-Based Protein Bar, as well as almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. I also pack Plant-Based Protein packets for the protein I need to power my body through the stress of travel. 

Mastering My Sleep

Sleep is an opportunity to relax every part of your body — and a critical way for us to recover. 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. I adhere to a consistent sleep schedule, and when I travel, I do 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 normal, 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.

When I’m sleeping in an unfamiliar hotel bed, I like to focus on controlling the things I can control. Just like at home, I 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 visualization exercises to get my mind right headed into the game. Or, I'll take a few quiet minutes to reflect on my day and the things I’m thankful for.

Always Bring Bands

There’s no better way to work out on the road than with resistance bands. They're incredibly easy to travel with – I can do a full-body functional workout in my hotel room.  Even bringing one band along can provide a great functional workout and help keep your muscles active and engaged. You'll often see me on the sideline before a game using a band to activate my. muscles.

When you’re on the road and off your normal routine, you can set the tone for a good day by exercising in the morning. I love to start my days on the road with a band movement of some kind. Even a short active recovery workout can help start your day in a positive way. 

Pack a Winning Mindset

Being on the road often means facing new challenges outside of my comfort zone. I’m 23 seasons in and it still isn’t 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. 

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, 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.

I don’t like to focus on negatives or make excuses. I gain nothing if I get angry or frustrated. Instead, 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.

For example, 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.