Derek Hough is not someone we'd imagine as one who likes to relax and restore: To say his life is busy would be to put things very lightly. From his starring role on Dancing With the Stars to a busy career as a dancer, choreographer, and actor, he's working — and traveling — a lot. And it's not all that often in the name of a vacation. But how does he keep on top of his game while on such an incredibly hectic schedule? Jet Set chatted with Derek to find out how he does it — and get his pretty easy-to-execute tips for other travelers.
1. Travel lightly.
If you spend a great deal of time on the road, wasting time at baggage turnstiles can add up, quick. "I try to pack as light as possible because I’m not a big fan of checking bags and having to wait at baggage claim. When I travel, I want to get off the plane and start my adventure right away. I typically bring the basics: underwear, socks, Old Spice Fresh deodorant, gym clothes, and my Nike shoes."
2. Pack smart skincare.
In terms of skincare, Hough is a fan of Lancer Method. "It goes on easy and keeps my skin looking fresh no matter the weather, altitude, or climate I am traveling in!" If he's traveling for work, he'll also bring Icy Hot — "because it’s always really good following a great dance workout."
3. Don't abandon your healthy diet.
In non-surprising news, Hough tries to maintain a balanced diet while on the road. "I do my best to eat healthy and drink water — a ton of water. Whenever I can, I’ll try to bring fruits and veggies with me — anything that is both easy to pack and good for me. The healthier the food, the more energy I have to take on the day and explore the sights," says Hough. Eating well is a big priority, and he never skips breakfast. "That’s just not an option for me. When I don’t have time to sit down for a full meal, I take advantage of the new grab-and-go options that are springing up at hotels. When I do have time, though, I closely review the menu and make sure I’m picking the healthiest sides and food preparation methods — for example, I’ll go for steamed veggies over mac-n-cheese and grilled over breaded or fried mains whenever possible," he says.
4. Exercise — even in challenging circumstances.
Hough's healthy living plan is simple and one we can all adhere to: "When I’m on the road, I follow four simple steps to stay in shape: move, eat well, sleep like a king, and remember to unplug!" As far as the moving part: "It’s important to me to always be moving and exercising as much as possible. If I’m staying at a hotel and they have a gym, I’ll try to use it as much as I can. If my hotel doesn’t have a gym, I’ll typically just do push-ups or sit-ups in my room. I actually have a P90x app on my phone. The programs are only 20 minutes and probably one of my favorite ab workouts. The best part is that I can do my whole workout regimen in my hotel room!" says Hough.
5. Prioritize rest.
Of course, even if you are active and working, you need to take a break and go to bed at some point. "For me, the best part about hotel living is the fact that your room is designed to be a sleeper’s paradise — those giant beds, the blackout curtains," says Hough, who is currently partnering with Hilton Hotels & Resorts as a travel expert.
Sometimes unplugging is a gradual process. "Every night, I go dark for at least a half hour before bed — that means no scrolling through my social media feeds or sneaking in one last episode of TV before bed. The screens’ bright light can really throw off your body’s natural clock, so it’s important to resist checking your gadgets when you are getting ready for bed," says Hough.
7. Enjoy the journey.
"Being on the road is such a part of who I am now that I don’t really think of it in the context of love and hate," says Hough. "Right now I’m trying to squeeze in some last-minute trips to let me commune with nature as soon my work schedule will be intense. I’ll be performing in Hairspray Live! this December and also re-joining Dancing with the Stars at the same time. I’m busy and traveling a ton but I wouldn’t change a thing about it!" says Hough.
Hough clearly loves traveling. In fact, he shares it's probably one of the best parts of what he does for a living. "Traveling — as great as it is — can wear on me, and hotels help me revive and rejuvenate. The amenities hotels are providing these days make my life so much easier, and as my home away from home, the hotels I stay at really do everything they can to ensure my experience is as personalized to me as possible. Something I’ve really come to appreciate in hotels over the past few years is the availability of grab-and-go options. I’m a busy guy but I like to eat, so quick, healthy options have been a lifesaver in my travels," says Hough.
8. Overcome fear to create lifelong memories.
Hough is an adrenaline junkie, so it's no surprise that for him every trip its own adventure. "I have gone skydiving several times, and scuba diving is always amazing. My craziest travel experience hands down was when I swam with sharks in Hawaii without a cage. That was an incredible — and terrifying — experience!"
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