I am a self-professed travel addict, a diagnosis that saw me away from home nearly three out of every five days this spring. Like many of us, when I am in a new city, a top item on my agenda is to eat (and drink) as much of the local food scene as I can. Roll me to the airport if you must, but I will try all of the top-rated ice cream joints before I head to the airport, so help me yoga pants!
This all-out vacation mindset is fun at first, but, especially as someone who strives to maintain a healthy lifestyle most of the time, I’ve discovered that after a few days of allowing myself every excess in the book, I start feeling pretty…bleh.
Thus, this spring when I embarked on five consecutive trips, all of which were focused on food, I knew I needed to find ways to keep myself feeling healthy and balanced while I traveled.
These 5 Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling not only left me feeling great after my trip, but they also allowed me to have more fun during my trip. By taking good care of myself, I had a higher energy level and better appreciated the special experiences (and eats!) I encountered along the way.
Whether you travel frequently for work and are looking for ways to stay healthy from your hotel room, or are heading for summer vacation and don’t want to blow the progress you’ve made at the gym, these tips for how to stay healthy while traveling will help you have more fun AND stay in shape away from home.
How To Stay Healthy While Traveling: My Top 5 Tips
1. Pack Your Own Travel Snacks…and actually eat them.
Despite what your appetite may say to your brain when the tantalizing scent of butter hits you at the airport, Cinnabon does not count as part of your vacation experience. Neither does Auntie Anne’s or a gas station hot pocket.
Skip unhealthy food options like these (and the other sugar-laden, over-priced snacks you’ll find in airport mini-marts and gas stations) in favor of bringing your own healthy on-the-go snacks from home. The best ice cream in Charleston is worth spending your hard-earned vacation dollars and calories—a candy bar you could purchase for pennies at Walgreens is not.
- Easy Homemade Travel Snack Recipes: Fig Almond Energy Bites; Oatmeal Breakfast Bars; No Bake Peanut Butter Chia Bars; Healthy Granola.
- Learn From My Mistakes: Yogurt is considered a liquid, as is peanut butter, and both will be confiscated by airport security. I’ve tried, failed, and fed many a TSA agent in the process. A baggie of baby carrots or apple slices is a safer option that flys through security every time.
2. Get Moving.
I have yet to take a vacation where some form of exercise is not an option. Even most budget hotels have some kind of workout room, and hotels that don’t have one on site will often have an agreement with a nearby gym that allows hotel guests to work out for free or at a discounted rate. Call ahead and ask. If you are in a temperate climate, an early morning walk or run is a great option too. Pack your gym shoes and commit to exercising at least once during your trip (my goal for a three-day vacation), twice if you are traveling for longer.
Another key tip: workout first thing in the morning. When the alarm sounds, it will be tempting to hit snooze and assure yourself that you’ll workout “later” or “before dinner,” but before you can say, “Just Do It,” 6 p.m. will arrive, and it’s time for cocktails. Get your workout out of the way first thing in the morning, and feel great all day instead.
3. Fruit at Breakfast, Side Salad at Lunch (or Dinner).
Vacation is not an excuse to skip your daily fruits and veggies. Keep breakfast as healthy as you can (at a minimum order a large side of fruit), and start your lunch and/or dinner with a green salad. Even during the most indulgent of vacations, your body still needs key nutrients, and ensuring that you eat your greens will have you feeling much better about that bonus side of sweet potato fries.
4. Assume You Will Return.
This is the hardest one for me. When I’m in new city, my brain instantly switches into some kind of freak excess survival mode in which I believe that I must eat and drink EVERYTHING in my vicinity to enjoy my trip because, who knows when I’ll be back? That second (and third) round of drinks? Pour me! That dessert that I’m not actually craving but am convincing myself to order because, I’m on vacation, and I deserve it? Bring us two!
The fantasies of vacation are that a) we can eat and drink as much of anything and everything as we want, consequence free, and b) if we try hard enough, we can do it all. Stomachaches exist globally, even at five-star resorts. So do hangovers.
While vacation is absolutely a time to indulge, the hard, sad truth is that unless you are visiting a tiny town with only a few sites and restaurants for an extended period of time, you won’t be able to squeeze it all into one trip. That’s OK. Pick your favorites and enjoy them for everything they are. Pace yourself. Assume you will return.
5. Give Yourself a Break.
Vacations are not the time to be on your best behavior. Enjoy that extra scoop of ice cream, order your latte with whip, and if you sleep through your morning run because you stayed out dancing until 3 a.m., good for you. These healthy travel tips are here to help you enjoy your vacation more, not to detract from it.
What do you think? Any healthy travel tips of your own to share? I’m off again in a few weeks and would love to hear them!