Traveling is an amazing experience that everyone should have. However, whether it’s a summer spent backpacking through Europe or just a quick weekend to visit your parents in another state, nothing throws off a good diet like a trip. In fact, according to a survey by TripAdvisor, 29% of vacationers say they generally gain weight while traveling.
Though it may seem difficult to stay healthy with fast food, fine dining, and location-specific treats, there are some simple things you can do to stay healthy as you go through every part of vacationing.
The Travel Part
Most people lose their diet stamina as soon as they step foot in an airport. The limited selection of airport food, the unhealthy options, and the stressful situations usually confuse us out of making good decisions at the checkout counter. Roadtripping can be even worse. On the road for hours at a time, stopping at chain restaurants, going through drive-thrus, and car snacking can all add up to a lot of extra calories. You can avoid that food-regret with just a few simple tricks:
Pack Snacks For the Plane: applesauce and yogurt count as liquids, so pack them in 3 oz. containers and stick them, along with carrots, broccoli, and cheese sticks, in an insulated lunch box. You can also bring your own containers of almonds, dried fruit, and protein or granola bars. Try protein-boosted Ancient Nutrition recipes for a quick energy boost on-the-go.
Skip the Fast Food: Instead of breezing through the drive-thru on your trip, find grocery stores or even local markets. You can pick up fresh produce, assemble your own sandwich, and enjoy a lunch sitting on the hood of your car.
Stick With Your Schedule: If you’re jumping time zones or flying through the night, it can be easy to get off schedule. Instead of letting your itinerary control you, plan to eat 5 small meals a day and set a timer on your phone. Use the dried fruit or almonds you packed yourself for an extra energy boost throughout the stressful travel day.
The Unique Foods Part
An important part of traveling is trying new foods. Don’t let a strict diet keep you from enjoying the local cuisine while traveling abroad or the famous BBQ around the corner from your hotel. Here are a couple tips for staying healthy without sacrificing your tastebuds.
One and Done: Decide on what one item you have to have from the city you’re visiting. Gelato in Rome, a cheesesteak in Philadelphia, or a chocolate croissant in Paris. Do a little research beforehand, find the best one, and enjoy it. You don’t have to try every gelato from every cart on every corner. Have one, enjoy it, and then get back to your healthy routine.
Watch What You Drink: It can be tempting to booze up while on vacation, but most alcoholic beverages are full of empty calories and a buzz can actually lead to more snacking throughout the night. Limit yourself to two drinks a day, and opt for low-calorie options.
Be Aware of Portions: Take note of how much you’re eating. Just because it’s brought to you on a plate the size of a pizza doesn’t mean you have to eat it all. If you’re staying at a hotel with a buffet breakfast, don’t overdo it. It can be tempting with so many options, but just pick one or two things that you know you’ll enjoy and are good for you.
The Social Part
Whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure, or familial obligation, food will almost certainly play an important social role. Impressing a potential client over dinner, gathering with extended family over some ribs, or meeting up with old friends at a local dive will all put you together with some high-calorie and low nutrient food options. Keep the following tricks in mind and your social meals won’t be anything to worry about.
Eat Light During the Day: If you know you’ve got a big dinner planned, don’t also have a pancake feast for breakfast and an all-you-can-eat lobster fest for lunch. Plan your day accordingly, knowing that you will need room for later.
Don’t Treat Yourself at Every Meal: It can be tempting to look at eating out as a treat, but if you’re eating out for every meal, those “treats” add up quickly, and not just on the scale. You’ll feel sluggish and tired, which are two things your trip can’t afford. Be smart about your choices and treat eating out like any other meal you’d have at home.
Avoid Bread and Butter: Some restaurants will bring a basket of bread before the meal. It’s best to not eat it, as you’ll often just be getting empty calories. This is a surefire way to fill up and over eat. Save your appetite for the food you ordered. It’ll be worth it.
The Exhaustion Part
As with most vacations, you are out and about much more than in a typical day: walking through museums, hiking famous trails, or chasing kids around an amusement park. How can you put any energy into eating healthy when you’re so tired? These tricks should help solve the problem:
Snack on Protein: Instead of sugary carbs for snacks, munch on some protein throughout the day. It keeps you fuller longer and also gives you the boost you need to keep going.
Bring Powdered Greens With You: It can be a challenge to get the greens you need to keep your energy up, so bring your greens with you -- in the form of powdered greens. They’re easy to transport and help ensure that you’re not missing out on essential vitamins and minerals while you’re away from your kitchen. Bring a bag with you and mix it with water when you stop for a break.
Drink Lots of Water: Most importantly, stay hydrated. It can be easy to be distracted by a new schedule and exciting adventures and forget to get all the water you need in a day. Carry a water bottle with you and fill it up every time you can. Most vacations see you more physically active than usual and if you get dehydrated, it’s easy to succumb to exhaustion.
The Conclusion Part
When you get home, don’t let the boredom of your old routine prevent you from eating right. Coming home to an empty fridge, or a late night can make it tempting to run to fast food, but there’s no need. You’ve used these tips during your whole trip to stay healthy and you can continue to use them in your everyday life. Eating healthy doesn’t need to be a challenge or an obstacle to a great vacation. Stay smart, think ahead, and give your body what it needs, whether you’re on the open road, or on your living room couch.