Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Staying Healthy While Traveling

I am sorry it has been so long since I have posted.  I spent the last two weeks in France and for some reason my blog was not responding well to the French Wi-Fi.  Perhaps it was a sign that I was supposed to just forget about life and relax for a couple of weeks :).

Since I am fresh off of vacation, I thought this would be a good time to talk about how to stay healthy, while still having fun on vacation.  Whether you travel for work or for pleasure, you probably know what it is like to come back from a trip, step on the scale and see a number a little bit higher than before you left.  This may not seem like too much of a problem, but over time these little pounds add up to large numbers.  My husband was traveling a lot for work a few years ago and he managed to gain about 20 lbs that year.  That is when I really started looking at our behaviors when traveling.

When you are on a weight loss plan and you go on vacation it usually means one of two things:  you will either not enjoy the vacation because you are too obsessed with the weight you will potentially gain, or you will completely binge because you have been depriving yourself of treats.  After years of going back a forth between these two scenarios, I have finally figured out a way to enjoy my vacations and come back feeling just as healthy as before I left.  Here are a few tricks:

-Make a few healthy dishes and freeze them before you leave (soup works well for this).  You will want to get back on track with homemade, healthy eating as soon as you return.  I can’t count the number of times I had to order pizza when I got back from a trip because I had nothing to eat in the house.  Now, I try to be prepared with something healthy on hand and I am always very grateful for this upon my return.

-Do not go on any crazy new diets before your trip.  If you deprive yourself  before you leave, you will be more likely to completely indulge/binge on your trip.  I learned this the hard way when I woke up in a hotel room one morning surrounded by cupcake crumbs. :(

-Instead of decreasing your calorie intake before vacation, add a little more umph to your exercise routine the week before a trip.  Either add in a new exercise for the week, increase the length of your current workouts, increase the intensity of your workouts or add sprint intervals.

-Make sure to stay hydrated, especially on the plane.  It is easy to forget to drink water when traveling.  Carry an empty water bottle with you and fill it up in the airport drinking fountain (after you get through security).  When you are dehydrated your body will sometimes send you signals that you are hungry. Staying hydrated may stop you from overeating.

-Instead of sitting in the airport waiting for the plane, go for a walk around the airport and explore.  You are going to spend a lot of time sitting on the plane, so you might as well move around a little and burn a few calories while you wait!

-Airplane and airport food is notoriously expensive and unhealthy.  I try to always bring my own snacks and meals from home.  Skipping the soda and alcohol on the plane is also a good idea.  Not only will it dehydrate you, the calories can add up quick (one can of ginger ale has 120 calories).  I usually opt for club soda because the bubbles are satisfying and it is calorie free!

-If possible, book a hotel with a gym on-site.  If none are available, look for nearby jogging trails before you go.  I recommend getting in at least 30 minutes of exercise first thing in the morning.  That way it is done and you don’t need to think about it the rest of the day.

-Skipping the hotel’s continental breakfast is a good way to avoid extra calories.  I have a pretty strong will, but when one puts a buffet of free food in front of me I am almost certain to eat way more than I should.  I try to book hotel rooms with a refrigerator in the room and I buy some yogurt and high fiber cereal for breakfast.  I have found that I feel a lot better on vacation when I am not eating every meal at a restaurant.

-Walk, walk and then walk some more.  The best way to get to know a place and see the sites is by walking.  I am a huge fan of public transportation, but you aren’t going to be able to see the sites from the subway tunnel.  If your destination is a mile away, it will only take you 15-20 minutes to walk there, and you may discover something really cool on the way.

-Include exertive activities in your itinerary.  My husband and I love to rent bikes in order to explore the places that we are visiting.  Rollerblading along the beach, hiking through parks/mountain trails, skiing and swimming are also great vacation activities.

-Remember, you are on vacation, enjoy what the region has to offer.  If you are in the South, it is okay to enjoy a bit of Southern fried chicken.  Relax, this is the fun stuff that makes life so great!  Just don’t have too large of a portion, try to refrain from eating fried chicken for every meal and abide by the other tips on this list.

-Lastly, It is important to get back into your normal routine as soon as possible after you return.  On vacation we get used to allowing ourselves a few more treats than usual and it is important that we do not keep this habit upon our return.  It is also hard to get back into the routine of going to the gym.  The first few times you may have to give yourself a pep talk, but it should not take long before you are back in the routine.

Next time you take off for vacation, review this list and try to keep your health and happiness in mind!  If you have any other tips you’d like to share, I would love to hear them.


  1. Great list.
    This is what disturbing me when I am travelling or not at my own home. I usually visit my parents during weekend, and I find out that I cannot stick to my diet during the visit because there's always food at mummy's home. And it's hard to resist. I worry if I stay longer, say, a week, I will ruin my diet. Thanks, I'll borrow this ideas for my next visit :)


  2. Honeybee,

    I know exactly what you are talking about. I sometimes think that my mom is purposefully trying to fatten me up :). I now keep a box of healthy cereal at her house for breakfasts and I buy some nonfat yogurt when I arrive. I have even started cooking our family dinners when I am there, especially during the holidays, because it is the only way I can be sure that there is not an entire stick of butter in my sweet potatoes. When I am home for an extended period of time I will get a temporary pass to a local gym. This allows me to keep up my exercise routine and gives me an excuse to escape from the house from time to time. If the weather is nice I will ask my dad to go for a run or a hike with me.

    Hope some of my ideas are useful!