Healthy Travel Guide

5 tips for healthy traveling

Nothing says, “Forget my health goals,” like vacation or business travel. We typically start with grand intentions, but just getting out of the house on time can create chaos. It’s easy to become susceptible to the “I deserve it” mindset. The minute the flight attendant hands us that warm chocolate chip cookie or cocktail of choice, it’s all down hill from there.

Sometimes we actually need to release perfectionism and enjoy the moment, or the chocolate in “that” moment. But even with a vacation mindset there are simple steps you can take to stay on track while traveling. Your body will thank you when you return home and still fit into most of your clothes.

1- Find time to exercise.

Regardless of your purpose for traveling, find time to exercise. The good news is, most people walk a lot more on vacation than they do at home. Sightseeing is the perfect way to get those extra steps in, even if you forgot your tracker. If you are stuck in meetings, taking cabs everywhere, or the weather doesn’t hold up, hit the hotel gym. Nearly every hotel has a fitness center. Some are more impressive than others, but take advantage of whatever machines they offer. Consider packing resistance bands in your suitcase when you travel. They are lightweight and can be used for upper and lower body exercises.

If all else fails, turn to the old school P.E. workout. Do push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, planks, wall squats, and stretches. You can workout every part of your body in a 5 foot x 5 foot space. Excuses be darned.

2- Stay hydrated.

If you are flying long distance, you really need to stay hydrated. You will be amazed at the difference in your “state of arrival,” when you drink plenty of water in-flight. It’s also important to minimize the amount of salt you consume while flying. This could lead to water retention and uncomfortable bloating. If you say yes to those peanuts, be sure to drink an extra glass of H2O. Your fellow passengers may get a little irritated at how many times you ask to get up and use the lavatory, but it is so worth their mild inconvenience. Don’t let your water consumption end after you reach your destination. Keep up the hydration efforts throughout your trip.

My favorite tip for finding quality water while traveling is to fill up your bottle at the hotel gym. I learned this tip over 20 years ago in the Bahamas, when our resort wanted to charge $10 for each bottle of water. I am not joking. That’s enough to stop your hydration in its tracks. My husband and I would bring our bottles to the gym a couple of times a day and refill from the filtered water cooler. If there is a convenient store close by, you can also stock up for a much better price per bottle.

3- Eat the healthy foods first. Be sure to order vegetables and salads at meals, and eat them before the bread, butter, and heavy meats or french fries. If you eat slowly, and fill up on nutrient-dense foods, you will crowd out the heavier, less nutritious food items. I love this approach to balanced eating, because you are not depriving yourself. You are simply starting with the healthier items and leaving a little less room for everything else.

4- Sleep. Get your beauty rest. Vacation is the perfect time to catch up on sleep. If you are on a business trip, I hope you schedule yourself for 8-hours of sleep each night. It’s tempting to stay up late and get off schedule. This can lead to jet lag, illness, and even late night food raids that might not be in your best interest. If you are trying to squeeze in way too many excursions, your body will rebel. Give yourself some time each day to either nap or hit the reset button.

5- Pack Healthy Snacks. When we travel, I always pack 1/4 of my suitcase with healthy/convenient snacks and nutrition bars. I learned this mandatory family survival tool on vacation, when our kids were very young. Quick and healthy foods are often difficult to find, or very expensive. Sometimes you get busy and realize you haven’t eaten in hours. You might find yourself waiting in line at a top sight-seeing location when true hunger strikes. Our 19-year old son still has minor “hangry” moments if he hasn’t eaten enough when we travel. By keeping snacks in my day bag, we avoid over-dramatic moments of supposed starvation.

Traveling can be both fun and hectic. It’s a time to explore, embrace new cultures, and enjoy food and drink. These 5 healthy travel tips are fairly easy to follow and help you transition in and out of vacation mode. Be safe, and let yourself go…just not too much.