By Jessica Russo
You keep up with your health and fitness all year; the last thing you want to do is ruin it on vacation! Just because you're going away doesn't mean you need to leave your healthy regimens at home. Of course you want to eat local cuisine and unwind with a few drinks - who doesn't!? We're here to tell you how to do those things without putting your health on the line.
1. Pack a picnic
Instead of eating at another restaurant, order some food from a local take-away hot-spot, or shop around a local grocery store! Firstly, this will save you some money. Secondly, you are likely to eat less, and healthier, than you would if you were focused solely on food in a restaurant. Your mind will be so preoccupied with the beauty surrounding you - food will be an afterthought!
2. Eat a healthy breakfast
Lots of hotels offer buttery pastries and fatty meats for breakfast. Steer yourself towards offerings like fruit, yogurt, whole grain bread, eggs, and lean meats. These natural sugars, whole carbs, and proteins will keep you full and energized for a morning of exploration!
3. Indulge strategically
Think about what you really want to try before you arrive at your destination. Headed to Italy? Try to limit yourself to one carb-heavy meal per day. Traveling to Mexico and dreaming of churros con chocolate? Eat a healthy dinner, then indulge in dessert! You can and should eat whatever you want when you're on vacation - the keys are balanced meals and portion-control.
4. Walk, don't Uber
Okay, if the weather is bad, go ahead and use a cab or public transportation. If it's nice out, however, walk as much as you're able to! Not only does walking shed calories, but it also allows you to see all the nooks and crannies of a destination that you wouldn't see from a car window. Oftentimes, while walking around a city, you'll come across your favorite shops, parks, or cafes that you never would've discovered if you didn't walk!
Travel is one of life's greatest gifts, but sometimes, it can be stressful. Stay mindful abroad by meditating! There's a slew of apps and videos available that offer guided meditation sessions. Whether you meditate in the morning, before bed, or in transit, a little peace and quiet can be the recharge you need.
6. Stay hydrated
If you're like most people, you don't drink enough water on the reg. When traveling, it is even more important to stay hydrated! Not only is your body stressed from air travel, but you are doing way more activity than you realize. Even if you're not sweating the way you would during a workout, a day of walking around a city is still exercise! If you are traveling to a country with safe drinking water, pack a reusable water bottle and keep that baby filled. If you're traveling to a country with iffy drinking water, always keep water bottles in your backpack. A good trick is to take advantage of hydrating while at restaurants. Drink at least one full glass of water before your meal, and another after you finish. Not only will drinking water give you more energy, it will also make you feel less hungry. Remember: the key word is water. Keep the sugary juices, sodas, and cocktails to a minimum.
7. Mix workouts and sightseeing
Across the world, many of the most sought-out sites require a bit of physical stamina. Whether you climb to the top of the Duomo in Florence or you hike through the Alps in Austria, there are tons of magnificent marvels that are only reachable by climbing. Feast your eyes on some amazing sights while you get your daily workout in!
8. Just say "no"
Peer pressure is real. Picture this: your travel partner really wants gelato, but you're not really in the mood. You don't want to be a downer, but you don't want to make a poor health decision. This is our advice: never feel bad for not wanting to eat poorly. Simply say, "That sounds really good, you should totally get some!" By phrasing it this way, you're not being a buzz-kill, and you're also not packing on extra unwanted calories. Bottom line: just because someone else is eating it doesn't mean you have to.
9. Make use of the hotel gym
Today, many hotels allow guests to use their onsite fitness centers. If you attend a gym at home, keep up your routine! If you don't belong to a gym at home, this can be an awesome opportunity to experience a great workout. Whether you go for a quick run after breakfast or lift some weights on a rainy afternoon, using the hotel gym grants you the excuse to eat more yummy food later.
10. Share meals
If you're like us, you look at a menu and think, "I want to try everything." Instead of ordering too much food and overeating, share meals with your travel partner! As the kids say, "go halfsies." This allows you to taste more varieties of a culture's cuisine, and it also allows you to make healthier choices. How? Well, if your travel partner is cooperative, you can collectively order one healthy meal and one not-so-healthy meal, and split the two! For instance, in England, you need to try fish and chips - we get that. But, if one of you orders fish and chips and the other orders a salad, voila! - the perfect sensible meal. Usually, when you're in the mood for something greasy, cheesy, or sweet, just a few bites will satisfy that craving. No need for a full portion of calories you'll regret later.
11. Visit the local grocery store
Going grocery shopping may seem like such a mundane, ordinary task, but it is so interesting to go grocery shopping in another country! It's a great way to immerse yourself in local day-to-day culture and act like a local. When meandering through a local store or market, you'll likely find local produce, freshly baked breads, and branded snacks that are exclusive to whatever country you're in. Save some money and eat healthier by creating your own masterpiece!
12. Pack healthy snacks
When you ask, "Should we bring snacks?" the answer should always be yes. No matter what your itinerary is, it never hurts to stuff some nuts, fruit, or healthy granola bars in your bag. Noshing on little snacks between meals will help you eat less and keep you energized throughout the day. Snacks may also save you some serious money. Think about it this way, if you're starving and haven't eaten for hours, it's likely that you'll order too much food at a restaurant. C'mon, you know that feeling of just wanting to order the entire menu! One last reason we love bringing snacks on vacation: you never really know when your next meal will be. Whether you're hiking in Bali or exploring the Scottish Highlands, you won't find convenience stores on every corner. It's better to be prepared than hungry.
Pro-tip: If you are visiting museums and/or attractions, be sure to research their rules on outside food/drinks. Snacks that are in sealed packaging are usually your best bet.
13. Take vitamins
Every morning, pop a multi-vitamin with breakfast. A country's cuisine may contain different nutrients than the ones your body is used to, so it's important to ensure that your body is getting everything it needs. Say you travel to South Africa and eat like a total carnivore, or, you travel to Italy and eat carbs, carbs, and only carbs - a daily multi-vitamin will help regulate your system.
14. Get rid of the "all or nothing" mentality
Many people go on vacation with the thought, "I'm here, I don't know when I'll be coming back, so I need to eat everything!" We get that - really, we do - but there are ways to taste the very best of a country without going overboard. Remember the good old saying: "Everything's fine in moderation?" Keep that phrase in mind. Try things like: sharing unhealthy must-try foods with your travel partner (instead of each ordering one), sharing a few different appetizers instead of meals, or keeping to a limit of one unhealthy meal per day.
While traveling should be relaxing and fun, it undoubtedly takes a lot out of you. Don't run yourself down! Make sure you get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep each night. This will keep your spirits high and your appetite down.