Stay Fit While Traveling
Traveling is one of my favorite things in the world. I live for our annual vacations because they offer us a chance to relax and enjoy new experiences together. I plan our trips out far in advance, researching the best things to do as well as the best tours, shops, activities, breweries, and restaurants. (See our travel blog: Destination Dorworth)
As much as I love traveling, I know that making healthy choices can be more difficult than cumbersome.
To make the choices easier I prepare healthy snacks for our trips. Let’s say we were to hold out an apple and a donut in front of you. If you have a goal to stay fit while on vacation, then you would most likely choose the apple. However, let’s say we were to hold out just a donut in front of you. You would most likely take the donut because otherwise you would starve, right? But if you had planned accordingly, you could have packed some healthier options for breakfast. If you know there are healthy options around, then you’ll be more likely to choose those than if you made the assumption that unhealthy was the only option.
Traveling also tends to bring out excuses in us. “There’s no gym here! It’s too cold out. I forgot to pack sneakers!” Ring a bell? Excuses tend to be more frequent when we are in relaxation mode. In order to stay fit, you have to turn those excuses into an opportunity to rise to the occasion. So what if there’s no gym? Who cares if it’s cold? All the more reason to get creative with your fitness.
A three-month fat loss program with high compliance can be ruined by a five-day eating bender. That means three months of hard work down the drain. The time you spend tracking your macros on your phone, the decisions you made to turn down those fatty treats in the break room, and the hours you spent working your heart out at the gym: ruined.
This is all the more reason to plan ahead and make healthier choices. When presented with healthy options and healthier options, choose the healthier option whenever possible. While you can afford to splurge a little here and there on your macros by following the 80/20 rule (eat 80% wholesome nutritious foods and 20% treats), the rest of the time keep your personal goal in mind. Don’t let a trip out of town completely derail your progress. Get more tips for working out while traveling from the Wanderlust Dietitian.
Three Tips to Make Healthier Choices while Traveling
Tip #1 Hydrate & Sleep
Whenever you are traveling, pack your own water bottle. A re-fillable one is key if you are flying since you will have to empty it and re-fill it once you pass security. Staying hydrated while flying will help keep your body from drying out. Drinking enough water throughout the day once you arrive to your destination is even more crucial Keep in mind that the calories from sodas, juices, and cocktails add up, so stick to water when possible.
Even if you’re out of town, you still need your sleep. Most people require about 7-8 hours of sleep per night, though this varies from person to person. If this means packing your own special pillow so you sleep better, then do that. Sleep is crucial to your overall well-being for many reasons. The most obvious reason being energy that little sleep can lead to energy deprivation which will result in poor workout endurance and muscle recovery. Sleep deprivation also leads to other negative results like increased cortisol (stress hormone) levels, memory impairment, and potential BMI (body mass index) changes. In a 2006 study by Patel et al, data suggest that short sleep duration is associated with an increase in weight gain. Of the 68,183 women in the study, those who slept under five hours a night gained 1.14kg more than those who got over seven hours of sleep per night.1
Tip #2 Eat Well
Visiting a new city makes the foodie inside me jump for joy! I’m always excited to try out the top restaurants and the local flavors. The downside is that most of those options are going to double your calorie allotment for the day if you’re not careful. If you plan ahead, then enjoying some of those places can be possible. For example, back when I visited Boston, I made it a point to eat nutrient-dense foods for lunch, snacks, and dinner so that I could have room for a yummy-in-my-tummy Union Square donut for breakfast!
..yes, tis a maple bacon masterpiece..
Or let’s say you really want to try a well-known burger joint for dinner. In preparation for the special meal, choose healthy and wholesome foods the rest of the day so you can save room for the treat. Remember, with flexible dieting, 20% treats is okay as long as you meet your macros, micros, and fiber intake for the day.
If you know there won’t be many healthy options available for snacking, then pack your own snacks! We love packing almonds, snack bars, protein bars, and Fiber One bars because having them easily accessible in our bag makes us more likely to choose them over the hot dog stand we walk past.
I recently flew out to Boston for a wedding. Here are some tactics I used to make healthier food choices:
- When choosing a restaurant, I checked out the company’s website first. If they had a nutritional chart for their menu items, bonus!
- When ordering salad, I asked for the dressing on the side and went easy on the toppings.
- When ordering a meal that comes with a side, I opted for grilled veggies, brown rice, a plain baked potato, or a sweet potato if possible instead of fries.
- When ordering a meat, I chose the leaner, grilled meats instead of fried.
Keep these tools in your toolbox. Using these tips above will allow you to still enjoy vacation. Flexible dieting is sustainable and allows you to enjoy treats in moderation.
..my yummy salad for lunch..
Tip #3 Exercise
Many of us tend to get lazy when traveling, so make an extra effort to stay active. Walk to places whenever possible. But if the grocery store is just a half-mile away, use that as an opportunity to walk. Some hotels have bicycles to use for a fun workout or transportation – how fun would that be? Or if there is a pool, go take a few laps before you lounge under the sun.
If it’s not too inconvenient to do so, try to squeeze in a few workouts. Find out if the hotel you’re staying at has a fitness center. Depending on equipment availability, you may have to venture out of your comfort zone, but something is better than nothing. You can workout in your hotel room, on the lawn, at the pool, or at a nearby park! You can always be creative and come up with ways to exercise without equipment or space. Prepare for workouts by always packing workout clothes, and it will also benefit you to bring a set of resistance bands with you.
To help give you some equipment-free exercise ideas, I am sharing the workout I did on my recent trip to Boston. These exercises can be done using the hotel couch (or bench/chair).
Hotel Room Workout
Perform each exercise for 3 sets of 15-20.
- Decline Pushups
- Split Squats
- Single Leg Get-ups
- Incline Pushups
- Windshield Wipers
- Hip Thrusts
- Lower Ab Pulses
Want more travel workout ideas?
How about a plyometric workout. Perform each for 3 sets of 20 seconds. Substitute a bench or box with whatever you have available in your hotel room (chair, bench).
- Squat Jumps
- Tuck Jumps
- 180 degree Burpees
- 180 degree Squat Jumps
- Single Leg Handstands
- Star Jumps
- Alternating Split Squat Jumps
- Knee Tuck Jumps
- Side Skaters
- Box Jumps
- Rollover Box Jumps
- Mountain Climbers
- Runner Hops
- Bench Skaters
- Abdominal Med Ball Tosses
- Bench Bunny Hops
- Step Plyo Pushups
- Square Hops
Prepare Your Mind
If you prepare your mind to stay on track while traveling, you will be more likely to follow through. You must be motivated and100% committed to your staying fit plan. One way to improve your chances of success is to follow my 3-step Vacation Success plan:
Step #1 Write a goal to meet by the day before your vacation.
Step #2 Write a goal to meet by the day you return home from your vacation.
Step #3 Write a goal to meet one month after your vacation.
Your goals should be specific, realistic, and achievable. Consider goals regarding your weight, body fat percentage, inches, training frequency, cardio frequency, or macros.
..time to lean out & say hello to some abs again..
I am going to Hawaii soon for a relaxing vacation on the beach, which means plenty of bikini time. Two months ago I wrote personal goals for myself, starting at my maintenance weight of 124lb.
- I will weigh 121lb by May 21st by strength training 5x/week and doing HIIT 3-4x/week.
- I will weigh <123lb when I return home on May 30th by strength training 4 days and doing HIIT 3 days while on vacation.
- I will maintain weight at 124lb by June 30th by strength training 5x/week and doing HIIT 2x/week.
To further motivate myself, I resolved to reward myself with a new pair of Nikes if I met goal #2. Getting new workout gear is one of my favorite things in the world so I will work extra hard while on vacation so I can get some kicks when I get back. Sweet deal!
Why does my 3-Step Vacation Success plan work? Many people write goals to meet before their vacation, but they skip steps two and three, which help guarantee that you will stay on track during and after vacation as well. This happens all the time in everyday life.
Look at the television show The Biggest Loser. Many of the contestants set short-term goals to lose a certain amount of weight by the end of the show. While it’s awe-inspiring to watch their transformations, what happens when the cameras stop rolling and they go home? Often times they regress and gain the weight back plus more. Why? One reason is because they lost the weight too quickly making it difficult to sustain. A one pound weight loss per week is recommended in order to maintain those results long term. Another reason is they have lost the desire to continue growing as individuals and have settled. They became content with where they were at. When you lose focus of your future potential, you lose track of yourself. Being fit is never a short term goal, it is a long-term commitment.
I challenge you to always have a goal you are working toward. Yes, I mean for the rest of your life. Strive to be better than you were yesterday.
Do you have a vacation coming up this summer? Sit down right now and follow the 3-Step Vacation Success plan. Write your goals and determine the steps you will take to meet them. Prepare your mind and the healthy & fit behaviors will follow.
Let’s review the main points we covered:
- Research fitness activities and restaurants ahead of time
- Check for nutritional menu’s of nearby restaurants
- Plan well so you can pack the perfect snacks and workout attire
- When eating out, make healthy choices most of the time Hydrate well and get enough sleep when traveling
- No matter where you are, you can workout Stay on track with your goals, even while traveling
Have any nutrition questions or desire to begin a Flexible dieting coaching program? Learn more about our services here.
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1. Patel, S.R., Malhotra, A. White, D.P., Gottlieb, D.J., Hu, F.B. (2006). Association between reduced sleep and weight gain in women. American Journal fo Epidemiology, 164(10):947-954.
Some excellent advice and great colorful infographic for staying healthy and fit when traveling! I recently traveled to India, watched what I ate, mostly veg and drank plenty of water and walked walked walked! No Delhi Belli or any other issues at all during our travels. Found your post on Pinterest! 🙂
Robert, thanks for reading it! Glad it was helpful!