Whether or not you follow a healthy lifestyle at home, traveling can throw a wrench in whatever routine you had going on. When we’re home, we try to follow the 80/20 lifestyle – healthy eats and alcohol-free 80% of the time and head to the gym (or for a hike) most days of the week.
But, as soon as we head to the airport the overpriced snacks and glasses of wine come into view and it can be downhill from there. Over the years, between travel for business and pleasure, we’ve figured out ways to make our trips a bit healthier (while still always enjoying the delicious food our destination has to offer!).
Researching the best restaurants to head to while you’re exploring a new city or country? Check out some menus. Most of the time there are healthy options but you’ll want to be prepared that if there’s not, you balance out your day with a healthier breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Is there a place nearby to grab a smoothie or green juice to get you some nutrients you might be missing out on? Knowing these things beforehand can help stop you from picking up a bag of chips or other unhealthy option while you’re exploring.
I also tend to make worse decisions when I find myself hungry with no healthy snacks on hand – at that point, anything goes and something unhealthy usually sounds like the best idea. In order to try and combat this as much as possible, I buy bars and snacks that are easy to travel with, can fill that sweet or savory craving, and help me avoid making poor decisions during our trips. Some of my go to snacks are:
Quest Bars – my favorites are Cookie Dough or Cookies & Cream but there are plenty of flavors to choose from!
190 calories – 1g sugar – 21g protein – 21g carbs – 280mg sodium (for cookies & cream flavor)
Luna Bars – lately I’ve been craving the chocolate dipped coconut, but again, plenty of flavors to choose from. They aren’t as healthy as quest bars but I find them to be a nice, sweet snack.
200 calories – 8g sugar – 8g protein – 24g carbs – 190mg sodium (for chocolate dipped coconut flavor)
Larabars – another bar alternative, these basically only contain fruit and nuts, which also means their sugar content is a bit higher. They also sell some varieties in “mini” size which is a nice alternative if you’re just looking for a couple of bites. They have everything from lemon or key lime pie to chocolate peanut butter – I find most I’ve tried to be delicious!
190 calories – 18g sugar – 4g protein – 24g carbs – 4mg sodium (for Apple Pie flavor)
Trader Joe’s Organic Fruit Wraps – sometimes you don’t want or need a bar and just need a little bit of sugar and something sweet. In comes Trader Joe’s Organic Fruit Wraps. Small, so you could bring 20 with you and not make a dent in your suitcase, and gives you that sugar boost you might be needing after a long day (or night)!
50 calories – 11g sugar – 0g protein – 12g carbs – 0mg sodium (apple strawberry flavor)
Raw Almonds – or…any raw nuts or combination. Even salted, they still make a better snack than many other options! Trader Joe’s has a good selection of individual serving size packs of nuts, and grocery stores have 100 calorie packs as well.
100 calories – 1g sugar – 4g protein – 4g carbs – 0mg sodium (Emerald 100-calorie pack raw almonds)
Run out of time to pick any of these up before you leave? Wherever you’re going there’s probably a grocery store that carries these items, or items like them, or worse to worst, an expensive airport or hotel store.
You’ve Arrived. Remember to Make Healthy Choices.
Sounds easy, right? Or, maybe it doesn’t. Before you think I’m going to tell you to eat a salad for every meal, I’m not. Eat your empanadas in Buenos Aires, your pasta in Florence, your curry in Ko Phi Phi. I did. And I would again. But, in the middle of all of that goodness, you can still make some healthy choices.
- Drink water. This really starts on the airplane, maybe even before you get on the airplane. But once you start flying – hydrate! Yes, the free alcohol you might get in first class or on an international flight might entice you – and I’m not saying don’t have a glass of wine – but don’t forget to drink lots of water. Especially if you’re flying to a higher altitude.
- Order a salad! Okay, I said it. But after a couple of days of eating whatever your heart desires you might start craving one – so order it!
- Get a healthy start. Yes, brunch is amazing. But, you don’t have to load up on buffets and french toast every single day you’re on your trip. Switch things up and have eggs, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, maybe even a couple of slices of bacon (my weakness!). You’ll still be having a yummy breakfast without starting the day stuffing yourself.
- Mix and match. Are you on a couples trip? With a group? Order a variety of plates that are a mix of healthy and not-so-much so you can get a taste for everything without having to commit to eating an entire serving of whatever fried, cream filled, or salty dish you want to order.
- Watch the alcohol. I’m not saying don’t drink. But, just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you need to have a cocktail in your hand every minute of the day. And, it doesn’t mean you have to have a fruity cocktail full of a week’s worth of sugar at every meal. Enjoy yourself, but remember choosing red wine or a vodka soda is usually a better choice than that frozen strawberry daiquiri.
Okay, so you’re eating healthy. Or maybe you’re not. Either way – get moving!
- Have a quick workout at your hotel gym. Not every hotel gym is created equal and this may not be the route for you, but it can be the easiest and quickest way to burn some calories during your trip.
- Check out local gym or yoga classes. Immerse yourself in the city, country, culture you’re visiting and try a class. You get culture and calorie-burning at the same time!
- Go for a hike – we’ve hiked volcanoes, mountains, through jungles and rainforests, in the country and right outside large cities.
- Paddleboard. Kayak. Swim. Vacationing on the water? Get in and move around!
- Rent a bike. Whether you’re in the city or country, renting a bike is probably an option and a healthy, cheap way to get around town or enjoy an afternoon riding around whatever park, island, or city you’re visiting.
- Take the stairs. It’s a small change, and I don’t take the stairs when I’m staying on the 10th floor of a hotel, but more and more we see elevators, escalators, and moving sidewalks. Just take the stairs.
- Walk! A no brainer. Of course you’re walking. In larger cities it’s becoming easier and easier to hop in an Uber. In smaller towns there is usually some version of taxi transportation available as well. It’s easy to throw a few bucks at them and hop in. You’re on vacation after all. Instead of that being your first inclination, walk a mile, or two.
At the end of the day, a long weekend, even a couple of weeks, of unhealthy eating and less activity shouldn’t kill you – but, it’s important to get right back on the health-train when you get back home. Get back in your routine the first day back – head to the gym, buy your healthy groceries, and you’ll be back to your normal self in no time!
What do you do to stay healthy while traveling?