Health & Travel: Tips to Feel Your Best
Travelling, whether it’s for vacation or a work trip, typically throws us off of our usual routine. Staying in a hotel may mean no kitchen to prepare healthy foods, leaving you to resort to eating out more often. Busy days and things to see may mean that your usual workout is going to be replaced by another activity. This can cause some stress and frustrations, and leave you feeling less than ideal while you’re away from home.
Trust me, I have been there! Staying in a very small town in Mexico recently, I experienced some challenges eating the diet I feel best on. There were no major grocery stores, only a local Mercado that closed at 3 pm every day and was a 25 minute walk from our Airbnb. We did not have a kitchen, not even a mini-fridge. Being someone who likes to follow a primarily plant-based diet, vegetarian food was quite hard to come by, and if it was available it was often lacking in protein. Ordering at restaurants was challenging, given it was in a different language (Spanish) and the waiters didn’t always understand my questions or requests. However, I learned some new lessons about staying healthy while travelling, and made the best out of my options.
Don’t get wrong, travelling should be fun and enjoyable, and a well-deserved break from our usual daily life. But that doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t make our health a priority while travelling. Finding the balance between enjoying new foods and experiences on a trip, while still maintaining activity and a nutritious diet, can allow us to feel our best. I’ve learned over the years that it does take some extra work to maintain that balance, but it is worth it! When we feel our best, we feel more energized, and we actually get the most out of our trip. Better yet, we return home feeling refreshed and renewed.
It can be a little challenging to find that balance, but it is certainly attainable with a little planning. Here are my top strategies when travelling:
1. Make keeping active easy
Before I leave, I think about what options are available. Does the hotel have a gym or is there one in the neighborhood? I always come prepared with my yoga mat, resistance bands & downloaded playlists in case there’s no gym nearby & I want to work out in my hotel (or Airbnb) room.
I always pack my runners too, because running on vacation is always my favorite way to explore! However, if the neighborhood seems unsafe to run around in, I find a park nearby and run laps, or do some stair or hill sprints for a good sweat.
2. Packing / choose better snacks
When walking around, I find that fresh fruit & chopped veggies are usually easy to find and make a good fiber-rich snack. Unsalted peanuts or nuts are also easy to find at most convenience stores. Paired together, nuts & veggies / fruit have some protein, fiber to help satisfy your appetite and keep you sustained while on the go (ex. if you’re walking around, going to meetings, etc.) until you have a chance to sit down to a meal.
I also pack in my suitcase (or pick up at a local store) key snacks like almonds, pumpkin seeds, dried fruit, low sugar protein bars & rice cakes to always have on hand (aka in my purse or backpack) when hunger strikes.
During my recent trip to Mexico, I bought fresh vegetables (like jicama, carrots, peppers, cucumber) at the local market each morning. Some-times they were pre-chopped, but for the times they weren’t I also purchased a small cutting board and chopped them up for snacks in the afternoon!
3. Build activity into the day
The gym doesn’t have to be the only source of activity. I love travelling because I usually get to mix up my fitness routine and that’s a good thing! Our body likes variety and it’s a chance to use some new muscles which usually feels pretty good. Plan a hike, explore the local area by foot, walk the beach for sunrise, go for a swim, etc.
4. Make better restaurant choices
I want to note that vacation and travelling in a new place is the BEST time to try new foods, and that should be something you can take pleasure in and not feel guilty about. But there’s a point to finding balance though, and if you are eating out several meals in a week, then it’s a good idea to choose the healthier options more often.
It will be a bit more challenging to eat healthy when you can’t prepare your own food, but it is still possible. When dining out, I have no fear in asking for modifications at restaurants. Yes, I am that person! Don’t be afraid to ask for the dressing on the side, an extra serving of vegetables, lemon instead of butter, substitute salad for fries, etc.
5. Relax and Enjoy
Holidays & travel are a time to give your body some rest. If you train on a regular basis, don’t sweat it if you take a few days off the “gym” or enjoy some treat foods on your trip, it will likely do you good.
If you try any of these tips, or have more you want to share, please comment below.