Calories on vacation don't count, right? We all wish! I often come back from a trip and realize that I have worked out zero times. I am completely out of shape, may have put on a few pounds, and my stomach is constantly unhappy. Being constantly bloated, constipated for 3-4 days, and suffering from daily heart burn is something we all put up with. Especially when we are exploring a new place. I have news for you: it DOESN'T have to be this way! Fit travel is a thing!
I have found a "recipe" (pun intended) for fit travel which can help you return home feeling all refreshed! These 10 easy steps will keep you healthy and help with your goal of fit travel so that you won't have to go on an intense cleanse as soon as you get back home.
Eating Healthy While Traveling
I am sure you have heard that keeping up a healthy lifestyle is a result of 80% diet and 20% working out. Eating healthy is the first and most important step for fit travel and staying healthy. Don't get me wrong, I truly believe that exploring a new culture has a lot to do with trying local food. And there is nothing better than going to a local restaurant to try every item on the menu that you haven't heard of before. There are ways to do both - explore the local food culture and eat clean and healthy! This is how.
Avoid Foods That Make You Sick
This seems like a very easy task but what exactly are foods that make us sick? Generally speaking, highly processed foods like prepared frozen meals, fried foods, bread, pasta, and sugars are not going to help you stay healthy. Actually they increase inflammation in your body. Inflammation is something our healthy bodies can fight on a daily basis and it doesn't seem like a big deal. However, when we travel, we expose ourselves to new environments, new climates, new bacteria and viruses. These are all things our bodies don't know yet and need to adjust to. All of this takes up a lot of energy. If we can take away the need for our bodies to fight constant inflammation, this frees up energy for our immune system to fight off the new bacteria and viruses.
A first great step to decrease inflammation is sticking to whole foods which are not processed. For instance, think of grilled vs. fried proteins, raw or steamed vegetables, and whole grains (rice instead of pasta). This doesn't mean you can't indulge every once in a while. As a general rule, I try to eat 80% whole foods and leave some wiggle room for a cheat meal. The odd cheat meal could be fresh churros, hand-made Italian pasta, or anything you might crave.
Know Your Food Intolerances
This point goes hand in hand with the first point. You know you shouldn't eat something that makes you sick. But what does this include? Not everything which is deemed to be healthy in today's society is good for you personally. Everybody is different and there are some foods that can cause inflammation in your body but other people have no issues with them. Knowing your food intolerances is key for fit travel. But how do you know which foods cause increased inflammation for you? There are two ways to find out:
a) Go on a fast and slowly re-introduce foods one by one to see how your body reacts to them.
b) The easier version is to get tested for food intolerances!
I have been struggling with constant bloating for years and years. I even thought it was normal to go 1-2 pant sizes up after eating. Trust me, it is not normal! I wanted to put this struggle to an end and got tested for food intolerances with Haven in Chicago.
I received a complimentary consultation from Haven in exchange for sharing my experience with you. As always, all my opinions are my own.
They provide a holistic approach to health and believe that our bodies can heal themselves if we feed them right. Personally, I believe that "you are what you eat" and so their ideas completely aligned with mine. I scheduled an appointment, filled out the questionnaire, and did the test to see what causes my body to be inflamed. I WAS SHOCKED when I saw my results!
The test results revealed that I am intolerant to dairy (which I had already suspected), seafood, soy, and need to avoid the combination of fruit + sugar. Wait, what - no seafood?? I have loved eating seafood for as long as I can remember. In addition, I have been taking fish based Omega 3 oil capsules daily for my skin. All of the sudden it all made sense! If I am intolerant to seafood and eat seafood on a daily basis (in this case fish oil with my morning coffee), of course I'm always bloated! I received a complete 4-week nutrition plan from Haven in which they specified my intolerances, educated me on general food misconceptions, and created a plan to get my body back on track by avoiding certain foods.
After the first 3 weeks of avoiding my intolerances, I began noticing improvements in my body and less inflammation. The best part is I have been way less bloated and have more energy. While travelling, I focus on avoiding my main food intolerances so that I can keep up my energy levels.
Snack Smarter - Pack Your Own Snacks For Fit Travel
Arguably one of the best parts of being on a road trip is the snacking! Just make sure you make it a smart snack. Instead of picking up unhealthy chips or candy at the gas station, head to a grocery store and pick up some larger packages of whole nuts, vegetables, or fresh fruit which you can munch on. Divide them up in several portions so that you have a snack handy at all times and don't need to stop at a convenience store when hunger strikes the next time.
Read Nutritional Information and Ingredients
This is not the most attractive point but so important for fit travel! Always read labels and menus and figure out what is in your meal. Oftentimes, there are hidden calories in your meals in the form of sauces, dressings, as well as other toppings you can potentially substitute or leave out completely. Restaurants in North America might even have nutritional information on their dishes which makes it easier for you to make the best choices.
I was recently shopping for store-bought pesto. Pesto is a delicious Italian sauce made out of basil, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and pine nuts. I read all the pesto labels and could not believe the ingredients. Almost every store-bought pesto contains canola oil, often doesn't include real cheese, contains fillers like potatoes or quinoa to lower production cost, and is full of chemicals and preservatives.
When traveling, getting nutritional information on food might not be quite as easy but most restaurants offer an English menu so you know what each dish is made of. If there is no English menu available, I recommend using google translate to help. You can download the app (Apple version and Android version) and use the "camera" feature to aim at text and have it translated. This tool has helped me greatly navigate the food scene in Southeast Asia to be extra sure I wasn't eating any seafood.
Drink Enough Water
Surprisingly, drinking enough water is much harder than it seems, especially when traveling. The easiest way to go about this is bringing your own water bottle. You can fill it before you leave the hotel in the morning and whenever you find a good water source on the road. If your hotel doesn't have any filtered water in the lobby, check out the gym, as you can often find filtered water there.
When you're flying, make sure you empty your bottle before going through security (you can bring an empty bottle but they will make you toss the water if it's full). You can refill the bottle before boarding the plane so that you can hydrate during the flight.
Fit Travel - Tips For Fitness On The Go
Healthy eating is one of the most important points for fit travel but that doesn't mean we should ignore the fitness portion. There are a few things you can do every day while you're away from home which won't impact the amount of fun you have while on vacation.
Walk More - Drive Less
This works especially well if you're on a city trip. Instead of driving, taking a cab, or public transport, think about the option to walk. It might not be as fast but you get to explore new areas and parts of the city you wouldn't have seen otherwise and will burn some extra calories on the side.
Rent a Bike
If walking is too much and your feet are sore, consider renting a bike! Most larger cities across the world offer bike sharing services. With those services, you can rent a bike for an hour or two or even the whole day. Biking is my favorite fit travel tip and my favorite way to explore a new city. It's quick and easy, and involves some exercise. Plus, you don't have to worry about parking meters, public transport schedules, or a cab ripping you off.
Do Stretching Exercises
If you're already stretching on a daily basis at home - congrats! If not, it is super easy to pick it up and you will feel more limber and agile. Your hotel room might have a carpet which makes it easy to do stretches right there. Otherwise, the hotel gym usually has yoga mats you can use. You can find some simple stretching exercises here or check out my post about stretching when you're on a plane.
Take Advantage of the Hotel Pool or Gym
A lot of hotels are aware of the desire for fit travel and almost all of them have a gym and/or a pool. Now working out on vacation doesn't have to be as daunting as it sounds. You can get up 30 minutes earlier and head to the gym for a quick run or to do a few weight exercises. If you're staying at a tropical resort, there is nothing better than going to the pool first thing in the morning. Mornings are the perfect time to swim a couple of laps or take a short run along the beach. You may even have the pool completely to yourself! If you are the kind of person who likes to work out in groups, inquire about fitness classes. It could surprise you how many hotel resorts offer yoga and other fitness classes.
Sleep 8 Hours
Sleep is still one of the most important things, even if we like to de-prioritize it, which I am definitely guilty of. While we sleep, our muscles have time to recover, our brains work through everything that happened that day, and our cells regenerate. Sleep also helps reduce food cravings which you would experience as a way to compensate for the lack of energy. Regardless of how busy your travel schedule is, try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Fit travel doesn't necessarily mean sleeping throughout your vacation though. If you are anything like me and like to travel fast, make sure to schedule a few relaxing days to catch up on sleep or schedule naps. This becomes even more important as you cross time zones and confuse your body's circadian rhythm. You will feel like a new person.
I hope these 10 fit travel tips help you stay fit and healthy on your next trip! What are your secrets to staying healthy when traveling? Let me know in the comments below!
Save this post to your health, fitness, and travel Pinterest board for when you plan your next vacation!
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