There is a 99% chance that when family or friends get back from a big trip they lament over how much weight they gained. Staying healthy while travelling is something I have always focused on. Coming back from an incredible trip and feeling tired and lethargic is the last thing I want to deal with.
Being well-traveled does not have to equal being overweight or unhealthy! If you want to stay in shape and possibly even lose weight while traveling, this is the post for you! I’ve come up with a list of 10 healthy travel tips that I have put to use over the years.
Staying healthy while travelling - Take the Active Route
1. take the stairs
With tourism on the rise many cities are making sights more accessible (elevators, escalators, funiculars, etc.). Skip the funicular and climb the 300 steps to get to the base of the Sacré-Cœur basilica in Paris. That decision just burned about 375 calories!
Want to see spectacular views at the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral? Get that heart rate up and take on the 528 stairs to get to the top and burn about 650 calories.
Use that fitness focused mentality at your hotel. I try to book my rooms on the 3rd or 4th floor so I can take the stairs instead of the elevator. Staying fit while travelling is a breeze when you're taking the stairs to your room multiple times a day. It honestly ends up being a mini workout.
2. Walk and Bike
Walking and biking around town is a fun way to not only explore the city you're visiting, but a sure way of staying fit while travelling. I know it may seem obvious, but this seems to be the first practice tourists throw out the window in favor of Ubers, taxis, and metros. Especially if you chose fashion over comfort and didn’t bring the right shoes.
Many of us come from cities where we drive our car everywhere. When we see a 25-30 minute walk on Google Maps, many of us don’t even consider making the trek. If you pick up your pace that 25 minute walk can easily take less than 20 minutes.
What’s great about many tourist cities is that you will get great views, people watching, etc. when you walk. Look on the map and see if you can walk along the river or down a popular promenade to get to your destination. You can burn around 150 calories by walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes.
If your destination offers a bike share program or your hotel includes bikes, take advantage! Many times it was quicker for us to bike than to take public transportation or Uber. If you aren't comfortable biking around a city, book a bike tour. These tours cater to all levels of bikers and typically choose bike friendly routes. A great way to get your feet wet and ready to start biking all over town. A 20 minute bike ride at a moderate pace will burn around 150 calories.
Chances are you will be at your destination before you know it with all the things to look at on the way. Besides staying healthy while travelling, another benefit to walking and biking is you'll get a much better sense of the city layout vs. being underground on the metro and zipping around in a taxi.
3. Get Your Morning Workout In
We all have the best intentions of squeezing in a workout later in the day in order to stay fit while travelling. Let’s be honest and admit that rarely happens while on vacation. Wake up a little earlier and get your morning workout in first thing.
Morning jogs are actually one of my favorite things to do while traveling. In fact, I often snap some of my best photos on my phone during my morning runs as there are minimal crowds and the lighting is ideal.
I even put my workout days on my itinerary and plan ahead where I’m going to jog or what my workout will be. This healthy travel habit helps me commit to my routine by seeing it on paper before I even leave for the trip.
Tips for How to Eat Healthy While Traveling
4. Replace A Few Meals With A Green Juice
One of my easiest healthy travel tips is to pack powdered greens. I replace a few afternoon meals with a green juice and give my body a break from digesting heavy meals. If you're in a city that has a juice spot, even better. Choosing a juice over a meal not only is healthier and will leave you feeling lighter but can also be enjoyed on the run while dashing to your next destination.
5. Food Markets and Farmer's Markets
How to eat healthy while traveling...it's a legitimate question when there are so many things to try. In comes the food market. It’s a perfect way to sample a number of different dishes without having to commit to a full portion. Prices are typically low and it’s also a great stop if you want to buy ingredients for a healthy picnic when the weather is nice.
6. Assume You Will Visit Again
One piece of advice I give for travel in general is to assume that you will be back. Trying to pack in every single sight and eating every single dish in one visit is daunting. Assume you will be back and fit in what you can without being rushed or taking time to slow down and enjoy your surroundings (or overwhelming your taste buds).
My husband, Jake, is the type of traveler that wants to try every popular food item whether we are in a city for 1 day or 7. I have to constantly remind him that our trip should not be based on trying every dish but instead enjoying the city and that it’s not the end of the world if we don’t taste every flavor of croquettes before we leave Spain.
7. Every Other Day Rule
If you have food sensitivities you may be wondering how to eat healthy while travelling AND how to deal with your specialty diet. I have my homeopathic doctor to thank for this healthy travel tip. Dealing with autoimmune, I am often on a restricted diet (gluten playing a huge part).
When I first started learning how much better I felt taking gluten out of my diet I balked at the idea of visiting England and not eating scones or missing out on fresh pasta in Italy. When I brought this up to my doctor she gave me the “every other day rule” to follow.
If you follow a specific diet when at home whether that be limited gluten, no dairy, no alcohol, etc., don’t feel like you have to completely miss out when traveling. If you want to have fresh pasta in Italy just make sure you don’t have gluten the next day. This way of thinking also helps to not waste your “cheat meals”.
I typically won’t gorge on the free bread at dinner because I know I’m planning to eat glutenous pasta the next day. You’ll think twice before drinking the free mimosa that comes with your hotel breakfast in anticipation for a high-quality wine with dinner. You get the drift…..everything in moderation.
*Obviously this is not for people with severe food restrictions. You know your body. I know I can have gluten every now and then and be fine...so the every other day rule works for me. It also works for people that elimate food groups just to stay healthy and fit.
8. Share or Make the Appetizer Your Meal
This tip is not only a great way of staying healthy while travelling, but it will also help your wallet. It's easy in theory, but oh, when we sit down at the table and look at all the items on the menu, it's all to easy to throw this practice out the window.
Reign in your cravings and start ordering modestly. If you’re in Italy, make the primi (small first course) your meal. Order an appetizer or two and share a main dish If you’re with a friend.
You can ALWAYS order more if you are still truly hungry. Chances are you will realize you ordered just the right amount and will be happy you don’t feel uncomfortably stuffed...and have extra cash to spend on clothes or souvenirs.
9. Skip the Airplane Meals and Eat Light on Travel Days
The food in airports, train stations, and on the plane doesn't hold a candle to what you're about to eat at your final destination.
Skip these meals and plan ahead. For long flights I usually pack several tea bags (a detox herbal) to stay hydrated, some powdered greens, and maybe a snack bar. Not only does this keep me from feeling bloated in-flight with the salt laden airplane food, but takes the guilt factor out when my first stop in Paris is for a latte and chocolate croissant.
10. Eat Clean Before and After Your Trip
Before and after any long trip I will typically eat extremely clean. For me that looks like lots of veggies, healthy fats, small amounts of lean protein, and no alcohol. Sometimes I’ll even do a juice cleanse.
Eating this way before the trip gives me great energy levels and I find it also helps me to adjust to the time change. Doing this after the trip helps to reset my body and give it a break from all the food I am not used to eating on a regular basis.
Staying healthy while travelling is no problem when I practice these 10 habits. Keeping these things in mind ensures I have great energy during my travels, assists in adjusting to time zone changes, takes the guilt out of travel eating, and helps me to continue a healthy lifestyle and feel my best even while abroad. Try a few on your next trip and you might even lose weight while traveling...how amazing would that be?