Traveling is so much fun but it brings some hefty challenges too. How many times have you put on weight on a one week vacation only to spend 2 months or more trying to get rid of it?! Once we leave the safety of our own homes we can be faced with an abundance of temptations and what may feel like a lack of healthy options. The trick to bringing home memories and not a muffin top is to plan ahead. As a frequent flyer I’ve compiled a short list of tips to help stay on track while away from home. Some of these are lessons I live by. Others I’ve learned the hard way and hope to spare you the same pit falls.
- Check the airport security rules in advance. The U.S. has their TSA rules for liquids and gels and these apply to food as well. This is easy to work around as you can freeze soups and such so it’s a solid when you go through the checkpoint! If you’re flying internationally, you may have more restrictions against fruits and vegetables, and the rules may allow store-bought packaged items but not home-made items, for example.
- Get a good cooler bag that you can use as a carry-on. This will help keep anything frozen or refrigerated while you’re traveling. It should also work to pack your food for each day if you’re day-tripping on your trip.
- Bring more than you think you’ll need. There is nothing that will sabotage a good plan more reliably than feeling hungry and not having anything good to eat. So don’t let yourself get in that situation. That addictive brain will stray toward the food courts and fast food options the second you feel hungry and are out of good food!
- Consider your food storage and food prep capabilities where you’re staying. A relative’s home will provide very different resources than a hotel, so know if you’ll have a mini fridge and microwave, a full kitchen, or nothing at all.
- Think about what you’ll be able to get at your destination and what will be harder to find. Fruit might be abundant on the tropical island, but beans and rice might be scarce, or vice versa.
- Make a general plan of your meals and write it down. It’s OK if it changes, but it’s essential to have a starting point. Look at the airport directory to see what you can find at the airport. Check out some local restaurants so you’re prepared to suggest one if everyone wants to eat out. Call the restaurant in advance to explain your special requests and ask if they can accommodate you. Most are happy for the challenge!
- Bring some staple spices to help dress up restaurant options. I always travel with my flavored balsamic vinegar because it can transform any boring house salad into a tasty delight. One small bottle of vinegar could get you through at least a week’s worth of meals since you can access some kind of salad or steamed veggies almost anywhere you eat out. Maybe you have a salt-free seasoning you feel just as attached to. Cinnamon can turn plain oats at a hotel breakfast bar into a great option.
- Just do your best. This is not about perfection and there’s no prize for driving yourself batty trying to achieve it. If you should happen to stray from your plan, just move forward with the next right bite. Don’t cast off the whole day as a loss and dig yourself a bigger hole!
Most importantly, don’t use travel as an excuse to throw caution to the wind. I know I sure have. It’s rarely worth it to ‘indulge’ because you end up regretting it afterward!
I’m going to try to view vacations as an opportunity to improve on my new lifestyle habits, not an excuse to abandon them. Walking or running daily is a great way to explore new surroundings. Group exercise classes and adventurous excursions are a fun way to get your heart pumping and mingle with locals. And of course rest and relaxation are really what vacations are all about, so don’t forget to carve that into your days away from home. Planning in advance will make your travel that much more stress-free.