Healthy Travel: 10 Tips to Stay Fit on Vacation
It’s so easy to get lost in the beauty of travel but it doesn’t have to destroy your fit and healthy living lifestyle! With summer quickly approaching and more and more people heading out on vacation, it seems like an appropriate time to talk about how to stay healthy and fit while traveling.
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Staying Fit on Vacation
Isn’t it ironic that summer is the time when we want to feel healthy and fit to be the most confident in our bikinis and tank tops, but it’s also when we tend to go on vacation with an abundance of unhealthy food, drinks, and other factors threatening to “undo” all our hard work and derail our healthy living goals?
You Can Have Both!
It’s not fair, but you CAN enjoy your vacation without letting your health deteriorate or fitness
After spending 10 glorious days in Amsterdam and Paris on vacation with just my husband (thanks mom for watching the kids!), I put together 10 healthy travel tips to help you stay fit while on vacation or traveling for work.
Healthy Travel Tips to Stay Fit While on Vacation
1. Drink Lots of Water
Drink as much water as you can. Drink lots of water on the plane, a glass upon waking, with every meal, whenever you’re in your hotel room or Air BNB, and before going to bed.
Avoid the temptation to drink alcoholic beverages on the airplane (or limit it to just one) so avoid getting dehydrated from the get-go. Instead, drink plenty of water (which may also keep you from overdoing it on the airplane snack bar offered on extra long or overnight flights!)
2. Walk As Much as Possible
Make sure you have some cute and comfortable shoes for sightseeing. We wore our FitBits and averaged about 10 miles a day just wandering around the city, even in the rain! It’s a great way to see the city, stumble upon new cafes, and burn a lot of calories through non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
3. Eat whatever you want (but only until 80% full)
Yep, that’s my spiced lamb meat pizza in Amsterdam! I actually ordered a chicken breast with salad then ate one slice of this pizza and a few fries. I still got a lot of nutrients without feeling deprived of the good stuff!
It’s vacation, so relax and have fun. Indulge in the local delicacies (in moderation), try foods you couldn’t otherwise have at home, and enjoy the pleasure of it. Savor a few bites (the first 3-5 bites are usually the best anyway) then move on.
If you have a long flight to get there, pre-order your airplane meal (if available). The standard meals are often very heavy with fatty meats or lots of cheese or sandwiches with little protein. I usually order the diabetic meal because it contains more lean protein, complex carbohydrates, a salad, and usually a cute little low-sugar cookie. And having just that little something sweet may help you decline the heavy dessert offerings.
4. Balance it out with lean protein and vegetables
Focus on lean protein and veggies at meals to balance out the extra carbs and fat from wine and other indulgences. I added Vital Proteins collagen peptides to my morning coffee to start the day with an extra 10 grams of protein.
Easy ways to get more protein:
- Collagen peptides added to your morning coffee (I like Vital Proteins)
- Protein powder – shake up in a shaker bottle or add to some oatmeal for breakfast (I like Legion Athletics and PEScience)
- Protein bars – keep with you for an on-the-go eat-anywhere snack, just watch the sugar and carb content.
- Packets of tuna (like this variety 4-pack on Amazon) that don’t require draining. Tuna is super high in protein, but it’s also moderately high in mercury, which is why the little 2 oz. no-drain packets are the perfect serving size to beef up a salad. While it’s a great protein source, it’s also very smelly. So please be considerate of fellow travelers and don’t eat it in enclosed spaces like planes or trains unless you want to be the target of some nasty stares!
5. Exercise when you can
Pack resistance bands for do-anywhere workouts and exercise when you can, but don’t feel bad if a structured workout doesn’t happen every day.
I wasn’t sure how exercise would go, so to be prepared, I packed a Spri resistance band, Limm resistance loops, and a hip band and was armed with a few resistance band workouts and no-equipment workouts to do in the room, a resistance band workout I shared on Instagram, and the glute/booty circuit in my Lean Fit 1.0 guide.
No equipment workouts
15-Minute Park Bench Workout to do before/after a jog in the park
Or this resistance band shoulder workout I shared on Instagram
6. Drop into a class or local gym
I know this sounds intimidating (I even took a class in French and I DON’T speak French!), but it’s always a highlight of my trips. It’s a great way to meet some people and get good local recommendations. It’s probably my favorite healthy travel tip because it provides a fun, new, and different kind of activity than just museums and restaurants.
Don’t see any gyms or fitness studios? Check out ClassPass or MindBody to what’s available nearby for some very affordable classes.
By the way, if you haven’t tried ClassPass, it’s a great way to try boutique studio classes at a huge discount from the outrageously overpriced drop-in rates! And you can get $30 off any ClassPass plan (that’s about 3-4 free classes!) with this link!
You can also check Air BNB Experiences for experiences that mix fitness and sightseeing. Last year we did a running tour through Florence, Italy and this year we did a walking/food tasting tour in Amsterdam. And almost every city offers some kind of interesting yoga session! (yoga on the beach, yoga and wine or chocolate tasting, yoga under the Eiffel Tower, etc. It’s a great way to get out, stay active, and learn about your vacation destination in a unique way..
Sleeping is one of the most important things you can do on vacation. And isn’t slowing down, relaxing, and re-energizing the entire point of vacation anyway? Especially after crossing time zones and lugging bags around all day, listen to your body and get some rest.
Try to get at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep to aid in physical recovery from walking around all day, reduce inflammation, and positively affect the hormones that control appetite and satiety.
8. Intermittent Fasting
Don’t feel like you MUST eat breakfast right after you wake up. If fact, skipping breakfast may help you keep your daily caloric intake under control despite more indulgeces. I’m not really into strict intermittent fasting, but I also don’t believe people should feel obligated to eat breakfast just because we grew up believing it’s “the most important meal of the day.”
Allowing your gut at least 12-16 hours of fasted rest has been proven to reduce inflammation. It can also naturally increase levels of human growth hormone (important for metabolism, fat loss, and muscle strength) while also improving blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar control.
The important thing is to make sure you don’t get so ravenous that you binge when you do break your fast! Continue to focus on balanced and healthy meals but don’t sweat the chocolate croissant or crepe if that’s what you really want.
9. Make some of your own meals
More than likely, you’ll eat out for lunch and dinner while on vacation, so if you choose to eat breakfast, make it healthy. Most hotel continental breakfasts are full of sugary items like cereal and orange juice with little protein. Pack healthy breakfast foods or visit a local grocery store to stock up on easy and healthy breakfast foods you can make in your room:
- Pack plain dry oats to make overnight oats.
- Make instant oatmeal with hot water from a coffee machine (and mix with 1/3-1/2 scoop of protein powder (like Legion Athletics Whey+ in French Vanilla with a dash of cinnamon) for some flavor and protein –> my favorite!). Or try an instant oatmeal with extra protein like Quaker Select Starts or Kodiac Cakes Instant Protein Oatmeal.
- Buy fruit and pre-cooked hardboiled eggs from the grocery or convenience store.
- Protein bars or protein shakes (PEScience makes handy little 1/2 serving packets or a small 5-serving back perfect to take on vacation)
Or choose an AirBNB apartment with a kitchen or kitchenette. Having access to a blender for smoothies or a stove to cook your own healthy meals will also help save you money on eating out at restaurants for every single meal. Pro tip: take a cooking class (so much fun!), and then put those new skills to good use!
10. Take your vitamins and don’t get sick!
Eating healthy and balanced meals are defointely harder while traveling. So make sure you’re getting all of your essential vitamins and minerals by taking your daily multivitamin. My favorite is Best Nest Wellness Women’s Multi+ because it contains methylated B vitamins (especially important for anyone with the common MTHFR gene defect).
You’ve been looking forward to this vacation for so long (and probably shelled out a pretty penny to pay for it), so don’t get sick!
Wipe down your airplane seat and tray with a travel size package of disinfecting wipes, wash your hands frequently, and use hand sanitizer when out in public. You may also want to take probiotics or Vitamin C tablets boost your immune system and ward off illness.