By: Leah Golden, MS, RD
Traveling in the coming months or weeks? As Summer travel begins, feelings of excitement, joy and potentially some anxiety may ensue as you break from your normal routine to experience new adventures, culture and food. If you’ve been working hard towards goals that involve healthy eating, exercise and general healthy habits, it’s essential that you prepare before your departure.
Whether you’re planning to Island hop through Greece (like I just did!) or travel for work, knowing what to expect at your destination will be key. New places and cultures are a part of experiencing life, growth and joy. Strive for balance with eating, exercise, and sleep. Remember, enjoy the ride!
As you prepare for your next great adventure, I’d like you to keep these tips in mind.
Plan Ahead, The Best is Yet to Come!
Pre-travel preparation is essential before you walk into the airport and go through the security check. Planning ahead comes in many different forms, as there are many ways to be ahead of the game and ready for what lies ahead.
- Research Accommodations with a Kitchen- Look for accommodations that have the kitchen basics; refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and stove/hot plate. This will allow you to cook with local ingredients and make some of your meals. This will save money and give you more control over what ingredients you are consuming. The meals don’t need to be complicated, but this will allow more flexibility.
- Research Restaurants, Cafes, Grocery Stores and Local Farmers Markets- It’s fun to check out new food and local restaurants, so explore the area before you head off on your adventure. Check out the menu, types of grocery stores and local farmers markets. It’s great to stock up on a few essentials; yogurts, fruit, pre-cut veggies and mixed nuts. Try new local vegetables, fruits and foods like durian fruit or black pudding (google them)!
- Prioritize your Euros and Pack Snacks – Stock up on some non-perishable snacks that you can take on the airplane. Fantastic on-the-go snacks will help you stay on track with healthy eating and not waiting too long between meals. Bring along protein bars, individual serving mixed nuts, dried fruit (no sugar added), dried chickpeas, nut butter packets and freeze-dried veggies and/or fruit. It’s great to have some of these snacks in your day bag and in the hotel. This will be very helpful during the day and will keep you exploring, moving and less stressed.
Vacation is a time to enjoy yourself and explore new places, food and culture. Enjoy foods within reason; try one new dessert or meal of your choosing or share a couple dishes with friends throughout your trip (but not every meal!). What a great way to try new foods, treat yourself and experience the excitement of new places while maintaining a healthy plan and keeping your portions under control.
Break the Fast with a Healthy Breakfast
Breakfast is a fantastic meal to eat in your hotel room or Airbnb. It can be simple to put together, healthy, satisfying and help fuel the adventures ahead. Surfing or snorkeling perhaps?! You’ll save money in the process and have more dollars to toss around. Either purchase items at the store when you arrive at your destination or pack some along in your bag. These foods may include:
- instant oatmeal
- low-fat granola +mixed nuts + fruit
- nut butter packets
- dried beans (these are great, if you haven’t tried them)
Put that Fork down, it’s not Thanksgiving!
Going on work travel and especially vacation is not an excuse to gorge yourself silly and throw your healthy eating habits out the window. You will feel great and accomplished by maintaining some of your routine while you are away. It will also be much easier to get back to your schedule when you return.
Many foods will be eaten on-the-go at restaurants and fast food pit stops.
If you don’t have time to plan ahead and research where you can pick up food, order meals that fill at least half your plate with veggies. Chew your food, take your time eating and follow your satiety cues so that you put that fork down when you’re 80% full. Get the rest to go and save for later.
Water is Life!
Drinking fluids and staying well hydrated is very important during travel and for general health. You should aim for approximately 2.7 liters for women and 3.7 liters for men a day. Your exact number will vary from person to person. It’s especially important to stay hydrated while you commute in the air, as the humidity is around 10-20%, while we function best at 50% humidity.
During vacation I’d recommend bringing a reusable water bottle to refill during your flight and at your destination. This will remind you to keep drinking water. Set up an app on your phone that reminds you to drink water or set an alarm and drink up! Remember, water comes in many forms, so shake it up if plain water isn’t your go-to. Fresh veggies and fruit are full of water (like watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc) and grab a sparkling water or coconut water to hydrate as well.
Be the Leader of the Pack
Set yourself up for success and try getting your group on-board with healthy eating and exercise. Sometimes it takes one person to express the importance of healthy eating and exercise and the rest may follow. Travel for many can be a time to let eating and exercise habits go and throw hard work out the window, but not for you 😉. Suggest an AM workout (best to do this in the morning before activities) and going to the grocery store to pick up the essentials. People may simply need a little kick in the butt! However, if your group isn’t on board, stick to your own plan and make the best choices you can.
Time spent walking through a new city can be wonderful and exciting. Exploring the neighborhoods, cafes, stores, waterfronts, and beautiful buildings will expand your mind and keep your heart pumping and muscles engaged. I’ve found walking through the streets in Europe were one of the best parts of my vacation. You’ll likely find hidden gems, cool restaurants and unique parts of a city on foot and will rack up the steps in the process.