Traveling can oftentimes wreak havoc on our health and fitness goals; after all, we're out of our routine, usually faced with foods and situations we don't have much control over, and our bodies sometimes take a hit as they adjust to all the changes (and lack of vegetables). I've outlined a few of my go-to tips for feeling my best while traveling.
But! Before we get into it, I'd like to start this post with a little disclaimer. Depending on the type of trip I'm taking, I may or may not attempt to "stay on track", and I want you to know that this is completely ok. Some trips deserve full YOLO treatment, like your honeymoon, the once in a lifetime trip to Fiji, that trip to Europe you've been dreaming about and planning for years, etc. And it doesn't have to be a huge trip to warrant YOLO'ing either: maybe just a much needed weekend away with the girls or some low-key time alone with your partner. Whatever it is: I want to be clear that there are times when it's more than ok to let your hair down and not worry about every bite you're eating and when your next workout is going to be.
But, we also have some trips that fall in a time in our lives that we still want to stay focused, maybe we have an important meet or event in the near future, or maybe we just don't want to come home feeling bloated and icky and lethargic. For most of my trips, I sort of balance the two concepts: full blown YOLO and the same way I would eat at home. So, with that in mind, let's get into it!
Before your trip, go pick up some travel friendly options to throw in your purse and suitcase. This will allow you to have some options at the ready for the times when you need a bite but don't want (or can't have) a full restaurant meal. Some of my favorite bars and travel items are Quest bars, Larabars, Quest Chips, and Epic bars and bites. IMO, you can't have too many of these, so stock up and keep a few with you on those outings.
Pro Tip: Look for bars high in protein and low on carbs. Protein helps us feel full and keeps our muscles happy and fed, and we often don't get enough while traveling.
MAKE A GROCERY TRIP
No matter where I'm staying (my parents' or friend's house, in a hotel, an AirBnB, etc), I will always find the nearest Whole Foods or other grocery shop and make a trip as soon as I can after arriving. This allows me to pick up a few things so that I have a little bit more control over some of my intake over the duration of the trip. Some of my go-to buys include:
- Green juice: This helps me get some easy veggies in, but be wary of your labels and sugar bombs disguised as vegetables! Look for low carb, low sugar options (kale & spinach > pineapple & apple).
- Greek yogurt: An easy snack to store, even in a mini-fridge, that delivers a yummy dose of protein.
- Cold cuts: I'll usually pick up some sliced turkey, and depending on where I'm staying will use it to make full blown meals or just a simple turkey & mustard snack.
- 'Buch: I also grab a kombucha because the probiotics help keep my tummy happy while I eat new foods and am off my routine.
- Berries & perishables: Any other nutrient dense snacks I can grab that are easy to store and require little to no prep to eat are also a great addition.
If most of us aren't getting enough water in our day to day life, then none of us are getting enough water when we travel. Plane rides are especially dehyrating and drying, and even though no one likes to be that guy who gets up to pee 4 times on the cross country flight, I still say it's worth it. Getting enough agua is essential to a properly functioning and happy body: from your organs and digestive tract, to your skin and hair. It will also help fight bloating (a travel regular for most of us) and keep you feeling satiated between meals.
In my at-home life, I aim for a gallon or more a day, and when I'm traveling I try to get as close to that as possible. Bring a bottle with you everywhere and down a glass or two at every restaurant meal.
Pro Tip: When you wake up in the morning, drink one or two big glasses of water right away, before you do anything else. This will help flush some of the bloating from last night's meal (and drinks) and also help regulate your digestive system, which for most of us gets a little, er, stuck, while traveling.
DON'T DRINK YOUR CALORIES
I would argue that this is a piece of advice that's worth following whether your'e traveling or not, but it's always so much easier to fall into when you're eating out all the time or a guest in someone's home. Orange juice and a coffee drink with breakfast, an iced tea or Bloody Mary with lunch, a smoothie from that yummy looking place as a snack, wine with dinner and a cocktail afterwards can really add up fast.
Keep your coffee orders simple (no sugar or syrups), and stick to water as your beverage during meals. If you really want that glass of wine or cocktail, it's of course ok to go for it, but make sure it's what you really want and you're not just getting one because everyone else is.
Pro Tip: If you're going to drink, stick to either wine or a liquor and soda water (blanco tequila with soda water and a squeeze of lime is my go-to cocktail), and avoid the house cocktails which are often filled with syrups and sweeteners that will not only add unnecessary calories/carbs but also probably give you a headache or stomach ache to boot.
RESTAURANT LIKE A BOSS
Eating out is almost always a part of traveling, and truth be told, navigating menus is a craft unto itself. That's why I created this totally free download for you filled with tips and tricks and information about how to make choices that won't throw you off the wagon. Download your freebie here and hold onto it for your next trip or meal out!
Grab your free download at the bottom of this post
FIND SOME FITNESS
Exercise can often take a hit when traveling, and more often that not, you can really only work with what you've got, and that may not be a whole lot. Here are some easy ways to get a little sweat in that won't dominate your trip:
- Walk. If you're in a city or big town and have the ability to walk to your destinations, do it! Even if it's just going for a leisurely stroll after dinner, walking just a little bit each day will go a long way to prevent you feeling like a schlub.
- Run. Arguably the easiest exercise you can do on the go, running is also a great way to explore your environment. Pop on those shoes, grab your playlist, and go get out there. If you hate running like me, try doing sprint intervals instead of steady state running. (Sprint for :20, walk/jog for :40, for 10 rounds)
- Bodyweight exercises. These you can do inside your Airbnb or out in a park; think push ups, air squats, jumping lunges, sit ups, etc. The internet is bursting at the seams with pre programmed workouts, so go find one and get it done.
- Use that hotel gym. As Ross Gellar would say, "it's built in to the cost of the room!". And it's true: I mean you're paying for all of those amenities, so you may as well use them, even if it's only a little bit. Take advantage of the weights and/or machines to get some movement in that you can't do in your room or on the go. Don't spend all day in here, so make this efficient and fast.
- Pack supplies. Resistance bands and jump ropes are light and oh-so-easy to just throw into your suit case so that you know you have some things to work with, no matter where you're going.
SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST
When you're in LA, you're getting In-N-Out Burger. When you're in Portland, you're getting doughnuts. When you're in Chicago, you're getting deep dish. Duh. These things are truer than true, and we all look forward to them. I would never suggest that you should not indulge in these treats, because where's the fun in that? However, here's a great trick to be able to eat your treat and not have it throw you into a "fuck it" spiral:
Save it for the last day of your trip. This might be hard, but it's a really smart move, and here's why. If you have any inkling that having a full blown YOLO meal on day ONE of your 7 day vacation might make you less likely to make healthier choices in the following days (*raises hand*), this move is a golden nugget. This allows you to not only feel like yourself and vibrant for your whole trip, but also gives you a little something special to look forward to.
Figure out what your destination-specific must-haves are, figure out where your'e getting them from, and then schedule that into your last day or night there.
DON'T SWEAT IT
No matter how your trip goes, whether you work out every day or not even once, whether you indulge in all the foods or save one treat for last, or literally anything in-between, the biggest takeaway I want you to remember is that there is no RIGHT or WRONG. You weren't BAD or GOOD, and you should most definitely not feel or harbor any guilt over any choices you did or did not make.
These tips here are just to help you feel less bloated, more confident and happy in the clothes you packed, and to keep you on track with your fitness goals- they are not the "right way".
The most important part of this whole thing is that you enjoy yourself, and do what makes you feel best!
Happy and safe travels, friends!
Grab my free download to help you navigate eating out at restaurants while you're on your trip! It's filled with lots of great tips that I couldn't fit into this one blog post, so be sure to check it out.
If you're already subscribed to the She Thrives Newsletter, this freebie will be in an upcoming email. If you missed it, you can always request it right now!