Healthy habits are typically not a first thought while planning a vacation, let alone while you’re actually on vacation. Many people view their vacation as a break from life… a chance to relax, have fun and not worry about anything. This is something we all deserve, but why undo all of your workouts and healthy eating? You worked hard to fit into the bathing suit for vacation…why sabotage it and have to start over when you return? With a little bit of pre-planning and research, you can have lots of fun and accomplish staying on track while on vacation!
We are super excited to be heading to Orlando in November for a family vacation. We will be splitting our time between Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando, (I plan on doing a series about eating clean while in both parks, so stay tuned!) and my health and fitness has definitely been on my mind for this trip. Here are some tips and tricks that can keep you on track while on vacation…
Healthy Eating While on Vacation…
- Always call ahead to see if your hotel has a refrigerator. Even if it does not, for a small fee, you can often request one to be brought to your room.
- Bring along healthy breakfast items and snacks. By doing this, you can make sure you start your day off with a healthy meal, instead of gorging yourself on pancakes at the hotel buffet.
- Enjoy alcohol and other high calorie beverages in moderation. It’s vacation! You want to relax! …I get it! Just don’t drink your daily calories away. It’s very easy to do so and alcohol calories add up fast. So if you plan on drinking, be sure order a large glass of water along with your drink. By alternating one alcoholic beverage for one glass of water, you’ll save calories and most likely skip the hangover by staying hydrated.
- Plan your cheat meal ahead of time. If you are visiting a favorite destination and you have a favorite restaurant, pre-plan it into your daily food. If this is your first time at the destination, do some research and pick a restaurant you really want to try while there. Make that your cheat meal for the vacation and just enjoy yourself.
- Don’t go too long between meals or starve yourself all day so you can eat/drink more that night. Doing this causes your blood sugar to dip too low. As a result you can become tired, cranky and short-tempered (also known as hangry). Combat this be carrying healthy snacks with you, like nuts, protein bars or fruit.
- Make sure you drink plenty of water during the day and especially before you go out to eat. Drinking lots of water will keep you hydrated and feeling fuller, so you won’t cave on all the temptations that can be around while on vacation.
Dining Out 101…
- Look at the menu online and choose something healthy BEFORE you arrive. Doing this helps to cut down on the temptation that can occur as you read through the menu, while smelling all of the amazing food around you. You don’t want to make an impulse order that you will end up regretting, so go into the restaurant with a plan in place!
- Don’t be afraid to request what you want, even if it’s not on the menu. Chances are if the ingredients are on the menu, the chef can accommodate your request. It doesn’t hurt to ask, but have a back up plan just in case they say no, or call ahead to see if they can help you before you arrive.
- Cut calories with simple changes! Skip the bun with your burger and ask for a lettuce wrap instead, have chicken or fish grilled instead of fried, request sauces, dressings and gravy to be served on the side, have steamed veggies or a sweet potato instead of fries.
- If you decide to splurge because it’s vacation, be smart and go easy on the portion size. Eat half of your meal right then and there and save half for lunch the next day (this is where the fridge comes in handy!). Another great option is to split it with a friend or family member. You’ll save calories and some money!
- Beware of the appetizer trap! Between the complimentary bread basket (which you may want to consider skipping) to the over-sized portions we are typically served in restaurants, do you really NEED an appetizer? If the answer is “Omg, yes! I love _____”, then consider getting just one order for the entire table. This way you can satisfy your taste for that item, without stuffing yourself before your entree arrives.
- Many menus will have icons next to meals indicating that they are a healthy or lower calorie. Look for these first, but remember gluten-free (GF) or vegetarian (V) doesn’t always mean that something is healthy!
Snacking on the Go…
Pack as many portable snacks with you as you can. If you are currently following a fitness program, consult the nutrition guide to see which ones work best for you, or refer back to your past meal plans to see which snacks you typical consume, and which will work well in your bag during traveling. Typically nuts, whole grain crackers, protein bars, individual sized oatmeal packets, fruit, cut veggies, mozzarella sticks and Shakeology packets are great things to bring with you. Don’t forget to pack water too! Freezing it prior to heading out (another reason why getting a fridge in your room comes in handy) will help keep other things cool.
- Pack your workout DVD’s and play them in your laptop, either in the room or in the hotel gym.
- Do your best to fit in some physical activity if you are at a relaxation resort destination. Maybe a nice walk along the beach after dinner or some laps in the pool. If you are heading to a theme park like we are soon, you’ll be doing a lot of walking so things won’t be as bad, as long as you can avoid all the popcorn, ice-cream and treats!
- Stay active in fun ways – look up running/hiking trails with amazing views, look into bike or kayak rentals and even walking tours. Be creative! vacation doesn’t have mean laying poolside with a drink all day.
- If you are a part of a fitness accountability group (like the ones I run for programs on Facebook), be sure you still check-in daily while you’re away. It will subconsciously help you to make better decisions and your group will help you with meal choices on the go and just keep you motivated!
Don’t forget to take into consideration time spent in the airport or in the car to get to and from your destination! When flying, you can’t take liquid through security, but you can take snacks. Make sure you are prepared with healthy snacks that you can enjoy while waiting at the gate. By doing this, you will only subject your wallet to the inflated price of either a cup of coffee or a bottle of water, instead of a $20 salad too! If you are driving, be sure to stock the car with snacks, water bottles and cooler filled with sandwiches, veggies, hummus and cheese sticks. By doing this, you’ll save yourself the temptation of rest stop fast food….cause who wants to spend $10 on a greasy cheeseburger that will just make you feel gross?
If you have any healthy travel tips, please share them in the comments below!