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Whether you’re looking to maintain your weight, lose weight or just generally wondering how to stay healthy while traveling these tips should point you in the right direction. In all of my travels I have never put on weight, in fact I tend to do that more when I’m home, so I have a few tips to share for staying relatively healthy while traveling.
1. Bring healthy snacks with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re about to hop on a flight, bus or go out for the day you can always prepare beforehand by packing healthy snacks such as fruit.
2. Make use of supermarkets. Instead of being forced to eat junk food for meals you can use supermarkets to make healthier meals for your travels. Prepare a homemade sandwich or salad before you leave your hostel instead of leaving yourself at the mercy of the fast food stores.
3. Don’t rush to eat. If you’re eating out take some time to peruse a few menus before eating at the first place you see. Yes it’s easy to just pop into a fast food store to satisfy your hunger but taking a bit of time to see what your options can be the difference between weight gain and weight maintain.
4. Jump in. If your hostel or hotel has a pool make sure you jump in instead of spending all of your time sunbathing around it. Same goes for a beach trip, while I love sunbathing as much as the next Australian a better way to explore the beach is to spend atleast some time in the water. Keeping yourself moving is a great way to stay healthy while traveling.
5. Call ahead. This goes great with tip number 1 on how to stay healthy while traveling. If you aren’t sure whether you’ll need to bring your own food (say, if you’re on a diet) call ahead to the airplane or an all inclusive hotel and check to see if they have healthy meals on the menu.
6. Drink water. Water can be your saviour while trying to stay healthy while traveling. Not only does it keep you hydrated it also helps you avoid over eating by making you feel a little bit fuller during a meal. It also can stop you for snacking at certain times if you, like many others, snack on food when your body is actually craving water.
7. Get to know your cravings. Rosie from The Londoner compiled a great craving chart here detailing what your cravings mean and how to satisfy them in a healthy way. By being aware of this you can snack on cranberries instead of sweets, for example, giving you knowledge of healthier alternatives. This is a massive step that will help you stay healthy while on vacation.
8. Don’t throw away your water at airports. This healthy travel tip can also be used to save you money. As you know you’re asked to dispose of your drinks when going through customs, which often means you have to repurchase another water bottle on the other side. If you’re weak in the knees for ice tea like I am you’re probably going to use this opportunity to buy some sweet (cough: ice tea) instead of buying a new water.
Instead empty your water out in the bathroom before you enter customs and you’ll be able to take your bottle through. Once you reach the other side you can fill it up with water again at any of the fountains.
9. Plan meal spread in morning. This one is more relevant for the dieters but if you have put on some extra kilos that you want to loose but still want to experience the local food plan to eat one unhealthy meal at most during the day and plan your other meals accordingly. For example if you really want to have a massive plate of nachos for lunch make sure you have a healthy or minimal breakfast and dinner to balance it out.
This is great for when you’re on a day tour that doesn’t have any healthier options for the included meal.
10. Snack often. Eating smaller meals more often strikes in advance against your cravings and over eating, it also helps to speed up your metabolism. Make sure these are healthy though.
11. Limit booze. I used to be the biggest party girl but in the last couple of years I’ve drunk less than ten times. Why? Because booze really doesn’t help when your trying to keep your weight down and stay healthy. That doesn’t mean you can’t still go out all the time, all it means is that you should limit the amount of drinks you have. A bonus to drinking less often also means that you may get drunk more easily, which means you’ll still be able to get your buzz on if that’s your thing.
12. Recon the buffet. At buffets do a once over and plan your attack strategically. For example I know if I go in without a plan I’l grab a heap of junk food and end up overeating. If you took the time before hand you can still stay healthy at the buffet by choosing only one (or two) of the less healthy options. By picking your favourite you’ll be less inclined to go back and pick off your second choices as you’ll have less FOMO.
13. Leave the salt. Step away from the chicken salt and those extra salt sachets, you can do it, I believe in you!
14. Location location! Not only will this help you stay healthy while traveling it will also help you save money. Pick hotels near supermarkets so instead of eating out at god knows where everyday you will have the option to make your own healthier meals as often as you like by buying ingredients at the supermarket.
15. Lunch = biggest meal. It’s better to have your largest meal at lunch as you’ll have plenty of time to burn it off during the day while your exploring so think about that when working out when to splurge on calories. If you have a carb craving its also a good idea to have your carb-iest meal at this time.
16. Pre-stock your hotel room. Know that you’re going to be tempted to buy chocolate to snack on while you’re out? Pre-purchase a range of healthier snacks to eat and keep them in your hotel room ready for you to take with you on excursions and wanders.
17. Go for low carb street food. Instead of buying that greasy taco every single day at the street stall can you swap it for a kebab stick (aka: meat on a stick sans carbs) every now and then?
18. Always have breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so repeat after me: “Always eat breakfast!”
19. Don’t add a junk food day. I’ve never been a fan of the “Junk food day” which is when you have one day a week to cheat. I don’t think that’s a great long term solution and I think its better to spread it out naturally instead because otherwise you’re more likely to binge or come unhinged on that day. Try to eat less junk food in general to stay healthy while traveling instead.
20. Eat smaller portions. If you’re not interested in eating healthy all the time consider instead reducing your portion size. Offer to let your boyfriend have a few of those sour cream and onion chips before you have a chance to change your mind and eat them all yourself (personal experience obviously).
21. Walk it off. Instead of catching a bus or a taxi walk to as many places as possible. Walking around is one of the best ones to stay healthy while traveling as it keeps you active and burns off any excess calories you’ve gained during the trip.
22. Exercise in your room in the morning. Planning to spend the day lazing around? Squeeze in some exercise in the morning by putting your free wifi to some good use. You can find free 5-60 minute exercise or aerobic videos on Youtube to get your heart pumping in the morning.
23. Skip dessert. Its so easy while traveling to buy dessert even if you wouldn’t back home because its a novelty. But if you’re trying to stay healthy its best to skip it.
24. Wear sunscreen. While it won’t help you on the weight loss / maintaining side of things it will stop you from getting overly sun burnt. The words “Red Lobster” don’t sound as sexy when someone is using it to refer to you. Sunscreen also protects you from more serious health issues such as skin cancer.
25. Wash your hands. Again not a weight related tip but it will help protect you from getting sick if you keep your hands clean, especially after using some dodgy bus stop bathroom.
26. Carry hand sanitizer. Builds on from the last tip but keeps you healthy in places where you may not have access to a sink and soap. I’ve found keeping hand sanitizer in our bag has been one of our best decisions while traveling.
27. Ditch the meat. Eating less meat sometimes translates into less calories so going vegetarian occasionally may help you in your healthy journey. Alternatively if you’re a little unsure about the safety of the food you’re eating avoiding meat could also mean lessening your chance of food poisoning.
28. Go for the salad over the sandwich. This one is simple for losing or maintaining weight, no bread usually translates into less calories. You don’t have to do this all the time but it can help.
29. Limit the dressing. When ordering food in restaurants avoid the dressing or sauces on your meals or at the very least limit them. If you can’t control this through sachets you can ask the staff not to include dressings or any spreads on your meals (if possible).
30. Don’t beat yourself up. If you’re trying to eat healthy while traveling but you have a couple of days where you pig out on junk food don’t beat yourself up, just try to get back on track. If you make yourself feel guilty you’ll shame spiral and eat more anyway.
31. Don’t starve yourself. Starving yourself is a bad idea as a) it will backfire eventually and you’ll binge eat or (b) your body will start to store fat as it can go into starvation mode. Either way the long term effects involve you putting on extra weight after you bounce back into normal eating.
32. Eat soup. Soup is a great alternative to a “normal” meal, its fulling, more often than not healthy, and easy to make on your own.
33. Get one serve instead of two. Do you really need the second scoop of ice cream? Probably not. Prioritize staying healthy while traveling and you may escape a couple of kilos magically appearing on your hips.
34. Get some distance. If you must have junk food choose the shop which is further away
35. Get a diet buddy. Get your travel buddy to watch you so they get hit that second pastry out of your hand when you’ve told them not to let you go back for seconds.
36. Be color smart. Did you know that restaurants with red and yellow (warm ) stimulate the desire to eat. If your super strict on dieting and want to go to extra lengths to avoid over eating avoid restaurants with those colors. Be warned you may annoy your fellow travelers with this one.
37. Eat slowly. If you eat slower you’ll feel fuller earlier on into the meal and you may eat less, which is a great tactic if you’ve put on a few kilos after nights of binge drinking or heavy eating.
38. Drink after, not before ordering. Another extreme measure. Alcohol stimulates appetite so get your drinks after ordering. Some say this is a psychological tactic used by restaurants by asking you to order drinks before taking your order as the alcoholic drinks will stimulate your appetite and you may order a bigger meal.
39. Bring some sort of workout gear. Because if you’re prepared you will feel more obligated to follow through, a simple tank and leggings will do.
40. Be resourceful. Gatorade, while not healthy for many reasons, can be a good replacement for dehydration tablets. I learned this in Belize after throwing up from over exposure to the sun (and not enough water) from my room mates (a.k.a a team of Polish medical students). If you’re dehydrated and can’t get to a chemist for some reasons use Gatorade to get extra electrolytes into your body as well as drinking water to re-hydrate.
41. Save it for later. Don’t force yourself to finish a meal if you feel full, ask to have it for take away and you can bring it back to your hotel or hostel to eat later. This is a good suggestion on how to stay healthy while traveling as you’re not starving yourself you’re just training your body not to keep eating when its not hungry.
42. Get relevant vaccinations. To keep you healthy while traveling and safe from disease be sure to get any needed vaccinations for your trips.
43. Consider mask if visiting a highly polluted city. Don’t be afraid to wear one of those awkward face masks that you see Chinese tourists wearing, especially if you have asthma and are visiting a highly polluted city on a bad day like Beijing.
44. Walk around the plane. Stretching your legs every couple of hours on a long haul flight will keep deep vein thrombosis at bay.
45. Squat it. Learning to squat over a toilet seat, not only will you tone your legs you’ll also avoid avoid any weird ailments that you can catch from dirty toilet seats. At the very least give it a once over with some toilet paper. A unique, but undoubtedly useful way to stay healthy while traveling.
46. Spend more time dancing less time drinking. More dancing = you being more active and burning more calories instead of adding them on unnecessarily by binge drinking.
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