I’d be lying if I said it were easy for me to stay in shape when I travel. Whether I’m traveling for work or jetting off to another country for pleasure, adapting healthy practices to stay fit can be a struggle. There are times when I feel unmotivated, circumstances that make it near impossible to get a decent workout in, and plenty of instances of unshakable jet lag. Needless to say, staying in shape when traveling can be a challenge, but with the right mindset and proper guidance, it is doable.
Recently, I spent a month abroad in Asia. The majority of my trip was spent basking in the sun, thoroughly exploring each destination, and indulging in each country’s culinary delights. Despite extended periods of laziness and consuming more food than probably necessary, I knew I hadn’t walked into the deep end. My clothes fit the same, I didn’t cringe when I looked in the mirror, and I felt comfortable wearing a bikini. When I returned back to California, I realized I hadn’t gained any weight.
As with other hikers, I am a health and fitness enthusiast. Yet I don’t let it stop me from enjoying everyday life. Sometimes I eat pasta at 10pm, lay on the beach for hours, and drink one too many cocktails. Staying fit while traveling doesn’t need to ruin your experience.
I use the following 10 tips when I travel to stay in shape and thus far, they’ve helped me. Hopefully they will inspire, motivate, and encourage you as well.
Walk When You Can
When I learned that there would be a shuttle service from my hotel in New Orleans to the trade show I would be attending, I almost had to chuckle. It was a 0.2-mile walk, yet I saw plenty of people each morning stepping onto the shuttle for a three-minute car ride. If you have the opportunity to walk when you’re traveling, take it. You may not even realize it but a simple walk can burn some series calories. A 140 lb. individual can burn 74 calories just by walking one mile. Avoid the shuttle, bus, or train and walk that mile to your next destination.
Eat Your Biggest Meal for Breakfast
I know plenty of people who are OK with skipping breakfast. I’m not one of them. In fact, I advocate for making your breakfast your biggest meal of the day. Why you might ask? Eating a bigger breakfast helps you stay full longer, helping you avoid empty-calorie snacks to keep you going until lunchtime. It also helps promote faster metabolism and aids your body in processing food quicker. Remember not all breakfast foods are created equal. Choose healthy options when you can, such as eggs, lean meat, and wheat toast.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water is 100% calorie-free, and is rid of the sugars you will find in other beverages. It’s affordable, it tastes good, and best of all, it helps you lose weight. Water helps you burn more calories and may even suppress your appetite if you drink enough before a meal. If you’re on the go, consider purchasing a water bottle that has a filtration system such as LifeStraw. This way you won’t forget to stay hydrated and can easily do so, even by pouring tap water into the bottle for easy and quick filtering.
Choose Outdoor Activities
As tempting as it may be to lounge poolside for days on end on a vacation, there is much more to be seen and experienced. The best way to take in these experiences is usually through an activity. From hiking to the top of a volcano for a prime vantage point to scuba diving beneath the deep blue sea, choose activities that will get your body moving. You’ll be having so much fun, you won’t even notice the energy you’re exerting.
Pack Snacks with You
When I traveled to Europe in 2015, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to solely rely on their food. I know myself and am aware I’m a picky eater. Keeping this in mind, I packed plenty of my own snacks in my suitcase including instant oatmeal, low sugar protein bars, trail mix, and apples. This came in handy on more than one occasion, especially when I’d spend the entire day sightseeing to help hold me over until the next meal. Unfortunately, the 80/20 rule truly applies to how you look and feel. 80% of what you eat will account for how you look.
Limit the Alcohol Consumption
Who doesn’t love a drink or two? I’m guilty of drinking alcohol just about every weekend. Drinking alcohol in moderation with an overall healthy lifestyle won’t affect your waistline to much. However, when we travel we tend to overdo it. We drink by the pool, at night clubs, heck we even drink in our hotel rooms to start the day off right. Keep this in mind: a 12-ounce glass of beer has about 150 calories, a 5-ounce glass of red wine has about 125 calories, and a 1.5 ounce shot of hard alcohol has about 100 calories. Be aware of how much you are drinking and save yourself from weight gain, and a hangover.
Try to Get Good Sleep
It is amazing what a good night sleep can do. It makes your skin healthier, improve your memory, and help you think more clearly. Sleep can even help with losing weight. A study done by researchers at Columbia University found that people who sleep less than seven hours a night generally weight more, gain more weight over time, and have difficulty losing weight. While this can be difficult when adjusting to a dramatically new time zone, do the best you can to get on an adequate sleeping schedule to help you stay fit.
If you’ll be staying in an Airbnb or a hotel with a kitchen, opt for making your own food instead of going out. By making your own food, you’ll know exactly what you are putting into your body. It can be difficult to gauge exactly what is going into the food you eat out. Some food is cooked heavily in butter, others are made with heavy creams. When you can pick your own ingredients, you eliminate the need to worry what exactly you’re consuming. Bonus: It will also help you save money.
Use the Hotel Gym
Travelling usually means long days of adventuring or working. But just as you make time to exercise on your regular work days you can also make time to work out when travelling. Into morning exercise? Hop on a hotel treadmill when you wake up to jump start your day. More of a night owl? Jump on the elliptical before you head out to dinner for the night. Poor weather can also be a good reason to hit the gym. Rather than lounge in your hotel room idly watching TV, put on your tennis shoes and head to the gym.
Keep Track of Your Exercise
There is a good reason why the FitBit has become everyone’s favorite accessory. It keeps track of your fitness, is lightweight, and easy to use. Your Fitbit can also be extra motivation to help you get an extra 1,000 steps in your day. Set a goal for yourself to take a certain amount of steps everyday (10,000 is a good place to stop) and challenge yourself to meet this goal during the entirety of your trip.