Besides questions about healthy snacks, the second most popular question I get is, “how do I stick to my plan and stay healthy during vacation/travel?” Many of us use vacation as an excuse to abandon healthy eating altogether, and while it’s definitely nice to celebrate and sample local cuisine, some folks who are following specific plans to manage health issues or reach goals may want to be a bit more strict. Follow these tips to stay healthy while traveling.
Healthy Travel Tips
1. Don’t “save up” for a fancy big meal at night by skipping meals prior. You may want to indulge in local fare, but plan ahead. Make sure you eat breakfast every day and that you eat in regular intervals. Consider bringing a shaker cup (I use this one) and bring protein powder (I like this one) so you can mix with just water or coconut water or coconut milk. Or better yet, if you are staying somewhere with a kitchen, make smoothies for breakfast! You can often find single-serve portions of protein powder and supergreens mixes at Whole Foods, or just portion out protein powder and pack in your suitcase.
2. Travel with snacks. Bring your own so you don’t get stuck eating junk if you get trapped somewhere with food you don’t want to eat. Make some pre-packaged nuts/dried fruit mix at home in single serve ziplock bags: 1/4 cup almonds and/or walnuts, dried shredded coconut, dried cherries, blueberries or mango, pumpkin seeds. Bring cans of wild salmon and sardines, or Epic bars. I like Justin’s single serving size nut butters and Artisana coconut butter travel pouches. Green apples travel well and are great with the Justin’s almond butter. I also buy small containers of Whole Foods meat and veggie meals for long flights. I like jerky and dark chocolate too; very portable.
3. Research restaurant options before you go out, especially if you’re extremely gluten sensitive. Also be super friendly to your server while communicating your food sensitivities and asking for options. Don’t be afraid to make substitutions: Swap out starchy side pasta dishes for veggies, for example, and ask the server not to bring the bread basket so you don’t fill up on bread. It often helps to get a hotel room with a kitchen suite, or check out Air BnB or vrbo.com to see about staying in a room/house/condo with a kitchen. It can often be less expensive than hotel options, and then you can cook more meals at home. Click here for my tips on how to navigate restaurant dining.
4. Take extra vitamin C and probiotics for immune support & regularity. Magnesium helps sleep and regularity, too. If you have trouble sleeping away from home, try these sleep chews. They really work!
5. Drink mocktails! No need to go out boozing every night. Besides, don’t you want to remember all those great times you had? But you don’t want everyone hassling you about why you’re not drinking, so have a “mocktail”: make or ask the bartender for sparkling water/club soda with a splash of cranberry and squeeze of lime. Looks just like a vodka drink. Then you can make fun of all your friends after they get drunk. If you are drinking, alternate water with booze and stick to lighter alcohol like vodka/soda and lime or a glass of red. You’ll feel so much better. If you do overindulge, drink coconut water for hangovers, and drink plenty of water with lemon all day.
6. If you want to have dessert, choose sorbet (light, and dairy and gluten free), or split the dessert with your dining partner. Start off dinner with a leafy green salad, then take 1/2 your main course meal home with you for leftovers; I often eat these dinner leftovers for breakfast.
7. Exercise! I always try and stay active on vacation. It makes me feel so much better. Go to the pool; swimming for 20 minutes is great. Or go for a bike ride, take long walks to explore your surroundings, or just do 15 minutes of burst training on the beach. Get a massage, which is detoxifying and health-promoting, and sit in the sauna. Sweating is excellent for releasing toxins. Get out there and have fun!
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.