Do you love to travel and explore new places, but worry about it throwing you off your healthy routine?
Maybe you stress out about gaining weight on a vacation or getting out of shape while you’re away?
From jetlag, to unfamiliar surroundings, to limited food options; even what is meant to be a relaxing vacation can also bring on some stress.
Traveling used to cause me a lot of weight-related anxiety. I would stress about where and when I would be able to work out, whether I could find food to fit my diet, and what getting off my routine would do to my weight. These thoughts detracted from my experiences. Big time.
I recently returned from a two-week trip, and it made me thankful that I’ve found how to maintain balance (and my sanity) while traveling. By putting the following tips into practice, I am now able to avoid falling into the old trap of weight-related stresses, and actually be fully present during my experiences.
Here’s how to be sure that stress and weight concerns don’t compromise your travels:
1. Plan ahead... but not too much.
Make some basic plans to take care of your wellness-related needs while you’re away, but don’t go overboard or let rigid plans get in the way.
If you’re the type of person who knows you need to get in a good workout to feel energized and on top of your game (like me), it just takes a little planning. For example, I’m a ClassPass member, so if the city I’m traveling to also has ClassPass, I might do a little research into the fitness studios I could visit for a good sweat sesh.
Here’s the trick, though: I’m not talking about traveling all the way across town, or going to classes at odd hours. If you’re spending too much time on your workout plans, making others wait on you, or missing experiences: you’re doing it wrong. If a class is nearby and fits into your schedule, great! If not, there are other options….
For instance, my most recent trip was not conducive to attending any classes nor did the hotels have on-site gyms. So instead, I planned to go for runs and also packed a couple resistance bands to do a bit of strength training. Resistance bands = lightweight and easy to pack (here's the kind I use). I even led a circuit training session on the beach since a couple family members wanted to join in! The only pieces of equipment necessary were the resistance bands I brought and a frisbee. Easy peasy.
I also spent time hiking or taking walks in each location to stay active. The best part about running, hiking, or walking is you can take in the new surroundings while you exercise. It’s the whole two birds, one stone thing: You’re having an immersive experience, seeing the sights, and working up a sweat—bonus!
Even if there's no opportunity to work out on your vaca, don't sweat it! You'll likely be more physically active than usual on your trip, and your fitness levels won't decline significantly in the span of a week or two (it usually takes a month or two to notice a real dip in strength and endurance).
2. When in doubt, bring snacks.
Ever find yourself feeling famished in the middle of a flight where the only options are tiny packages of airline snacks? Yeah, me too. But those suckers aren’t that satisfying (even though I have a little bit of a thing for the Delta Biscoff cookies).
Now, I bring a bag of snacks to stave off crazy hunger pangs. Here are a few of the snacks I like to pack:
- Justin’s All Natural Peanut Butter packs (this time, I put the peanut butter on celery sticks, and it was like a flashback to having ants on a log as a kid!)
- Kind bars or Larabars
- Raw almonds (or other nuts of your choosing)
- Rice chips
- Apples, Pears, Bananas (or any other fruit you prefer)
Snacks are also great to have in a pinch during the trip. For example, if you’re with a group who doesn’t want to eat yet or you have to wait for a dinner reservation but you’re already hungry: snacks to the rescue!
If you aren’t able to bring your own snacks and you think you might want to order something on your flight, do it early! I’ve found many flights sell out of the best food items pretty early on. If you wait until you’re starving later, your only options may be a can of Pringles or the aforementioned tiny packages.
3. Embrace once-in-a-lifetime tasting opportunities.
Is the location you’re visiting known for a certain food or beverage? I was just in Ireland and (of course) HAD to try fish and chips and draft Guinness straight from the source! The same went for pasta when I was in Rome during my honeymoon. Because these were once in a lifetime opportunities to have the best of the best, I went for it and enjoyed every second of it (even though I know fried foods and pasta can make me feel lethargic, and so don’t eat them frequently).
The key to making these choices without regretting them after the fact is to be fully present during the meal, eat it slowly, and savor every bite. There’s a big difference between relishing a piece of pizza in Italy and wolfing down a slice of Domino’s mindlessly.
4. Say no to the scale.
Do not. I repeat, do not, weigh yourself before and after the trip (better yet, don’t weigh yourself ever).
First, it's practically impossible for a person to gain weight over the length of most vacations. And, even if you do gain some weight during your travels, it it likely retained water from traveling, or weight that your body will drop naturally when back to your normal life. Weighing yourself is dangerous because an increased number could set you up for wanting to "repent" for your actions on the trip, when your body would otherwise just re-adjust on its own. It could also lead to looking back on your trip with regret rather than appreciation. Just don’t go down that path.
5. Take time to be still.
Time can seem to fly by while traveling. Whether you’re having the time of your life or feeling overwhelmed, taking a moment to steer yourself into the present moment can make all the difference. If you catch yourself losing track of time, stop where you are, take some deep breaths, and try to take in everything you can with your senses: the sights, smells, and emotions brought on by where you are. Store the intricacies of the present moment in your memory. You'll be glad you did.