How to Stay Healthy (and Relaxed) While Travelingby Elise Museles
Your bags are packed, and you’re getting ready for the vacation that you’ve been planning for months. You can’t wait for a well-deserved break from the stress and busyness of your daily life! But then a wave of panic sets in:
“How will I avoid all that pasta (and gelato!) in Italy?”
“What about grandma’s famous corn bread at the family reunion?”
“Can I really skip piña coladas in Hawaii?”
In these panic-stricken moments, it’s important to remember that the fun of travel is immersing yourself in the experience. Yes, I said it: go ahead and drink the wine and eat the croissant…! But leave the side of guilt behind. Remind yourself that you need a break, and that’s just what it is: a break.
And then for the rest of the time, here are some easy (and fun!) ways to help you and your family stay healthy while on vacation:
Do Your Homework
Ask friends if they have been where you’re going, then have them share their fond memories for must sees, dos, and eats. Inquire about hidden local gems and the best ways to stay active. You may be surprised how many people love to relive their vacations and pass on their experiences to you. (Google and a hotel concierge can help, too!)
When my family planned a trip to Iceland, I mapped out our days with incredible hikes, but I also found amazing organic restaurants and juice bars tucked away in places we may not have seen without looking in advance. A little research can go a very long way.
One of my cardinal travel rules: eat a well-balanced meal before you leave to catch a flight or start a road trip. This applies even if you’re leaving town when it’s not your usual mealtime. You may not feel like getting in the kitchen, so think easy, with minimal prep: overnight oats for the morning, a quick smoothie any time of day, or a mason jar salad made in advance. This is also a good time to use up what’s in the fridge. (A hot homemade bowl can be quickly tossed together in a matter of minutes.) You will appreciate a home-cooked meal as a warm send-off to an unfamiliar place.
Take One for the Road
If you follow me on social media, you know that I never leave home without my trusted travel companions: a to-go meal of colorful produce, healthy fats, and plant-based protein. I never rely on airports or gas stations to keep me nourished. (After all, a 3-hour flight is likely 6 hours or more in travel time, and you never know when you may be delayed in traffic on the road.) This keeps your blood sugar steady so that you feel happy and satisfied when you arrive.
I prefer to prep my meal before packing, so that it doesn’t fall by the wayside. The only downside to bringing your own food? You may have some very envious seatmates eyeing your homemade meal…
Want to keep everyone happy while traveling? Start with snacks. My guys always ask me before we leave the house, “Do you have the family snack bag?” They rely on that fully stocked [blood sugar-stabilizing] tote. I always load it up with more than I probably should, but it has saved us many times over.
Some of our favorites: cookie dough balls, customizable homemade trail mix, roasted chickpeas, nut butter packets, nuts and seeds, apples, sliced carrots and celery with hummus (to be eaten right away), lemon balls, and the best-ever chocolate protein bars. No grumpy travelers in my group!
I don’t know about you, but I never want to be inside a gym when I’m on vacation. There’s way too much to see and do outside! Choose to walk as much as possible, whether to dinner or to sightsee. Instead of riding a tour bus, explore on a rental bike. Find activities to keep you moving throughout your stay, and try to make planned movement a part of your experience. Bonus: there’s no better way to get close to another culture and learn a new city.
Traveling on its own (let alone visiting a different climate) can wreak havoc on your body and skin. Water is a sure fire way to stay healthier on the road. Bring an environmentally friendly bottle with you to fill up throughout your journey; I usually pack this one in my suitcase.
To boost hydration and retain electrolytes, add a teaspoon of chia seeds and a squeeze of lemon: chia seeds hold ten times their weight in water, making them a long-lasting dehydration deterrent. And choose hydrating foods so that you don’t feel like you’re chugging plain old water all day long.
This is my most important tip: when you go visit a new place or meet new people, don’t miss out on immersing yourself in the entire experience because of your own rigid rules. Missing an incredible sunrise or a conversation on the porch with your grandma stings far more than skipping a workout. Instead, choose to actively go with the flow. There is infinite power in relaxation, and it’s a gift that will bring you home feeling more whole than inflicting your everyday routine on a new place.
Remember, this is just a road map! Like any map, it’s a guide, but sometimes, getting a little lost is part of the beauty of an adventure. And in any adventure, there should be plenty of wiggle room for some not-as-healthy choices. After all, it takes both kale and chocolate to be truly satisfied!
Now it’s your turn: Tell me in the comments your best trick for a healthy (and relaxed!) vacation.