My Travel Survival Guide

Tips For Remaining Successful With Your Healthy Lifestyle While Still Having A Great Time

 Does the idea of traveling freak you out a little bit?  You have been successful with eating right and getting in your exercise since New Years, but now you are about to get out of your normal routine.  I always have mixed feelings about traveling since I am a very routine oriented person, but over the years I have developed some new travel “habits” that I think have made my traveling so much more enjoyable, while not backsliding into old unhealthy diet and lifestyle habits.

First off there are a couple types of travelers I will focus on in this article

  1. The vacation traveler
  2. The frequent business trip taker

The Vacationer:  including vacations to visit familiar and unfamiliar areas:

Plan Ahead!

I cannot overemphasize this enough. If you haven’t already, have a conversation with your mom, or sister, friend, whoever you are visiting and talk to them about your new healthy lifestyle, what you have been doing and how great you feel.  Explain to them that you plan to continue eating well when you visit them.  Who knows when they see how great you are looking and feeling they will likely jump on board the healthy train too!  So by telling them in advance you are creating accountability for yourself.  They now know that you plan to avoid processed foods, so if they see you hitting up the potato chips they may actually help to hold you accountable. If you are planning to stay with family or friends and will be eating meals mostly at their home, offer to help or do the meal planning and shopping. I know you are on vacation, but 2 hours of your time is completely doable and totally worth it, plus they will appreciate you helping in the kitchen.

If you are likely to be eating out often then brace yourself for that. Familiarize yourself with the restaurants in the area, if you don’t already know them and even glance on their menu for things you could possibly eat.  When the time comes for everyone to decide where to eat, you can easily pipe in and request specific places to go.

Plan your treats out somewhat. Vacations are meant to be enjoyable, and part of that enjoyment can come in the form of the best ice cream you have ever had at a specific ice cream spot in your hometown, or a delicious baguette in Paris.  Vacations are not the time to be crazy strict.  In fact, I have had some of my best vacations when I chose to abide by an 80/20 approach to eating.  Meaning that 80 percent of the time I ate my typical healthy meals like I would at home, and 20 percent of the time I enjoyed some treats that I rarely ever have.  So plan some leeway into your eating and just make sure to not overdo it.  A sugar hangover is not fun the next day.

If you are traveling to an unfamiliar area then do some research prior, like I mentioned above, familiarize yourself with the restaurants in the area, you can not be too prepared for this! You may have already planned out your excursions in this area, so why not take some time and plan where you would like to eat.

Depending on the type of travel you are doing, I find it very helpful to pack some portable snacks to help me in times where healthy food just won’t be an option.

Car Travel

Mostly any foods you normally eat can be made ahead and taken along in a cooler.  (Salads, cold meats, foods in thermos’, hard boiled eggs, fruits, cut up veggies)

Air Travel

Bring a small lunch box cooler and fill it with some foods that are easy to eat and don’t create too much of an odor.  (hard boiled eggs are still okay I think, nuts, Lara bars, some dry fruit or fresh fruit, meat salads, jerky etc.)

When in doubt portion control: often times there is going to be a healthy option even at fast food places, but if there is a situation in which you can not seem to find a single viable option, then either portion control or just skip this meal (only do this if you don’t have blood sugar control issues!)  If I skip a meal I will generally just eat a few of the portable snacks that I have with me, or hit up even a convenience store and find fruit and a protein bar with at least 20 grams of protein.

Worry more about your eating than your fitness. You have heard it before but you simply cannot outrun your fork!  What you put into your mouth on this trip is far more important than getting in a daily run, or strength workout.  Most vacations will likely include lots of walking or slow movements anyways, so if you can work in an occasional run or HIIT workout, then do it, but otherwise stress less about this aspect of your healthy lifestyle and just moderate your eating.  Also be creative, if you usually bond with your sister over watching The Bachelor and eating pint of ice cream, instead suggest taking a walk to talk and catch up!  Maybe walk to a café or some fun shopping nearby.

Plan a spa package if your trip is conducive to that. Treating yourself to some non-food related pampering will leave you feeling relaxed and rested, ready to go out and continue making healthier choices.

Quick Restaurant Tips:

  • Often times if a restaurant has a gluten-free menu, this can be a safe bet for eating healthy, even if you are not omitting “gluten” from your diet, these choices will generally eliminate foods you already avoid like bread, pasta, etc…
  • Order a Steak, potato and side of vegetables (most people will not overdo it with meat and vegetables)
  • Order grilled chicken or fish, if it comes with a sauce ask for it without or on the side.
  • Order a bun-less burger
  • Order salads with just oil and vinegar on the side (this is usually ok, or have dressing put on the side)
  • Talk to the waiter, build a rapport with the waiter right away so they are more willing to go out of their way to help you. Always be kind and they will bend over backwards to fill your requests.  A lot of times restaurants don’t have special requests written into their menus, so by talking to the waiter you may find out some other creative food options that are healthy and delicious.  You will also feel less awkward when you ask for your salad without things like cheese or fried onions.  Tip them well for helping you!

Continental Breakfast Tips:

  • Hard Boiled eggs or scrambled eggs (fill up primarily on these)
  • Fruit (this is usually always an option)
  • Yogurt if eggs are unavailable (try to avoid the ones high in sugar)
  • Coffee (if you drink it, it tends to fill you up a bit)
  • Avoid: anything you normally don’t eat already:  cereal, pancakes, waffles, juices, muffins etc.  Continental breakfasts are rarely great, so don’t waist your treat foods on this one!
  • If needed hit up a coffee shop for a nice cappuccino instead!

The Frequent Business Trip Traveler

  •  If you are on the road, or flying all over the place at least once a month or more you are definitely a frequent business traveler. It will be key to staying closer to your health plan more vigilantly than the vacation traveler, as being away from home is part of your routine.  Sticking to normal sleep schedules as well as your fitness plan will help keep you on the straight and narrow too!  Those three key elements are important to sticking to your goals.  Some quick tips for staying on meal plan:
  • Eat mostly the same types of meals for breakfast and lunch. Go to the same cafe, coffee shop or continental breakfast and stick to the same meal for breakfast as well as lunch.  Less variety means less food confusion and frustration when you fall off plan.
  • Try out new restaurants that have been labeled as healthy or ask around for some places that other people like to go to. Stick to the restaurant tips that I listed above for the vacationer.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Even though many people are likely drinking far more than they should when you go out to dinner after work, you should stick to 1 glass of wine or 1 beer (none if you have iron-clad willpower).  Now you will still enjoy yourself and not have a hangover tomorrow!
  • Remember you are still working and not on vacation, so normal routine will be important! Be stricter then you would on vacation, but do allow a little spontaneity.  For example, if you can only get amazing gelato at this one place…then do it once during your trip!  You can still have fun and not go overboard.


Ideally doing your normal routine would be best, but if you are unable to hit the weights or its snowing and a run just isn’t going to happen…be creative do a 15 min HIIT session (jumping jacks, push ups, sit ups, burpees can all be done without equipment.  Walk A LOT!  Go explore the city or town you are in, if it is known for hiking then go check out some new trails, if there is an awesome gym that offers a cycling class like those super cool neon lights classes… go do it!  Most gyms offer drop in rates ranging from $10-20 for a day or a class.  Do a meet up!  One time my friends and I did an awesome Yoga meet up while on vacation in Santa Barbara, it was one of the highlights of my trip!

Often times when we go on vacation or business trips we tend to think “well I don’t do this very often so I deserve to eat whatever I want this whole week.”  Not only is this just a way to get out of holding yourself accountable, but it also sets you up for a vacation full of low energy days and less fun all around.  Think about it when was the last time you ate a huge pancake breakfast, or dessert after every meal and felt like going out and having fun on a paddle board or hiking later on, or going to that work seminar prepared?  Probably never I might guess.  Traveling can surely include eating some delicious foods, while exploring and enjoying new places.  If you focus on eating healthy 80 percent of the time you are going to A) be more fun to be around, more functional at work or conferences and B) You will actually enjoy your vacation or work trip.  So the next time you are planning to go out of town try implementing these travel tips to help make your trip far more enjoyable!  With a little planning and research your next vacation or business trip doesn’t have to break your diet and exercise routine.

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