Vacations. They are amazing. A time to get away, relax, and just be.
However, it’s not rare to come back from vacations a little bit heavier (and I’m not just talking about your luggage). A new atmosphere, no routine, frequently eating out, lots of wine and indulgences… I’ve been there. There’s no reason you can’t maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle while traveling. It’s all about balance, moving, and drinking lots of water.
Below are 5 tips I compiled for staying healthy and active on vacation!
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I cannot stress this one enough. Sometimes when I’m out of my normal routine it’s easy for me to forget to drink water. Bad. Drinking plenty of water is so, so important – everyday, whether on vacation or not. While traveling you are probably in an environment that your body isn’t used to. Drinking plenty of water will help keep you regulated and hydrated. I always carry a water bottle with me and try to refill it multiple times throughout the day. This is especially important when traveling to a hot weather climate where sweating is a common occurrence, also known as “perma-sweat”.
It is a bit trickier when it’s not safe to drink the local tap water, but spending the extra money on purchasing bottled water will be worth it. I recommend buying gallon sized (or larger) water jugs. This much water is necessary and more cost-effective. You can store it in your room and fill up your water bottle whenever you need to! You don’t want to be zapped of energy on vacation simply because you’re dehydrated. Chug that water!
2. Eat breakfast! Eating breakfast is another super important everyday thing, regardless of being on vacation or not. As you have probably heard by now breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It helps fuel your body for all the exploring and activity you’ll be doing… or relaxing, it’ll help fuel your body for that too. Not only should you make sure to eat breakfast, but you also need to make sure to eat a good breakfast. And by good I mean healthy with a mix of protein, carbs, and healthy fats. A good breakfast can be easy or difficult to come by depending on where you are staying and what is available to you; however, you can always get a healthy breakfast in with some proper planning. Here are some of my recommendations:
- If you are staying at a hotel with a breakfast buffet (lucky you) try to avoid the sugary pastries and waffles. They are over-processed and you’ll probably get a sugar spike and then hit a wall a few hours later. Plus, save your sugar consumption for an afternoon treat at a local bakery. Instead go for oatmeal and a hard-boiled egg, fruit and yogurt, or peanut butter and toast. These options will help keep you satiated and energized!
- If you are staying at a hostel or someplace that doesn’t have a kitchen, grab some fruit and granola bars at a nearby grocery store so that you don’t have to eat out for breakfast every morning (if you don’t want to). These items can also serve as a great mid-day snack while you are out and about in between meals!
- If you are staying in a condo/hotel with access to a kitchen, you can stock on up your regular breakfast foods. Fruit, granola, yogurt, eggs, toast – you can pretty much do whatever you want here!
- If you are going out for breakfast, you may as well try the customary local breakfast. In Costa Rica it was rice, beans, eggs, plantains, and good strong coffee – it doesn’t get much better than that!
3. Walk everywhere! Walking is one of the simplest and most enjoyable exercises. Regular brisk walking (~30 minutes per day, 5 days per week) can help reduce the risk of heart disease, improve blood pressure and cholesterol, and boost your mood. Also, brisk walking falls within the “fat burning zone”, so you can be burning lots of fat calories while you are sightseeing: multi-tasking!
Walking is my personal favorite mode of transportation. If I want to get from A to B (assuming that A and B are only a few miles apart), my default is walking. It is also such a great method to explore a city. My friend and I once walked 5 miles to check out a local market, which then stretched on for at least another mile or so. We passed by gorgeous parks and little boutiques along the way and were able to see different parts of the city that we wouldn’t have discovered if we had taken a cab. So the next time you are on vacation and want to go to a museum or restaurant, plan a nice walking route that will help you hit other sites along the way.
Not only is walking great for your body, but it is also super cost-effective – as in, it is free! Why pay for a cab or public transportation when you can walk? I’m looking at you, budget traveller.
If you feel like picking up the pace a little bit, go on a sight-seeing run. You can fit in more miles and sights in less time, while also burning more calories! To find a good running route check out MapMyRun, ask your hotel concierge, or consult blogs. You can also do a City Running Tour (shameless plug) for a guided city run!
Please be safe. No running/walking alone at night or down creepy alleys. Also, make sure to bring water (see tip #1)!
4. Do active sightseeing! I love my vacations to have the right mix of activity and relaxing, about 50/50. Long afternoons at the beach are amazing, but it’s not something that I can do day after day after day; I need some activity. Besides walking or running, there are so many other things to try while on vacation. In Costa Rica we went surfing, zip-lining, and hiking. In Mendoza we rode bikes (between vineyards). In San Juan we kayaked and hiked. In Rio we… danced. Dancing is an activity. The fun just goes on and on!
5. Balance healthy choices with indulgent ones! It is my personal philosophy that indulgences are healthy, especially while on vacation. If you are spending the time and money to travel somewhere you better make it worth it! Go to France and not eat a crepe: blasphemous. Make it to Brazil and not drink a caipirinha: it’s illegal. Travel to Italy and not eat pasta: why even go? Savor all of the amazing, local experiences and balance them with other healthy choices.
It’s hard enough to make healthy choices 100% of the time while at home in your normal routine, let alone on vacation. It’s ok that you didn’t run 30 miles that week and it’s ok that you had wine and dessert most days. Stressing about these things is not going to help. Stress does your body no good. It sheds years off of your life and adds pounds to your frame.
Relax. Be active. Be healthy. Be balanced. Be on vacation. After all, #YOLO.