Healthy Travel is a Thing – Here Are My Secrets

On the beach in Connecticut enjoying a weekend away!

On the beach in Connecticut enjoying a weekend away!

Your vacation is coming up – perhaps a little too slowly – and you’re wondering how and whether to take your (new) healthy habits on the road with you.

As many of you know, I’m all about the ‘Forever Plan,’ or how to maintain an overall happy lifestyle where you love your body and fully live your life. A lifestyle that’s mostly stress-free and that you can picture doing forever.   

When you’re working that Forever Plan, travel might look a little different than it has in the past.

It can be just as fun.

Just as liberating.

But it’ll take a little bit of preparation.

Because for many people, here’s what healthy travel boils down to: eating and moving your body similarly to how you do at home. Same guidelines, just adapted to a different environment.

This might sound obvious, but eating healthy and moving your body gives you energy, and having more energy can make your vacation more enjoyable. What you eat either gives you energy or takes it from you, but that can be easy to brush aside, especially while traveling out of your comfort zone. But who wants to spend a trip feeling sleepy and rundown?

Here’s what I mean:

  • Eat whole, unprocessed foods, including protein, healthy fats, and veggie carbs (and sometimes, starchy carbs) at most meals

  • Move your body 4-6 days per week (4 times per week is a good rhythm for most people)

  • Do the above about 80-90% of the time

  • Leave the other 10-20% for things that might not be conventionally “healthy” but nourish you on a deeper level (for example, eating that delicious tiramisu that reminds you of your grandma) #guiltfreeindulgence

When you travel, that 10-20% allocation is plenty to enjoy local delicacies and not spend your entire vacation planning your healthy habits. If you don’t travel very often and are going somewhere known for its food, you could adjust those percentages closer to 70% healthy and 30% worth-it indulgences.

Living my best life on a summer weekend trip – lunch on the water. 💃💃

Living my best life on a summer weekend trip – lunch on the water. 💃💃

First, let’s talk about food

Eating healthy on the road involves two things:

  1. Researching healthy restaurants and grocery stores before you leave for your trip

  2. Planning some meals ahead of time closer to the trip (just like meal planning at home)

The specifics of what you eat while traveling mostly depends on whether you’ll have a kitchen and/or fridge to cook and store perishable foods. Of course, Airbnb and similar travel is getting increasingly popular and often gives you kitchen access, so if that’s your style you may want to opt for that route as you plan ahead for your trip. Many hotels have mini-fridges in the rooms or can provide an empty mini-fridge for free or a relatively small fee upon request. The fridge doesn’t give you a solution for every meal, but it’s a nice bonus where you can store restaurant leftovers and perishable snacks, all while saving time and money in the process.

These days, there are more and more healthy food outposts in the U.S. so if you’re traveling stateside, you should generally be pretty well-covered. Regardless, you can find healthier ingredients in any grocery store.

If you’re traveling abroad, you should also be fine in most places. Other cultures tend to eat more whole, unprocessed foods than what’s readily available in the U.S.

Here are some of my favorite non-perishable snacks for travel:

  • EPIC Bars

  • Perfect Bars

  • 100% grass-fed beef jerky

  • Low-sugar trail mix

  • All kinds of nuts, ideally organic and raw

  • Munk Pack oatmeal fruit squeeze packs

  • 70+% dark chocolate

  • Mamma Chia squeeze packs

  • Mediterranean organic olive packs

  • Siete Foods tortilla chips

  • Nut butter individual squeeze packs

And some of my favorite tips for eating healthy on the road:

  • Locate a Whole Foods and head to their salad/hot food bar for healthier versions of pre-made food

  • Google the local healthy grocery store small businesses. You might find a great co-op or mom and pop health store that you’d like to support with your wallet

  • Don’t be shy about requesting menu modifications (unless the menu specifically says they don’t accept any changes)! Ask for what you need, of course kindly

  • Splurge on a more decadent meal at a healthy restaurant – in many cases, you’ll get served local food and feel more immersed in the place you’re visiting

How about moving your body while traveling?

Remember, the goal is to move similarly to how you do at home. This keeps you in the habit of working out, lifts your mood, and in some cases (like running, walking, and biking) helps you explore your surroundings! A good move-your-body date doesn’t need to take more than 25-30 focused minutes away from your trip plans – and sometimes, it’s actually party of your trip plans.

If you have the equipment and desire to stick to your exact same routine while on the road, that’s great. Go for it. Most hotels have gyms equipped with a treadmill and a set of dumbbells, and sometimes more. That’s more than enough equipment to have an effective workout.

But in many cases, you might have to modify the contents of your workouts. For example, if at home you usually do 30 minutes of cardio on a machine but are staying at an Airbnb without gym access, you might lace up your shoes and go for a jog outside. Or search YouTube for a 30-minute at-home bodyweight workout.

You could also plan to be active while exploring during your vacation. For example, if you’re in the countryside or planning a day trip out of a city, go for a hike. This is a perfect opportunity to do your meal prep at a local grocery store and pack a healthy (and cheap!) lunch to take on your adventure. If you’re staying in a city, find a free walking tour or create your own using a guidebook.

In many cities, you can also rent a bike to take sightseeing. I have to admit, I don’t know how to ride a bike (lol), but I’ve heard from people I trust and who travel a lot that some great bike sharing apps include oBike, MoBike, and LimeBike. If you’re traveling abroad, do some research on which bike sharing apps are available in different cities ahead of time and download the app. Be aware though that you will need to use some data if you plan to use these apps, so plan accordingly to avoid high cell phone charges.

In short, keep the workout, but if necessary change how you do it.

What if I’m tired from being in transit?

Eating healthy might be one of the last things you want to do if you’re tired, but it’s actually a shortcut to getting your energy back. So try not to give up those healthy eating habits even when you’re beat.

But being worn out does often mean that you could dial back the intensity of your workouts a little bit. Let’s say at home, you’d rate most of your workouts at an intensity of 7 or above (on a scale of 1-10). While you’re regaining your energy on a trip, you might dial that back to a 5 or 6. You could do a slow beginner’s yoga practice or 25-30 minutes of light cardio, during which you break a sweat but aren’t throwing tons of energy into the workout.

Also, stay hydrated while you’re traveling (it helps ward off jet lag!) and once you get to your destination. When you don’t drink enough, you can feel extra lethargic. Hydration is key!

What questions do you have about eating healthy and working out while traveling? Leave them in the comments.

Happy trails!