I love to travel. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, travel for me is an adventure, a time to explore outside my comfort zone, have new experiences and connect with new people. And oh yes, enjoy great food and drinks. Indulging in the culinary side of travel would seem to go against my position as a registered dietitian and healthy food and lifestyle blogger. But no, I like to have my cake and eat it too–but do it in a way that doesn’t result in guilt or weight gain! I’ve written a lot about healthy travel over the years. But I’ve never planned a trip just for the health of it, as Foodie Dietitian did when she went on a life-changing yoga trip. Read her story here.
You’ll find that the over-reaching theme of this article is Plan Head!! Because if you don’t you’ll find that Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail as Dietitian Chrissy point out in her blog post here:
You can do it too! Below are my top 12 tips for healthy travel, some my own, and some from others.
Tip #1 Make layovers lengthy enough to grab a healthy bite.
Honestly, there is nothing worse than having NO time to find food. I’ve been there. Luckily, I ALWAYS (almost) travel with healthy snacks. Always, except when I change my carry-on at the last minute…not recommended!
At the airport, you’ll find the usual: chicken caesar salads, southwest salads and sandwiches to go. But, really how many Caesar salads can you eat? Personally I tire of them. So do what I do–take a cruise around the airport if you have time and check out the choices. There are a number of good options at Starbucks: Spinach, Feta and Cage-Free Egg White Wrap and Starbucks Classic Whole Grain Oatmeal to name a few. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to find a restaurant with bonafide healthy options. This happened to me recently at BWI in Baltimore where I found the Silver Diner–which provides an unexpected healthy eating haven to all that pass through! There were so many great choices, it was tough to choose. (I finally settled on Kale Salad with Apples and Crab and Corn Soup. But even when you do plan a layover, that plan can fail due to unforeseen travel delays. And this brings me to my next tip! Top tip for #healthytravel: PLAN AHEAD. More tips here: bit.ly/2g1no11 Click To Tweet
Tip #2 Bring your own food from home.
Have you noticed? Airport food is overpriced and often nothing to write home about. Here are some great tips from Chrissy Carroll RD on foods from home you can get through airport security.
Tip #3 Plan for the unexpected—delays, time waiting on the tarmac, no time to find food.
Tip #4 Traveling with kids?
Tip #5 Going on a cruise? Healthy Travel is Possible
You may think that going on a cruise blows any idea of healthy eating out the window. We’ve all heard stories of around-the-clock-eating and 24/7 indulgence. Bring home presents, not extra pounds! Find out registered dietitian’s Anne Mauney RD’s tips for healthy eating cruise-style.
Tip #5 Avoid gas-producing foods before long trips.
You don’t want to be that passenger! Cut back on cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and beans. Ditto foods with lots of onion! Try eating the lowest gas-producing starch-rice. Think about carrying Beano with you, which is a digestive enzyme that helps with hard-to-digest foods like beans. Gas-X is a good take-along if gas is a real pain for you.
Tip #6 Stay hydrated.
There’s nothing worse than being thirsty on the plane when you’re stuck in your seat, trapped with the fasten seat belt sign on. Always have a water bottle with you–even better, bring a refillable water bottle. Some airports have filtered water refill stations at the drinking fountain. Other ways to hydrate: fruits, raw veggies and salads. Watch out for drinking too much caffeine–not the healthiest way to hydrate. Ditto with soda and other sweet drinks. Another less healthy way to hydrate–sugary sport drinks. That is, unless you plan to do an hour sprint around the airport or are suffering from “Montezuma’s Revenge”. Drinking club soda with lime feels festive on the plane. Even better–club soda with cranapple juice. Pretty. Healthy.
Tip #7: Keep moving while traveling.
Whether you are flying, driving or traveling by train, do some isometrics or get up to walk around at least every hour. Travel-related deep vein thrombosis can really throw a wrench into your travel plans.
Tip #8 Watch where you put your hands.
Just think about the hundreds or thousands of passengers who have fastened that seat belt you just touched. Yuck! Keep alcohol-based hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes with you to prevent picking up “bugs” along the way.
Tip #9 Plan fitness into your travel plans.
You can work that into getting there, such as walking around the airport during layovers. Walk to restaurants or tourist sites instead of taking Uber. Grab public transportation maps before you go so you can plan routes accordingly. Choose a hotel with a pool or fitness center.
Is it possible to stay fit on a cruise? I’ve only been on one cruise, to Antarctica. Every day my husband and I walked 2 miles on the top deck, even when it was snowing. I think the important thing about staying fit on vacation is being intentional. Read more tips on how to stay fit on a Carnival cruise from AnnetheRD.
Tip #10 Add in some resistance exercise.
Bring a stretch band to do a mini-workout in your hotel room. Or use water bottles as makeshift weights—do some arm exercises while watching the news. Or try this 20 Minute Hotel Room Workout from Nerd Fitness, which cleverly uses your own body weight or your suit case.
Tip #11: Watch the alcohol.
It’s easy to go a little overboard with fun cocktails or even a good bottle of wine when traveling. But the calories sure add up. I used to indulge in a good margarita here and there, but once I realized how many calories was in the mixer alone–100 calories for 4 ounces–I now say no, gracias! Those gigantic margaritas they serve in Mexican restaurants could be upwards of 500 calories!
So maybe people who drink martinis and other small drinks are on to something! Just make sure to drink plenty of water before and during! For more tips on keeping tabs on alcohol and other healthy travel tips, see Alissa Rumsey RD’s post, 9 Ways to Stay Healthy While Traveling.
Tip #12 Don’t stress the little things.
Healthy travel begins with a happy mental outlook. Sometimes we are so caught up on making sure everything is perfect about our vacation is that we end up making it stressful. I speak from experience here. As the family travel agent, I’ve planned trips to Australia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Europe. And, I’ve been guilty of dragging down the mood because the hotel wasn’t as expected or the service at the restaurant I picked was atrocious. I even apologize about the weather! So whether you are the one who plans the travel or the one who goes along for the ride, just go with the flow. Even the biggest travel gaffes can be laughed at later.
Choose Healthier Fast Food!
Need grab-n-go with a side of healthy? Grab our fast food guide to help you navigate the drive-thru!