5 Ways to Stay Healthy While Traveling
Updated: Jun 8, 2019
Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.
I heard this saying many years ago and it completely resonated with me. If I had to choose my main passion after nutrition and health, it would be traveling…hands down. In the last decade I’ve visited 48/50 states in the US (sorry Wyoming and North Dakota) and been out of the country a handful of times and many of my best memories have come from trips I’ve taken. Traveling has helped me grow as a person, it’s challenged me, increased my confidence, brought me happiness, and given me a taste of the world. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for any amount of money.
Since I am leaving tomorrow on a month-long trip where I will be visiting 5 cities on 3 different continents, I thought this might be a good time to talk about some strategies to stay healthy while traveling. Here are the top 5 practices that I follow:
1. Pack your own snacks
This is hands-down one of the most important things that you can do to stay healthy while traveling. Airport and airplane food is often unhealthy and devoid of nutrition and the more healthful options are extremely overpriced - $8 for a small fruit cup? No thank you. Instead, opt to pack some healthful options to keep in your bag.
Here are some of the items that I almost always carry with me on a trip:
Nuts and dried fruit
Lara bars, kind bars, or homemade energy bars
Almond butter packets
Fruit (apples, bananas, and grapes tend to travel best)
Dried roasted edamame
If you are taking a road trip, all of the above options still apply, but you also have the added convenience of packing a cooler. A cooler is nice because you can pack perishable items to take with you as well.
We often drive to Tahoe from San Francisco in the winter and I will always stock the cooler before leaving with items like raw vegetables with hummus or guacamole, hard boiled eggs, prepared salads or pre-cooked foods and smoothies.
For more snack ideas and other travel strategies, download my free healthy travel guide.
2. Choose a hotel with a kitchenette or mini fridge
If you are able to choose the hotel, try and find one that has a kitchenette or at least a mini fridge that you can use to store perishable foods. If I am choosing between a few hotels, I usually use google maps to find a nearby grocery store, so that I can buy some healthy snacks and water during my trip.
If you can grab a room with a mini fridge, healthy breakfast and snack ideas that work well in most hotel rooms are oatmeal with dried and/or fresh fruit, veggies with hummus or guacamole, greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs, fresh berries, and whole grain cereal with almond milk.
3. Drink plenty of water
Between the dry air of the airplane, long car rides without a rest stop, decreased water consumption, and at times, increased alcohol consumption, traveling can leave many people dehydrated. Dehydration can cause several issues, ranging from mild discomfort to potentially life-threatening problems. Because of this, it is incredibly important to stay hydrated while traveling.
I always carry a reusable water bottle with me when going to the airport. If it is empty, it will easily get through security and then you can fill it up at a water station once inside. This will save you about $5 on a water bottle depending on the airport. Once I arrive at the destination, I will often times stop at a grocery store or convenience store and pick up large containers of purified water to have with me throughout the trip. If I’m driving, this is even easier, as I can stock up before I go.
A good rule of thumb is aim to drink about half your weight (lbs) in ounces of water each day. So, if you are 150 pounds, you want to be drinking about 75oz of water each day, especially while traveling. This might seem like a lot, but you can do it! I have faith in you.
4. Make good choices at restaurants
One of my favorite parts about traveling is immersing myself in the culture, which invariably includes the local cuisine. I often times use Yelp key words to find healthier restaurant options. While the key words themselves don’t mean that the food is healthy, often times they describe restaurants that offer healthy options: “gluten-free,” “vegetarian,” “sustainable,” or “healthy.”
I will admit, it is a lot easier to eat healthy in some places (big cities) than others (rural towns like my hometown in Michigan), but no matter where you are traveling there are some basic guidelines that you can use when deciding on what to order:
-Look at the menu before arrival to check out the options
-Skip the appetizers and go straight to the main course instead
-Avoid anything on the menu that use the words crispy, smothered, battered, breaded, fried,
creamed, and a la mode
-Choose options that use the words grilled, steamed, boiled, poached, stir-fried, or roasted
-When ordering burgers or salad, use half the bun
-When ordering salads, be careful of croutons, bacon, cheese, and cream based dressings. Instead ask for the dressing on the side or oil and vinegar instead.
5. Stay active and explore the destination
I bring my running shoes with me every time I take a trip and have found that running a city or town is the absolute best way to explore the area. Often times exercise gets overlooked when traveling or vacationing, but it’s one of the best things that you can do to not only stay healthy while traveling, but to make the most out of your adventure.
Not into running? Other great ways to explore the area include just walking or renting bikes from a local shop or from your hotel. Many hotels will also have a gym with cardio and weight training equipment. And if all else fails, there are some great exercises that you can do right inside your hotel room, including air squats, chair dips, pushups, situps, and so many more.
All of these tips will help you stay healthy while traveling, but remember that one of the most important aspects of travel is to not stress, have fun, and immerse yourself in the experience. If you find yourself in a small café in Paris known for their Pain au Chocolat…by all means, buy one and enjoy it. These strategies are meant to augment your overall experience and help you to stay healthy, so that you can enjoy every minute of your trip.
I hope this was helpful! Any other insight that you might have into staying healthy while traveling that I missed? Let me know in the comments!
For more healthy travel ideas including snacks, items to bring, and places to dine, check out my Free Healthy Travel Guide.