Lots of us use routine and discipline as key elements in our effort to stay healthy. But when we start a trip, all of our usual routines can go out the window. Discipline is easy when you have control of your environment, but travel generally puts us out of control and into unknown territory.
What can you do to stay as healthy as possible given these factors? Here are seven simple tips to incorporate into your trips:
1. Try not to use the trip as one giant “treat meal.”
I remember when a weekend trip was my opportunity to “cheat” for 2-3 days. I also remember when it was easy to recover from that trip … it’s not so easy now. There’s a lot to be said for keeping a degree of discipline while you travel. How much discipline is up to you, but it can make you feel more “at home” in unfamiliar places.
2. In airports, find a quiet(er) place to eat. Make the experience as much like a regular meal as possible.
Airports are so full of busyness and constant noise and movement. Eating in this type of environment can often make us eat extremely quickly, which results in overeating or digestive issues. Since neither of those things are comfortable during a trip, try to find a quiet (or at least quieter) spot for your meal. Get your food to go, and walk all the way to the end of the concourse. You’ll get some space plus a few extra steps of exercise. Find the least busy restaurant (which sometimes is the one with healthier choices!) and eat there. Sit at a table as far away from the edge of foot traffic as possible. Remember to breathe and to chew your food.
3. Make water your main beverage for air / car / train travel.
Plain bottled water has so many benefits for our bodies. No calories, no sodium and just pure hydration. It supports healthy digestion and fills us up so we snack less. Stick to water during your travel days instead of soda, alcohol or juice.
4. Look for fruit & vegetables
A lot of fast food stops are offering fruits and vegetables as a part of their menu selection. Pick up a banana or an apple in the airport terminal to replace the snacks on the plane. Or choose a salad with limited cheese, fried toppings, and dressing – focus on the vegetables in the salad instead.
5. Think about and plan ahead for the entire day’s meals.
Whether you’re traveling or have reached your destination, make your meal and snack choices mindfully. If breakfast is the only meal where you’ll be able to choose the source, then choose the healthier options for breakfast. If every meal choice is up to you, then enjoy some new and healthy options in your travel location. (see tip number 6)
6. Use available online and smart phone apps to get review & suggestions that lead you to healthier choices.
When I was a kid, we always took a guidebook from AAA on our vacations. We used the book to find things to do, but also restaurant choices. It’s pretty wonderful when you imagine how far we’ve come from that static information! There are so many fantastic resources to find healthy quality food choices on the road. In airports, I like GateGuru. In a new city, I use Yelp almost exclusively when choosing restaurants. The reviews from real people are an incredibly helpful resource.
7. Pack one small bar of decadent delicious dark chocolate and use it as you sweet treats – for the entire trip!
For me, sweets are the ongoing temptation. Now before I travel, I pack a bar of fantastic dark chocolate in my bag. After choosing to skip all the overly indulgent sweets during the day, I will often treat myself to just one square of that dark chocolate at the end of the day. I find it helps me when I aim for “healthier” instead of “perfect” while traveling.
What are your favorite tips for healthier food choices when you travel?