How to Stay Fit and Eat Well While Traveling

Let’s face it, thinking about calories, how many hours you’ve clocked at the gym and whether you’ve done your daily push-up count is the last thing that’s on your mind when you’re enjoying your holiday. However you don’t want to leave being strong, fit and healthy, to only return looking like jabba the hutt. This is my how to stay fit and eat well while traveling guide:

I love having my routine, knowing what and when I’ll eat, exercise and sleep. Sure, traveling kind of ruins this. But just because you may not have your familiar gym, regular running route, exercise class or beloved blender, there are ways to work around this.  Whether taking a trip for business, a big adventure expedition, beach-break or festival, we don’t need to let all our hard work fly out the window and get left behind completely.

Staying in shape while traveling can come hand-in-hand. At the end of the day we just want to feel good, look good and have plenty of energy to make the most of our travels. It’s all about eating the right foods and keeping active, without it being a burden.

EATING

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  • No.1 rule – plan ahead. ALWAYS prepare on-the-go snacks and meals.
  • Keep your metabolism humming by eating small meals, often. Having ready to eat snacks accessible in your bag when you need an energy boost will prevent you from grabbing that chocolate-glazed covered doughnut when your stomach starts grumbling…
  • Quick & easy snacks: Cut up carrots + peppers, apple slices with almond butter, rice cakes, grapes, banana, raw food bars, kale chips, raw almonds or unsalted cashew nuts.
  • Great raw food barsPure bar, Rawnola, Raw Revolution (raw, vegan and gluten free).

On-the-go-snacks

  • Many people I’ve spoken to will search online for the nearest wholefoods market/stores to their hotel or hostel before they get there. This way they know exactly where to go to stock up from day 1.
  • Make use of the small fridge in your hotel room to keep your prepared snacks fresh. If there isn’t already a fridge in there, don’t be afraid to call and request one.
  • Bring small Tupperware containers from home to store your food. Then you can easily pop this in your day bag to keep organised and mess-free!
  • I always take a banana or cut up apple slices with me to put in my handbag for any on-the-go situation. I find fruits like oranges and melons are a bit of a social nightmare. I’d definitely be the tourist with juice dribbling down my arm while trying to look sophisticated and cultured at an art gallery. Never a good look!

Hotel breakfast

Here’s what you should be putting on your plate:

  • Porridge – complex carbs and fiber, keeps you satisfied for longer and lowers cholesterol. A real power breakfast! For extra taste, add honey, raisins, berries, nuts/seeds or fruit. Perfect for keeping blood sugar levels consistent.
  • Low-fat greek yoghurt, homemade granola and fruit.
  • Omelette with vegetables– high in protein and will keep you fuller for longer.

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Here’s what you should avoid:

  • High sugar cereals – most look healthy like SmartStart (17g sugar) or even Kellogg’s Raisin Bran (20g sugar), but you’d be surprised how much sugar is in one helping. Before you know it you’ll be at your first destination of the day, absolutely starving and suffering from low blood sugar. Not ideal.
  • Those ridiculously tempting danish pastries & breakfast muffins. They’re full of sugar, fat and those kinds of bad carbs that will totally satisfy your tastebuds – however it’s pretty much guaranteed that again, you’ll be left with a sugar crash and confused why you’re hungry and peckish again a few hours later.

Restaurants

Enjoying a vacation means eating out in restaurants, a lot. Exploring new cuisines is a big reason why we love to travel. No one should have to miss out on that! However arriving back home 5kg heavier may taint those happy memories just a little.

  • Great advice from NerdFitness is to read the menu online before you get to a restaurant, so you can mentally pre-order your food.
  • For dinner try to choose more of the ‘protein/seafood plus vegetable’ dishes. This can really apply to most cuisines.  For example when trying curry dishes such as delicious Massaman in Thailand or Roghan Josh in India, don’t over-eat on the rice. Always fill up more on the vegetables and meats/seafood.
  • It’s a good idea to alternate between choosing meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes. Have a balance between heavier and light meals each night. For example it would be a crime not to have that Mixed Paella with Sangria feast in Barcelona, however the next night go for a lighter dish such as Grilled Sea Bass. Also, for meat lovers out there like me, you’ll be surprised how wonderful vegetarian dishes can be!
  • In general, always choose steamed, roasted, baked or grilled dishes instead of fried.
  • Ask for dressings and sauces on the side so you can add the exact amount you like without the restaurant over-doing it.
  • If I know I’ll be eating out with a bunch of friends or backpackers, (whose diet consists of pasta-carbonara, pizza + beer), I’ll make a mental note of when I’ll be joining and make sure the day before and after I choose lighter, more wholesome foods to eat such as sushi, soup or salad.
  • It’s all about having the balance. If you’re on the right track with 80% of what you eat, you’re all good. You need the other 20% to indulge once in a while :).

KEEP ACTIVE

To stay in shape and not let your fitness deteriorate while traveling, it’s important to be active. Keep your body moving, every day. Things to do while making the most of your surroundings and the culture around you are:

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  • Explore your new surroundings by walking. It’s the easiest and best way to burn off fat because you can walk for hours all day without it feeling like any effort. Even better, sign up for a walking tour!
  • Take a mountain hiking trip.
  • If you’re a runner, what better way to get familiar with your location than to grab your trainers and go for a run. There are some handy apps out there to help you find a good route.
  • Go swimming in the ocean, rent a kayak or canoe.
  • Join a white-water rafting trip – all that mad paddling down rapids will be far more enjoyable than lifting weights!
  • Sign up for a surfing, stand-up paddle or wind-surf class. Bali, Surfers Paradise, Hawaii..the list goes on of places with fantastic surf schools.
  • Rent a bicycle – it was great fun doing this along Venice Beach. Perfect people-watching too.
  • Take a dance class, perhaps tango in Brazil or salsa in Cuba.

Fitness Apps

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If you’re lacking in motivation, why not let your phone or ipad turn in to your very own personal trainer? There are some really motivating and easy to use fitness apps out there. Find space in your hostel/hotel room, outdoor park or quiet corner of the airport waiting lounge – ignore any potential funny looks. I just bet you there’d be others wishing they could join you for that energizing, feel-good factor before you board your plane.

My go-to’s are:

  • Fitstar – it’s said to be the #1 fitness app out there, and I really think its ideal for that 7-minute workout or 10-minute abs that can easily be done during the commercial breaks or even while you’re waiting for your water to boil in the hotel room.
  • Seven – only 7 minutes of your time for an all over body workout.
  • FitFix by Popsugar– their Fitness section has motivating and easy to follow fitness videos. Choose from arms, abs or full body short workouts.
  • Six Pack Abs from Runtastic – with a full upgrade you can watch and follow over 50 different abs routines. You can even select a playlist to match the workout, brilliant!

On-the-go Workouts

It’s better to have easy exercise goals when you’re traveling, something that’s actually achievable and won’t disrupt your plans for the day.

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  • A great suggestion from a Women’s Health article:

“Just set your alarm for half an hour before your friends or family wake up. Do 100 jumping jacks (or four sets of 25 if you need to), 30-60 seconds of pushups, 30-60 seconds holding a plank, 30-60 seconds of lunges per leg, and 30-60 seconds of burpees. Then repeat two or three times.”

  • Travel with a jump rope or resistance bands. They’re light to carry and can be used in any relatively small space such as your hotel room or park.
  • Make use of the hotel gym if there is one. You don’t want to be spending ages in a generic gym when there’s endless adventures to be having outside – however just a quick 20 minute run with upbeat music, before breakfast, will absolutely energize you and put a spring in your step for the rest of the day. It will be SO worth that dreaded wake-up call.

If you’re still lacking in inspiration, check out this stylish ‘Hotel Room Workout’ videoby Equinox. As always, they manage to be sexy and motivating at the same time:

Do you have any other tips on staying in shape while traveling?

About Veronica

World traveler + health foodie. Sharing travel stories, tips & advice as I seek adventure around the globe.

8 comments on “How to Stay Fit and Eat Well While Traveling

  1. Great post! I think if you’re travelling long term these tips will come in really handy! We normally tend to travel for a couple of days here and there so it’s our chance to treat ourselves, but I can see how useful this would be. I love the bits about the snacks. They really do come in handy!

  2. Great post. It is so easy to gain a few kgs and get sluggish with all the social beer. It surprises me that everywhere I go in the world fast food is so cheap! Fruit and nuts are great though.. I am still shocked by peoples mentalities of ‘I am on holiday, I can’t go to the gym’ To me being away is a great excuse to go to the gym as I have more free time and after all travelling is not a holiday it is a lifestyle. I am a Personal Trainer so I guess I am bias haha. I love the tabata app for when I have no time!

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