Raise your hand if you love traveling?
Now raise your hand if you find it to be pretty damn tough to stay healthy while traveling?
I have a love hate relationship with traveling. All the cool experiences, new people to interact with, and the opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture is simply amazing.
However, the hate comes in post trip, exploring the globe is all I want to do. I can’t stop thinking about the next place to go, sites to see, and experiences to have.
One of my favorite parts of traveling is trying new foods. I wouldn’t consider myself much of a foodie but while overseas or wandering around locally trying out new tastes is something I really enjoy participating in.
- When I was in Japan, the 5AM fresh Sushi at the Fish Market in Tsukiji was unreal.
- The street food of Chandni Chowk in India was phenomenal (and quite and experience)
- Thailand has an amazing dish called Gaeng Hanglay
- While in Egypt my favorite meal was Fatta and Kofta
- In France I enjoyed Blanquette de Veau
Now some of these aren’t too Paleo friendly but that’s part of the traveling experience. To break free from your daily routine, grind, or whatever you want to call it and simply let loose and play a little.
With that said, whether I’m taking a long trip to another country, a short flight to another state, or on a road trip to visit a friend or relative I like to keep it real with my health. It’s fun to indulge a bit but there’s no reason to go completely overboard.
This post discusses how to stay active, healthy, and sane while traveling. Whether that be by land, sea, or air.
PREPARE AND PLAN
Most travel plans are thought out a few weeks in advance. This is a great opportunity to map out a strategy for how you plan to stay healthy while away from home.
How long is your trip?
This will help you to determine how much preparation is actually needed. Are you headed on a short road trip, a flight to a different state, or an extended flight over seas? If you’re headed to another country check to see if there are any customs or traditions that include food that may be off your nutrition plan.
It’s in your best interest to participate in any of these traditions not only as a sign of respect but also as a way to broaden your own experiences.
- Are you gone for only a few hours or is this an extended stay? An extended stay will need a little more preparation and planning. So you’ll want to take a little extra time before you leave to prepare.
- Will you be staying in a hotel, hostel, with family or friends?
- Will you have access to a kitchen or will you have to eat most of your meals at restaurants or on the go?
Use technology to your advantage.
We now live in an age where every resource you could ever imagine is at your fingertips…literally. With the press of a button you can start learning a new language, become happier, and track just about anything you can imagine.
You can use an app like:
It can help you find the closet Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or Sprouts. This will make grocery shipping or picking up a healthy meal a lot less stressful.
Other beneficial apps include:
These can all help you to quickly find restaurants and other food choices that fit your dietary needs.
If your trip has already been planned and you have a few days before you actually leave spend an hour or so looking up nearby restaurants. Check out their menus and make notes of specific dishes that meet your nutritional needs.
- Chipotle in particular because they actually seeks out humanely raised meat and local produce.
- Panera because of this secret menu (shhhhhhh, not so secret anymore I guess).
There are a ton of easy ways to stay active while traveling that will not take much of your time or interfere with your traveling experience.
One thing that happens when most people hit the road is they tell themselves that “they’re on vacation.”
For some reason they’ve convinced themselves that when on “vacation” you’re not suppose to workout or eat well. That you’re suppose to eat whatever and as much as you’d like and to forget health and fitness all together.
When I took my trip around the world a few years back I told myself that I would not let my obsession with working out and eating well interfere with this amazing experience that was ahead of me, and I didn’t. However, it didn’t mean I just forgot everything about what it means to live a healthy lifestyle.
The last thing I wanted while traveling was to feel tired, sluggish, or sick. I expected not to be able to eat and exercise the way I was accustomed to but I also made it a priority to find ways to incorporate daily movement while away from home.
- Walk as much as possible. Skip the train or car and have some fun just wandering the city
- Check to see if your hotel has a fitness center and what sort of equipment it includes
- Locate a nearby park or playground, Crossfit, Globo Gym, YMCA, or other type of fitness center
- Locate nearby hiking trails or give this app a shot
- Try this airplane workout, or use this, this, or these workouts while at a rest stop or in your hotel
- Make being active fun while traveling by using exercise routines like this gas station challenge
- Be sure to bring workout clothes with you (shorts, t-shirt, pants, or sweatshirt if it’s cold, and workout shoes) A sneaky cool shoe to workout in that doesn’t take up much space is the Lems Shoe (not an affiliate)
- Perform workouts that use the entire body (beginner or advanced)
A huge tip for staying active while traveling is to do it first thing in the morning. Especially if you’re traveling with others. The last thing you want to do is to disrupt the day because you need to get in a workout.
While in Japan I would get up about an hour or half hour before everyone else and head to the roof of the place I was staying. I picked up these exercise bands before my trip because they didn’t take up much space in my bag.
I would do the following circuit every other day, trying to minimize rest as much as possible.
- Walking Lunges, x 20 reps
- Push-ups, x 15 reps
- Band Rows, x 15 reps
- Squat Jumps, x 15 reps
- Butterfly sit-up, x 20 total
(Perform three circuits in a row, rest 1 minute and repeat 3-5 more times.)
I felt so energetic and productive when I started my days with this routine. You can see another traveling exercise routine I used here.
As mentioned earlier one of the smartest things you can do is to search for restaurants around the area you will be staying and to get familiar with their menu. Choose restaurants that you know have options or will allow you to make substitutions based on your dietary needs and nutritional goals.
Don’t be afraid to give them a call either if you have questions about the menu.
Here’s a quick little cheat sheet you can use if you find yourself having to dine out often:
- Order items from the Real Food Chart. Emphasize lean protein sources and salmon.
- Ask them to remove (politely) any starches or grains (i.e.: potato, rice, bread, etc.…) and instead fill the plate with veggies. If you just happened to workout (within the hour) a sweet potato or fruit will be fine.
- See if they can prepare any of the food with olive oil. Most restaurants use industrial seed oil… YIKES!
- Instead of an appetizer or free bread ask if you can have a plate of veggies or side salad.
- If the serving is really large ask if you can have a to-go box right away and actually put half of the meal in the box before you start to eat.
- Drink water only at the meal and try to finish one glass before you start eating.
An example dinner/lunch out would be:
- Double serving of vegetables or big ass salad
- Ask them to use olive oil or coconut oil to cook your food
An example breakfast out would be:
- Omelet (ask how many eggs, 3-4 is perfect)
- Loaded with veggies (go cheese free)
- If it comes with pancakes, toast, etc.… ask them to 86 it and add a small side of fruit preferably berries or extra veggies.
Another great idea is to check out local Farmer’s Markets in the places that you will be visiting. While in Paris I stopped by the Organic Food Market in the 6th Arrondissement. For tips on how to dominate your local Farmers Market check out this post.
A few other tips while traveling that will help you keep your nutrition game tight:
- Smoked Salmon: Make sure it is soy-free
- Nuts: Emphasize macadamia, hazelnut, and almonds
- Raw veggies: Celery, baby carrots, broccoli, Bell peppers, cucumber, etc…
- Fruits: Emphasize berries (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, etc..) limit tropical fruit as much as possible (ie: banana, mango, papaya, pineapple, etc..)
- Grass-fed jerky: Usually will have to order or get at the farmers market. Store bought stuff contains all kinds of junk.Cheese: If you tolerate dairy well.
- Grass-fed cheeses: For those of you that do well with lactose (Kerrygold makes a few great ones).
- Hard-boiled eggs: Store in a cool place
- Olives: Goes well with raw veggies, hard cheeses, smoked salmon
- Canned salmon or tuna: Use in a lettuce wrap, mix with avocado, or olives
Here’s a little checklist of things to bring with you on your trip (this will vary if you are traveling by car, plane, or boat)
- Ziplock bags
- Water bottle
- Disposable utensils (fork, knife, spoon, napkins, or chopsticks)
Make the best of the worst
There will be certain instances where you might have to stop at McDonalds or other fast food chains. If you’re finding yourself getting your meals from a drive-thru window just accept that what you will be eating probably is going to be full of preservatives.
- Choose salads with no dressing or use olive oil and vinegar
- You can also request burgers without the bun
- Avoid most sauces (ketchup, soy, mustard, mayo, etc..) but think about making your own.
- Stick with proteins and veggies as often as possible.
If you find yourself having to pick up snacks at a gas station or rest stop look for raw nuts and seeds, veggies, hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit (not dried) such as apples and berries, or even cheeses if you do well with lactose.
A few other things to consider as a way to keep your nutrition game strong while traveling are:
- Use this as an opportunity to practice intermittent fasting (part 2) a few days out of the week
- If traveling by yourself or with flexible companions schedule the times and places you will eat. This will take some of the guess work out of it as you are exploring
- Give yourself a little higher food budget while traveling. Odds are you will be dining our quite a bit more so make sure to account for this.
- If you’re staying with family, friends, or other hosts let them know well in advance of your nutritional habits and how important it is to you. Express to them how they will not need to make any changes but if it’s ok with them you may pick up a few items at the grocery store.
- Look into hotels that have kitchens
But just as a reminder part of the fun in traveling (especially to different countries) is trying various cuisines and delicacies. However, this doesn’t mean you need to forgo all healthy options. You can still eat well while away and enjoy your travels at the same time.
SOME FINAL TIPS
If you’ve been reading L365 for a while you know that living a healthy lifestyle extends far beyond the food you eat and the activity you take part in. It has a lot to do with how you cultivate your personal relationships, manage stress, handle personal finances, and experience life in general.
- Make sure you’re still getting quality sleep
- Pack your own caffeine (coffee, green tea, etc..) if you need help staying alert while on the road
- Take mobility breaks every so often if you’re stuck in a car for a while. Here are some of my favorite mobility movements from K-Star (you can do these without a band as well).
- Keep learning while you are away by listening to audiobooks
- Whether on the plane or in a car maintain good posture. Chest up, shoulders back, and sitting up straight (no slouching).
- Traveling or preparing to travel can be a stressful experience for some. Accept that you are breaking away from your normal routine and anticipate this being a good thing.
- Remember that if you are traveling with others and if you find traveling to be stressful for yourself think about setting some daily time to meditate, practice yoga, or just head out on a relaxing walk.
Above all else use your time away to PLAY. Living a healthy lifestyle should never feel like a chore or something you have to do.
Anyone headed out on an adventure soon? How do you plan on staying healthy while having fun while away?