How to stay on track with your fitness and nutrition while traveling?

Now that the country is slowly opening back up (if you are reading this in the distant future: I am talking about COVID….it was a big thing in 2020 and 2021….I’m sure you’ll find some info in your kid’s history books about it), people start traveling again. And with travel often also comes the question ‘how can I stay on track with my fitness and nutrition while traveling?’

While you won’t be able (and maybe don’t want to) keep up with your regular fitness routine and nutrition on your travels, there are still some simple strategies you can implement to help you stay on course. 

1. Mindset

I know you expected me to say something like “portion control” – and I will get to that. But the first and most important thing to mention here is your mindset. 

Most people, when they go on vacation or travel for work, EXPECT to gain weight or at least fall off the wagon with their nutrition. When you are leaving for your trip with this mindset, you set yourself up for failure. Always remember, you will get what you focus on. On a subconscious level you will start sabotaging your efforts. Your inner voice will whisper “We will never be here again. We will definitely have to try xyz dish, cocktail, or whatever local deliciousness they offer”. Or how about this? “I’ll gain weight anyway on this vacation. Everybody does! Might as well…”

And so the spiral begins. 

Now think about what would happen if you expected to do just fine. How would those inner voices change? I bet you’d hear something like “Oh this looks delicious! Let me order it and share it with my partner” or “This looks delicious! Well, I am not hungry right now though. Let me get one and put it away for later”

Do you see how the narrative changes? And what’s also important to mention is that you don’t have to deprive yourself of anything while you’re traveling. It’s simply about moderation and not going overboard. 

Expect to do well and you will!

2. Only eat when you’re hungry

This sounds simple – and it is. But most of us completely ignore our hunger cues when traveling, especially when we’re traveling for fun. Before you order any food, stop at the next food truck, or go into a bakery, check in with yourself. Are you actually hungry? If not, come back later when you are.

3. Portion Control

Ok, let’s come back to the portion control part I mentioned earlier. Portion control is one of the simplest ways to keep your calorie intake in check when you’re out and about. If you are in a restaurant, order a to-go box and have them bring it out with your food. Put half of the dish in the box before you start eating. Out of sight, out of mind. Yup, we think our brains are elaborate creatures but sometimes it’s really as simple as this to trick them. 😉

What will also help with portion control is eating slowly. This is something you should be practicing anyway but especially when you are traveling this can be very helpful to keep your eating and calorie intake balanced. Put the fork down after every bite, have a nice chat with your colleague, friend, or partner, enjoy the ambience. The slower you eat, the less likely you are to over eat.

4. Be prepared

A little bit of preparation can go a long way. If you’re traveling for business, check out the hotel you’ll be staying at. Do they offer healthy breakfast options? If not, is there a grocery store close by and do you have a refrigerator in the room, so you could buy something in advance and make your own breakfast? You could even take a small blender and prep some smoothies for breakfast. 

When you know you’ll be on the road a lot or in meetings all day, take some healthy snacks. A piece of fruit or some nuts will help you keep the energy up and you’ll be less likely to stop at the next gas station or get something from the vending machine. 

5. Be active

It goes without saying that most of us won’t be able (or willing) to keep up with our regular workout routine when we are on vacation or a business trip. And you don’t have to. Especially when you’re on vacation, you want to have some fun! So go and do just that, have fun!! 

See if you can explore the city you are staying in on a bicycle. Maybe there are great hiking trails nearby; a lake where you can go kayaking or paddleboarding; or how about a walking tour to see the local architecture and culture? Be creative, explore, and have fun with it! 

And if you do decide, you want to continue your workouts during your travels, make sure to pack your workout clothes and research your options beforehand. Does the hotel you are staying at have a gym? Is there maybe a park nearby where you can do an outdoor workout? Or a gym that offers day passes? You could also ask your personal trainer – if you have one – to hook you up with online training for the time you’re gone. 

There are plenty of options out there to get your workouts in. You might have to be a bit creative but where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

The Takeaway

Don’t stress! You’ve been doing a great job with your fitness and nutrition, and a few weeks of travel won’t ruin that! Focus on a few simple strategies and you will be just fine. 

Happy travels!