The Best Tips For Traveling And Eating Healthy
If you're like us, you love to eat when you travel. While indulging in meals during your vacation (or work trip) is certainly okay, you should also mix in healthier alternatives to balance out the more decadent options.
Fortunately, eating healthy while traveling can be fun and rewarding and make you feel good. With the right mindset and proper planning, you can stay in shape and still indulge every so often. Here's everything you need to know about how to eat healthy when traveling for work or pleasure.
Plan Ahead for Healthy Eating
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So, planning ahead can make it much easier to stay healthy during your journey. Fortunately, it's never been easier to research a new city or country, even if it's on the other side of the world and even if you're going during a time of vice, such as spring break. The sooner you can start planning, the better prepared you are when the time comes. Here are some tips and tricks on how to do it right. Unless you are traveling someplace special for Christmas or family traditions, visiting family can be fraught with neurotic relatives and food anxiety.
Do Your Homework
First of all, you should figure out what you really want to eat during your trip. For example, perhaps there are a few restaurants you want to try, or maybe there are some local dishes you have to experience during your visit. From there, you can think about preparing your own meals or finding healthy choices for when you need a quick bite.
Before you head to the airport, research some restaurants in the area and match them to your itinerary. Even if you don't have a set schedule, you can create a list of options and then decide where to go based on what you're doing for the day. It's also best to prioritize these spots based on what you want to eat the most and which restaurants you're okay with skipping if necessary.
Ideally, part of this research should be figuring out which places offer healthy and delicious options. For example, you can look for vegan or vegetarian restaurants or those that specialize in farm-to-table cooking.
Pack Healthy Snacks
One of the biggest challenges to eating healthy when traveling is that your body may not adjust to your new vacation schedule immediately. Whether you're in another time zone or eating outside of your normal hours, you may get hungry and want snacks more often.
The best way to avoid this problem is to pack your own snacks beforehand. While you may not be able to bring food with you (unless you're on a road trip), you can figure out where to buy healthy snacks when you arrive.
Fruits, nuts, granola bars, trail mix, and even veggies can make excellent on-the-go snacks that won't add too many calories to your diet. You'll also have to consider how you'll transport them. For example, you may have to buy small bags at your destination, so you can bring food in a backpack or travel bag.
Choose Healthier Options When Eating Out
As we mentioned, part of your research should be to discover healthy restaurants and dining options within your destination city. While you don't have to go to these places exclusively, you should make an effort to incorporate healthy foods during your trip. Here are some ways that healthy eating for travelers can be more accessible.
Prioritize Fresh and Whole Foods
Fortunately, if you're going outside of the U.S., most dishes are not made with processed ingredients. However, even if you're staying domestic, you can still make smarter choices about where you go and what you eat.
Overall, try to limit fast-food restaurants that tend to have higher fat and sugar content. Instead, focus on locations that prioritize fresh ingredients and unprocessed cuisine. That said, you can eat whole foods and stay unhealthy, so you still have to pay attention to exactly what you're eating.
The type of travel you're doing may also present challenges. For example, if you're going to a golf resort, there may be limited dining options. Similarly, traveling to big events can mean a lot of stadium food or high-calorie meals.
Customize Your Order
As a rule, restaurants are more than happy to provide substitutions or make accommodations for their guests. For example, instead of getting a side of fries, you could ask for a side salad. Similarly, you can swap dips and dressings for healthier alternatives.
If you're not sure which substitutions will have the most impact, you can incorporate this research into your pre-planning phase. In some cases, it may make sense to keep the dish as-is because there aren't many better alternatives. Also, if you're asking for a lot of changes, don't forget to tip the wait and kitchen staff.
Keep Portions Under Control
Again, traveling outside the U.S. means you'll get smaller portions pretty much wherever you go. If you do get a larger portion, try not to finish it in one sitting if possible. There are actually a few tangible benefits of this practice beyond limiting your calorie and fat intake:
- First, you won't feel as full and bloated, which means you'll have more energy to go out and about.
- Second, you'll have some delicious food for later, which can be a nice treat or something to look forward to during your trip.
- Finally, eating less will help you slow down, allowing your stomach to catch up. On average, it takes about 20 minutes to "feel full." If you're on vacation, you can relax and enjoy your meal without rushing.
That said, make sure you can keep leftovers safe. If you don't have a refrigerator or microwave at your hotel, you may need to figure out other solutions or simply share meals with your travel partner, so nothing goes to waste.
Water is an essential part of life, and yet so many people struggle with drinking enough. When it comes to healthy eating while traveling, water can be a huge asset.
As a rule, water helps speed up your metabolism so you burn calories faster, and it can help you feel full, especially when you drink it before a meal. So, adding more water to your travel plans can help you abstain from going overboard with your next dish, and it can make you feel better overall.
Carry a Reusable Water Bottle
Instead of buying plastic water bottles that will go to a landfill, it's best to bring a reusable bottle. Not only can you save a lot of money in the long run, but you can often carry more water than you would with a single-use product.
Plus, most places will offer water, so you can refill your bottle regularly during your trip. Alternatively, you can try to carry a larger bottle that should last most of the day so you're not worrying about when you can fill up again.
Finally, depending on the type of traveling you're doing, having water on-hand can be a huge benefit. For example, if you're traveling for work and gone for most of the day, you may not get many water breaks. Having your own bottle allows you to stay hydrated and full, so you don't splurge when you get a meal break.
Avoid Sugary Drinks
Did you know that sugar makes you thirsty? Drinking sodas and other sugar-filled beverages can actually cause you to drink more overall, creating a vicious cycle. Instead, it's better to drink water, so you can stay hydrated and avoid the problems that come with drinking too much sugar.
Making Healthy Choices at Airports and Convenience Stores
One of the big challenges of healthy eating for travelers is a lack of good options at places like airports and convenience stores. You can't always get to a grocery store, and it's virtually impossible to bring your own food on a plane. So, you may have to make some less-than-ideal decisions while traveling.
Fortunately, with the right planning, you can still eat healthy when there's not much around. Here are some tips on how to get it right.
Explore Healthier Options at the Airport
Fortunately, healthy options are much more prevalent today than in years past, but that depends on where you are and where you're going. Smaller airports tend to have fast food chains, while larger hubs will have more options for your convenience. Plus, if you're at the airport on a busy travel day, you won't have time to pick and choose where to go.
Even if you have to get food from a chain, you can still make healthier choices. For example, you can skip high-carb sides (i.e., fries) and limit how much bread you eat in your meal. Similarly, avoid the large soda and instead opt for a water cup or bottle.
Best of all, eating healthier at the airport can often save you money, depending on the circumstances. While buying a dish from a trendy restaurant can be somewhat expensive, you can actually spend less by substituting or removing items from dishes at cheaper restaurants.
Get Nutritious Snacks Whenever They're Available
Although fruits and vegetables are the best options for snacking, they're often hard to find at convenience stores. In most cases, you have to choose between items with high salt and sugar content.
Thankfully, many stores will at least carry bananas or apples, and you can opt for nuts or other foods with "good fats." Even dried fruit can be relatively healthy, although it can have a lot of sugar, so you have to be mindful of the nutrition label.
As a rule, try to stock up on healthy snacks whenever you find them, so you're not scrambling or making poor decisions later on in the trip. This mentality is particularly true if you're traveling with kids who need snacks every couple of hours to keep up.
Balancing Indulgences With Healthy Eating
For many people, going on vacation is an excuse to indulge their inner child and eat like nothing matters. So, you don't want to starve or limit yourself too much; otherwise, you'll feel restricted or trapped and may likely go overboard when you get a chance to splurge.
Here are some tips on how to eat healthy while traveling while also taking advantage of the vacation mindset.
Pick Your Special Treats or Local Cuisines Carefully
Many cities and countries have local delicacies that taste amazing but are bad for your waistline. Since you're going to visit these cities or countries, you want to sample the cuisine during your stay. That said, you can pick and choose which dishes you must have and which ones you can avoid. For example, if you're on a romantic getaway , you can plan a special meal for you and your beau.
Also, try to limit how many "cheat" meals you have in a single day. Depending on the type of trip you're having, you may just want to have one indulgent meal per day and then eat healthy the rest of the time.
Prioritize Nutrient-Dense Meals
One way to avoid overeating or over-indulging is to have a nutrient- and calorie-dense meal. While you don't want to have too much beyond your daily recommended limit, bulking up in a single meal can help you feel full and satisfied for longer periods. This way, you can spend more time doing other things during your trip and extend the time between meals so you don't eat as often.
Staying Active While Traveling
Healthy eating is only one piece of the puzzle; exercise is just as important. Depending on the type of traveling you're doing, it may be relatively easy to stay active. Here are some of our recommendations.
Incorporating Physical Activity
Hiking, biking, and walking can all be integral to your next trip, especially if you're visiting outdoor spaces or historic cities. Try to rely less on driving and public transportation and more on the power of your own two feet to get around.
Taking Breaks During Transit
Sometimes, you'll find yourself on a plane, train, or bus for several hours. Instead of sitting and napping the whole time, try to stretch, walk around, and keep your body nimble during the trip.
The Bottom Line on How to Eat Healthy While Traveling
Eating healthy while traveling can be relatively easy when you plan accordingly. Another thing that's easy to do is to reserve a parking spot with The Parking Spot. Take one more task off your to-do list by reserving airport parking with us before your next vacation or work trip. We make it so easy (try our app!) that you can even take a moment to have a delicious treat as a reward for your traveling prowess. We won't tell anyone.