We’re heading into spring break season, which means many of you are probably thinking about vacations. You might be making plans to go on one soon, or you’re dreaming up plans for a summer trip.
While vacations are a great time to bond with our loved ones, they AREN’T so great for our waistlines. We often tend to throw our diet and exercise plans out the window, which can be fun for a while…until we get home and live with the aftermath.
Experiencing new places (and their foods) is just one of the many reasons we like getting away from our usual routine. But what if it’s possible to enjoy these aspects of your vacation AND keep a healthy mindset?
Here are some tips to do just that…
1. Research your fitness options ahead of time.
By doing a simple online search, you can discover what options are available in your hotel and the surrounding area. See if you can find any recreation centers or walking trails nearby, or at the very least, research the fitness center and/or swimming options in your hotel.
2. Add extra activity into your vacation plans.
No matter where you’re headed, there are opportunities to be active in ways you normally wouldn’t be at home. If you’re going to a sightseeing location like Washington D.C., make it a competition to track your steps as you walk from one monument to the next. If you’re visiting a national park, explore the landscape by finding unique hiking trails. Even if you’re going on a laid-back beach vacation, take at least one walk along the shore every day or rent bikes with your family to explore the coastline.
3. Plan your meals in advance.
If your hotel offers rooms with a small kitchen — or even a small fridge and microwave — you have a great opportunity to save a few dollars and calories by planning ahead. My family enjoys dining out once a day, but we keep the other two meals light and inexpensive by eating food we packed ahead of time.
To do this, I have a cooking marathon a couple weeks before our big trip. I make large portions of foods that freeze well, then package them in individual portions in disposable baggies. I store them in the freezer and then pack them in a cooler for the road trip. (This obviously doesn’t work for plane travel…If we’re flying to our destination, I plan a basic menu in advance and find a local grocery store once we arrive.) When we get to our hotel, the pre-packaged foods are ready to heat and enjoy.
Another aspect of planning in advance involves researching restaurant menus before you go out to eat. Most restaurants have their menus online, so it’s a great way to scope out your options ahead of time.
4. Focus your “splurge” calories on unique, local foods.
Like I mentioned before, one of the joys of vacation is experiencing a new culture, and a big part of that is eating their food. If you’ve done the prep work to keep most of your meals healthy, you’ll have wiggle room to truly enjoy the local treats without extra guilt. Just make sure you’re spending your “splurge” calories on foods that are unique to the area and that you can’t get at home. In other words, if it’s a chain restaurant you’ve seen a dozen times, you’re better off sticking to healthy choices. But if you’re at the seaside diner famous for its homemade hush puppies and fresh-caught shrimp, THAT’S worth the splurge.
Bottom line: Making healthy choices on vacation really is possible! Not only will you feel better about yourself when you return home, but the memories you’ve made will be richer because of your thoughtful planning.
Happy trails! 🙂
ONE SIMPLE STEP: Going on vacation soon? Research ahead of time to figure out good movement/exercise options in the area you’ll be visiting, as well as local restaurants that will be worth the “splurge.” While you’re there, try to add some form of movement every day, and focus on keeping 2 out of your 3 meals as healthy as possible.
ONE STEP FURTHER: If your hotel room has a kitchenette, make a list of healthy meals you can make in advance and freeze. Then set aside a prep day. (Here are a few of my favorite freezable meals: breakfast casserole, white chicken chili, Mexican bowls, and vegetable soup.) Next make a list of the condiments or sides you’ll need, pack it all up, and enjoy!