Travel easily throws off our healthy routines, but, with a little planning, it can also be a great opportunity to solidify habits and explore new healthy activities. Here are four guiding questions to keep in mind as you’re preparing to travel.
What will keep my attention while traveling?
Because we all know being in a car or plane can be a bit boring after a while.
- Bring your favorite activities, games, books, etc. or a device for entertainment, and to avoid bored nibbling.
- Find portable and healthful foods to bring along. Consider investing in some supplies such as a cooler, ice packs, reusable baggies, or anything that makes packing food easier. Try to pack foods from a variety of food groups:
- Fruits: unsweetened applesauce cups, fruit cups packed in juice, freeze-dried fruit, bananas, apples, pears, berries, clementines, grapes, dried fruit, Lara bar.
- Vegetables: small cans of low sodium V8 juice, salsa, roasted seaweed, freeze-dried vegetables, grape tomatoes, snow peas, cut-up raw veggies such as carrot, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber or pepper.
- Meat/Protein: string cheese, single serving nut butter packs, deli meat, protein bar such as Luna bar, hummus, tuna packs, boiled eggs, soynuts or roasted edamame.
- Milks: single serve shelf stable milk boxes or single serve yogurts.
- Grains: whole grain crackers (be sure “whole grain” is the first ingredient, not just that it “contains x grams of whole grain”), bean or lentil based chips, low fat popcorn, whole grain bread, tortillas, mini bagels or whole grain dry cereal.
- Fats: nuts, seeds or single serve packs of Wholly Guacamole.
- If traveling by car, consider keeping some foods in the trunk to make it off-limits until you make a stop.
What food choices will I have when I’m there?
It’s easy to miss the healthy opportunities you didn’t know you had. Do some meal planning in advance based on where you will be staying. Consider:
- Is there a grocery store nearby? Make a list of foods you’ll want to stock up on when you arrive.
- What restaurants might you visit? Look up restaurant menu items before you go so that you can dine with a game plan.
- If staying at a hotel, is there an option to have a mini-fridge available?
- If flying, find out what food outlets are available at the airports you’ll be going through.
- If staying with friends or family, could they have some of your go-to foods available for you during your stay?
- Do you have the setup and option to make meals where you’re staying? This is a great opportunity to have some control over your food choices, helping you stay on track with your health.
How can I stick to a regular eating schedule?
Continuing the same number of healthy meals around the same times keeps the body in its usual rhythm, maintaining energy and hunger levels.
- How can you ensure you don’t skip meals? The body likes predictability so, skipping breakfast to catch a flight, for example, can get throw your body out-of-sync causing issues with hunger and energy throughout the entire day.
- Because you’re on vacation, consider where structure in your meals will be helpful and where would wiggle-room would feel good. We recommend sticking to regular, healthy breakfasts and lunches and allowing flexibility in what you eat for dinner.
Are there other routines worth keeping while traveling?
Stay strong on healthy routines because they’ll make you feel good about yourself, your trip, and continuing your habits when your return. Which ones are most important to your well-being?
- Make sleep a priority, optimally 7 to 8 hours a night. This helps keep your immune system strong (important if you are traveling via air), promotes recovery and elevates your mood.
- Stay hydrated. Even the most regular water-drinkers can get off track when traveling. Bring a reusable water bottle with you (make sure its empty if going through airport security) and make a goal to drink a number of bottles per day. We often mistake thirst for hunger, so drink often to avoid unnecessary eating. Proper hydration also helps energy levels, which we can all use more of during holiday travel.
- If you are already tracking your food and drink intake, make a commitment to continue. Remember, this ensures you spot problematic choices and trends before they get too out of hand. Traveling can be chaotic and draining, but the food diary is your secret weapon to staying mindful and in control.
- Pack your workout gear so you’ll be prepared and motivated to continue exercising. If you can’t continue your usual activities, are there opportunities to try new things?
- What interesting exercise classes might be available? Any free opportunities for out-of-towners? Are you lucky enough to be traveling to a waterfront community where you might try something like stand-up paddling?
- What transportable equipment might be fun to invest in? Consider a jumprope or resistance bands for a light weight way to continue working out.