I’m going to start this off by saying I’m a big believer in finding balance. I’ve gone on holidays, eaten junk food like a madman, gained 10kg in 6 weeks and felt like crud for it. I’ve also gone on holidays, denied myself delicious meals and booze and also felt like crud for it. For me, being healthy on holidays is all about finding the right balance so you still enjoy yourself but, one way or another, you don’t come back feeling bad. I’m not a health and fitness expert, but I am a human female with a big booty and an ever-slowing metabolism, so I’ve developed three few key tips and tricks to staying healthy while travelling.
Keep it simple!
I honestly believe the key to success here is to just keep things simple. Set realistic goals for yourself, things you know are achievable. I recommend committing to: make good food choices, drink plenty of water and find 30 minutes to exercise. That’s it! Those three simple things are what help me stay healthy on holidays and when I’m travelling for work. Let’s break those down a little and take a better look at how to realistically achieve each of them on the road.
1. Make good food choices
There’s something about a breakfast buffet at a luxury resort that does crazy things to the human mind. Sometimes I just black out and come to with the top button of my shorts unbuttoned, covered in pancake crumbs and chocolate syrup. Matt doesn’t fare much better, his penchant for fresh pastries is always his undoing.
That said, it is possible to make good food choices when you travel! Here are some of my favourite tips and tricks:
- Don’t let the breakfast buffet (or any buffet) get the better of you. Remember, there will always be another buffet
- For breakfast, I like to eat a big plate of fresh fruit and a piece of toast with one egg, no butter, washed down with (500) coffees
- Fresh, whole foods like fruits and vegetables are great options, as is porridge or an omelette
- Steer well clear of things like pancakes, pastries, cakes, waffles, donuts, sugary cereals and similar sugar-covered, processed foods
- Avoid any kind of juice that comes pre-packaged in a bottle, it’s loaded with sugar. Instead, opt for freshly pressed or squeezed juices
- The first day of resisting temptation at a breakfast buffet is always the hardest, just push through the first day and you’ll be fine after that
- Pick up some healthy snacks to have with you during the day, like fresh fruit from a local market. It’ll help you steer clear of accidentally buying 10 chocolate bars and accidentally eating all of them. Remember, as your mum always said, if you aren’t hungry enough to eat fruit, you aren’t hungry!
Lunch and Dinner
- Keep things simple, fresh and healthy and avoid buffets (again) those things are usually a processed food wonderland
- Fresh seafood is a great option – think grilled fish, prawns and the like, served with vegetables or salad
- Look for other grilled options, like a grilled chicken breast served with vegetables or salad
- I always find great fresh options at Asian restaurants, they always have the best salads like green papaya or mango and plenty of healthy, grilled food options too
- Personally, I love to eat smoothie bowls and acai bowls, they’re a really yummy, cooling treat perfect for tropical climates
- Seek out restaurants that boast a healthy options menu, to cut down on the temptation, but not miss out on any of the flavours
- Try not to finish each and every meal with dessert… it’s hard, I know!
- If you’re ordering juices and fruit shakes, make sure you ask for them without added sugar… they often sneak liquid sugar in them!
- I try to drink warm green tea with each meal when I travel, it helps with metabolism, soothes your stomach, is full of antioxidants and the warm water helps you feel full and cut down on over-eating cos you’re just sooooooo hungry!
- Choose which meals you want to be your indulge meals, which is just a friendly way of saying don’t indulge every meal. Go nuts at lunch and have the spanner crab lasagne, but keeps things light at dinner, or eat 10 tacos for dinner but keep lunch super healthy in preparation. Balance the good with the naughty.
2. Drink plenty of water
This one is super easy! If you’re in a country where the tap water isn’t drinkable, head to the local convenience store and stock up on big 2 liter bottles. Carry it around with you, sip on it regularly and make it your goal to finish at least one per day (at least!). At restaurants and cafes, choose water in place of sugar-laden soft drinks, milkshakes, and frappes.
3. Find time to exercise
Exercising while you’re on holidays sounds totally unappealing. I mean, it’s meant to be a relaxing time, right? It’s not a Biggest Loser camp! That is true, but exercising isn’t just about losing weight, it’s about keeping your heart, body, mind and spirit healthy and strong. If you talk to older people they often comment how they wish they’d done more for their health when they were younger. Exercising regularly is one of the things you can easily do to benefit yourself now and in years to come and in need not be some strenuous, body-building, fat-shedding workout.
- If you’re staying somewhere tropical, wake up and take a 30-minute stroll on the beach in the morning before breakfast, followed by a quick swim to cool off (divine!)
- Check out what heart-pumping activities there are for you to try in the local area. Look for things like hiking, snorkeling, ropes courses, kayaking, bush walks, bike tours and anything similar that gets your heart rate up and gets you active
- Most resorts and many hotels will have a pool, instead of floating around in there like a very relaxed leaf, try hanging off the edge of the pool and kick your legs in intervals or swim a few laps
- You may find a yoga or pilates studio within your resort or nearby, sign yourself up for a few classes and work on your mind, body and soul while developing excellent strength.
- I also recommend finding time to meditate, it does wonders for stress relief, focus and helping with anxiety and depression.
If your hotel has a gym, get into a routine of ducking in each morning for a short workout (it’s about health, not extreme weight loss). If your hotel doesn’t have a gym, you can still get a decent workout in your room just using your body weight and focusing on key exercises. Here are some workout ideas suitable for a hotel room or open space on the hotel grounds:
- Set your phone’s timer to run for 3 minutes. In each 3 minute period, do as much of the following as you can: 40 squats, 30 sit-ups, 20 push-ups and 10 burpees. Once the 3 minutes is up, rest for 3 minutes, then resume where you left off. Repeat 5 times.
- Complete 50 reps each of Burpees, air squats, push-ups, lunges, and sit-ups
- If you can find a park bench, complete the following: 40 step-ups, 20 dips, 20 burpees, then, 30 step-ups, 15 dips, 15 burpees, then, 20 step-ups, 10 dips, 10 burpees
- Set up a circuit, where you perform one exercise for a full minute, with 10 seconds rest in-between exercises. Aim to perform 8 exercises total, for 3 rounds (give yourself 1-minute rest between each round). Exercises can be: mountain climbers, jump squats, jumping jacks, air squats, push ups, sit ups, dips, lunges, step ups, plank, toe taps, high knees etc. Be creative!
- If you’re really dedicated to it, pack a skipping rope and jump rope in intervals for 15-20 minutes or consider packing some resistance bands to add more to your workout.
Find the balance
Just remember, you still need to enjoy your holiday! So have the glass of wine, make the most of happy hour, enjoy your dessert and sleep-in far later than you should. Part of being healthy is about taking care of your mind and soul too, so give yourself time to rest, recharge and replenish.
Gaining weight while you travel isn’t the end of the world, but I know from experience coming back from a holiday feeling healthy, clear and strong feels much better than coming back feeling guilty, podgy, sluggish and gross. So, find your balance and take care of yourself – mind, body, and soul.
Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.