Traveling, especially for leisure, is an excellent opportunity to do what you love, create memories, take a break from the responsibilities and stressors of everyday life, and add some physical activity to combat the likely sedentary lifestyle of a typical 9-5. Staying healthy while traveling can improve your trip by keeping you energized and mentally and physically balanced. Active travel that includes regular exercise can improve your well-being, sleep quality, and heart rate variability (a sign of stress and recovery). Here, discover ways to help you enjoy travel while staying true to your health and wellness goals.
Prepare for Travel
If you plan on maintaining your current fitness and nutrition goals while you are traveling, pre-planning is essential. Depending on whether you are working toward a specific training or body composition goal, finding a fitness facility, seeking out nearby healthy dining options, and investigating local activities to keep you active will be helpful. Websites such as TripAdvisor can provide you with top choices in your destination and suggestions for activities to try.
You can also bring along some gear or packable exercise equipment that can make fitting in workouts and activities easier. Suspension trainers, resistance bands, appropriate footwear, and clothing are all useful to have on hand.
Stay Active on the Go
Staying active on the go can keep you on track toward your goals and helps you stay committed to habits you’ve worked hard to build. Interestingly, 53 percent of travelers believe exercising while traveling is important, according to research from Expedia. What’s more, early and promising research suggests that physical activity can reduce the symptoms of jet lag, helping you adjust and recover to time zone changes more easily.
Staying active while you travel is much more rewarding when you fit it into your plans, rather than forcing yourself to do a hotel workout or gym, especially if you travel somewhere scenic. Exploring the area on foot provides an active way to see the sights while adding movement to your day. Hiking, beachside runs, local trails, or yoga and Pilates by the water are all ways to take in your surroundings while being active.
If you do wish to perform traditional workouts in a gym or hotel room setting, planning them in advance and having a list of bodyweight exercises you can do in your room will help you achieve your goals without feeling stuck for ideas. Streaming yoga or pilates classes are also an excellent option.
Getting creative with your fitness endeavors can also help you experience the culture and local options where you are. Try out a local dance or group class, look for outdoor yoga sessions, or explore calisthenic parks. Going out on the town with travel companions dancing, or trying cultural activities such as martial arts, fencing, water sports, and other adventures are other memorable, heart-pumping activities to try.
Commit to (Mostly) Healthy Food Choices
Defining what makes a healthy food choice is different for everyone. Part of making healthy food choices includes considering how happy, grateful, and memorable a food experience will make you. The most vital aspect of making food choices is understanding that no single food, meal, day, or week of eating will make you unhealthy or completely derail your goals. Being intentional with your food choices and enjoying them is what will make your travel experience memorable.
If you are traveling frequently for work or simply wish to fuel yourself and feel your best during your trip, then making mindful choices that support these desires is best. Think about how long you will be away from a place you can prepare meals, plan meals and snacks that fit into your current healthy eating plan, and recognize that “good enough” is sometimes the best you can do.
Places to look for healthy food options include markets, grocery stores with large produce and fresh food sections, and restaurants that focus on local, fresh, and whole foods.
Manage Your Hydration
Staying hydrated while traveling is one aspect of your health you do not want to ignore. From the moment you set out by car, train, bus, or plane, forced air and dry or humid conditions can all wreak havoc on your hydration, skin, and comfort levels.
Ensure you pack a refillable water bottle (one with a filter is best) filled with water and locate areas you can refill it. Ask for water on your flight whenever it is offered to you. At your destination, ensure the water sources you choose are safe. If necessary, purchase bottled water that is safe and avoid ice if you do not know the water source is clean.
If you will be exercising or moving around in hot, humid climates, ensure you have adequate water, as well as electrolytes to replenish lost stores of vital minerals, especially sodium, and potassium. Proper hydration can prevent dangerous health risks that can occur when you lose too many electrolytes and water.
Prioritize Self-Care and Rest
Self-care during travel is essential for managing stress and maintaining overall health. Taking time for relaxing and calming activities can help you feel more balanced during an exciting and stimulating time that may leave you exhausted or overwhelmed.
Quality sleep, practicing relaxation techniques, and incorporating self-care activities like stretching or meditation are all helpful for lowering stress levels and finding balance during busy days. Sleep can be elusive when you are not at home, especially if your room is not dark or quiet enough. Packing earplugs and an eye mask can make all the difference.
Interestingly, research shows that people tend to get more sleep on vacation and that increased sleep time continues for two weeks after the vacation is over. Vacations can reveal the amount of sleep your body may naturally need to feel rested and revitalized in your daily life.
Stay Motivated and Accountable
Staying motivated and accountable while traveling does not have to look the same as it does when you are at home. When traveling, it’s best to have a mindset of doing what you can when you can, and planning ahead without pressuring yourself to stick to rigid expectations or goals.
But being consistent with your habits can improve the likelihood you’ll stick to them long term, according to a 2020 study published in Frontiers in Psychology. Keeping up the actions and behaviors you perform that help support your goals, even while traveling, will increase your chances of reaching your end goal.
Support your healthy habits by setting realistic goals, tracking progress if you wish, and connecting with a travel buddy or online community that will encourage you to be active while focusing on destressing and having fun. Remember that taking a break from rigid workouts and high activity levels can be just as beneficial (if not more so), than stressing over missed workouts and altered routines.
Having clear and specific goals for your health, including fitness and nutrition, is part of what makes an ideal overall healthy lifestyle. Trying to maintain your fitness and nutrition goals while traveling can be challenging, but if you plan ahead and have a more relaxed mindset, you can support your health during the ups and downs of travel.
Staying active, making healthy food choices, managing hydration, and prioritizing self-care are all doable during travel, so long as you understand that unpredictability and going off plan are inevitable but will not set you back in the long run. It helps to view travel as an opportunity to explore new activities, cuisines, and experiences while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.