Maintaining healthy habits while traveling is challenging for most. While on vacation, we naturally want to enjoy ourselves by indulging more than usual. Away from our gyms and the food we normally eat, we’re unable to follow our regular (hopefully healthy) routine. To make matters worse, airport restaurants and in-flight dining don’t exactly offer the best options when it comes to fresh, nutritious food. This all makes preparation mandatory!
Here’s how to prepare for a long weekend away:
- Pack your sneakers. See if your hotel has a gym—some even offer exercise classes or yoga. If yours doesn’t, plan on running, walking or hiking, which should be easy if your vacation includes some site-seeing. Otherwise, find an online workout video that doesn’t require equipment and go at it! Or, if you have a ClassPass membership and are traveling within range to use it, take advantage of ClassPass Flex, which allows you to take a class in any of their participating cities. Simply by changing your Flex location, you will be able to search for classes in that city.
- Bring a stainless steel water bottle. I recommend squeezing some lemon in your water, as it is cleansing. It’s important to stay hydrated throughout your flight and also while on the go. Stainless steel is preferable to other types of water bottles due to being portable, lightweight, environmentally-friendly and BPA free. Here is a great option from Klean Kanteen.
- Pack healthy snacks and/or a meal. Airplane food tends to be very high in sodium and typically has preservatives. Better options for snacks would be raw nuts or trail mix (I always have almonds, goji berries and cacao nibs), gluten free seed crackers, veggie sticks, boiled eggs, brown rice cakes with almond butter, air-popped popcorn and fruit. If packing a meal, I typically make a gluten-free wrap with hummus, zucchini, carrots and cucumber. If you are a chocolate lover like I am, you may want to bring some 70% dark chocolate with you.
- Bring a small blender. They are lightweight and will allow you to make your own healthy breakfast or lunch if you don’t have better options. This is the one that I take, along with packets of Sunwarrior vegan protein powder. Usually, I can find almond milk and fruit from a nearby grocery store or the hotel to make a smoothie. To make room to store healthy snacks and avoid charges for emptying your hotel refrigerator, call in advance to ask the hotel to empty the mini bar. This will also prevent urges to snack on their unhealthy selection of cookies and chips.
- Modify dishes to be healthy. Some hotels and/or restaurants may not offer healthy options on their menu, so ask if you can change them a bit. If there is chicken or fish served with mashed potatoes or white rice, for example, ask for the steamed vegetables instead—and you can always ask if the chef can prepare a plant-based vegetarian main dish. I recommend ordering a salad and/or vegetable sides. Ask for the dressing on the side, and opt for olive oil and a squeeze of lemon for dressing if they only have creamy options. As for breakfast, you can typically order eggs and berries or oatmeal.
- Remember your supplements. I recommend a B vitamin complex for energy, stamina, recovery and stress management. Also, zinc will keep your immune system strong. I also bring digestive enzymes with me, as they support and aid digestion , as well as probiotics to maintain good bacteria in the gut—which can be challenging when eating and drinking overseas (or in excess!).
- Read a book. People overeat when they are bored. Bring a health/ nutrition book to keep yourself motivated! I highly recommend In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Fuhman, Clean Gut by Dr. Alejandro Junger, Reversing Heart Disease by Dr. Dean Ornish and Blue Zones by Dan Buettner.
- Bring herbal tea. You can always ask the flight attendant for some boiling water. Herbal tea will keep you full without having to resort to caffeinating yourself. I suggest ginger, peppermint and chamomile. Choose an organic and non-GMO certified brand of tea, such as Numi or Traditional Medicinals. Avoid pesticide-ridden tea and brands with harmful plastic packaging.
- Pack your eye mask. If you want to get some shut-eye on your flight, this will help tremendously! Remember that losing as little as one and a half hours of sleep for just one night reduces daytime alertness by about one-third. A few hours of lost sleep combined with business travel can significantly reduce your performance level.
- Research before arriving. Get on your laptop and learn about the healthy food eateries that will be in your vicinity. You can also download an app that will help you find nearby restaurants according to your dietary restrictions, such as Clean Plates or InBloom. Or, use Instagram for inspiration! It’s easy to find local bloggers in each city who specialize on healthy eating—like Alexandra Tallulah in DC and StayFit305 in Miami, for example.
Kristy Rao is a Certified Health and Nutrition Coach and native New Yorker. She works with clients nationwide to create holistic, personalized plans to achieve weight loss and natural beauty. Follow her on Twitter @KristyRao and on Instagram @KRHealth