I’ve been on that vacation and I know you have too – the vacation that makes you feel like you need another vacation. The time off that makes you feel a bit more depleted than before you left. As I’ve gotten older and (not to brag) a little bit wiser, I have started to ask myself what is it that I really want from my time off?
I now gravitate towards trips that will help build me up rather than deplete me. After all, we should counter our hard work with a complete recharge.
For many of us, having fun and feeling healthy seem mutually exclusive – but there is really little need to separate the two. With a little bit of intention and planning you can really have it all.
I’ve mapped out some suggestions for staying healthy while traveling are meant to transcend any type of vacation – regardless of where you go, who you’re with or how you get there. Take what speaks to you, leave the rest – but I hope to inspire you to create space for a restful and inspirational trip.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Set your Intention
Before you leave you can set an intention for what you hope to achieve for your time off. At its simplest this can be what you want do actually do / see while you’re away. But I’m really referring to a meta-physical practice that helps you visualize the energy with which you want to infuse your vacation.
This helps set a tone in how you will treat yourself while away.
I recently returned from Tulum, which happened to be the healthiest vacation I have ever taken. Before I left I was totally burnt out – so I left with one goal: to feel completely rejuvenated and inspired upon my return.
Simple, right? But setting that intention was powerful – it set the foundation for every decision I made while I was gone. It helped me get in the mindset of enjoying healthy food, drinks or activities rather than feeling any hint of deprivation.
Your intention should serve you – build you up rather than bring you down. I challenge you to visualize how you want to feel on the plane ride home?
Find a spot with a kitchen
It’s nice to eat out but it’s also nice to decide when that actually is. Sometimes you don’t feel like putting on pants and going out for dinner or drinks. Sometimes you do.
I have found that enjoying one meal out per day works for me and I can make the rest rather simply. But my point here is make sure you can make that choice for yourself. I rarely will stay in hotels as resources like Air BNB and VRBO can make you feel at home wherever you may be traveling.
Research what restaurants and healthy food options are available to you? Is there a local farmers market on Saturdays? Farm to table restaurants? Gluten free options? These are all great things to look up and can be fun activities to plan while you’re gone. Smart phones have made traveling real easy.
If you’re going somewhere a bit more adventurous look up the local cuisine before hand so you can get a good idea of what options are available.
On The Plane
Start your vacation out on the right foot. If the flight is longer than 3 hours, I usually bring snacks or my own meal like a salad or leftover roasted vegetables. Eat as your normally would – every three hours and if there’s a time change adjust yourself to your new, local time.
When it comes down to ordering food, avoid the salted peanuts (they will make you bloat) and sip on a sparking mineral water. I also like to pack my own tea bags (regular and decaf).
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
Establish “Food Rules”
Think of these less as ‘rules’ and more like guidelines that look very similarly to how you eat at home. They are there to help provide both balance and flexibility. For example:
- Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks per day
- Commit to avoiding foods that make you feel like crap (i.e. food sensitivities / allergies / heavily fried foods, etc)
- Keep your plate 60% plant based protein – for satiety, radiance and digestive balance
- If faced with the (very hard) decision of dessert versus alcohol – choose one or the other. Together = fat storage.
- If you’re traveling to the third world, do yourself a favor and just avoid the street food. I’ve never met someone who was ‘happy’ about eating a Samosa from an Indian street vendor.
In normal life my I recommend following the 90 / 10 rule – that is eat well 90% of the time so that 10% of your meal / snacks can be off plan. On vacation – think more 75/25. This leaves room for you to treat yourself (i.e. mom’s famous pancakes, alcohol, desserts or local foods that don’t quite fall on plan).
Keeping ‘food rules’ while on vacation (or in every day life) helps create physical balance so that rather than stressing about how you feel gassy and depleted, you can be distracted by the beauty surrounding you.
I often feel like a grandma, as my bag is stocked with simple snacks that won’t spoil. This keeps me in control of my available options and never lets my hunger drive my decision when I can’t find a healthy option.
Pack these before you leave and it won’t be a second thought to grab them to add to your day bag. One of my favorites is a raw trail mix with cacao nibs, cashews, mulberries and goji berries. If that’s way too fancy just stick with raw almonds.
Keep an open mind
Think ‘solution-based perspective’.
The situation at hand may not always be your definition of perfect- life rarely is! You may be stuck in the car for 5 hours or at your family’s house with few options. Challenge, schmallenge … it’s time to get a little creative!
Scenario 1: You are at your friends or family’s house – they are serving something you wouldn’t normally want but you don’t want to make them feel bad. Rather than worrying about insulting your hosts and succumbing to the guilt, kindly reach out before you get there. Explain your dietary restrictions and offer to help cook the meal or make a side salad. I’m sure everyone there will be excited to try something new!
Scenario 2: You are on a long road trip – there are only fast food options like McDonalds or Quiznos. Although not ideal, there are always ways to modify the menu at a restaurant to fit what you need. For example, make the sub into a salad or wrap your burger in lettuce instead of a bun. Other options may include: an omelet at a diner, rotisserie chicken and pre-made salad from a grocery store, or an apple or hard boiled egg from a gas station.
You always have a choice and there is always a solution at hand. You may just need to tap into your creativity.
I love finding ways to be active in the local community. In Tulum this meant that I got to enjoy yoga with the most exquisite views. If traveling to a LA or NY this might look like finding fun boutique workout classes. Maybe you’re in a place that has neither and you enjoy a morning jog, walk or stretch.
Sleep more than you normally would at home. Sleep is one of the most restorative activities you can do – it’s when the body’s tissues heal. Melatonin, a hormone released during sleep is one of the most potent antioxidants. Perhaps this is why so many of us return from vacation feeling (and looking) years younger!
Constipation on vacation is a real thing and it totally sucks to feel bloated when you are trying to feel slender and graceful on a beautiful white sand beach (to fully morph into the mermaid you truly are!). Because of this I rarely leave home without Magnesium citrate, which not only helps deepen your quality of sleep but also helps improve the regularity in which you GO. Try Klaire Labs Magnesium Citrate.
Dehydration is incredibly constipating, which is sexy to no one. Drink at least 1 L water for every 3 hours on flight and carry out a water bottle, especially if you’re traveling to a hot or humid climate.
Get in the Mindset
Most of all enjoy yourself! Vacation isn’t only a break from your physical environment, but it is also a way to create mental space and find more inspiration in your life. Traveling is the tool to help you access this higher, more powerful and inspirational version of yourself. If you are in a negative mind space your time away can be counter-productive. So get back to that intention and think about what you hope to achieve most when you’re away.
Bon voyage and safe travels!