Maintaining our healthy habits while traveling is challenging for most of us. While on vacation, we naturally want to enjoy ourselves, thereby indulging more. Also, we can’t follow our regular routine, since we are away from our gyms and the food we normally eat. Airports and planes don’t exactly have the best options when it comes to fresh, nutritious food either. This all makes preparation mandatory!
The following are my tips on how to prepare:
- Pack your sneakers! See if your hotel has a gym in advance. Some hotels even offer exercises classes or yoga. If they don’t, plan on running, walking or hiking instead, which should be easy anyway if you are site-seeing. Otherwise, find some workout videos that don’t require equipment online and go at it! If you have ClassPass 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. By simply 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 the flight and also while on the go. Stainless steel is preferable to other types of water bottles due to being portable, lightweight, environment-friendly and BPA free. Here is a great option.
- Pack some healthy snacks and/or a meal. Airplane food tends to be very high in sodium and typically has preservatives. Some 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. When 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 also want to bring some 70% dark chocolate with you.
- Bring a small blender with you. They are light-weight and will allow for you to make your own healthy breakfast or lunch if you don’t have good options. This is the one that I take with me. I bring packets of vegan protein powder with me. Usually, I can find almond milk and fruit at a nearby grocery store or the hotel to make a smoothie. To avoid getting charged for emptying your hotel room refrigerator and make room to stock up on healthy foods, call in advance to ask them to empty the mini bar. This will also prevent urges to snack on the unhealthy cookies and chips.
- Modify dishes to be healthy. Some hotels and/or restaurants may not offer very healthy options on their menu, so ask if you 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 with it. You can always ask if the chef can prepare a plant-based vegetarian main dish for you. Also, I recommend ordering a salad and/or vegetable sides. Ask for the dressing on the side or use some 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 the digestion of food, as well as probiotics to maintain the good bacteria in the gut, which can be a challenge when eating and drinking overseas.
- Read a book. People overeat when they are bored. Take a health/ nutrition book to keep yourself motivated! I highly recommend In Defence 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 some 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. The teas that I would suggest bringing include ginger, peppermint and chamomile. Choose an organic and non-GMO certified brand of tea, such as Numi or Traditional Medicinals. Most places use pesticide-ridden tea and brands that have harmful 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 the area 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. By using Google Maps, you can search for restaurants nearby your hotel, check out their menu online and see which offter the healthy options that look good to you. I also recommend calling the local health food store for suggestions. They may even have their own café.