Staying fit and healthy while travelling can sometimes feel like a real challenge. Fitness routines fall by the wayside and healthy eating regimes get forgotten at the first sign of an all you can eat breakfast. There are the regular stops for a ‘cold one’, the snacks along the way and the long days on buses limiting your physical activity to climbing up and down the steps of your vehicle.
But staying healthy while travelling doesn’t have to be a chore. With just a few simple tweaks to your holiday routine, you can maintain your healthy lifestyle and get more from your trip. After all, better food and drink choices and increased activity are sure to help improve your energy levels and your mood as well as helping you look after your waistline.
So next time you head off on an adventure try these five tips to help keep you healthy.
Drink lots of water and take a good water bottle with you.
It can be easy to succumb to buying too many soft drinks or other local sweet and sugary drinks while travelling, especially when you’re heading to a hot climate. And in places where you can’t drink the local tap water, a soda can often be the cheaper or easier option. But taking along your own drink bottle (and purifying tablets if necessary) can help save your wallet, your waistline and the environment – it’s a win for all. If you’re on a tour, ask if your tour leader or driver can buy a large bottled water that you can all use to fill up your drink bottles instead of resorting to individual plastic bottles or if staying somewhere on your own for a few days, buy your own large bottle to fill up your personal water bottle for daily use.
Take fresh fruit on those long transit days
Often your hotel breakfast will include fresh fruit – just make sure they are happy for you to take items away with you, not all hotels like guests taking items from the breakfast bar outside the hotel. If fruit isn’t provided at your hotel, or you can’t take it with you, head to the nearest market or supermarket and purchase your fruit of choice for the day. It’s much better for your energy levels and your health to snack on fresh fruit instead of chips, biscuits or chocolate. And, as well as being healthier, visiting a local food market and choosing fruit is a great way to experience the local culture and try some new foods.
Visit the markets and top up on breakfast and lunch items, or choose the healthy options in your included meals
It can be tempting when on holiday to go for the kinds of foods you wouldn’t eat every day at home. And while it’s important to acknowledge that you are on holidays and should enjoy a hearty breakfast, sometimes those breakfasts are less than healthy. Many comprise of processed white bread and jams, but a trip to the market to buy local fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, avocados and fresh fruit can give you a much healthier breakfast, will be more filling and generally higher in fibre. In hotels fruit, yoghurts and muesli and generally provided on the breakfast menu, or you could try an egg on multi grain bread for a healthier cooked breakfast option.
Similarly, at lunch time, instead of opting for another restaurant meal, why not pick up some local fruits and vegetables and head into a local park for a picnic. As well as generally being better for your health, you’ll get to see how the local communities use their open spaces.
Taking a walking or cycling tour or hiking is a great way to see the sights of any new city and will help you get your step count up for the day. Travelling can often involve long hours sitting on buses so before you start the day, do some stretches, make use of the hotel gym or simply take a walk. Being on holiday can also be a great time to try new activities or old favourites that you haven’t done in a while like swimming or kayaking. Just remember it doesn’t need to be too strenuous, the key is to get active, you don’t want to give yourself an injury on your holiday and have to spend the rest of the time off your feet!
Watch the booze
It can be easy to get into the habit of drinking daily on trips – at lunch and dinner– and those calories can really add up. Break it up with water or a lime and soda. And instead of heading to a local pub when the sun starts to set, try checking out a new vantage point in the city to take in the sunset or heading out for a sunset activity that doesn’t involve drinking. Also stay active and hydrated with water so you don’t rely on booze to quench your thirst at the end of the day. You’ll feel better the next morning and have far more energy for your travels.
Alice Bastable is a Melbourne-based dietician, Diane Squires is a writer and tour host with Two’s a Crowd.