9 Tips To Avoid Weight Gain While Vacation Traveling

by | Oct 18, 2010
Whole Roasted Pig

Whole Roasted Pig

Vacation and travel is tricky business for someone looking to live a healthy lifestyle. While your time away is meant to be a break from your regular daily restrictions, most of us would rather not return home with extra luggage around our waists.

So how do you find the balance?

In my experience, despite eating slightly worse on vacation than I do at home, weight gain is pretty easy (even fun) to avoid. In fact, the more extended my break, the more likely I am to actually lose weight during my vacation. And it doesn’t require any sacrifices in relaxation or enjoyment.

Here are my tricks for staying thin while traveling.

9 Tips To Avoid Weight Gain While Vacation Traveling

1. Relax

You can’t expect to eat like a saint during your entire vacation, and I would argue that you shouldn’t even try to. But don’t sweat it, if you follow the rest of the advice below there should be plenty of room for fun and indulgence in your travels.

2. Eat before heading to the airport.

Airport food is horrid, and the food on flight is even worse. Even if you’re rushing around packing before your trip, budget time for a healthy meal as close to takeoff as possible. If your flight is less than 6 hours you can probably get through it without eating (or finishing) whatever the airline is serving. Also consider packing nuts or fruit in your carry on luggage for an inflight snack. But don’t forget to eat it before getting off the plane if you’re heading somewhere with agricultural restrictions.

3. Bring sturdy shoes and shorts.

When you’re active your body can be very forgiving with an occasional dessert or heavier meal. To encourage yourself to get moving on your trip, bring a pair or older running shoes. Though these will allow you to use the hotel gym if necessary, they’re even more useful for longer hikes and walks where you can explore the local scenery. Your shoes might get destroyed in the process though, so you probably don’t want to bring your newest pair.

4. Do stuff.

Chilling on the beach is awesome, but don’t spend all your time lounging around. Vacation settings tend to be filled with fun activities that can be surprisingly effective at burning calories. For instance, I wouldn’t have expected an hour on a jet ski to be particularly strenuous (and it was crazy fun), but the next day I had aches in muscles it feels like I haven’t used in years. Have some fun and earn yourself some extra calories in the evening. Hikes, sports, and even a sunset stroll is likely to be more activity than you’d be getting in front of the TV at home.

5. Take advantage of traditional, local specialties.

The big, sugary waffles and french toast can be tempting, but you can get stuff like that anywhere. Traditional foods tend to have long local histories and therefore have fewer processed ingredients than usual indulgence foods. Explore the regional culture and look for foods that emphasize fresh, local ingredients.

6. Eat small portions.

When you’re not in your hometown you’re likely to be eating every single meal in a restaurant, and restaurant portions are huge. While on vacation, get in the habit of not finishing your food. Eat half your sandwich, split entrees with your travel partner and order meals off the appetizer menu. Desserts are often less tasty than you’d expect, so limiting these to a few bites (assume you’re getting 50-100 calories per bite) can help tremendously. Trust me, you won’t go hungry.

7. Watch your drinking.

If you’re anything like me vacations mean lots of drinking, and it often starts very early in the day. Therefore to avoid overdoing it you need to monitor yourself by spacing out your drinks as much as possible and making sure you get plenty of water. Get in the habit of making every other or every third drink order a water or sparkling water with citrus. This will both slow you down and keep you hydrated, encouraging fewer hangovers and more fun all around.

8. Watch your sugar.

When ordering drinks and food on vacation, a little sugar every now and then won’t kill you—particularly if you’re very active. But if you’re having 3 or more drinks per day, margaritas, mojitos and beer are probably not the best choices. I recommend finding a drink or two that you’re happy drinking that has relatively low sugar. I’m partial to Salty Dogs (vodka and grapefruit juice with a salted rim), which have no added sugar and natural fruit juice. I also enjoy champagne, but find whatever works for you. Avoid foods with honey or sugar-based glazes (teriyaki, BBQ, honey-based salad dressings, etc.) and again, eat desserts in sample mode.

9. Aim for eating healthy-ish twice per day.

Even on vacation, you’re probably only going to face one heavy, not so healthy meal per day. The rest of the time it’s a good idea to eat as healthy as possible. Local foods can be helpful for this (e.g. the poke in Hawaii is very healthy and tasty), but even simple salads, fish tacos, fruit plates, oatmeal, etc. can be useful when you just need a few calories to get by until the next meal.

Vacations are for enjoyment, but you don’t need to gain weight in the process.

What are your tricks for eating healthy on vacation?

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20 Responses to “9 Tips To Avoid Weight Gain While Vacation Traveling”

  1. Ken Leebow says:

    Since I travel a lot, thanks for the tips … One thing that I recommend is to bring along your favorite filling snack … the first two listed here are always in my suitcase … http://bit.ly/czLBjt

  2. Umm… best photo ever?

    Just got back from my delayed honeymoon in Italy… we completely failed to follow numbers 6-9 but did pretty good on the other ones.

    I don’t think either of us gained any noticeable amount of weight…

  3. Danielle says:

    If you’re going to a beach or tropical vacation area, take advantage of the water as much as possible. Even wading or trying to balance in waves proves to be a good workout. Body surfing, wave jumping and boogie boarding are even fun. 😛

  4. Michael says:

    Ha! Nice article. I covered a lot of this territory in a post called How To Eat Well While Traveling I come at it from a slightly different angle (health versus weight) but there is quite a bit of overlap.

    Enjoy Hawaii. I’m still in Eastern Europe and thoroughly enjoying it.

  5. Joey Quinton says:

    Is that Kevin Rose in the pic???

  6. Joey Quinton says:

    Kevin is one nice guy! I have followed him since The Screen Saver days.

  7. Ritag says:

    I have been very busy, so have miised some of your posts, but I do really enjoy reading you.
    Love your tips.

  8. Katie says:

    I went to Mexico during winter break and lost weight. I stuck to fish tacos and ate a ton of guac and went to the markets every other day and stocked up on fruits. We also “backpacked”, so whenever we got off the bus we wandered around town looking for hostels while lugging our huge backpacks. Definitely a workout! Plus we also made the most of hiking the ruins and surfing at the beaches and scuba diving. Make it an active vacation!

  9. Bookmytrip says:

    The all 9 tips are really good. Thanks for sharing the useful tips.

  10. Danielle says:

    How was the pig roast?

  11. Solozaur says:

    Hehe, seen the photo of that pig on latest diggnation – but what kind of bananas are those? They look super green!

  12. Snowlady says:

    Just got back from a week at a guest ranch. I rode 3-4 hours a day (loping and trotting, not just walking), mountain biked, swam in the pool, walked everywhere. I ate salads, fruit and lean meats, and vegetables with a small desert (cookies) once a day.

    Result – 5 pounds heavier when I returned. Could this be water retention because I exercised much more than usual?

    • Darya Pino says:

      It could be. Also, exercising more often means eating more, which can cause weight gain even if the food is healthy.

    • miranda says:

      Muscle weighs more than fat so you might have gained muscle. You cant always trust the scale

      • Snowlady says:

        I know it takes longer than a week to build a measurable amount of muscle, so I think it was water retention. At any rate, I dropped the extra scale pounds within a week. Next time I’ll wait at least a week after returning from vacation to check the schedule.

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