Staying healthy can be a daily battle, and travel can add an extra layer of challenge by throwing off your routines. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to use travel to your advantage when it comes to staying fit and healthy. Guest blogger Michelle C. of IntentionalTravelers.com shares her tips.
As we all know, there are two keys to improving our health: eating well and exercising regularly. Being "digital nomads," my husband and I have lived in various places around the world and are frequently on the move. Throughout our travels, we've developed a number of strategies to ensure that we can maintain our health on the road, despite our ever-changing living situations.
In my own experience, the fastest way to gain weight is to dine out all the time. There's something about eating at a restaurant—especially when traveling to a new place—that triggers the urge to try as many things as possible and consume like you'll never see another meal again. For long-term travelers like us, dining out for every meal is bad for our bellies, not to mention our wallets.
The primary way we counteract the temptation to over-indulge is to find accommodations that have a kitchen. We almost always opt for an apartment rental over a hotel room, usually through AirBnB.com. This allows us to cook some of our own meals, which are almost always healthier and cheaper than what we'd get at a restaurant. And we love taking advantage of local produce!
Of course, a big benefit of traveling is experiencing the local flavors, so you're going to want to eat out at least a little bit. I often use Yelp.com to search for lighter fare like salads or smoothies to balance out the heavier meals we might be eating throughout the week. Also, we like to order "family style" so that everyone gets to try a little bit of several different menu items but no one has to finish off all those dishes on their own.
I cannot emphasize enough how important our habit of regular exercise has been to keeping us healthy over the years. That's why we've been really intentional about finding creative ways to stay active while on the road.
Walk, Run, Hike, Bike
Visiting a new place can actually be a great motivation to stay active. With the power of your own two feet, you can explore and exercise at the same time! While at a conference in DC, we would make use of our few free hours in the morning by jogging to various sights along the National Mall. During our big road trips through the National Parks, we'd go on a hike or a take a bike ride to a new place each day. We choose many of our travel destinations specifically for the hiking—like our recent trip to the Swiss Alps where we found this gorgeous four-mile walk through mountainside vineyards.
Work Out Videos
It's not always possible to exercise in the great outdoors while traveling. Weather can be a factor, and sometimes safety is a concern as well. When we lived as Peace Corps Volunteers in Jamaica for two years, our options for running and hiking were greatly limited, so we substituted a series of work out videos that we could do inside our little living room. We've actually reviewed a number of the top work out programs on our travel blog, but our first go-to is usually "Focus T25" by BeachBody. T25 consists of 15 different workouts led by ShaunT (who also did the Insanity fitness program). Each workout is 25 minutes long, and many of them can be done without equipment, so it's easy to take on the road. We also like to rotate in other workouts from programs like P90X-3 and Jillian Michael's Ripped in 30.
Those are some of the key strategies we've used to maintain a balanced diet and active lifestyle during our travels. Hopefully they'll make it easier for you to make healthy choices on your next trip as well.