Staying healthy while traveling can be a real challenge. I’m all for relaxing and not worrying too much about a few indulgences while traveling but I also think it’s important to make healthy choices most of the time. Here are my top tips for healthy travel:
First, there is nothing wrong with eating out while traveling! Sampling local food is one of the best ways to truly experience the city or region you’re visiting and one of my favorite things about travel. While I’m all for treating yourself while on vacation, (especially if its a local favorite) I find that I feel better and enjoy my trip more when I stick to healthy whole foods as much as possible.
I love doing a little research ahead of time, through websites like Yelp and Happy Cow. (Happy Cow is an awesome resource for finding vegan and vegetarian restaurants around the world.) After getting a few restaurant ideas, I usually take a quick look at the menu ahead of time to make sure they have a couple of options that work for me. I watch out for menus that are filled with words like “fried, breaded, creamy, crisp, and au fromage” and look for dishes that use a variety of vegetables and include vegetarian sources of protein. Sharing dishes is the best way to try a smaller portion of a dish that’s a bit more indulgent.
In Munich, we were on the hunt for a beer garden that offered up more than the traditional German sausages and schnitzel. With a quick Yelp search, we found Ayinger Brewery, who ended up serving up my favorite meal of the trip. This Vegan Grøstl is a great example of a regional dish thats also nutritious. Traditionally served with bacon and onions, Ayinger’s version of the potato hash came with tofu, onions, tomato, and seeds…YUM!
Ahh, this one really gets to me. Complementary hotel breakfasts, especially in the US, usually leave us deciding between sugary cereals, processed meats, toast with (more sugary) jelly, and eggs that are just a bit too yellow and room temperature for my taste. When I’m forced to fuel up at this type of hotel breakfast, I usually go for oatmeal or raisin bran topped with sliced banana. Bonus points if they have soy milk or peanut butter.
So that I’m not forced to fill up at the buffet, I also try to bring healthier breakfast and snack options from home. Even without a kitchen, you can start the day with a big bowl of oatmeal! Just pack a mason jar with all of your dry ingredients (oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut, protein powder, etc.) and use the hotel coffee maker to heat water. I’ll also often pack energy bites, energy bars, or trail mix to have as a small breakfast or healthy snack.
Our routines are usually completely thrown off while traveling, so it can be difficult to fit in regular workouts. Dietitian confession: I rarely go to the hotel gym or have a traditional “workout session” while traveling.
My favorite way to work physical activity into a vacation is to plan the entire trip around being active! Most of our trips include some sort of hiking, skiing/snowboarding, paddle boarding, or biking on the itinerary. This work for us because we find we enjoy ourselves most when we are moving outside.
What if outdoor sports aren’t your thing or you’re traveling to a big city? Skip the tour busses and instead rent bikes or explore the city by foot. Its really amazing how much ground you can cover while walking and I find the experience is usually much more authentic than driving.
At the airport:
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a nutritious snack or meal at the airport. Bring a reusable water bottle from home that you can fill up once you pass security. (This saves you from the hassle – and cost – of buying a plastic water bottle.) See tips #1 and #2 if you’re forced to eat out at the airport or are looking for snacks that you can bring from home. My go-to choices at the airport include trail mix, granola bars, fresh fruit, and veggies with hummus.
On the plane, my best tip is to request a special meal in advance of your flight. Most airlines offer vegan and vegetarian options and can cater to special diets or allergies. On our way to Europe, we requested “Asian Vegetarian” meals and got a pretty tasty Indian curry!