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To truly benefit from travel, you must be willing to step outside of your routine and be open to your normal, day-to-day routines being disrupted. And while this is generally a great and very positive aspect of travel, it can be a significant disadvantage when it comes to your regular fitness routine.
An otherwise enjoyable period spent staying fit may be ruined if you deviate from your normal exercise and sleep routines due to excessive amounts of delicious food and drink, drowsy travel times, and the allure of new experiences. This usually results in you returning home mentally stimulated and inspired by your most recent experiences, but physically exhausted from being wrung out.
However, this is not required to be the case. With a little self-discipline and concentration, you can experience all the wonders of your destination while still maintaining a healthy routine – and without losing all of the healthy gains you have made at home over the previous months.
Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way (often the hard way) to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle while traveling:
There are times when the allure of staying up late and partying or battling jet lag to visit yet another temple, museum, or artifact is so strong that you don’t get enough sleep. Don’t be afraid to go to bed a few minutes earlier now and then.
Even though it can be difficult to ignore the amazing new place right outside your door, renting a movie and watching it in your hotel room one night or simply taking a nap is not a problem. Both of these options are perfectly acceptable. If you do this activity every other night, you will feel revitalized and refueled, and the quality of your experience the next day will be greatly improved as a result.
This can be difficult at times, especially in areas where the water from the tap is not drinkable. However, you should make an effort to stay as hydrated as possible, as frequently as possible (and try to use reusable containers when you can – or at least recycle all those plastic bottles). I rarely turn down the opportunity to drink clean water (you never know when you’ll get another), and I also try to refill my water bottle and/or hydration system as frequently as possible.
Another tip for staying hydrated is to drink dehydrated coconut water, which, despite sounding like an oxymoron, is high in electrolytes and minerals like potassium. It takes up very little room in your bag and is an effective way to stay hydrated, which is especially important before, during, and after a night out. Or, in tropical countries like Thailand, you could simply buy some fresh coconut water from a street vendor!
One of the joys of traveling is trying new foods, but when dining out, try to be mindful of your choices. If you usually make a light dinner at home, order a portion that is roughly the same size when you are out. My typical dinner consists of a soup or salad and an appetizer, which is all I need to keep me satisfied until breakfast (depending on my activity levels that day). Take care not to become so enamored with the location that you crave a piece of it by devouring it all.
Don’t go overboard by ordering the main course, an appetizer, and a salad, then devouring the bread and topping it all off with dessert – at least not every meal. I’m not saying you shouldn’t treat yourself now and then, but we all know how drowsy you get after a big meal, and who wants to spend their vacation days exhausted?
Beware Of Airport Food
Oh, please be extremely cautious when eating in airports and on airplanes! It’s all too easy to fall into bad habits when you’re stuck in an airport or otherwise unable to move and have nothing better to do but munch.
When deciding what to eat at the airport, make deliberate rather than impulsive decisions, and if you have the time, don’t be afraid to walk through the terminals and look for some nutritious food options elsewhere (additionally the walk will do you well too).
To help you avoid the high-fat, high-carb foods that are abundant in airports, I recommend always traveling with some dried, natural snacks when possible. This will not only keep you from getting stuck somewhere without food, but it will also keep you away from the high-fat, high-carb foods that are common in airports.
If you consider even a few of these suggestions, you will be able to enjoy your next amazing adventure feeling healthier, more energized, and better rested. If you think about these suggestions, you might be able to save your vacation because they will help you avoid getting sick while you are away or even after you return home.