[As appeared on Star Tribune] Ahhh, summertime. A time when many Americans pack up the family car or head to the skies for a getaway with the kids, or even a solo time of rest and relaxation.
Traveling is full of possibilities. It’s a chance to meet new people, see new places, try new foods and experience different cultures. Getting away is exciting, but also a challenge for those of us who want to make healthy lifestyle choices.
When you’re in the airport after a delayed flight surrounded by screaming children, nothing sounds better than Starbucks and a freshly baked Cinnabon®. Although it may be a challenge, learning to roll with the punches and make the best choice available teaches us how to be savvy when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle while traveling.
Of course, not every choice is going to be an easy one and sometimes we will stumble (like when you order a salad and it comes with fried chicken on top). However, it’s not about perfection, it’s about continuing to adjust and make changes instead of simply giving up.
Through the Medi-Share Health and Wellness team’s experiences traveling for work, they have gained valuable insight into maintaining a healthy lifestyle while traveling, both with meal choices as well as staying active.
Lessons Learned on How to Eat Healthy While Traveling
An important part of eating healthy while traveling is remembering to pack healthy food.
Traveling tends to make people hungry and, unfortunately, healthy snacks are not always easy to find at most stops. Therefore, pack healthy snacks such as carrots, clementines, or raw nuts since healthy alternatives are often limited.
Call your hotel to request amenities such as a refrigerator and microwave. These two items can vastly increase the variety of foods that can be packed.
Staying active while traveling is another key component to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. By planning ahead with ways you can exercise on your trip, you can pack accordingly in order to be prepared.
Athletic trainer and health coach at Medi-Share, Katie Kolb, has experience traveling with college athletic teams. She suggests including shoes and clothes you can comfortably walk or run in, as well as resistance bands as an option to exercise while traveling.
There are many ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle while traveling by plane. Although TSA has certain restrictions, smaller snacks such as nuts or dried fruit are allowed in carry-on luggage, while other food can be packed in checked bags.
Checking a bag greatly reduces the restrictions on the foods and beverages you can take with you. Anything from your favorite beverage to your favorite salad can be packed. Just be sure it is sealed well and include ice blocks if needed.
Bringing a refillable water bottle on your trip is also a must. Once through the security checkpoint, you can refill your water bottle instead of buying overpriced water or soda, giving yourself a healthier option.
Even at airports with limited food options, you usually can find healthy options to eat including vegetables and hummus, vegetarian burrito bowls, Mediterranean wraps, or a smoothie.
After arriving at your destination, it is tempting to give in to unhealthier meal choices. However, nutritious options are often available. The key is to focus on how these foods will benefit and affect your body.
Usually hotels offer a continental breakfast, this gives you the option to choose something like oatmeal and fresh fruit as a hearty breakfast meal.
Most hotels also offer small fitness facilities and a pool, allowing you the opportunity to sneak some exercise into your downtime.
One of the best parts of traveling is getting to experience different kinds of food and restaurants. Eating well does not have to become a chore, especially when you view it as a chance to seek out the best restaurants on your trip.
You can ask locals for recommendations that offer healthy choices such as satisfying salads, vegetarian sandwiches and pizzas, grain bowls, and different varieties of soup.
Even if you end up at a restaurant with no real healthy options, do your best by ordering sides to create a meal or sharing items. Some restaurant menus might require a bit of creativity to find something on the healthier side, but it’s usually possible.
Consider, for example, fast food restaurants. They are notorious for being unhealthy, but if you look closely you can find better options such as a salad. You may be thinking you have looked at the salads and they are very high in calories. This is sometimes true, but if we alter them by holding the croutons, cheese, and/or dressing, the health factor increases significantly!
Other fast food options could be a baked potato, fruit or vegetable slices, lettuce wrap, or vegetable soup. Mix and match to create a satisfying meal.
No need to stress, just do your best to stay healthy and enjoy every bit of it!
Living a healthy lifestyle while traveling may seem like a daunting task. However, as the Health and Wellness team learned on their travels, making choices that support our bodies while away from home can be a fun challenge! Without expecting perfection, you can enjoy what the local area has to share and return home guilt free.
For additional resources, check out the Medi-Share Wellness Library for free health and wellness tips!