Whether you travel long term or seasonally, it’s important to not let the change of routine impact your overall physical health. True, you may not have access to your regular fitness facilities, or homemade dishes and snacks when abroad. But do not use this as an excuse to turn your trip to many days of “cheating.” Here are a few tips on how to stay in shape while travelling and keep to your good dietary and exercise habits. Before you jump to conclusions, let us reassure you. It’s possible to have a fantastic time and immerse yourself into travel adventures while staying healthy. One does not exclude the other.
Research the local cuisine
What we hear our locals most often say is that the be-all and end-all of local travelling is the food. A selection of traditional dishes at a koutouki in Athens, for example, is a fun and interactive culture lesson. Good news is that there’s no need for sacrificing food-related experiences during travelling. However, before you set off, research the local cuisine and make a list of the dishes you want to try. Allow for a couple of cheat-days, and check for healthier alternatives of your favorite recipes.
Pack your special snacks
Light meals and treats can prove beneficial when trying to maintain your shape. Whether you are planning hiking tours, on foot sightseeing, or relaxing on the beach, it’s wise to have access to healthy bites at any time. If you worry that you won’t find these on the supermarket shelves of your destination, pack your favorite non-perishables. An energy-boosting snack will not only protect your body from binge eating but will also save you money.
Bring a light fitness item
There are many equipment-free exercises, which you can do anywhere as long as you have the motivation. For example, running, yoga, or a series of short workouts ideal for your hotel room, closeby park, or the beach. However, with a bit of help, you may achieve even better results. Consider taking with you a skipping rope or a resistance band. Unpack it, so you are reminded every day of your commitment to stay fit during your trip.
Beat jet lag
Our brain’s natural reaction to sleep deprivation and tiredness is to alert us for energy (aka food). From the moment you land to your destination, start listening to your body’s needs. Are you hungry or tired? There are several good practices to help you get back on your feet after a long-haul flight or an unexpected layover. Stay hydrated, work out to recover your biological clock, and take a power nap. As you can tell, none includes calories, so you are already on the right track.
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Every little counts
“Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Take the moment and make it perfect.” You can apply this saying to almost everything in life, including staying fit while travelling. Don’t wait for the best exercise setting in your neighborhood, or a world class gym in your hotel to be active. Instead, do what you can with what you have, and make conscious choices. For example, take the stairs versus the elevator, and walk or cycle whenever you can take public transport. Unless it’s late at night and you aren’t familiar with the area. Not only you will burn calories, but it’s guaranteed you will see more of your destination.
Visit the local markets
Apart from a delightful, first-hand experience of the local culture, markets are also an excellent way to stay healthy. Instead of having two to three meals per day at cafés, restaurants, and food kiosks, buy groceries from local markets. Cooking your food means you are in control of your portions and can use fresh ingredients. If your accommodation lacks kitchen amenities, throw together some vegetables, tuna or salmon, and enjoy a filling, yet healthy, salad.
Be open about your commitment
When travelling solo, it may be easier to stick to your plan, and not let things such as a slice of freshly-baked croissant divert you from it. However, when travelling with family, friends, or even your partner, things get a bit more complicated. Especially, when you don’t all have the same objectives. To achieve your fitness goals, speak to your fellow travellers about them in advance. Explain why this matters to you. Help them understand that saying no to the extra shot of alcohol, or a hefty meal, doesn’t mean you won’t be sharing the fun of the trip.
Identify the local sports activities
Travelling is an excellent opportunity to spice up your fitness routine by incorporating new activities. It may be something you always wanted to try but never had the chance before or something unique to the country or the city you are visiting. Cape Town has many hiking opportunities. Mauritius is ideal for morning and evening swimming, as well as other watersports. If you are in Barcelona, you can do day tours on a bicycle, and in Denmark, you can surf.
Allow time for relaxation
Exploring a new city, adapting to a climate, and immersing yourself in a different culture can be overwhelming. Add to this your efforts to stay healthy, and it’s all too much possibly. Take it easy, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember all the reasons you love travelling, and make the most of your destination at your leisure. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to go back home rejuvenated, full of new ideas, and without any regrets.
Find the right balance
Whatever you do, avoid extreme situations. You don’t want to go back home and start dieting, but you also don’t want your whole trip to turn into an obsession about staying fit. You can establish a balance with some planning. For example, if you are going to eat a big dinner out, have a healthy breakfast and a small lunch. Also, if you are in a hotel that serves continental breakfast, pick the healthiest options (e.g. eggs, yogurt, fruits), and avoid deep fried food and desserts. Last but not least, remember to drink plenty of water with alcoholic beverages.
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