When you take a vacation, it can be easy to overindulge and put on a few pounds. Cruises are notorious for all-you-can-eat buffets and lots of fruity alcoholic drinks, with passengers gaining an average of 5 to 10 pounds during the duration of one cruise. To take a 9-month trip around the world, however, we knew we couldn’t eat our way around the globe — although we definitely wanted to sample the local foods. We made a commitment before we embarked on our journey to do it in a healthy way. We promised ourselves we wouldn’t come back from our trip in worse shape than when we left. And we didn’t!
We know it’s tough to maintain your health on the road, so we’re sharing our tips on how we stayed healthy.
1. Make the commitment. It starts with the commitment to stay healthy, before you even begin your trip. We make annual goals together, so our goal for our travel year was to come back weighing the same or less. We decided we would only eat one really great meal a day, and then eat healthy during our two other daily meals. Having the mindset and the goals in place before you go will help you prepare ahead of time.
2. Stay disciplined. Finding the right balance between eating healthy and eating great food does require discipline. When you are traveling, especially to exotic countries, it can be enticing to want to try everything. By staying mostly at Airbnbs, we could eat a healthy breakfast in the morning, often have a salad or healthy lunch, and then enjoy a wonderful dinner, where we could sample the local cuisine and even dessert. Even when we took a cruise, we ate at the salad bar — we probably ate at the salad bar more than anyone else on our cruises!
3. Live like a local. You can learn a lot about a place by shopping at the local markets and grocery stores, while also buying healthy foods that will help you avoid eating out for every meal. (Saves money, too!) Staying at Airbnbs meant we had a kitchen and a homelike environment, so we could cook eggs and toast for breakfast, have healthy snacks, and cook either a healthy lunch or dinner.
4. Workout. Our commitment to stay healthy included a promise to work out three times a week. In fact, we may not have seen as much as we wanted in every city because we spent our mornings working out. We used a Bikini Body Guide 12-week workout course that we went through every week, starting over when we reached the 13th week. If our Airbnb had a gym, we’d use it, and we used gyms on cruise ships. Our style of travel also helped our healthy lifestyle because we love walking tours and walking around to get a feel of a city. Walking and carrying Aarav and his stroller really helped — we were our fittest ever in Europe! All those stairs and cobblestones, hills and walking tours!
5. Be prepared. When we hear people say that packing workout gear takes up too much room in a suitcase, we find that’s just another excuse. Because we made the commitment, we brought workout clothes. We wore sneakers on walking tours, so we had those with us. When we need weights for our workouts, we used whatever we could: Aarav’s car seat, his stroller, water bottles, whatever! Still, we picked workouts that didn’t require a lot of equipment: heavy on cardio, low on supplies. (Way too many burpees!) Airbnbs helped again by having washing machines so we could wash our workout clothes.
6. Keep track. We used an Apple Watch to keep track of our calories burned and how many steps we took each day. We also kept track of what we were eating, so if we had a particularly bad day, we could make adjustments. It wasn’t about our weight; it was about being fit.
7. Avoid buffets. The buffets on cruises and hotels with complimentary breakfasts are danger zones. With free food spread out before you, it’s easy to let your eyes get larger than your stomach. Avoid them, and avoid temptation.
8. Splurge! All this said, we did fully enjoy every place we visited with one awesome meal each day (mainly dinners). We would sample local specialties and trendy restaurants, having drinks, appetizers and desserts. We knew the trip wasn’t about touring a country, but sampling its culture and foods. Working out and eating well allowed us to do this every day, and it wasn’t us going overboard.
It is possible to travel and maintain your health. Having the right mindset from the start to finish will definitely help. And, if we are don’t traveling, so if you have some tried and true tips we can try, we’d love to hear from you!