12 Tips for Healthy Travel

By: Sarah Young
Giancarlo Liguori / Shutterstock.com

Traveling for business or pleasure can easily derail your health and fitness regime. It’s easy to fall into the trap of high calorie meals and little exercise because “I’m on vacation” but, with a little research, some smart packing, and a bit of prioritization, you’ll be on your way to the healthiest trip of your life.  These 12 healthy travel tips will keep you in optimal health both in transit and once you reach your destination.


1.  Research the Food and Stock Up Upon Arrival   

The more you can research and investigate prior to your trip, the easier it will be to maintain a healthy lifestyle while traveling.  To stay on track with your food, try to find a nearby grocery store or health food store, look up a couple of well rated restaurants that offer some healthy choices, and try to stay somewhere with a fridge (bonus for a kitchenette or full kitchen).  Knowing the lay of the land gives you an advantage as you’ll have an easier time finding healthy options for eating in and out.

Grocery shopping

2. Keep your Breakfasts and Lunches Healthy

Structuring your days as making breakfast, packing lunch, and going out for dinner allows you to explore the local food scene while getting in some solid nutrition throughout your days away.  If you have the capacity to make some of your meals, you can exert control over your food choices which can help you stay on track while on vacation.  Even if you don’t have access to a fridge or a kitchen, you can still find some healthy packaged options that can make meals.  Since exploring a new country means sampling exciting and exotic new foods, don’t completely deprive yourself – check out some new restaurants and be sure to try something new, just don’t eat out breakfast, lunch, and dinner for your entire trip or you might hurt your waistline and your wallet…

Packed lunch

3. Get as Much Sleep as You Can

Both in transit and once you arrive; try to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep every night while away.  Sometimes work and play gets in the way of sleep, but if you make it a priority, you can easily achieve your sleep goals.  If you are adjusting to a new time zone, try to stay awake on the first day until your usual bedtime in your new place, and then go for a full night’s sleep to quickly adjust.  Adequate sleep helps your immune system stay strong and promotes recovery, so prioritize accordingly!

Alarm Clock

4. Scope Out the Local Fitness Scene

Try to find healthy activities that you are excited about at your destination.  If you are a crossfitter, look up a local box.  If you are a yogi, find a nearby yoga studio.  At a beach?  Grab a surf or stand up paddle board lesson.  Some fitness institutions allow free drop-ins or have promotions for out-of-towners.  Not only is it a great way to maintain your exercise regimen while traveling, it can be an authentic way to connect with those in your temporary community and feel a part of something while in transit.  Who knows?  You might make some lifelong friends or learn something new.



5. Make your Own Workouts

If you want to get your sweat on but don’t want to spend any money, make up your own workout!  If you’re staying somewhere with a fitness facility, make yourself a hotel workout using their equipment, head to a park for a bodyweight workout using the playground equipment, hit up the pool, and remember that you can get in a good workout just about anywhere by combining things like pushups, sit-ups, squats, and sprints!

Fitness Center

6. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is key to feeling your best.  Pack an empty water bottle while flying that you can fill up once you’ve passed through security, and stay ahead of dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids.  If you are exercising while traveling or headed somewhere hotter or more humid than your usual climate, make sure to take in extra water.  As an added bonus, staying fully hydrated prevents your body from confusing being thirsty with being ravenous and accidentally consuming too much!

Drinking Water

7. Pack Meals and Snacks

Avoid unhealthy, greasy, processed food while traveling by packing your own meals and snacks.  Bringing healthy food from home ensures you know exactly what goes into your food and prevents you from spending money on food that doesn’t even taste good!  Before you pack a Tupperware of sloppy soup, make sure you check out the rules to make sure you don’t get hassled at airport security. Also be cautious about traveling with fresh fruits, vegetables or meat and dairy products as there are many restrictions about bringing these into other countries. Make sure you declare any food products upon arrival! If you have some favorite packaged snacks like protein bars, beef jerky, or nuts, you could stash some extras in your checked luggage to have once you arrive at your destination.

Fruit and nuts

8. Walk Every Day

Exploring your destination on foot is an amazing way to sneak in some exercise while traveling.  Grab a map, get lost, get found, and take in the sights, smells, and sounds of where you are.  This is a great way to find hidden gems that aren’t in the travel guides.  Depending on where you travel, you may want to consider restricting walking and exploring to daylight and enlisting a travel companion to be your walking buddy to double up on safety.

Giancarlo Liguori / Shutterstock.com
Giancarlo Liguori / Shutterstock.com

9. Rent a Bike

Cover more ground while torching calories by renting a bike.  Many major cities have bike share programs, or you could contact a local bike store to inquire about bike rentals.  Grab a bike map of the city, research day trips and pack a picnic, and get exploring.  If you’re traveling for fun and have an open schedule, you could even research bike tours – many cities offer them and are a great way to cover a large distance in a short amount of time while avoiding motorized vehicles. If you have to cover long distances consider an electric car vs gas which is better for the environment and your lungs from the exhaust gas-powered vehicles emit.



10. Pack your Gym Gear, Vitamins, and Supplements

It is a lot harder to find motivation to work out while traveling if you don’t have the gear that you need!  Always pack gym gear so that you have no excuse not to exercise, and consider bringing some light weight equipment like a skipping rope to boost your workouts on the road.  If you regularly take vitamins and supplements, pack yourself a supply for the duration of your travel so that you can maintain your routine while you are away.  Keeping up with healthy habits can have a snowball effect where if you maintain healthy aspects of your regular routine, you are motivated to make other healthy choices with respect to your food and exercise while on vacation.

Gym Gear

11. Plan Ahead for Special Dietary Needs

If you’re gluten-intolerant, celiac, or have other food allergies, consider printing a card that lists your dietary needs in the local language.  This way, you can communicate your requirements to the staff in a way that they understand so that you get what you want to stay healthy while traveling.  Sometimes in the service industry, the staff is so eager to please the customers that they will assure them that something is possible without fully understanding the implications, so if you are risking a health problem, this could be a low fuss solution.

Grain Free

12. Keep a Dictionary on Hand

If you are traveling somewhere with a different language, pack a dictionary and keep it close to help you navigate the menu and make healthy food choices.  You can’t avoid deep fried food and rich sauces if you don’t know that they’re in there!  Look up the words that you don’t understand to help you learn about cooking methods and ingredients so that you can choose healthy food.

Travel Dictionaries