Food is easily my second greatest love after travel. Which means when I travel, I think eating everything is part of the whole joyous experience. And it is. But I’m trying to learn balance, because when the trips start to add up, that means the scrumptious eats start to add up, which means the pounds start to add up.
Now, I don’t intend to be the grinch who stole joy and champion any form of “dieting” while traveling, but I think there’s a way to be reasonable. Bare with me because I’m still testing this out myself, but here’s a few ideas on how to stay (at least fairly) fit while jettsetting all over the world
Don’t eat all of everything
I definitely believe in trying mostly everything that’s offered to me when I travel—provided it’s not going to make me ill or make me question my morals—but the thing I think is key, is avoiding gluttony. Yes, that handmade, homemade Italian pasta may be the best thing you remember setting your tastebuds on in who knows how long, but maybe don’t eat four slices of bread before it or the whole slice of tiramisu after it. Some choices must be made. If you know you want every ounce of that pasta, skip desert or share it. If you don’t want to be bothered worrying about what you stuff your face with at dinner, maybe have a light breakfast or a salad for lunch. Balance. And don’t eat all of everything at every meal all the time. It’s too much and you know it.
Take all opportunities to walk/bike/swim
Thankfully, most travel typically involves a lot of walking. And thank goodness for all of that walking, because without it I would have come home from many more a trip with more pounds than I bargained for. As long as you’re somewhere safe where walking is OK and you’re not likely to be struck by any moving transportation, opt to go out on foot instead of hailing one of those modes of transportation. If you’re in a bike place, rent a bike and ride. If you’re in a beautiful place, walk up to that place with the best view. If you’re in a beach place, spend 10 minutes actually swimming like you mean it instead of just lounging in the water. The point is to make the exercise feel like part of what you would have been doing anyway so that it doesn’t feel like work. Also, when it’s really hot while you’re doing whatever you’re doing, don’t get annoyed, just take comfort in the fact that the heat is helping you with that calorie burning.
Spend 20 minutes exercising in your room
OK, I know spending time in a hotel gym is not on most people’s travel agendas, and I also know that dragging exercise clothes when you’re trying to pack light isn’t all that cool either. This is a tough one. I’ve been guilty of dragging my bulky exercise sneakers and workout clothes on a trip and then never dragging my behind to the gym to use them (I’ve actually done this so many times that I decided to just stop taking my sneakers instead of forcing myself into the gym). So be reasonable. If you know you, and you know no one’s finding you in the gym on a holiday, fine. But there’s really no excuse for not spending 20 minutes you might have otherwise spent thumbing through Instagram, burning a few calories. Do 50 crunches, 25 pushups, some squats, jumping jacks, yoga (I’ve tapped YouTube for a quick class many times), pilates, whatever you can do in the room, and just keep doing it for at least 20 minutes straight, try for 45 if you’re feeling really dedicated. It will help. And it might boost your energy for whatever’s up next.
Take a local class
When I was in El Salvador, I took a pilates reformer class with my friend. I nearly died because it was my first time and if there was ever a workout class that’s not a joke, that’s the one. But I did it. When I was in Jamaica, I took an open-air yoga class overlooking the ocean. When I was in Aruba, I took a stand up paddling boarding yoga class, where I also nearly died, but that’s beside the point. The thing about taking a local workout class is that it gives you a little taste of what living there is like. It shows you what locals there might do and it’s at least one very non-touristy thing to do. Plus, since there are so many outdoor options that could be very specific to the place you’re in, it’s more like an experience than exercising.