Have a Plan, Will Travel

My kids’ summer break is about half over.  And although we’ve nothing big planned as far as summer vacations go, I’m sure we’ll end up traveling somewhere for some time.

More than likely you’ll be taking a trip (or five) this summer as well, whether it’s for business or pleasure.  Often when we take a holiday (keeping it international) our exercise and nutrition habits take a holiday, too.  The thing is though, our habits (and, ultimately, our outcomes) inevitably book a trip to where we intended them not to go.

Here are a few strategies to help keep you on track while you travel.  (Warning: If you read beyond this point you can no longer play the ignorance card.  Any reason you give for not continuing with your fitness goals is no longer a reason, but an excuse.  Happy reading!)

Choose Your Location

As any realtor will tell you, location is key.  Your priority when planning your trip is to ensure that everything you’ll need for your success will be within proximity to where you’ll be staying.

Search for hotels that are near where you’ll be working or playing using Google Maps or MapQuest.  Next, find out where the nearest restaurants, grocery stores, parks, and gyms are located.  Driving to your destination, or renting a car once there, may open up a few more options for you.  But if you’ll be relying on walking or public transportation, you may have to narrow your search a little bit more.

Choose a Hotel That Has What You Need

An even better option than finding a hotel within proximity to what you need may be to find a hotel that has what you need.  Many hotels, heck, most, now have fitness centers.  Granted, some may leave a lot to be desired, but you’ll know this because you’ll have done your due diligence.  Check the hotel’s website for photos of the fitness center.  If they don’t have photos, either a.) call and ask what the fitness center has for equipment or b.) take it as a sign that it sucks and they’re embarrassed to show pictures of it.

In addition to fitness centers, some hotel chains have rooms with kitchenettes.  Two such chains are Residence Inn by Marriott and Homewood Suites by Hilton.  Also, although I have absolutely no experience with it, never having used its services, nor having any idea how it actually works, Airbnb may be an option as well.  Having a kitchenette, coupled with the fact that you chose a hotel close to a grocery store, will ensure that you eat as well as you do at home.

If not a kitchenette, most hotels will have, at least, a mini-fridge.  Fill your fridge with fruits and veggies, whole-grain bread, nuts and natural nut butter, regular cheese, cottage cheese, plain yogurt, milk, and sliced roast beef, turkey, or chicken.

Yet another option is to have your food delivered.  Gone are the days where food delivery was limited to pizza and Chinese.  With food delivery services such as UberEATS, Doorstep Delivery, and Grubhub—assuming you’re not too far off the beaten path—you can have supportive foods delivered to you.  Unsure as to what a supportive meal looks like?  Use the Five Habits of Effective Eating to guide you.

Working Out is Permissible (and Possible)

One of the things I most enjoy when traveling is joining other gyms.  I find this to be the best option for keeping with exercise habits when traveling for a few reasons.  First, the different settings, different equipment, and different people energize me.  Second, although I will sometimes deviate from my typical exercise program to use equipment I may not normally have access to, joining a fully-equipped gym enables me to stay with my typical program (you have a typical program, right?) if I so choose.  This becomes even more important if you don’t have years of training experience like others might and aren’t able to improvise your workouts with much confidence.  Third, I’m making a conscious decision that, yes, I will exercise while on vacation.

Another option is to utilize the hotel’s fitness center.  After all, you did find a hotel with one.  Even the best hotel fitness centers will pale in comparison to most commercial gyms, though, so you may have to improvise.

A third option would be to work out in your hotel room (I’ve also used the hotel hallway and stairwell) or take your workout outside.  If you have bands, a jump rope, etc. and you’ve packed them, great, use ‘em.  If you have no equipment, no problem.  You’ve always got your body with you, yeah?  Use it.

Choose Your Restaurants Wisely

Even if you do plan on making the majority of your meals in your kitchenette, you may at some point wanna dine out.  When you do, find restaurants that conform to your requirements.  Before leaving, go to the restaurant’s website to see the menu.  Decide then, in advance, what to eat.  Again, use the Five Habits of Highly-Effective Eating as your guide.  If you don’t see anything that’s compliant, remember, restaurants are in the business of making customers happy (or at least I hope it is).  Ask them to prepare a custom meal for you.

I can hear it now.  “I’m on vacation, I wanna eat whatever I want.”  If you wanna eat whatever you want, I’m cool with that.  You can.  But you can’t have your cake and eat it too . . . and expect to lose fat.

Have a Go-To In-Between

Okay.  You’re home pantry and fridge are stocked with lean proteins, fruits and veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats.  And so too will your kitchenette or mini-fridge be at your hotel.  But what about the in-between?

Airport and interstate dining can be difficult for even the most well-intentioned, healthy eaters.  But it’s not impossible.

If you plan on stopping to eat or grabbing something in the airport, apply the aforementioned strategies for dining out.  There is one thing I’d like to add (and this is as good a place as any).  There may be times when you’re caught between a rock and a hard place . . . or a Wendy’s and a McDonald’s.  What do you choose?  If you know me, I’m typically not a fan of calorie counting.  But one of the few times I am is when it comes to fast food.  Why?  Because when it comes to fast food, I’m clueless as to what’s in it.  A tool I have found useful is the book Eat This Not That!  Restaurant Survival Guide: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution.  Or you can simply do an Internet search for “eat this not that [restaurant name]”.  Stay as true to the Five Habits as possible.

A second option would be to take a cooler.  Obviously, this is more convenient if you’re driving to your destination.  Pack it with—you guessed it—lean proteins, fruits and veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats.

Lastly, consider supplements.  Protein powder and/or powdered greens in a shaker bottle make for a quick and convenient snack on the go.  Just add water and shake.

I’m confident these strategies will help you stay on track this summer (or whatever season) when traveling.  Remember, it’s you that’s taking the vacation, not your health and fitness goals.

Disclaimer: I received no compensation from the aforementioned links.  Although, if they’d like to, I accept.