Recently a DCAU reader sent me an email asking a very direct question: you travel a lot, so how do you eat healthy while away from home? Hmm, a good question dear friend, a very, very good question. To expand upon this inquiry and to provide some texture to my usual healthy living fodder, I thought I’d amass some of my most basic travel tips to keep up the healthy attitude when you’re not surrounded by the convenience of home.
First of all, as any well-travelled individual will tell you, a little research and preparation goes a long way. I’m not saying you need to collect every Lonely Planet ever written (though I do find some of them quite helpful); this thing called the internet is amazing. Maybe you’ve heard of it? I quite recommend the Google section. Plug in where you’re headed (be specific) and read through the travel sites, travel blogs and government sites to find out the basic ins and outs of your destination.
The most important thing to determine once you’re set to go is, can you drink the water? There are a great many number of places that we travel these days and not all of them have the luxuries of home. Just because the locals can drink the water doesn’t mean your digestive system is equipped for it. So make sure to figure that one out before you set sail. Then immediately upon arrival, figure out where your most convenient and affordable water source can be found. It’s always important to stay hydrated so make this your number one rule.
When I travel I consider the fact that I’ll be eating out 3-4 times/day so I try to find foods that pick up on the local traditions but still include the things that make me feel good. So I look for veggies in each meal. When we travel to places that don’t pass the ‘drinkable water’ test, I make sure to eat only cooked produce, never raw. C’mon people, if you can’t drink the water, why would you eat food that’s been washed with it?
I enjoy dessert when I travel because it’s just more local flare, but I pick and choose: wine or dessert. Depends on where I am. In Koh Samui it was dessert, dessert, dessert (have you ever had a fresh banana pancake?! to. die. for.) but in Chile, not so much – the wine is tastier. So I balance out my choices and don’t over indulge. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you should treat your body like glutton factory.
I love to walk whenever possible, in fact I would love to dump the car altogether, but I don’t live in a city where that’s very realistic. When we vacation, we don’t have a car and we don’t rent cars either. We blend into local habits and use public transportation when needed, or walk. Everywhere. I remember the day after my San Francisco half marathon, I walked the full marathon route with my husband. You see so much more of a place when you’re strolling around. You can stop and take pics, duck into shops, strike up conversations with the locals and get some very healthy, simple exercise.
When away on business or family trips I pre-plan to workout, and pack my runners or yoga mat and some exercise clothes. My iPod accompanies me everywhere anyway and voila! no need to stray from that routine either. The last time I was in Napa, I yoga’d in the hotel room. When I go see my parents, I use their treadmill or visit the local YMCA (or run around with my energy-bundled niece and nephew). In Mexico, I use the resort gym or snorkel and hike off-resort. There are always options to get activity in while on vacation.
So you see? There’s no excuse, I repeat no excuse to take a break from being healthy. In fact, since healthy living is a lifestyle not a trend, there should be no need to feel like you need a break from it at all. If it’s already built into your life, it’s easy to find the possibilities when you’re away from home. In light of the questions I get about keeping healthy when abroad, I’ve also decided to include my travel stories for you here. Do expect to see a chronicle of the healthy choices made when travelling. No matter where you find yourself, every little choice you make can add up to a healthy you.
What healthy travel tips do you have? How do you make the healthiest choices possible when away from home? I’d love to know, so leave your thoughts in the comments section below!