Retrofit Blog

5 Healthy Travel Tips

Eating healthy while traveling doesn't have to be hard!

December 18, 2013

Travel. Depending on the circumstance, it can be the thrill of a lifetime or the bane of your existence. Whether you're traveling for vacation or business, one thing stands true ā€“ you'll want food. And when you're out of your element, it's easy to tell yourself those pesky healthy diet rules don't apply. No matter if you're in a tropical paradise or a foreign boardroom, a new locale will have many intriguing foods, tempting you to cast aside your inhibitions. But what good does it do to tell yourself the diet starts anew when you get home? Don't kid yourself. Healthy eating while traveling is do-able.

Now, we're not telling you not to enjoy yourself when you leave home. We just want you to be smart about it. Follow our five healthy travel tips, and you won't feel compelled to stuff your face with every local treat within reach.

1) Plan Ahead

This might sound like a no-brainer for the veteran traveler, but it's easy to overlook your dietary and fitness needs when you're out and about. Thats why we're emphasizing planning ahead. Think ahead about the following: Where and when you exercise ā€“ most hotels have a gym, so be sure you schedule some time to get there. When you plan to splurge ā€“ we know you want to enjoy yourself. And we think you should. Just be sure to know when you're likely to have alcohol and dessert. Knowing when you'll have a cocktail or a slice of cake can keep you from feeling deprived at other meals. It also ensures you can focus on getting the "perfect plate" every other time.

Yes, we're saying it's okay to splurge once in a while, but knowing when you can allows you to stay on target. If you don't plan ahead, you're bound to eat and drink more than you should, and then you've failed yourself.

2) Pack a Snack

Remember those little baggies of snacks you liked so much as a kid? Well, you're never too old for them. Before you head out, take a sandwich bag and fill it with some healthy options. This will prevent you from buying those fatty snacks all over airports, hotels, and roadside stores. Here are some great healthy foods to eat while traveling:

  • Dried fruit & nuts - they're usually pre-portioned, which is great.
  • Peanut butter and whole-grain crackers - always a great combination.
  • Fresh fruit - apples, bananas, and pears can withstand travel bags.
  • Fresh vegetables and hummus - take some baby carrots and some travel-size hummus for a protein-packed snack.
  • Nutrition bars - choose ones made from whole and minimally processed ingredients. Also, look for ones that contain at least eight grams of protein, less than 12 grams of sugar, and three or more grams of fiber. Kashi, Kind, LUNA Protein, and NuGo bars are great options.

3) Know Your Surroundings

No matter where you are in the world, you have to eat. That's pretty obvious. But before you step out onto Main Street, know where you're going. Before taking your chances at some eatery with a brightly lit sign, spend 17 seconds on Google researching local restaurants. You want to eat grilled fish and veggies? Well, the internet can find some healthy food choices nearby. Visit helpful sites such as for advice on where you should eat.

If possible, talk to the concierge at your hotel. His or her whole job is to ensure you're a satisfied guest, so go ahead and be open about what you're looking for. The concierge is bound to find the best option for you.

4) Keep Reminders

Stay on top of your meals and water intake. If you're traveling on business, we're assuming you have a smartphone… and you're on it all the time. Fortunately, your phone can be used for more than Words with Friends. Set alarms and notifications on it for nutrition reminders.

Keeping reminders is especially important for snacks. In fact, the key to a healthy diet is snacks. So don't skip them. If you do, you're more likely to overeat later in the day. And let's be honest, you don't want that. Whether it be with your phone or on a scrap of paper, be sure to remind yourself to have a healthy snack at the designated time.

5) Treat Your Hotel Like Your Home

Wherever your travels take you, you can always treat your temporary home like your permanent one. Just like you would in your own kitchen, stock your hotel room with healthy food and drink options. Unless you end up in some ghost town without a grocery store, go out and get things like fresh fruit, whole-grain crackers, low-fat cheese, yogurt, and low-calorie beverages.

It's also perfectly acceptable to call ahead and ask the front desk to remove any "tempting" items from your hotel room. That mini-bar can hinder your attempt to eat healthy while traveling. After all, if you don't have a $9 can of Pringles staring back at you, you won't ever reach for it.

Also, stay away from the vending machines. Unless selections A1 to Z9 are vegetables, there's nothing worth getting from one. Besides, you don't have a machine in your house right? So why bother frequenting one now?

When you go out to eat, try to keep half your plate comprised of produce. Order a side salad or clear-broth soup. And here's a nice trick:

  • Order all sauces on the side. Then dip your fork into the sauce before picking up your food. This ensures each bite isn't soaked, and each bite has the perfect amount of flavor.

Some Final Thoughts

If you follow these five healthy tips while traveling, you can safeguard your fitness and nutrition routine. All that hard work you did to get to where you are shouldn't go to waste, not even when you're in the air or on the road. But we know wherever you end up, temptations abound. That's why we say it's okay to splurge every once in a while. Don't deprive yourself of fun. Just be smart about it. For instance, when you go out, tell yourself you can have either dessert or alcohol, but never both.

Limit alcohol as you would normally. Beer and cocktails are just empty calories. Drink a glass of water between drinks. And remember to keep drinks to two per night if you're a man and one per night if you're a woman.

Finally, if you truly are strapped for time and can't plan ahead or pack yourself a snack, then by all means, go ahead and grab something at the airport. Be sure to choose wisely. Don't be distracted by the double cheeseburgers and candies in shiny wrappers. Walk around a bit and take in those steps as you peruse diligently. Then, when it comes time to choose, pick up healthier choices like salads, trail mix (the kind without M&Ms of course), and sandwiches on whole-grain bread.

Knowing what to eat and when to do it is key. Remember, as long as you make healthy food choices a majority of the time, you'll be fine. We know you can do it.

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Julie Vuksic Registered Dietitian

Julie Vuksic is a Registered Dietitian and Wellness Expert at Retrofit. Sheā€™s a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She also holds the Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. With over 14 years of experience, Julie has dedicated her career to promoting healthy lifestyles. She regularly competes in endurance events, which adds depth to her scope of practice and allows her to model healthy lifestyle behaviors.

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