Tips for Healthy Holiday Travel

People often say that travel is one of the hardest times to maintain their health and wellness. Add in Thanksgiving or another holiday, and many people just give up altogether.

They may do this because they:

  • Think it’s too hard.
  • Think they will feel deprived.
  • Think that they will impose on or disappoint family if they take care of themselves or skip dishes their loved one worked hard to prepare.
  • Think that it’s just one time a year so what’s the harm?
  • Think that there’s just too much temptation around and they aren’t strong enough to withstand it.
  • Etc.

Do you get that these are just thoughts that you keep thinking?

What if:

  • It’s easier than you currently believe?
  • You can eat everything you really want and still stay on track?
  • You are actually setting a positive example for your family?
  • Your self-confidence shoots through the roof when you follow your wellness plan?
  • You are much stronger than you can possibly imagine?

Here are some tips that will help you stay on track while traveling for the holidays—or any time of year.

Prepare for a Snack Attack

One of the worst things you can do is not eat all day in preparation for a big meal. You are guaranteed that you will overeat and physically pay the price later.

Instead, eat small, frequent meals throughout the day to keep your energy level high and hunger at bay. To do this, you may need to plan ahead and bring some snacks from home. These could include:

  • A baggie of various nuts and dried fruit for a quick and easy trail mix.
  • A stash of protein bars or home-made healthy treats. (One of my favorite road treats are some healthy oatmeal and peanut butter cookies that have no refined sugar and no added oil. See recipe below.)
  • If you have access to a refrigerator, bring along some fat free Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese, and anything else that you might want that needs refrigeration. Often hotels can put a mini-fridge in your room for a small additional fee. This expands the quality and type of snacks you can take if you are driving, or that you can get at a local grocery store once you arrive.

Drink Lots of Water

You need a lot of extra water while traveling. Bringing a refillable bottle is an easy solution. If you don’t like the taste of the tap water, buy bottled water.

If you forget your reusable bottle, just buy a bottle of water and refill it. And skip–or if that will make you feel deprived–go easy on the alcohol, which just dehydrates you further and will result in a wicked hangover the next day.

Eat Only What You Really Love

You may feel like its “polite” to eat a little bit of everything. But all that’s doing is keeping you from truly enjoying the foods that you love—and potentially packing on pounds. Most people aren’t paying that much attention to what you are putting on your plate, so pick the one or two items that you truly love and would feel deprived if you weren’t eating.

Then really savor them. You’ll discover that it’s the first few bites that are packed with the most flavor. When you truly focus on and enjoy those first bites you are more satisfied and can keep your portions small.

And if Aunt Martha complains that you aren’t eating her green bean casserole, tell her you really want to savor it and pack up a serving to eat later–or not! You are empowered to choose what you put into your body.

Scope Our Nearby Restaurants

More and more families are heading out for Thanksgiving dinner. Whether you lean towards big chains, or like to sample the local cuisine, the Internet is a great resource for checking out restaurants while on the road.

If you can, check out the on-line menu before you head to dinner so you have planned what you’re going to order. This way, you’ll be less swayed by passing entrees, delicious smells, the bread basket, and a growling tummy to order something less healthy when the waiter finally arrives.

Pack the Pie

After such a big meal, more than a bite of the pumpkin pie will just make you over-full—and pack in more calories than your body needs. Pack up the rest of your piece to eat a few hours later, or even the next day. I promise everyone else will wish they had pie later, too.

Pack Your Workout Clothes

You may not be able to get in your normal workout, but the important thing is to maintain you habit of moving your body.

With a little creativity and flexibility you can absolutely get in a workout—often without even leaving your room. Not only will you feel better, but it’s easier to get right back into your normal routine if you’ve at least done something while on the road.

Travel workout ideas include:

  • Strap on your trainers and walk or run around the block. (This is a particularly good idea when you start to feel the stress of family dynamics.)
  • Pack your iPod and dance for 15 to 30 minutes in your room.
  • Bringing your computer? Pack a workout DVD that can work out to in the privacy of your room.
  • Do weight bearing exercises, such as push-ups and burpees to get you body moving and the blood circulating.

Bonus! Most of these workouts can be done in your pajamas if your workout clothes didn’t make it in the bag.

Your workout doesn’t have to be perfect for you to feel better and be more tolerant of Uncle Ralph reminding everyone of the stupid things you did when you were a kid.

Getting in some kind of physical activity is particularly important if you are going to be spending a lot of time sitting.

Catch Your Zs

One of the keys for making sure you stay on your wellness track while traveling is to get adequate rest, which can be a challenge in a strange bed hearing noises that you’re not used to, or if you have bright lights peaking through your curtains.

Prepare for these problems by packing an eye pillow or mask, ear plugs, and downloading an app on your cell phone that plays ambient noise, like a fan or rainfall.

You know what adequate rest means for you, so do your best to go to bed at a time that will enable you to get the sleep you need.

And if you do find that you ate more than you planned, heeded the call of a holiday treat, or needed the sleep more than the workout, don’t beat yourself up.

To achieve optimal wellness, you only need to be consistent, not perfect.

Please share the travel tips that have worked for you! The best way to learn is from each other, and I would love to learn from you!

Together we can do it!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies 

  • 1 ½ cups oatmeal
  • ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I use SmartBalance to get more Omega 3s)
  • ½ c packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ c honey
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 2 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Coat two baking sheets with cooking spray.

Mix the oats, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, honey, water and egg whites in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add the oatmeal mixture and stir until blended.

Drop by tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, creating 24 cookies. Press down into cookie shape. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

A serving is 1 to 2 cookies. Each cookie is about 100 calories.

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