Staying healthy while traveling can be a challenge. With varying food supplies, little access to gyms, and the stress of traveling a lot, staying healthy physically and emotionally can be an art. Because we are living in a T@B trailer, people often ask how we can possibly eat well and not go insane while living in a micro space. We’ve learned some tricks to help us stay healthy: Eat well, be active, and have fun. So here are 10 habits of a healthy traveler.
They say “you are what you eat.” We find this to be true. What we eat directly impacts our mental and emotional moods just as much as how we feel physically. So how to eat healthy while traveling?
1. Grocery Shop
It may seem obvious, but many times buying food at the grocery store gives you healthier and cheaper options. Surprisingly, a lot of food can fit into a tiny fridge. What do you consider healthy, you may ask? Right now our food philosophy is: shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Hit up the produce section first: buy fruits, veggies, greens, etc. Then hit up the product section: we love to eat cheese, milk and seafood. And finally, we have some low-processed carbs, like beans, rice, potatoes, and yes: tortillas are our favorite.
RV/camping Grocery List
Our fridge is half the size of an average hotel refrigerator. We fit more items by playing grocery tetras and buying smaller items. We used to buy a large box of spinach and now we buy a bag of spinach. Instead of purchasing a dozen eggs, we buy 6. Also, we buy more produce that can be left on the counter- this has been a huge space saver for us. No, it doesn’t make our kitchen very tidy but it does help feed us for a week. If we had to go to the grocery store 3 times a week, there is very little chance we would ever eat at home. If it’s not simple we won’t do it.
We don’t have a freezer but a lot of RV’s do. If you’re grilling, campfire cooking, or just using a gas stove, whatever you normally cook at home you can cook on the road! We can feed the two of us for an entire week on what fits into this miniature fridge, you just have to be creative.
Hotel Grocery List
If you’re staying in a hotel, buy “no cook” groceries. Fruit, instant oatmeal (use the coffee maker for hot water), yogurt, or cereal are all great options for breakfast. Pick up salads or sandwiches for lunch. And a healthy no cook meal for dinner can include a salad, sandwich, rotisserie chicken, or try eating a raw, vegan meal. (don’t you laugh! We eat plan ol’ fruits and vegetables for dinner on a regular basis- just pick your favorites!) We talk about hotel grocery shopping more in “Too Broke to Travel: Take a Cheap Vacation” if you want to check it out.
2. eating out: Get creative to eat healthy
We’ve been traveling through Southern United States and, if you’re not familiar, they love fried food, great BBQ, and sweets galore. And the portion sizes are huge. All the food is simply delicious, but it’s often hard to find a healthy option, so we’ve started creating our own. When ordering an omelet, ask for egg whites and toast with butter on the side. Split a meal and an appetizer if you have a travel companion instead of both eating an entree. Little changes go a long way- or at least this is what we tell ourselves. And to be honest…we’re actually really bad at this one, but we do try…sometimes. In theory.
3. Drink Less ALCOHOL
*Gasp. We know. Tough one for most. We’re not big drinkers, mostly because drinking leaves us feeling worse than the fun of the buzz. Not to be a buzz kill, but Alcohol is both a depressant, and it dehydrates you. If Jessi has two drinks it’s a big night out. But even then, the next day is generally grumpier and groggier. Drinking also adds a ton of unintended calories, and doubles the cost of the bill. Part of having fun is planning for the repercussions. But if you’re going to drink or even if you’re not, make sure to stay hydrated.
4. Remember to bring and drink water
It is so easy to forget this one. A few weeks back while we were in Tucson, we started on a hike only to realize we had forgotten our water bottle. Unfortunately, we had to turn back because we were so parched. Even in easier climates it is so easy to get lost in the moment and forget to drink water.
We try to always bring a water bottle wherever we go. Often people will snack because they will think they are hungry, when really they are thirsty. So drinking lots of water can help quench the thirst and save you from unneeded snacks. And when you’re eating out, make sure to order a glass of water– and drink two glasses. This will help keep the body in tip-top shape!
You don’t need to live in a gym to stay healthy while traveling. Wander around and explore!
5. Walk or bike or Hike
You are in a new city, village, mountain, seascape, museum–whatever you like, walking around is a great way to get some added steps for the day. Even if there’s not a side walk, try to get lost! See where the path takes you. For us, half the fun of traveling is seeing the unexpected.
We love exploring national parks, so hikes are great ways to be active and enjoy nature. Hiking up mountains can give quite the leg workout.
Most cities offer walking tours and a lot of mountain towns do the same. With a quick google search you can easily hop on a walking tour for typically $10 or less. It’s a great way to learn about a new place while getting in your exercise for the day!
Bike Tours or Rentals
If you want to see more of the city, biking tours are a very fun activity with the whole family. In San Francisco, there are a ton of people crossing the Golden Gate Bridge with their rented mountain bikes. Again, what a neat experience to share with each other.
6. Local Yoga / dance / Gym classes
Something we’ve really enjoyed lately is visiting local yoga or dance classes. Before this trip, neither of us have done much yoga (clearly) so it’s been a fun way to try something new together. Also, if you are into gyms, many local gyms have 7-day free trials for visitors. If you are traveling within the USA, you may find a gym franchise, like 24 hour fitness or Golds Gym, that may have locations in most of the towns you are visiting. We are also excited to find some salsa classes. Dancing is a great way to be active, and have fun.
7. Workouts from anywhere
Right now in our life, we are embracing being active outdoors, rather than keeping to a strict workout schedule. Some people love the structure and routine of a daily workout. So here are a few workouts you can do anywhere, without a team, gym, or personal trainer.
Even without a gym, you can get a great strength workout using just your bodyweight.
The 7 Minute Workout is a clever 7-minute strength workout you can do anywhere. If you want to push yourself a little more, do a longer body circuit. Here is an example of a workout you can do anywhere, including in a hotel room or campground.
3×10 Body Circuit Picking your 10 favorite exercises (try at least 3 from each group of the body) and do 10-20 reps of each exercise. Then repeat the list 3 times. This should take between 15-20 minutes. Increase the reps to increase the challenge.
- Legs: squats, lunges, jumping
- Arms: push-ups, dips, pull-ups
- Core: Sit-ups, bicycle crunches, lateral sit-ups, flutter kicks. & super-mans
Basically anything that gets your heart-rate up is a good “cardio” workout. Running, biking, cross-country skiing are favorites, but just because you are throwing on your running shoes and heading out the door, doesn’t mean you need to do the same thing everyday. Alternate by doing jogging one day, and then do intervals the next. For intervals, try jogging or biking for 3 minutes, run/bike as fast as you can for a minute, then walk for a minute, repeat 4 times for a 20 minute run.
Be nice to yourself
Finally, the best way to be healthy, is to be happy. We are working on accepting and embracing where we are right now, rather than putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect or keep to a specific diet or routine. We are trying to stop “shoulding” on ourselves, and treat ourselves right by simply being nice and compassionate with ourselves and each other. Here are few ways to just be nice to yourself:
8. Sleep more than usual.
But you’re on vacation! You have lots to see! Do! Experience! We have friends that can maintain a 4 hour sleep schedule and still be perky and wonderful the next day (yes, Melissa, we are talking about you). But for us, we need sleep. And when we are experiencing new things, fun things, and exciting things, we’re often exhausted by the end of the day. It’s ok to go to bed early and have an early start. It’s so much better than forcing yourself to do things when you’re tired, grumpy, and simply pretending to have a good time because you’re suppose to. Getting a little extra sleep can really boost the “fun” experience during your travels. And for us, traveling was the one time we could actually catch up on much needed sleep. So do it. Sleep more. It’s ok.
9. Get Massages
Physical touch does wonders for our human psyche and it resets our brain chemistry. Whether it is going out and getting a massage, massaging your friends, or being intimate with your partner, get physical, and enjoy being touched.
10. Stay happy by doing what you want to do
Sure, seems obvious, right? For us, we often get into the “should be’s.” We often say “well we should be out exploring more” or “we shouldn’t be eating this fried Oreo ice cream for the fourth time this week.” But you know what? We should all stop “shoulding” on ourselves. This is YOUR vacation- you should be doing what you enjoy and what makes you happy. Want to sit by the pool all day, every day for 1 week straight, reading a great book? Do it. Just because you’re in a new place doesn’t mean you need to do what all the travel guides say- do what you enjoy and love what you do. You’re traveling for goodness sake! Take time to drink coffee, sit, enjoy, rest and take it all in, the way you want. Just take good care of yourself, others, and the world we all enjoy.
Happy travels everyone!