If there’s one thing I know about travelling the world, it’s that it is easy to gain weight and lose track of your health and fitness. With enticing foreign foods, breakfast buffets, a lack of routine, and often no weights or gyms at your disposal, it’s easy to lose that fitness you put so much time and effort into.
I’m no stranger to weight gain on holidays. On my first Europe trip I gained about 5kg, and in my second, probably even more. Although I don’t regret a minute of it, it makes coming home harder. You have to restart your health routine (sometimes lose a few kgs), and find your motivation again.
It can be so bloody hard.
But what if I told you you could stay fit and healthy on your adventures?
In the last year or so, I’ve learned that being healthy, watching my food intake and exercising regularly really makes me happy. It’s what I need to stay mentally healthy, and it stops me from feeling sick and sluggish, which I often get.
I don’t watch my weight, I go off how I feel each day. I exercise between 4 and 5 times a week and meditate on the days I know I have a busy day.
Maintaining a healthy routine while travelling doesn’t have to be hard. With a little discipline, you’ll be feeling great every single day.
Here are just a few tricks I hope you can use to help you stay fit and healthy while travelling abroad next.
Always take the stairs
When I say always, I mean always. In some European locations, we were staying on the third or fifth floor. Even though that is horrible to carry suitcases up, walking up and down those stairs each day is a decent workout. You’ll be activating the leg muscles and lifting your heart rate.
Don’t be fooled by the buffet
If you’re anything like me, hearing the word buffet breakfast will fill you with joy. My mind instantly goes to croissants and hashbrowns and all manner of other delicious breakfast items. Although it is really good to have a buffet once in a while on holidays, the freedom to choose as much as you want can be a trap. You can overeat and end up eating things you don’t even need or want.
Don’t let the buffet fool you. If you can choose a single meal, do so. Or if you’re at a buffet, try limiting your plates to one or two. Also, head to the fruit or salad section to not miss out on your daily dose of greens.
Choose the healthy food option
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to choose a salad over that delicious Italian pizza when you’re in the heart of Rome. Heck, throw anything green out the window coz ain’t nobody got time for that. What I mean is that sometimes, your body needs those delicious veggies and salad items to keep your energy levels up. I love a good veggie meal more than most people, so I know it’s easier said than done, but choosing that option even just once a week can make a whole world of difference in how you feel. And if you don’t wanna swap your pasta for greens, try doing it at breakfast time. The amount of healthy toast, açai bowls, and even smoothies around these days is insane!
If you know what you’ll be lacking or what your body is already low in, chances are travelling will make it ten times worse. Sometimes it can be hard to get the right nutrients in while in overseas locations, and these nutritional deficiencies can be horrible for your health. For things like iron, D vitamins, and B vitamins, it’s easy to get excellent over the counter meds to help boost your levels. Or why not try taking a generic multivitamin?
I recommend always talking to your doctor about the things you’ll need to to give yourself the best chance with your health.
Watch your alcohol and coffee intake
If you’re anything like me, travelling abroad means you’re likely to drink more coffee and alcohol than you do back home. When I am home, I tend to be a one cup a day kinda girl when it comes to coffee, and I very rarely drink alcohol. However, because I am usually in budget-friendly locations, I become accustomed to regular coffee breaks and a few cocktails each night. In Japan, alcohol was so cheap from 7-elevens, I was downing three or four drinks a night! In Bali, there are so many unique cafes, I found I was having three or more coffees a day. And I definitely drink a lot more hot beverages now that I live in the cold in Canada!
I’m not one to shy away from a good time and from an experience, but as someone who gains weight like there’s no tomorrow, that sort of thing just doesn’t work for me.
If it works for you, go for it. Live your best life! But if your body tortures you the next day for consuming too much alcohol, coffee, or junk food, try to limit your intake as best you can. Try juice, mineral water, or just plain water instead.
Walk walk and walk some more
If location permits, walking around a city can be the number one way you can stay healthy while travelling abroad. Not only does walking allow you the ability to see more and get in touch with the locals, but it also helps you get a workout in. When I was in Paris back in 2015, we couldn’t figure out how to work the metro system, so we walked approximately 20+ kilometres to view everything we wanted to see. We were exhausted, we got extremely lost on multiple occasions, but it was one of my favourite days from that trip. Plus, I didn’t feel as guilty indulging in the dozens of croissants we ate the next day.
Carry your luggage
You might laugh at this one or ask ‘who the hell wants to actually carry their luggage’. But really, carrying luggage is one of the main reasons so many travellers are able to stay fit. Think about it, if you’re carrying a 20+ kg suitcase or backpack plus a day bag everywhere you go, dragging it across cities, up and downstairs, a couple of days a week, you’re getting a workout in.
Like, a big one.
That shit’s heavy. Real heavy.
Get yourself a fitness program that doesn’t require a gym
I’ve done a few programs in my time that I’ve absolutely loved the workouts from- and most of the time they don’t require a gym. While you can make up your own exercises, it is sometimes good to have a professional guide to follow.
Bodyweight can be one of the best resources you can use to get a good workout in. Think push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges. No weight required but your beautiful body. These programs tend to be awesome with around 20mins per workout, making it easy for you to do a quick one before you get into your day. You won’t have to worry about making time to schedule in a gym sesh. Heck, sometimes I don’t even put on shoes or pants. These allow you to work out whenever you want, and it gives you the best chance of staying fit and healthy while traveling abroad.
One of the things I love about travelling to different places is seeing it from a different perspective: from a bike. I love hiring bikes or taking bike tours through cities and villages because it gives you the opportunity to go further, have some fun, see more, and get a workout in as well! Some of my favourite bike trips have been in Cambodia, Japan, Norway, and Vancouver.
Drink more water
I know I mentioned this above saying to drink more water than coffee and alcohol, but if you want to stay healthy while travelling abroad you need to drink more water. Period.
Water helps keep your body functioning at its best. When we are out and about travelling, it can often be forgotten. You don’t realise you need it until you’re dehydrated. Especially in cold, dryer climates.
Buy yourself a 1 or 2-litre water bottle to take with you on your travels and aim to drink at least two full bottles a day. Your body will thank you.
I try to meditate or take a moment out of my day to stretch and deep breathe every single day. Meditation can help recharge your batteries, quiet your anxious mind, and relax. There is an abundance of free apps that you can download to help guide your meditation or to listen to meditation music to help you relax. I highly recommend checking them out and making guided meditation a daily practice.
At the end of the day, gaining weight and losing track of your fitness and health goals while holidaying is totally okay. In fact, it’s normal. Everyone does it, and it’s just proof that you’re having the time of your life and not giving a damn about the things that don’t really matter.
But when you’re a regular traveller, or if you’re someone who takes their fitness and health seriously, there are practices you can have in place to help you maintain your health.
Just remember, travelling abroad is supposed to be fun! Don’t let it get you down if you aren’t as in shape or can’t run that marathon when you return home. It’s all apart of the journey.