One of the most alluring aspects of travel is the opportunity to break from routine and indulge in the schedule-free mornings, long lunches, and alcohol-fuelled nights that daily life normally curtails. Unfortunately, this type of feckless living is also a fast route to returning from your escapades looking (and feeling) like a hot, bloated mess. To avoid killing your post-holiday buzz with a horrifying post-holiday weigh in, it’s wise to take a few preventative measures along the way. Below, are five suggestions for staying healthy on the road, with relatively little masochism required.
START WITH GOOD INTENTIONS
As we already know, plane food is packed with salt, sugar, and all manner of nasty preservatives. Start your trip as you mean to go on by packing portable meals to eat in transit if you’re really organised (this lady has the travel lunchbox down to a fine art), or a selection of gunk-free energy bars and fresh fruit if you’re not. Realistically you’re not going to expend much energy sitting in a confined plane seat for a few hours so resist the urge to knock back every free pack of peanuts, sugary drink, and mid-flight ice cream that passes down the aisle, long-haul flights are hard enough on your digestive system as it is.
WORK OUT LIKE A LOCAL
Unless you’re travelling for work, hours clocked at the hotel gym seem like a pretty sad way to spend precious holiday time. Kill two birds with one stone and explore your destination through the lens of the local fitness culture, instead – whether that means hiking in Los Angeles, speedwalking in New York, jogging along the beach in Miami, taking a surf lesson in Biarritz, swimming in Sydney, doing Tai Chi in Beijing…You get the gist.
MAINTAIN SMALL HABITS
I recently spent a few weeks in London, working, visiting family and friends, and generally running around like a maniac. Despite packing my trainers and a extensive selection of fitness gear (delusional), I accepted early on that I wasn’t going to maintain any semblance of a proper exercise regime and promised to keep up a few healthy habits instead: for me that meant 100 squats, 2 litres of waters, and at least half an hour of walking a day. Despite eating like a pig and drinking like a fish, these minor commitments prevented me from gaining a single pound.
YOUTUBE IS YOUR FRIEND
There are hundreds of thousands of free workouts available on YouTube, and most require little-to-no equipment whatsoever. Search for your exercise of preference – whether that’s yoga, pilates, or bodyweight resistance training – and choose a 20-30 minute video (any longer and you’ll probably give up halfway) to do in your hotel room/mate’s living room/Air BnB rental etc. Free, fast, effective. Fitness Blender and HolmTV are good places to start.
Food is obviously a huge part of the pleasure of travelling and the thought of following a restrictive diet while on the road (or anywhere else for that matter) strikes me as a particularly depressing way to live. HOWEVER, it’s always worth following the principles of mindful consumption - outlined in simple terms in this life-changing book by Susie Orbach - if only because they actually make mealtimes more enjoyable. That means eating only when you’re hungry, paying attention to whatever it is you’re putting in your mouth, and stopping when full. Boring, basic stuff, but it works.