I woke up today to a text from a friend who’s been traveling.
HELP! My pants are tight, I’m bloated and I’ve only walked 2k steps a day!
Travel. It’s like Doritos to my soul: so good and yet…so bad.
We’ve all been there. As the wife of an airline pilot, I travel a lot. I love taking trips. As much fun as travel is, though, it can wreak havoc on our best diet and exercise plans. Between eating out, sitting for hours, and indulging in local cuisine, travel can leave us all unbuttoning the top button of our pants or, better yet, heading to Walmart for an elastic-waisted pair.
You know you’ve thought of that. If you haven’t…you’re welcome.
Seriously, though, I’ve learned a few tips from all the trips I’ve taken. I now have a system that helps me stay on track while still indulging in Hawaiian pineapple soft-serve or Hong Kong dim sum.
Here are my 5 Tips for Traveling Light:
Suppress the Salt
A lot of ‘weight gain’ is actually water retention. I know; it feels like the same thing. In fact, water weight can actually feel worse, because we feel bloated and puffy. All of that can be avoided, however, by watching our salt intake. You know where I’m heading with this: avoid eating out every single meal while traveling. Planning ahead is key. Airport food can be salty and expensive. Since I’d rather spend my cash zip-lining through the Costa Rican jungle, I pack snacks before a trip. I keep it simple: almonds, string cheese, fruit or an energy bar. I feel much better if I haven’t had Chinese Express and chips in flight. Also, I don’t go crazy when I am at restaurants. I definitely order food I love. I don’t sit with an undressed salad and woefully watch my family polish off pasta. I just make wise choices like grilled meats, fish, veggies and soups. I order fresh salads and thank myself after a long day climbing stairs in Italy, when my wedding ring still fits.
Don’t Lose Your Snooze
Travel is exhausting. I have landed myself pretty weary in more than one hotel room. When we travel, it’s tempting to skip sleep and get out there swimming with dolphins or tackling Texas funnel cakes. But, that time in the hotel is just as important as the time outside of it. If I give myself a good night’s sleep on the front end, I enjoy the entire trip much more. A few of my favorite tips include: open those blackout shades and let the sunlight in, signaling your body it’s time to wake up; get the quietist room possible, away from nightclubs, ballrooms and the elevator; limit caffeine and alcohol before bed, as both can affect sleep in pretty significant ways; exercise during the day to set your body up for better rest at night; don’t nap too much or too long; and finally, take your own pillow! Seriously, who hasn’t struggled through a night with a rock-hard hotel pillow? Getting enough shut-eye is key for enjoying the exciting parts of travel.
Walk It Out
Travel has a lot of down time built into it. White-sand beaches beg for hours of trashy-magazine reading and regularly replenished cocktails that appear out of nowhere. How did that mojito end up beside my People magazine? Cities aren’t much better. How easy is it to hail a cab? It’s easy, even for me, and I’m no 6-foot model with flowing blond hair. Sitting is just a recipe for feeling crummy. So, I walk. There are times I can fit in a run or workout. Otherwise, I walk. I walk around museums and along beaches. I walk in airports instead of taking the very temping moving sidewalks. I get to know places by walking. I get to see the architecture, smell the food and meet new people. Walking also helps digestion stays on track. My blood flows. I’m alert and energized. I sleep better. And I burn calories. Some tips for walking while traveling include: wear comfortable shoes; aim for an an easy, sustainable pace; realize that walking takes more time and plan for that; carry a backpack or messenger bag instead of a purse; and finally, embrace that you’re doing something good for yourself.
No, I don’t mean a bottle of red wine or a root beer float; although, now both of those sound really good. Staying hydrated is a BIG deal. When I say hydrate, I mean: DRINK WATER. Dehydration causes us to feel sluggish, tired, disoriented and weak. Sounds like a good time, right? There’s more including super-fun stuff like headaches, joint pain, irritability and our good ol’ friend constipation. I don’t want to be constipated and nursing a migraine while my kids blow past me paddle-boarding. So, I drink water. I have a few tips for making sure I get enough water. First, I plan ahead. If I know I’ll be somewhere without access to water, I’ll buy a few bottles ahead of time. I also take my own reusable bottle. Many airports now have water dispensers past security. If I am traveling in a country with questionable water, I stock up when I get to town instead of relying on the bottles hotels provide. One small bottle isn’t enough for even one day, and I can’t be paying hotel prices for bottled water. I drink water when I wake up and before bed, especially if I know I’ll be in places throughout the day where bathrooms are scarce. Finally, I eat water by eating tons of fruits and veggies. Keeping hydrated keeps me energized and ready to tackle the day, no matter the destination.
Skip the Stress
Stressing out about weight gain, exercise, diet plans and travel only makes us miserable. So, I don’t monitor my food and workouts quite so much when I travel. I accept that I may gain a few pounds or skip a few workouts. If balance is the key to daily life, then balance is also a big part of travel. I balance the meals out with a few lighter meals, the lack of gym time with extra walks and sitting time with movement. I know that a week or two away from my typical routine won’t break the foundation of my healthy lifestyle. I enjoy Chicago deep-dish pizza, and then I move a little more and embrace the moment. Instead of cutting out fun, I cut out the stress, worry and anxiety of travel.
Before I focused on a healthier lifestyle, vacations left me an overall mess. I needed a vacation to get over my vacation. Now I balance my splurges with healthy habits. I travel without the pain of bloating, fatigue and dehydration. I sometimes have a bag of Doritos, I’m not gonna lie. But I balance it out with some fresh fruit and lots of shut-eye, and I enjoy every moment.
Melissa does all of this from her heiferhood in sunny Phoenix, where her husband, teenagers and two crazy puppies remind her that we're all a little happier in a herd.