A Guide to Healthy Holiday Travel

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travel healthy this holiday season

Now that Halloween is over and the holiday travel season is upon us, it’s time for us to have a chat about staying healthy this year. You seriously do not want to put off exercise and eating right until New Year’s. It’s an ugly battle that doesn’t have to happen. But what can you do when you’re traveling and there are holiday meals and parties along the way -not to mention eating on the go and not knowing how to stay active?

No worries – with these healthy holiday travel tips, you’ll feel light and festive well into 2015.

Feast to Train

When you’re visiting your relatives, it can be hard to even guess how many calories are in family-made casseroles and pies. So let’s start by drinking a glass of water before dinner and then filling our plates with meat (protein). I’m not kidding – grab that ham and turkey like it’s going out of style. The water will help you feel full faster.

Then, look for vegetables (you might call ahead and ask for some roasted or steamed options) and fill at least a quarter of your plate. If you’ve got a lot of casseroles (green bean, mac n’ cheese, sweet potatoes, etc.) it’s time to scale back on those big time. Personally, I take a tablespoon of each option I want and leave it at that. Oh the calories you’ll save by just sampling those heavy dishes!

As for bread and desserts, take the smallest slice or serving. Savor each bite and then walk away. Do not go back for second servings of anything. Finally, when it comes to beverages, your best bet is water, wine, diet drinks, or diet tea. Sugary beverages need not apply.

Eating on the Go

Whether you’re flying or driving to your destination, you’re going to need to eat. It’s inevitable. But with some careful planning and strategic choices, you can save both calories and money!

Did you know that it’s perfectly ok to bring food through the airport? Liquids are the real issue! All the TSA asks is that foods be in a container (not unwrapped) when they go through the scanner in your bag. So before you leave for your trip, go to your local grocery store and grab any of the following items:

  • A big bag of plain almonds (protein)
  • Sandwich supplies (meats and cheeses –no peanut butter or jelly)
  • Fruit (bananas are super cheap and easy to eat on the go)
  • Firm cheese (think Baby Bella or Laughing Cow)
  • An empty water bottle (emphasis on the empty part)
  • Low carb protein powder (for really easy meals – just mix with water after security)

All you have to do is make sure they’re in a baggy or container and you can bring any of them right through airport security. You not only can feast pre-flight, but also on your flight! As for the empty water bottle, you can take that through and refill it at any water fountain. Just make sure it’s always empty when it goes through the TSA scanners.

And if you’re driving, well then grab a cooler full of ice and pack all the healthy food you want! You won’t have to stop at greasy fast food restaurants and you’ll save so much money.

Eat One Meal “In” Every Day

This is actually really easy whether you’re staying with a relative or in a hotel. If you drove with your cooler full of food, all you have to do is bring it into the hotel. You can even ask for a mini fridge and microwave at most hotels.

If you’re staying with relatives, you can always ask to go to their local grocery store and grab some supplies. I’m going to stress that junk food doesn’t count. My personal goal is to assemble meals that have over 15g of protein and have 10g of sugar or less. If you’re doing breakfast, you could easily make scrambled eggs with cheese and have whole wheat toast with peanut butter and low sugar jelly. Wash it down with coffee or tea that is sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners.

Working it While Traveling

By far, exercise is going to be your biggest obstacle on your holiday travels. But as I discovered on a recent trip, it’s not impossible.

If you’re flying:

  • Get to the airport early and take the opportunity to walk the terminal several times before boarding. You can browse shops and people watch. I put in my headphones and was walking to a beat.
  • Did you know that some airports actually have gyms you can use?! Not even kidding. You just need to make sure you leave plenty of time before boarding and clean up with some wipes when you change clothes in the bathroom (being sweaty on a plane is not cool). www.airportgyms.com has the biggest list of airport gyms by terminal.
  • When the pilot finally takes off the seat belt light during the flight, take the opportunity to get up and stretch. Force yourself to go to the bathroom –the walking is good. You can even do squats in the bathroom where no one can see.
  • When you’re in your seat, avoid crossing your legs if possible. You can tap your feet to the beat of music and you can stretch your calf muscles and feet. Just make sure you’re not kicking anyone in the process. 

If you’re driving:

  • Get up in the morning and either hit the gym or go for a walk/run if you have the time. Squeezing in a workout before being stuck in the car for hours is a major boost.
  • During your drive, it’s ok to make pit stops. Get out of the car, stretch, walk around… anything to move those legs. You could even make a point of stopping in a town with a nice park to eat lunch and walk around. Your smart phone is your best friend for scouting things like that.
  • Take turns driving and use cruise control. Passengers can essentially move and stretch in their seats all they want. And cruise control on highways saves your legs and gas.

Exercise Your Destination:

  • If you’re staying in a hotel, try to book one with a fitness center. Pack your gym clothes and schedule time to work out every day. Especially on the day of holiday meals! I’m in the gym for 2 hours of morning circuit training on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. The gyms might close early, but they’re usually open early.
  • If you’re staying with your relatives, or in a hotel that doesn’t have a gym, you can easily find a local gym online that sells day passes. Or you can go for a walk in the neighborhood and local parks. You can even walk around to see lights and fun attractions with loved ones.

The point is, don’t just sit around and eat like it doesn’t matter…

The holidays are a great time to eat healthy and stay active, no matter where you spend them.  Travel shouldn’t stand in the way of your vision of a healthy lifestyle.

Posted on November 4, 2014 at 4:49 pm

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