By Gena Anderson
My family and I love to travel and we prioritize vacations. While on these trips what loses eminence is my usual healthy habits, and what results is a return to my daily grind in an effort to work my way out of the damage I did in the name of momentary enjoyment. If you have also lived post-vacation regrets, here are six tips I’ve learned to employ to be healthy but still savor the experience.
Bring or buy healthy snacks.
Inevitably, when exploring a new city or sight-seeing the landscapes on your vacation you will get hungry. Depending on where you are there may or may not be healthy options nearby. I have made it a habit to either bring along fruit, nuts, protein bars, and other grab and go snacks. If flying, I stop at a local store or market and make it part of the exploration and adventure on the first day. Doing this saves money, gives you more time for enjoyment since you are not wasting time searching for food, and will ensure you have nourishment at the ready.
Drink plenty of water.
This should always be a priority, but on vacation we are often hoofing around a new city or visiting sunny places that result in sweaty tourists. Make sure to bring a refillable water bottle or bring water with you as you are out and about. You will feel better and have more stamina to see and do all the things your traveling heart desires. And while vacation usually means having a few adventurous cocktails or some wine in the evening for me, I’ve learned not to over indulge if I want to feel my best the next day. Water is your forever friend, booze is fun only in small doses!
Part of vacation is doing things out of the ordinary, including trying new food. A rigorous and limited diet is far from adventurous. My solution to staying healthy while still enjoying myself is to indulge sometimes, but not all the time. You should have the delectable dessert at the restaurant your coworker recommended, or try the legendary street tacos, but be mindful of the frequency and quantity of indulgences. After coming home with a bloated, miserable belly and feeling exhausted from the trip that was supposed to refresh me, I have learned that self-care doesn’t mean self-indulgence. When I am cognizant of ensuring a healthy diet but allow myself to enjoy some indulgences I come home feeling satisfied and energized.
Enjoy being active.
Exercise is a critical healthy habit for me, and if I skip exercise for too long my body will tell me, most specifically when I try to resume my usual exercise when we return home. Getting in a workout is not always feasible, though it often can be done at a hotel gym or with a walk on the beach. My favorite way to maintain exercise habits on vacation, though, is to incorporate it into sight-seeing. Go for a hike, rent bikes, sign up for white water rafting, or walk to the local coffee shop instead of driving or taking public transportation. Your body will thank you and your experience will be more enriching because you are immersed in the activity.
Maintain essential habits.
Vacation is an intentional interruption of our everyday lives, and it is a time we are supposed to do things out of the ordinary. What I have found is that letting loose does not renew and refresh if I let go completely. Whatever your typical routine is, consider what you need to maintain while traveling in order to be anchored and not drift too far from wellness. For me, the essentials are some sort of quiet time with my Bible, getting in some form of exercise, and making sure I consume healthy food most days. You don’t want to be rigid to the point of missing out on spontaneity, so I don’t worry if I miss a day of any one of those, but I don’t go too long without them and plan accordingly to ensure I can get them in.
Perhaps the pivotal step for enjoying a trip, and life in general, is to experience each moment as it comes. My husband always points out the palpable shift in my attitude on the return trip home from vacation. I go from being relaxed and flexible, to distracted and tense as my thoughts shift from fun and family to all the work and responsibility of everyday life. One of the best gifts I have given myself is permission to be present on vacation and completely ignore anyone and everyone who is not with me. If an obligation is necessary I minimize the interruption and quickly turn my attention back to the task at hand as soon as possible. Being present requires intentionality but yields great rewards.
Travel is one of my favorite things in life. Opportunities for adventure abound in our great big world. As you plan your next trip remember to prioritize your health, without minimizing your enjoyment. Happy and healthy times can and do coexist!