By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Want tips for eating healthy while traveling? Use these tips for healthy travel food—as well as road trip food for your health and fitness travel. Get ready to travel healthy!
Looking for tips for healthy travel? As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I bring you my best strategies so that you can travel healthy and in style!
Even though we're in the middle of a pandemic, some travel to see family during the holidays may be almost inevitable. Want to be a health-savvy traveler? As someone who's collected dozens of passport stamps over the years, I know what it's like to stay organized and energized on the go.
From your first sip of coffee to your last bite of dessert, I've got you covered with these nutritionist tips to feel great and see the world in style.
How Registered Dietitians Eat Healthy While Traveling
It's no secret that I love to travel. Luckily, I've created a system that I use to stay fit and healthy while I explore the globe. I've collected top tips from other nutritionists, too, to give you a variety of travel hacks and healthy snacks to choose from. When it comes to eating healthy on the road, I've got you covered.
So take your pick! From this seasoned advice to my seasoned chickpeas, there's something for everyone to keep your healthy-eating efforts on track while you're busy jet setting.
How to Prevent Vacation Weight Gain
Going somewhere fun soon? Choosing the healthier route doesn't have to be boring or difficult, and it could help you avoid tummy troubles! and more. Eating out is one of my favorite things to do when I visit a new destination.
But I also like to hit the local grocery store for healthy eats and pack my own nutritious snacks to fill in the gaps. This way I'm never too hungry for the next adventure. Want to know the best ways to fuel your body on the go?
While traveling, I love trying new foods just as much as I enjoy sightseeing—so I always have a plan in place to prevent vacation weight gain! Here are my tips for healthy traveling and keeping your immune system in tip-top shape.
Walk a Lot
One mile of walking burns between about 70 and 100 calories, depending on your weight and gender—so logging miles can make a big impact during a healthy holiday.
On a trip to Italy, I walked over 221 miles—burning over 18,000 calories, or about 5 pounds—and 458 flights of stairs!
My highest-mileage day was a 12.8-mile one in Milan, and I climbed 44 flights of stairs on a daytrip to Bellagio in the Lake Como area of Lombardy, Italy. To make the walking easier, I packed several pairs of comfy footwear, including my Vionic shoes. It's important to pack the right gear when traveling.
I always carry a water bottle in my purse and drink several glasses at meals. Drinking water before meals can even help with weight loss. And overall, it helps you stay healthy and hydrated.
Sample Local Produce
While filling up on veggies can help with weight loss and weight maintenance, I didn’t need an excuse to try a porcini salad in Milan; romanesco with leek oil in Ghent; or a delicious eggplant, mushroom, and cabbage dish in Berlin. Wherever you are, try the local fruits and vegetables.
Upon arrival at each destination, I stock up on plenty of travel snacks. This typically includes local fruit, yogurt, almond or peanut butter, and muesli for breakfast. If you're traveling abroad, eating meals at the right time will help you get over jet lag and get used to the local time zone. You can also stock up on meal staples, such as olive oil and salad.
Stock the Fridge
Ask the hotel staff to empty out the mini bar before you arrive. Then you’ll have space to stash a supply of healthy food. Buy fixings for a healthy sandwich: Choose whole-grain sandwich thins, lean deli meat, guacamole, spinach, and tomato.
Pack Healthy Snacks
I carry fruit-and-nut protein bars, portioned bags of pistachios and almonds, and other snacks for long stretches in between meals. Also prepare single portions of nuts, fruit, veggies, trail mix, granola bars, nut butter, and hummus to keep you fueled—and away from the impulse Pringles potato chips buy. These also make great road-trip snacks.
While I often find nutritious street food when traveling—including chestnuts from a vendor in Milan and figs from a market in Amsterdam—being prepared helps me avoid making a beeline for not-as-healthy offerings (ahem, Belgian waffles) when hungry.
Research Dining Options
Have some business dinners set up? Look at menus ahead of time so you’re not caught off guard and influenced by what your colleagues order. Have a healthy dish or two in mind.
If planning a glass of wine or dessert, make sure to allot an appropriate amount of calories. Or instead of dessert, cap off your meal with a cup of soothing tea or decaf coffee.
I wanted to try stracciatella gelato in Bergamo; tiramisu in Milan, Florence, and Rome; Belgian frites, waffles, and chocolates in Brussels; and stroopwafels in Amsterdam. So I saved calories by sharing these treats with my travel companions.
More Healthy Travel Tips
Want even more travel healthy tips? Make sure you know before you go! From a long commute to a holiday abroad, be sure to plan ahead and create a healthy travel game plan with these tips from RDs and Self.com. I share my favorite travel hack that also adds to the journey of tasting local flavor.
Wondering what nutritionists order at fast food restaurants? Yes, dietitians eat fast food! Fortunately, many drive thrus now offer healthier options. Let nutritionists navigate the menus for you and if all else fails, you can customize your order like I do.
See what I add to my fast food request, via this TotalBeauty.com article. Hint: I'm not super-sizing anything, except maybe those apple slices!
Be a Savvy Traveler Abroad
Headed abroad sometime in the future? With dozens of stamps in my passports, I gathered my best tips for looking and feeling great while you're over there, including a list of essential travel items and tips on traveling to Europe for the first time. These savvy tips will help you pack, eat, and see the sights like a pro!
Look and feel amazing on your next vacation! In my blog post, I share how to have a healthy, fun trip, all while minimizing stress and looking fabulous. I cover everything from traveling to Europe for the first time to essential travel items to pack. Don't forget your healthy car snacks!
And when it comes to eating abroad, you can still dine at the best locales. Just make sure to plan in healthy meals, too, as well as plenty of exercise. And don't forget your healthy car snacks for when you're hungry on the go!
Also, think about what you eat. No one wants to feel sick on an exotic getaway. That's why I gathered the most common culprits of foodborne illness in my ReadersDigest.com article. Think twice about eating these items if you want to make the most of your next vacay.
Another healthy travel tip? Enjoy yourself (in moderation!) and incorporate plenty of exercise to counteract the extra eating. That's usually my strategy, and I'm first to admit that my list of the best places to eat in Florence doesn't include only nutritious picks.
This blog post was updated in October 2020. A version of this content originally appeared on WeightWatchers.com.
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I'd love to hear from you! What are your tips for healthy travel? What foods do you pack when you hit the road? How do you meet your health and fitness goals when you hit the road?
Want to go shopping with a dietitian? Here's your chance! I just opened up my very own storefront, full of my fave tip sheets, cookbooks, kitchen products, and more!
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