Best Ways To Stay In Shape While Traveling

You just got back from vacation, had a fantastic time, the much needed sun, special family bonding time, the sites, culture and fun; everyone loves vacation, am I right!?  But then you step on the scale and, “WHAT!?”, just like that, you’ve gained 5 pounds.  No one wants to come home from vacation feeling like garbage; it’s so not worth it and CAN be avoided with a few simple tricks.

As a spin instructor and a nut when it comes to healthy eating habits, it is super important to stay healthy when my family and I travel.  As fun as it is to experience new things, being away means no gym or our usual weekly food staples.  However, most trips, we come home and find we actually lost a couple pounds instead of gaining weight!!! 
So far Matt and I have traveled to 41 countries together, Dylan (3 years) has been to 25 countries, and Christopher (10 months), 11 countries.  We average about 5 countries/trips per year.  If I gained 5 pounds on every trip, I would gain 25 pounds a year!!!  Not going to happen.  Here are a few tips we use to stay healthy while traveling. 


1. Eating Healthy on Vacation

Right before we hop on a plane, I go through all of the produce left in our fridge, cut and bag them for the flight.  Generally, the produce I bring for the airport and flight are: carrots, celery, zucchini, apples, bananas and mandarin oranges.  If you see a girl in the airport eating from a big bag of celery, it is probably me. ;-)  I also pack two big salads in throw away containers for my husband and I to eat.  We almost never eat at the airport; there are too many unhealthy options and the healthy ones are, in my opinion, way over priced!  Most importantly, I pack two empty water bottles.  Security will take full water bottles at checkpoint but you can fill them up at a drinking fountain once you’re at your gate.  Water is super important and they never give you enough on the flights, so I always make sure to fill up both water bottles right before we enter the plane!  It is very important to stay hydrated when you fly because of the dry air on the plane, so try to drink more water than you normally would.

Once you are there, make sure every morning you eat a big breakfast!!!  We make a point to book boutique hotels with breakfast included with our stay.  It is so much easier with kids to wake up and get everyone fed first thing in the morning, instead of getting all ready and then trying to find somewhere to eat.  Also, usually the breakfast is a buffet we can eat as much as we want!  We always try to “front load” our calories for the day because we’ll need the energy for everything we want to accomplish during the day.  Also, breakfast foods are generally very healthy: eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt and cheeses, so eat up! J  Because we are so full from breakfast, (and not to mention the fact that we have our toddler and baby with us) we pretty much just snack the rest of the day and don’t eat any other formal meals.  Instead, we’ll buy a smoothie or juice to share, pick up carrots and hummus (and a banana for the baby) at the local grocery store, and maybe grab a salad or sandwich “to go” at a café.


2. Exercising on Vacation

We never “exercise” on vacation!!!  As much as it kills me as an exercise instructor to not formally exercise for a whole week or two, I know it is good for my body to let my muscles heal and restore.  However, with the amount of walking we do each day, we are still exercising, it’s just different. J  From the moment we wake up in the morning until the moment our heads rest on our pillows at night, we are walking.  We will walk instead of taking the underground subway (it’s so much more interesting that way!), or grabbing a cab or Uber to get some place.  When we were last in NYC, Matt tracked on his phone that we walked 17 miles in just one day!  So make a point when you are on vacation to walk, walk, walk!
Also, plan trips that will require you to get moving and be active.  Don’t be a beach bum.  We try to avoid beach/resort vacations as much as possible.  They are dangerous, when it comes to your health.  You sit around all day and eat buffet food and drink high calorie drinks whenever you want and it is so easy to gain weight.  Instead, we try to plan trips where we know we will be moving.  In our most recent trip to Scotland, we were able to explore all around the city of Edinburgh one morning and then hike on nature trails right outside the city that was all in a walkable distance of each other.  Some of our most active vacations are in a big city where we can just get lost!  A few of our favorite cities to walk (and NOT take public transportation) are: Rome, NYC, Hong Kong, Prague, Dublin, Montreal, Paris, and London.  Also, if you are looking for a trip where you can hike with gorgeous scenery, a few of our favorite places are: Peru (Machu Picchu), Montenegro, Switzerland, Portugal, Scotland, and Iceland.  Now, if you love the beach and feel that vacation isn’t vacation unless you have water and sand between your toes, you can still remain active.  Our son Dylan loves the beach, so we recently took him to Portugal where he was able to play in the sand.  We were also able to do some amazing hikes in Lagos right by the beach and walk around the town at night!  If you pick a beach location, make sure there is a city that is walking distance from your hotel so you can go out exploring!  Puerto Rico, for example, has great beaches, but also beautiful Old San Juan to explore as well. 


3. Changing your Attitude on Vacation

Most importantly, change your attitude about yourself and staying healthy!!  Stay positive and feel good while you are away.  Make good healthy choices.  But don’t get down on yourself when you do cave and eat something unhealthy while you are away; I mean, of course, you have to taste the real Swedish fish when you’re in Sweden! J Just balance out poor choices with healthy foods the rest of your day.  Keep walking. And have fun!

Happy Traveling!

***This was originally featured on Pretty Simple Ideas... you can see the post here!


  1. Great tips, thanks!

  2. AMAZING tips, Sarah!!! So excited to read through all of your posts! And I adore the photos, of course! Hope you have a good one today!

  3. Thank you for this beautiful post. You inspired me to pay more attention on what I eat while travelling and to say no to things that don’t make me feel good.

    1. Oh I'm so glad Simona!!! Yes, it is totally not worth feeling yucky when you are traveling!!

  4. Thank you Sarah for sharing travel tips. I will pay attention on your tips and will follow next time.
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