Healthy travel tips: How to stay healthy and active while travelling

Ema Bakalova

Sep 14, 2022

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Healthy Travel Tips for Staying Active and Eating Healthy
Healthy Travel Tips for Staying Active and Eating Healthy

It's a lifestyle. I've always embraced a healthy and active lifestyle; it's not just something I do daily, but a a fundamental part of who I am and what I stand for. In the past, whether it would be on trips or vacations, I have heard things like, "Why don't you relax? Enjoy your life, you're on vacation!"

To clarify, living healthily isn't a chore that I put on hold for a holiday; it's a seamless extension of my everyday life. I can't imagine a life without it. I find it challenging to "enjoy my life" if I'm not at my best physically, mentally, and emotionally, things that are all promoted by living a healthy lifestyle. While I do acknowledge that everyone has their own definition of a healthy and active lifestyle, for the purpose of this article, I am sharing my personal perspective on what it means to me.

Naturally, I'm the kind of person who takes the stairs instead of the elevator, aims to take as many steps as possible exploring new cities, and loves to start my day off with a run because it feels great and I know it sets the perfect tone for the rest of my day. My idea of a treat is an acai bowl, a bowl of fruit, or a steak and salad for dinner.

While I fully recognize that not everyone shares this lifestyle, nor should they feel compelled to, I do strongly believe that a huge part of enjoying your traveling experience involves feeling your absolute best, and taking care of yourself. Travel already places so much additional stress on your body, so why not provide it with the best possible support if you can?

Staying active

Staying active while traveling is more achievable and so much more fun than you might think. For many of us, our daily routines involve long hours at a desk, making a vacation an excellent opportunity for more physical activity.

First and foremost, before you leave home, make room in your luggage for active-wear and running shoes. That way you have the attire ready to use whenever you want.

One of the best ways to discover a new destination and stay active is to explore on foot or by bike. Walking or cycling is arguably the best way to see a city. Not only will you find yourself walking most of the day, but you won't even feel it because you'll be absorbed in exploration and new experiences. Moreover, walking enhances the likelihood of discovering things that may be inaccessible by car or easily overlooked. This can be accomplished naturally, without planning, or by planning active activities such as walking tours, kayaking, snorkeling, dancing etc.

For those for hit the gym regularly, you can almost always find a local gym to go in your area, and most of the time they offer day passes. I have done this countless times in places like Amsterdam, Barcelona, Mallorca, Oslo.. most urban areas have suitable options. Alternatively, your hotel or Airbnb might have a small gym. Packing compact exercise equipment like resistance bands is another option, as they occupy minimal luggage space. If none of this appeals to you, you can always do a morning or night run or walk or follow a fitness video on youtube. And for the heavy lifters out there that are afraid of taking a week or two off of resistance training, I have always been able to use my body weight to get a very effective workout in. I have often found that actually taking a break from the heavy lifting benefits my body in the aftermath, and I come back looking better and feeling stronger than ever.

Master the 5km run. It takes under 30 minutes, and it is an incredible workout. If you're into longer runs, you can cover distances of up to 10 kilometers while still keeping your workout under an hour. If you're into short sprints, find a parking lot or empty road and hit some intervals. If you enjoy using running apps like Strava, exploring different routes in a unfamiliar city can be an enjoyable way to discover new running paths. If you're not a runner, don't underestimate the power of walking! I have had some of my best workouts starting my morning with a quick walk. I used to be the person who would roll my eyes when someone told me that "walking was an effective form of exercise" but I swear by it, it works wonders.

The key takeaway here is that you have the flexibility to stay active regardless of where you are. It's a choice you make for yourself. I've done everything from short runs to long walks, to bulgarian split squats using a park bench, to box jumps on a picnic table. There hasn't been a single time that I've regretted a workout afterwards, and knowing that I am prioritizing my well-being while on vacation enhances my overall travel experience. While there may be occasions when you can't or won't want to fit in a workout, that's also perfectly fine. Just remember that you don't need to abandon your routines and good habits while traveling, rather, find creative ways to incorporate them into your daily activities.

Healthy eating habits

I understand that not everyone shares this perspective, but if you're reading this, I assume you're seeking tips on how to discover healthier food and dining options while traveling. For some reason, there's a misconception that finding nutritious food on the road is a daunting task. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. There are always better alternatives than resorting to a donut or a burger and fries, which usually ends up leaving you feeling unwell. Who wants to endure a 10-hour flight in a suboptimal state, feeling slightly sick, especially when anticipating many hours of uncomfortable travel ahead?

Firstly, something I try to do, is locate the grocery stores around my Airbnb. One of the best habits I've developed is to prioritize grocery shopping as soon as I arrive at a new destination. This simple practice starts my entire trip off on a positive note. Growing up, my little brother had severe allergies to peanuts, nuts, and a whole long list of foods, so consequently, our family rarely dined out. This lifestyle has carried over into my adult years, where I tend to choose Airbnb accommodations equipped with full kitchens which allow me to prepare my own meals. At this point, navigating a foreign grocery store has become second nature to me, regardless of the country I find myself in. In addition, this approach is a much more cost-effective alternative to dining out for every meal.

If you do go out, you can always find healthy options. For breakfast, order a plate of eggs, bacon and fruit (rather than opting for a complete dish, consider ordering a selection of sides. This approach offers more flexibility, and lets you order exactly what you want). For lunch, I'll usually order a salad, with a double serving of protein and for dinner, steak and some roasted vegetables. Sushi, acai bowls, mexican bowls with rice, beans and vegetables are other great options. There are also some fast food restaurants that have good healthy alternatives too. Of course, this varies depending on the menu, but regardless, there are always great options to choose from. I can dive deeper into specifics in another post.

While on the move, you can easily go into a bodega, store, or local marketplace to grab some fresh fruit for a convenient on-the-go snack. Another useful trick is to prepare hard-boiled eggs before your flight and bring them along to the airport. You can typically find condiments like salt, pepper, and even ketchup at the airport for seasoning if you like. In addition, I find that staying hydrated with a combination of coffee and water on travel days not only helps maintain my overall energy but also keeps hunger under control during those long hours on the plane.


To conclude, I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to incorporate elements of their healthy and active routines while traveling abroad. Embrace the opportunity to explore new places and move as much as possible while prioritizing your well-being, to help you feel your absolute best throughout your trip, wherever that may be! At the end of the day, true enjoyment of life relies on your well-being, and undoubtedly, the full potential of your trip is more likely to be realized when you're at your best. Sometimes, all it takes is a daily commitment to one positive healthy choice to set you on a path toward well-being and hopefully a lot of happiness.

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