I don’t know about where your are, but here in the Sunshine State we’ve been slogging through the summer months for quite some time. It’s unbearably hot, the humidity is through the roof, and the kids have been out of school for well over a month now. Despite the fact that you can usually find me complaining about the buckets of sweat lost in a simple grocery haul, the inconvenience of
pop up thunderstorms, and the oppressive slap of heat every time we open the door, summertime has a special place in my heart.
There’s just something about the extended hours of sunlight, more relaxed schedules, and the taste of sweet, seasonal berries and melon that resonates peace deep down in my soul. My childhood summers were perhaps some of the best years of my life. We soaked in the extra long days by carelessly running around barefoot in the hot grass, cooling off by frolicking through the sprinkler while my dad watered the grass, and playing M.A.S.H. when the rain kept us in. But the very best of all was summer vacation.
Every year my parents, on a super modest income, managed to give us something to look forward to. We rarely, if ever, ventured out of the state of Florida, but simple kids that we were, it didn’t matter one bit. We’d load up the maverick and settle in with our favorite gas station snacks (potato chips, Little Debbie cakes, and M&Ms) and hit the road. Those were the good old days. And, even now, summer break for us usually means a little bit of travel.
Thirty-plus years ago, I was completely oblivious to the potential effects of travel on my health as I was a blissfully ignorant kid with parents who were under-educated in cause and effect as related to nutrition. Travel meant lots of eating out and “healthier” options were never on the radar. Today, as much as I love to let my hair down and go with the flow on a nice, family vacation, I do not enjoy the effects of overly over-indulging (yes, I meant that) and getting too, too far off my routine. As a result, here are a few suggestions on how to not veer too far off your fitness journey while enjoying life away from home.
Make a plan to do a little shopping and prepare a few meals in your rented quarters. Fortunately it’s pretty commonplace to have a rental with a kitchen and/or refrigerator. This convenience allows for the ease of creating a few simple meals on your own. I know, I know, it’s vacation and the last thing we want to do is spend time on meal prep and cooking. My favorite meal is dinner, so planning to eat a simple breakfast and
lunch leaves me a little wiggle room to have a more indulgent dinner. A few super simple options include overnight oats (no cooking required!), precooked muffins or quick breads, smoothies, salads and wraps. These are some of my favorites and some can even be prepped beforehand and frozen. I’ve even been known to pack my slow cooker and let a few things simmer while we were out and about doing touristy things. This method is great for saving on both your caloric and financial budget. And don’t forget to pack your own snacks!
Make use of hotel gyms, carry easy workout equipment (bands, jump ropes, yoga mats), or pack your running shoes. I don’t ever plan to workout every day while I’m traveling, but I do try to get a little action in here and there. I love that so many hotels offer gym access these days. You can jump on the cardio equipment before the day gets going, swim laps while the kids are playing in the pool, or pack a few of your own things to squeeze in some work wherever the day allows. My husband and I are great about flip flopping days. I’ll stay in with the kids one morning while he sneaks in a run and I’ll take the next. It works for us and it’s a nice way to get in a little self care and time alone.
Choose attractions that encourage activity. Sightseeing and enjoying the local culture are what travel is all about. Take long walking, cycling, and running tours. Seek out nature trails and national parks for a fun hike or scavenger hunt. If you have younger kids like we do, a good sturdy off-road stroller is a must. We let the kids amble about freely and move at their pace, but having a stroller allows them to rest their little legs and take breaks from the harsh sun. Plus, having a good stroller also allows us to sign up for local races and run them together as a family. Opportunities for active fun are endless.
Chug your water! Water is my very best friend when we’re traveling. Staying hydrated helps to minimize mindless noshing. When we’re properly hydrated we can make better decisions about whether or not we’re truly hungry. Water helps to minimize bloating associated with both dehydration and additives that are frequently found in restaurant foods. I have a very sensitive system and the slightest changes to my routine throws everything off. Proper hydration is the balm that helps to flush our systems and keep us in balance. In other words, life is better all around with it.
I hope this is helpful. I’m not at all suggesting that you try to keep up with any weight loss or fitness related goals while on vacation. I find it easier to relax with goals during travel and to, instead, focus on balance and not throwing all caution to the wind. Hang out with your family, have wine at dinner, and an ice cream on your walk, but a few mindful habits will keep you from undoing any progress that’s already been made.
Do you have any secrets? How do you keep some balance while on vacation? Or, do you throw all caution to the wind? Either way, I want to hear about it.