One thing I’ve noticed when traveling is how easy it is to let yourself slip into old, unhealthy habits. This comes from drinking way too much booze, stuffing yourself at meals, and remaining stagnant throughout the day. Many times I’ve found myself eating an expensive, huge dinner, followed by drinking a gratuitous amount of alcohol, which, of course, leads to more eating and lots of sleeping. And, by the time I’m back to the daily grind, I’ve gained 10 pounds and am feeling sluggish. Luckily there are quite a few things you can do to offset and avoid the “traveler’s 10”, if you feel so inclined.
1. Eat lots of fruits and veggies.
Many popular destinations around the world are quite tropical and have extremely cheap, locally grown fruits and vegetables. For example, when I was in Costa Rica, breakfast was usually an apple, a banana, and some watermelon from the local market, with a similar dish for lunch. This kept me light and energetic, and it made my colon happy (via the extra fiber). Total daily cost for both breakfast and lunch: $5.00.
2. Don’t party (too much)
One great thing about traveling is knocking back a few cervezas as the sun sets, cooling that slight sunburn on your nose, and relaxing your tired muscles after surfing for 8 hours. Many times I’ve found that one or two beers at sunset turn into eight or nine by ten o’clock, which is just plain stupid. You can drink like that at home, but you’re out traveling to see and do things, not sleep until noon while you nurse a hangover. I find it’s best to call myself out when the good time starts turning into a time I won’t remember–remove and remind myself that drinking binges are for Alpha Kappa Psi brothers, not aesthetic voyagers.
This one is a given. Your body was made to move and moving burns calories. If you’re sitting on the beach, tanning all day, are you really doing anything? No. Get up, get out, do whatever: hike, walk on the beach, surf, climb a tree, go for a jog around a nearby park, do some yoga. A useful body is a happy body!
That’s right… Sit or lie with your back completely straight, close your eyes, and follow your breath. Why? Because a healthy mind means a healthy body, and science has proven the beneficial effects of meditation. I often find that after a long day of running around, surfing, and zip-lining over a rain forest, closing my eyes and calming my mind is a great alternative to going out and having a few drinks.
5. Adjust your intake to match your output
Some days you’ll be flying or riding for 15 hours–that’s just how traveling is. On those days, it’s incredibly easy to grab some chips and a soda while you read the latest edition of Outside. Just remember, your caloric output needs to be roughly equivalent to your input to maintain weight, and when you’re sitting all day, your output isn’t much. Light meals like chicken salad (with light dressing, of course), nuts, and some fruit are sure to fill you up without giving you the empty calories and fat content of poorer choices. Accordingly, if you’re surfing or hiking all day, a carb heavy meal is in perfect order. Rice and beans anyone?
Traveling is fun. It’s also spiritual and mind expanding. Don’t let the growth and development you could be experiencing become overshadowed by unhealthy choices that leave you tired, sluggish, and mentally fatigued. Be conscious of what you’re doing and what you’re putting into your body and the experience will become much more than just a visit to another place, it will become an opportunity to feel strong, open, and wise… But don’t be afraid to enjoy a glass of wine at sunset either.