Thrive’s Travel Survival Guide: 10 Tips for Healthy Living on Vacation

Written By

Rhea Dali

Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Unnamed3 680X675 1 | Thrive'S Travel Survival Guide: 10 Tips For Healthy Living On Vacation

Traveling has the uncanny ability to throw folks “off” their A-game.

Ever gone on a trip or vacation and thought:

  • Healthy eating is not possible?
  • There goes all the ‘hard work’ I’ve been doing?
  • So much for working out?

In other words: You go on a vacation from self-care:

  • A bottomless tab at the poolside bar
  • Restaurant menus with greasy and sweet foods
  • Crappy airport food
  • Small, dinky hotel gyms
  • Plopping in a beach chair for the 168 hours you are on a hiatus
  • Reaching for foods you never considered touching at home
  • Restricting your intake because you can’t eat foods outside of your own kitchen

While vacations are 100%, positively, absolutely necessary in life, “going on vacation” DOESN’T mean that your desire and daily practice to lead a healthy lifestyle has to be completely thrown out the window.

I used to HATE (loathe, dread, fear) traveling.

To me, traveling meant:

  • Being out of control
  • Being out of routine
  • Being faced with uncomfortable situations

My usual turkey patty and steamed zucchini was nowhere in site. My 6-7 hour gym routine was not feasible. I was unfamiliar with the area—gyms and food options.

Fast forward to today, and I’ve come to realize that, in the spirit of wellness, when self-care and lifestyle balance is part of your core values, a healthy lifestyle can follow you wherever you goa little bit of red wine, break from your usual workout routine, and tasting some new foods included (gasp).

Don’t let vacation-brain get the best of you: Convincing you leading your healthy lifestyle is not possible as soon as you pass through security check point at the airport.

You CAN have your cake and eat it too—take a much-needed vacation from your daily routine, while also feeling amazing (and not “falling off” the wellness bandwagon).

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Thriving Travel Tips

Here are 10 tips for packing a healthy perspective for whatever travels you have planned this summer:

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1.Preparing to Succeed. About 1-2 weeks ahead, think about any special travel food items you may want to order online or buy at the grocery store to tuck in your travel bag (see list of ideas below). In your travel bag, you can also throw in some plastic silverware, zip-top bags, and aluminum foil to have the tools for storing and toting any foods you buy at your destination.

2.Forgo Airport Food or Gas Station Food. For day-of travel, bring your own meals and/or snacks for your travels, instead of resorting to fast-food or poor quality (overpriced) fuel at the airport. Foods will generally stay fresh, as if you were just ‘brown bagging’ it or packing your lunch for the day if you were home. If you’re on a road trip, consider toting along a lunchbox cooler with some ice packs for more options (like meat and veggies).

3.Go Hunting. Once you’re in town, find a grocery store to stock up on any snacks or easy meal items you can keep on hand for breakfast in your hotel room. Also, Yelp or Google search any cool restaurants, fitness classes or other local healthy spots you want may want to try. For instance, I always love dropping in to a CrossFit box, yoga studio, or dining out at the local quaint farm-to-table restaurant in town.

4.Smart Choices. For dining out, you can’t go wrong if you think: Keep it simple (meat and veggies):

  • Just ask. At hotels, resorts, cruise ships, etc., don’t be afraid to ask questions and request what you need. More often than not, staff and resorts will happily to accommodate you. You may also consider calling ahead to communicate any special requests if needed, but generally, simple things like gluten-free meals or heating something up in a microwave can typically be catered to pretty easily. Often times, hotels have mini-fridges in the rooms, or you can request it from the concierge.
  • You can usually find salads with meat most anywhere (airport food vendors, grocery stores, restaurants—even fast food). Simply remove the unwanted ingredients, and ask for lemons to use for dressing with the olive oil you have brought with you;
  • Order your burger (no bun); whip out a can of salmon or tuna and top some salad greens or a side of veggies with it from a restaurant in the airport or on the road
  • Instead of French fries, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes—ask for extra veggies;
  • At Italian restaurants, request the meat sauce on top of spinach or broccoli, or order the fish dish or chicken dish with veggies;
  • At a sushi restaurant, order sashimi or sushi rolls wrapped in seaweed instead of rice—or 1 regular rice-based roll + sashimi for others
  • Steakhouses—go to town with the steak, chicken or fish + veggies and maybe a sweet potato or baked potato

5.Probiotic Power. Traveling can definitely throw off your routine (particularly digestion and elimination). Make sure you pack a probiotic supplement and digestive enzymes for extra digestive support. Forgot your supplement? Stock up on some low-sugar kombucha or even a jar of sauerkraut when you hit the grocery store to keep your gut health on track. (For more on “Dealing with Traveler’s Constipation” check out this post).

6.Drink Up. Dehydration is common when we travel—simply by just being out of routine. Pack your refillable water bottle or make sure to stock up on some bottles when you arrive. Make a conscious effort to keep the fluids going to prevent constipation, impaired digestion, lack of energy and gusto to exercise, etc. Water=energy.

7.HIIT It. Still want to move but time and schedule to devote to a workout not on your side? HIIT style workouts can be a great way to pack in a little sweat, without eating into your travel itinerary. The best part? They can be done anywhere! All you need is your body and 10-30 minutes. One of my faves? Tabata: 20 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest for a total of 8 rounds per movement. Try tabata squats, followd by tabata push-ups, tabata sit-ups, tabata lunges (or lunge jumps), and tabata pull-ups or rows. Boom.

8.Just Be. Get back to your ancestral genes and just b Vacation is a great time to just be and become human again (away from desks, cell phones, the same meals, your poor sleep habits, etc.). Walk and explore the city. Integrate active activities into your itinerary. Schedule a spa or muscle-relaxing massage. Practice the art of meditating. Read a mind-stimulating book. Connect with your accompanying family and friends on a heart-to-heart level. Write a letter to lift a friend or someone in your life up. Use the time to set new goals for your life and create your own passion plan.

9.Have Your Cake AND Eat It Too. Enjoy the good things in life—foods “off your plan” or some wine with dinner. It’s ok. The key is in NOT BUILDING IT UP to be a bigger deal than it is. Have a few bites of the dinner special, enjoy a cocktail—this is part of vacation and trying new things. However, being on vacation doesn’t mean though that you have to go buckwild either. Keep your mind-body connection attuned to how self-care makes you feel. Ask yourself: “What would healthy me do?” (healthy mind, healthy body, healthy lifestyle YOU—the healthy YOU that you WANT to be in your daily life). You may not feel or think that you are your “ideal” healthy YOU today, but the more you can make choices out of that girl, the more you will become her. Chances are “healthy you” is not stuck in a box, or unable to travel because vacation totally throws her off. You can 100% integrate “fun treats” and lack of rigidity into her life because, on balance you make daily choices that feed into your self care. Be “healthy you.”

The bottom line?

It’s OK.

Your schedule on a vacation or trip is not going to look like your usual routine, so know that and relax. It’s OK!!! You actually NEED a vacation, so cut yourself a break. Vacations do a body good—particularly if we are talking about balance and holistic wellness. You CAN still workout and integrate your healthy lifestyle, but even with that: Your workouts don’t have to look like your same ol’ workouts from home, and your meals don’t have to be the same meals you eat every day. Simply aim to move throughout the day and stick to a general template of balanced, real foods as the bulk of your intake (protein, healthy fats and veggies). Regardless of what you do for fitness or what you eat, with these simple overarching guidelines, being well is not rocket science. IT’S OK.

Bonus: Need some travel snack ideas? Check out Thrive’s list here:

Thrive Travel Snacks

(for sojourners and busy people on the go)

  1. Beef/Turkey Jerky (nitrate free)
  2. Canned Wild Alaskan Salmon
  3. Low-sodium Tuna Packets or Cans
  4. Sardines
  5. Hard-boiled Eggs or Egg Muffins (homemade in muffin tin)
  6. Apples, Oranges, Bananas, Pears
  7. Baby Carrots, Celery, Zucchini Sticks, Raw Broccoli
  8. Avocado
  9. Raw nuts/seeds
  10. Homemade trail mix (1 dried fruit of choice + raw nuts/seeds + optional unsweetened coconut flakes + Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips)
  11. Natural Almond Butter/Walnut Butter/Pecan Butter Packets (no sugar)
  12. Coconut Butter Packets
  13. Coconut Oil or Ghee (in a condiment cup)
  14. Epic Bars or Tanka Bars
  15. Perfect Food Bars
  16. RX Bars
  17. Paleo Diet Bar
  18. Bearded Brothers Bar
  19. Kale Chips
  20. Plantain Chips (+ Nitrate Free Salami or Turkey/Ham)
  21. Turkey/Ham Roll-ups (Nitrate Free)
  22. Homemade Meatball Bites or Meatloaf Muffins
  23. Rotisserie Chicken
  24. Seed-based (no flour) Crackers (Livin’ Spoonful brand-sold at Wheatsville is great!)
  25. Grain-Free Granola (like Paleonola or Steve’s Paleo Krunch)
  26. Sweet Potato Chips (dip in guacamole/avocado)
  27. Caveman Cookies

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