The Healthy Travel Guide

How you can stay healthy on vacation without sacrificing a good time or good food!

Guest post by Sam from TeamSam Fitness

My husband and I like to travel. When our children were small, we set a goal to try to see all 50 states before becoming empty-nesters. Fortunately, we have seen 42 of them and our chicks have not quite flew the coop yet. ;)

I’ve also learned while traveling can be exciting and adventurous, it can also be stressful and challenging when trying to stay on track with our health. But with just a few minor adjustments, it’s totally possible to not get derailed and stay healthy while we vacation and travel.

But not only do we like to travel, we also like to stay healthy. Since having colon cancer at the age of 29 (I’m now 48), my health has become a priority. Having a three and a five year old at the time I was diagnosed set in motion my journey to start taking better care of myself and really take control of my health.

Here are my favorite tips I’ve learned from our years of travel and what I do to stay on track without sacrificing a good time, good food, and avoiding falling of the infamous, healthy living wagon.

Plan Ahead While on vacation, having a plan is usually the furthest from our mind. Impulsive decisions are part of the fun, but having a plan in mind can also keep us from making too many otherwise unhealthy decisions.

I always teach my clients, that being prepared is not only crucial during our everyday healthy journey, but it's especially important when we get out of our daily routine. Here are ways I like to be prepared when it comes to travel:

  • Pack your own food. I learned this the hard way after our Carnival Cruise and being faced with not too many healthy food options. Pack a small ice chest of a few of your favorite snacks so you'll always have a back up if your only food options are limited to what you'd like to eat. Having healthy food options can also keep you from making an impromptu trip through a drive-through window when those unexpected hunger pangs strike, too.

  • Before going out for a dinner, drink a protein shake. I'm a huge fan of protein shakes for one, they are so versatile and literally have dozens of ways you can create your own concoction. But also, by tanking up on protein first, it provides a bit of leeway when it comes to indulging more at the dinner table. When you eat your protein first, it will slow down the absorption of sugar you may eat later (including sugary starches), therefore will keep your body from storing fat. And NOT storing fat is a good thing! Here is my favorite protein powder. It's clean, comes in convenient travel packs, and can be substituted for a complete meal especially when fresh greens are added.

  • Eat Breakfast. Yep, eating breakfast is part of being prepared. A healthy, protein packed, nutrient packed breakfast can jump start your metabolism, but your body in instant fat burning mode and keep you satisfied as you begin your day. My favorite breakfast choices may include an egg omelet (with lots of vegetables), oatmeal topped with a dollop of peanut butter and a drizzling of honey (hello to extra energy!) and fruit on the side. PS: Never eat fruit without a serving of protein as this can cause your blood sugar to quickly rise and cause fat storage.

Exercise It's definitely called a vacation for a reason and following a rigid exercise routine is probably the last thing you want to think about. I also totally agree with allowing yourself time to take a break and rest from the routine, but it's also just as important to not stray too far from that routine either. Especially if your vacation is longer than a week, it'll be much harder to get going again after taking such a long break. Here's how I like to stay active while traveling:

  • Use the hotel gym. While it may be limiting to a degree, do take advantage of the treadmill if you can. Just keeping your heart rate up keeps your natural endorphins up and your stress hormones down. And don't think you need to spend hours formally exercising either! It's a vacation remember! Just take 20 minutes for yourself and to keep your body in motion...a body in motion stays in motion. :)

  • Do a quick workout in your hotel room. No equipment needed and it's easy to blast out a fat burning, heart rate elevating workout to help burn off those extra indulgences, too. You can see full demos of my bodyweight only workouts on my YouTube Channel.

  • Pack comfortable walking shoes and walk and hike when you can Exercise also doesn't have to be formal. Whether it be getting up early and going for a walk at sunrise or finding a new hiking trail to explore, staying active is what's important! Taking the walking path also gives way to seeing more sites along the way that you may not experience from always riding in the car.

Make Good Restaurant Choices When eating out, examine your choices and consider your options wisely. I liken my vacation food choices to a budget ~ how do I want to use them and making good restaurant choices is key to staying on your healthy track. Here are my top 3 tips for staying healthy while dining out on vacation (and no you don't always have to order a salad):

  • Mix and Match. If you're not seeing what you want on the menu, don't be afraid to "make it your own". It's totally acceptable for you to mix and match menu items to create your own healthier alternative or custom meal you want to eat.

  • Double up on your vegetables. Part of mixing and matching is ordering extra veggies if you want. If your choices on healthier starches are limited, don't shy away from ordering double vegetables portions or either two vegetables instead of just one. When you do go for the starches, always choose higher fiber, nutrient dense, "less-starchy" (aka less sugary) choices, like sweet potatoes or brown rice.

  • When ordering only a salad, always order extra protein. One of the biggest issues with many of my clients is for one they don't eat enough, but also they don't eat enough protein. Protein is essential for maintaining lean muscle and fueling metabolism and when we don't eat enough, especially when our activity level is up, our muscles can suffer, our metabolism can also suffer and we're more likely to run out of energy a lot quicker too.

Watch my live video to get more details on my favorite healthy restaurant tips. While trying to live by an 80/20 rule, ask yourself the simple question, “is it worth it?” Just because we are vacationing doesn’t necessarily mean we should also run amok of the healthy habits we’ve been trying to live by either. Be cautious not to sabotage what has taken you weeks or even months to accomplish with just a few meals.

And with a little planning ahead, increasing your activity while on vacation and making better dining out choices, there's no reason why you can't completely enjoy your vacation, a few extra indulgences (and cocktails) and not come home feeling guilty for doing so!

Sam is the owner and blogger of TeamSam Fitness and is also the founder of A Healthy Life Academy, an exclusive 90 day program teaching women over 40 how to lose weight and keep it off. It was after having colon cancer at a young age that led her into her own journey to better health and soon after turning 40 becoming certified as a personal trainer and weight loss coach so she could lead other women her age to a life of better health. Her mission is simple: To help and provide women who are shackled by their weight and poor health with a place to start and the tools they need to feel better, have more energy, fit back in those clothes again, become more active and able do the things they've been wanting to do (but can't now because their weight or aches and pains won't allow it) and most importantly, how NOT to revert back to their old habits. You can find her at or learn more about her 90 program weight loss program at


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