Top 8 Tips for Staying Healthy on Vacation

Last updated November 3, 2023

More often than not, the last thing people are concerned about is staying healthy on vacation. There’s a big misconception out there that connects the words traveling, vacation and all-inclusive with gaining weight. One doesn’t necessarily need to equal the other, however.

Here I share some mindful habits you can practice to stay healthy and maintain (or maybe even lose) weight when you’re on vacation.

In fact, traveling can be an ideal time to reset your well-being clock and tune in to what your physical and mental health really needs to operate at its optimal level.

8 Tips for Staying Healthy on Vacation (Without Packing the Pounds)

So, what steps can you take to stay healthy on vacation? Here are eight tips I practice while traveling to enjoy the vacation while also staying mindful and healthy.

1. Stick to Routine

It can be tempting to just let the day unfold and throw the calendar out the window when you vacation. However, having a routine that is similar to what you do at home can help you stick to healthier habits when traveling.

If you’re taking on healthier habits while vacationing, like those mentioned in this article, it will be easier to keep those habits once you’re back in your home zip code. 

2. Keep Breakfast Simple

All-you-can-eat buffets that open at 7 in the morning and stay open until 11 am can be tempting. The urge to sit and relax all-day while dining on unlimited courses of baked goods and various foods is formidable.

People also fall into the trap of eating “vacation food.” That is, eggs, bacon, buttered toast and the works. These comfort foods are chosen over the usual home breakfast of cereal or oatmeal. I encourage you to keep your breakfast simple. Load up on the unlimited fruit choices for the first meal of the day.

Eating fruit first thing in the morning is better for your digestive system. It gives your body a healthy start to the day ahead. A healthy choice at the start of the day influences healthier choices throughout the rest of the day.

3. Fill Up First on the Healthy

There’s validity in the way Italians eat by serving soups and salads prior to the pasta and main dishes. Fill up on the healthier, greener options first and satiate that initial emptiness of hunger.

If you’ve already had a full plate of greens before the main meal, then you are less likely to go back for seconds.

4. Conscious Consumption

One of the things that irks me the most when staying at all-inclusive hotels is the amount of food waste. Guests just want to “try” that dish the neighbor has, or the idea of “well, it’s included…” sinks in. It’s easy to decide that each display corner is an opportunity to take another plate and fill it up.

Instead, ask yourself this: do I really need those three plates of food to try during the buffet lunch?

Conscious consumption can keep you aware of what you really need or want to try. Also, you can probably just grab a spoon to taste instead of filling an entire plate.

5. Ditch the Bubbly

If you choose to remove one thing from your diet indefinitely, I highly suggest the soda. Even calorie-free alternatives are loaded with fake chemicals to make them taste “good.” What’s more is that these sodas will leave you with a falsified feeling of being full. Sodas and other drinks that come with those fancy little straws can be loaded with calories that can easily tally up as more than a full meal.

Opt for water with fresh fruit. Be mindful of what you’re consuming so that you may fully enjoy it.

6. Accept a Healthy Balance

As I mentioned above, create a balance for yourself. You’re on vacation, after all! The minute you start to limit or tell yourself you “can’t have that because…” you’re setting yourself up for a dining disaster.

Instead, create a balance of what you know is a healthier choice. Enjoy minimally what it is you’re really craving. For another example, if you have fruit in the morning and pass on the margaritas midday, then enjoy that side dish of macaroni and cheese or beer with your Mexican tacos you’re craving at dinner. That’s OK!

Balance is key to creating a healthy lifestyle you can stick with for the long term. 

7. Get Moving Daily

Most hotels and resorts have gym access or fitness options available for guests.

Even if they don’t, you can take a long walk on the beach, in the city parks, or (if the weather isn’t cooperating) workout in your room. Try to commit to some sort of movement every day.

If you’re used to a longer workout back at home, then don’t let the idea of a shorter one on vacation stop you from doing it. A 30-minute yoga practice or walk on the beach can turn into an hour-long excursion or practice. Or a shorter workout might be just what your body needs for the day. A little something is better than nothing, after all!

8. Get Quality Sleep

What if you ditched the alarm clock and slept until your body naturally woke up? What would happen? This is a fantastic exercise to learn your personal sleep needs.

I’ve discovered a few helpful tips to get better sleep when traveling: Ask for a quieter room. If possible, get a room on the top floor. Request a room away from the kitchen area or main walkways.

Try not to eat or drink too close to bedtime (at least 2-3 hours prior). Limit alcohol before going to bed. If you’re a light sleeper, bring earplugs, an eye mask, and a white noise machine to mask any other sound variables.

Hopefully, these mindful tips help you to stay healthy on vacation and maybe maintain your weight. If not, perhaps they encourage you to pick up some healthier habits that you can use back at home, or try a wellness retreat to start your transformation.

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