Vacation Healthy: Tips for Pre-, During, & Post-Vacation

Posted: June 10, 2011 at 9:08 am

With an upcoming week long trip to the beach, I still plan to continue healthy habits. While I certainly believe we should always use vacation as a time to decompress and enjoy ourselves, I also don’t feel the need to approach vacation as a “free-for-all”. I like to come into vacation with reasonable expectations – to have fun and have balance. Knowing how I plan to handle pre-, during, and post-vacation allows me to make the most of my trip and my healthy lifestyle.

Plan a travel location that coincides with a healthy lifestyle. For our annual trip to the beach, I know the location makes outdoor activities accessible. Also, staying in a condo with a kitchen gives us the option of preparing our own meals instead of eating out the entire trip. Many times you can find a good deal when renting a condo for a week over the nightly cost of a hotel room without such amenities.

Pack to be active and eat well. I always pack a pair of tennis shoes and comfortable workout style clothing so I can be prepared for action. Even if I don’t use my workout gear in a traditional gym setting, having it available makes me more likely to use it. Same thing with snacks. If I come prepared with healthy snacks, their accessibility will make me more likely to reach for them over the candy in a hotel vending machine.

Use the vacation for goal motivation. I admit that an upcoming beach trip will spark some extra fire in my workouts or give me extra determination in sticking with quality foods. It’s reasonable to use a trip for motivation.

During Vacation
Stay active, but don’t count out informal exercise. On my trip, I do plan on some formal exercise, such as runs on the beach, but I also know I will get in plenty of other activity. Having fun and experiencing the trip doesn’t mean I’m giving up my activity. In fact, I usually end up more active on vacation. I know I will go on walks, play with the kids, splash in the ocean, spend a few hours bowling, hit up a putt-putt course, walk around town exploring, and more. Informal exercise adds up. Just get moving!

After climbing the lighthouse last year – definitely a workout!

Balance out healthy food with indulgences. My family beach vacation includes dining out practically every night. I could never hold off on ordering my favorites that I look forward to every year – fried coconut shrimp from Inlet Harbor, a margarita from Parks, cinnamon buns from Aunt Catfish, filet mignon from Stonewood, a special boardwalk ice-cream treat. Keeping this in mind, I make certain to balance out those meals with lighter meals filled with nutrition during the day. I also focus on 1 or 2 more indulgent items, instead of the whole shebang. For example, I will skip the bread basket, get veggies for a side, and happily consume my fried shrimp and margarita. 😉

Margarita time at the “kids” table!

Don't have guilt. For most of us, vacations usually only last a few days to a couple of weeks at most. I remind myself that I won’t undo all of my progress or healthy habits I have established in that amount of time. I really try to keep some perspective. Vacation doesn’t happen often and I want to have fun! Continuing to care for my health will help me feel best, so that helps me keep balanced, but I don’t fret if I end up drinking more cocktails than I anticipated or not waking up for a single morning run.

Jump back into normal eating and training habits right away.
I give myself leeway on my travel day, but the very next day after I get home I head to the grocery store to stock up on staples and pick up my regular workout schedule. The longer I make excuses, the more difficulty I have breaking them.

Plan ahead, but be realistic. I shared before on the importance of taking things slow after returning from a break. I jump right back in, but at a lower intensity so I don’t end up in pain and unable to do anything.

Don’t get down. Travel usually leads to some water weight and bloating. It’s only natural when you take a shift from your standard eating and exercising habits. I have to give my body a full week or two to feel more normal again. I could beat myself up about a bloated stomach, but that won’t change anything. Instead, I choose to focus on the fun memories I created with loved ones.

  • What are some ways you approach vacation healthfully?
  • CUSTOM SIGN GIVEAWAY WINNER = # 3 – Holly @ The Runny Egg!!! I will send you an email and CC Megan from Signs on the Cheap to get you started with creating your own running sign. Congrats!


34 Comments to “Vacation Healthy: Tips for Pre-, During, & Post-Vacation”
  1. Great tips! I pack snacks like a crazy woman and I always try to stay at a hotel that has a gym if I can. I especially liked the “don’t beat yourself up” thing, that’s very important too 🙂

  2. Aah I won!!! Thanks Tina this was an awesome giveaway!

    I love that you include “don’t have guilt” — I used to beat myself up for not “following my plan” on vacation (aka not exercising much or eating/drinking too much). Now I start vacations with the attitude of “I may not exercise and I may not eat things I would normally eat at home, but thats ok, I’m on vacation!”

    And usually when I get home I want to get back into my routine anyway.

  3. I still have problems with vacations–I go into it thinking I’m going to keep my healthy lifestyle perfectly and then I wayyyyy overindulge! I definitely beat myself up over it…however I haven’t been on a vacation in so long so I don’t know if I would still do that? I definitely have a healthier attitude now than I used to.

    • Tina says:

      I think you would be surprised how naturally it comes with time. I know I approach vacation WAY differently than I used to…mainly because I don’t expect myself to be “perfect”.

  4. Amy Lauren says:

    I like this :). My husband and I did a cruise for our honeymoon a few weeks ago (we’re not into going to just one beach- so cruising we got to see THREE beaches, haha). Of course we treated ourselves to dessert every night, but there were so many healthy options like this awesome salad bar, it wasn’t hard to eat healthy at all. Plus we took the stairs everywhere, and being in a room on Deck 2 when the buffet is only Deck 11… climbing 9 flights of stairs for breakfast is definitely helpful!

    I hope you guys have an awesome time at the beach!

  5. Great tips! I pretty much do the same as you. I try to balance out the fun and still incorporate workouts — and if I DO indulge, no biggy. It will all balance out in the end – especially if I kick up a notch when I get home.

    Do you leave today or tomorrow? I hope you have so much fun!! (it that the ponce inlet lighthouse?)

  6. I totally agree on the balance between indulgences and healthy. Not every meal needs to be a “treat” meal. For vacations, I try to identify indulgences that are unique to my vacation experience – muffaletta in New Orleans, hand-cut beach fries on the shore, frozen custard in Milwaukee, etc. Overloaded omlettes? I can get that anywhere. Forget it.

    • Tina says:

      That’s such a good point. Don’t eat something just because its there if it isn’t truly special to the vacation experience. Great tip!

  7. I always try to keep most of my meals “normal” when I go on vacation and we always plan active activities like biking the golden gate bridge, trekking through the jungles of hawaii, snorkeling, etc. It’s always more fun that way. In hawaii, since we had a condo, I packed a few owrkout dvds and got up early for a work out! We also had a kitchen so it was easy to make breakfast and pack lunches!

  8. Allison says:

    It wont be a vacation without some indulgence:) but it makes it so much easier (and less sad) to get back into normal living if you don’t go too crazy! I know that when i go home i will want to eat my weight in my moms homemade cookies and bread and so i will!! But ill also keep working out while im there and keep eating plenty of veggies:)

  9. Morgan says:

    I LOVE walking on the beach. My mom and I could spend a good two hours just walking along the shoreline. Walking in the sand is also a little more challenging! Enjoy the beach, Tina!

  10. Great tips! I definitely beat myself up when I came back from Costa Rica because I thought I gained so much weight (when in actuality, I LOST a few pounds!). However, I just jumped right back into my healthy habits and felt better!

  11. My 2nd trip to Vegas this year was much less healthy than the 1st. For the 1st time we went, we did stuff like walk around all day, hiked, and ate plenty of “roughage” to balance out the big dinners out and alcohol consumed later in the night… it kept me feeling decently “normal” while being on vacation!

  12. I just posted about vacations yesterday! My favorite idea is to do an activity that allows you to be active such as biking, water skiing, etc…so you are having fun and getting your workout in at the same time! 🙂

    Have a great time on your trip!

  13. This is such a wonderful post, and so timely as I’ll be going on vacation next week!

    One way I ensure I stay active is by signing up for a 5K while I’m at my vacation destination or having something to train for when I get home. 🙂
    Keeps the motivation up!

    • Tina says:

      Oh I like that idea! I’m actually super excited about my Savannah vacation that coincides with my half marathon later this year. It will be such an awesome way to kick off the trip. 🙂

  14. Hooray for vacation! I definitely enjoy them guilt-free, but maintain activity levels. There are so many fun things to do – running is one of my favorite way to explore and I typically fit in some tennis or kayaking while at the beach. If I need a break from the sun I enjoy the air-conditioned comfort to the hotel gym… or a boozy frozen treat… either way Im having a good time. 🙂

  15. Great tips!!! Staying active definitely helps me to feel great on vacation…and sometimes provides needed sanity if it’s a family vacay 🙂

  16. I love the tips. I cannot agree that packing snacks totally helps. It brings a piece of home with me too, which I love b/c eating out gets to be too much on me after a while.

    • Tina says:

      Agreed. I love all the places we visit as a large family, but I am certainly ready for food from HOME after the week is over.

  17. I agree with jumping back into a routinely healthy lifestyle right after getting back…it makes the transition so much easier! Hope y’all have a blast!

  18. Trisha says:

    These are perfect. I often get stressed about vacations because I can’t do “normal” eating and exercising. But it really does add up and it all works out in the end. Vacations are good for the mind and body!

  19. Great tips! On vacation I try to eat as healthy and normal as possible for bfast and lunch and then I don’t feel as bad about having dessert with dinner or other treats throughout the day.

  20. I find it’s so easy to be active on vacation, but tougher to avoid alcohol and eat well.

  21. Sam says:

    awesome advice!! it’s so important to not get too hard on yourself for enjoying meals out and a little laziness. plus, i’m always so much more appreciative of my workout schedule and healthy meals when i come home!

  22. Yep, living a healthy life on vacation is a-okay, but it is also a-okay to let some of it go by the wayside a bit 🙂 NO guilt is def. a plus to enjoying a good vacay!

  23. I’m totally with you on your vacation tips! I pack lots of healthy munchies but don’t deny myself the treats that I love while I’m away. It’s really important for me to get back into my routine as soon as I get home so I don’t go off the rails! Have a great trip!

  24. This was such a fabulous post and something that I’ve been thinking about a lot as well! For four weekends in a row I have been going on mini vacations and have been really trying to not mess everything up that I work for all week! You are so right about balancing the indulgences- it’s something I’m really working on! I also feel that what works for me is to just monitor my portion size. If everyone is having pizza, I can fill up mostly on a salad before and then enjoy one delicious slice without feeling deprived. I mean, that’s what a healthy lifestyle is all about, right?

    Have an absolutely wonderful trip!

  25. Great tips, Tina! I like to definitely go with snacks and workout gear too. I also think setting realistic expectations for yourself during vacation is important so you don’t set yourself up to fail!

  26. Jess says:

    These are awesome tips!! I always bring snacks, sneaks, but try and maintain a “balanced” mindset.

    Have a BLAST!!

  27. lindsay says:

    yep, totally agree. Thats what vacations are for. Stay active in a fun way and enjoy yourself. Not damage yourself, right? SO HAPPY for you!

  28. Amanda says:

    OMGosh! You are so right about getting RIGHT back into the habit once the vacation is ova! Sometimes the over indulgences or slack in exercise schedule leads me to think that I can continue to behave this way once I’m home. NOT!

  29. Danica says:

    Love these tips! I always get a little anxious about going on vacations. I always end up relaxing, but I too don’t want to just go overboard and forget to do at least some good for my body. Thanks for the great reminders 🙂

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