Anna Wootton

5 Tips to Travelling Smart – Without Consequences!

Remembering that the main mindset of an emotional eater is an all-or-nothing, black-and-white perspective…today I wanted you to consider how you usually approach your vacations.

Do they become events that you build up to by dieting and restricting your food intake, only to go all out while away and eat whatever you fancy? Do you then come home and diet again to try and return to normal?

Why make every vacation so punishing? With a need to earn it before you leave (as if it wasn’t busy enough getting ready to leave at work, packing, organising everyone…), and then a consequence of a diet looming when you get back?

What if you just enjoyed yourself a bit more when you were away without it resulting in massive weight gains or losses? And no, this doesn’t involve monitoring every morsel you put in your mouth. What it does mean is a vacation where you probably save a bit of money, enjoy the moments you eat out and the new flavours and tastes you’re enjoying, and still have enough energy left over to enjoy the sights.

Here’s how…

5 Tips to Travelling Smart, Without Consequences!

1. Book your accommodation wisely.

The ideal solution is to stay in self-catering accommodation – an apartment, AirBnB home or a hotel suite with a kitchenette. This allows you to save money and live a bit like a local – I love checking out the local supermarkets and shopping complexes or farmers markets and being able to pick up food I can take back and prepare.

I’m not suggesting this takes place of every meal – obviously you’re in a new place and a big part of enjoying that is dining out and seeing what the destination has to offer – but it can replace a number of smaller meals like lunches, breakfasts and maybe one dinner, allowing you to save money, cook smart and save your waistline, and feel more at home.

If you are travelling solo or can’t justify the expense of larger accommodations, simply reserve a hotel room that comes with a fridge and microwave. I check that every room has one if I can help it. That way I know I can still run out to the local store for snacks like plain Greek yogurt pots, almond milk and fresh fruit and vegetables. Then I pack some chia pudding mixes (cacao, stevia, chia seeds and dried fruit and nuts in a Ziploc pouch is all you need) and some of my favourite teabags. Then all I need to do in the morning is mix the chia pudding mix with some almond milk (heat it in the microwave if you prefer), or I can store my purchased yogurt and fruit in the fridge and make a quick parfait when I need a snack. Microwaving portable oatmeal pots is also a great way to again save money and your health when on the go. There’s no need for you to buy every single meal out, as I say, and using your hotel room as your base for healthy snacks and smaller meals saves you turning to the Food Court for these needs.

2. Choose restaurants that offer a truly unique experience.

What’s the point in going away only to indulge in food that you could get on your doorstep? Use your vacation as a chance to truly try something new. This is easier when travelling internationally – look for a restaurant that truly exemplifies the best in local cuisine of the country you’re in – but even when travelling within, for example, the United States. In the South? Go to a great restaurant specializing in modern takes on traditional southern comfort food. On a coastal vacation? Check out the local seafood spots. What about a big city like Chicago or New York? You have your pick of amazing chef-driven restaurants to offer a true tasting experience.

My favourite is to go to a chef-driven restaurant specializing in small plates and tapas so we can try as many flavours as possible. When in Chicago I stayed at the Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel and the restaurant inside the hotel is Mercat a la Planxa, owned and run by crowned IronChef Jose Garces. It’s a tapas restaurant by a renowned chef and the meal we had there was the best I’ve had in a long time. Such a great experience, so many flavours, and if you’re on a budget, small plates allow you to enjoy fine dining at lower costs.

When in New York I took advantage of stopping in at specialty vegan and vegetarian restaurants that I don’t usually have access to on my small island. Make sure to make your meals out worth it and enjoy every bite. If you’re not going to thoroughly enjoy it, save your money, save your health and prep something in your hotel room or accommodation.

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

3. Don’t go overboard every day.

In a similar theme to what I’ve been saying before, balance your time away. If you’re away for 5-10 days, there’s no need to go all out with your food every meal of every day. If you’re gearing up for a wonderful dinner out, eat light in the daytime and perhaps book some of your more active itinerary items that day – walking around shopping or exploring, or sports and other activities. Take it easy. There’s all the time in the world to indulge – you’re on vacation, after all!

4. Get your activity in.

This hugely depends on your personality. Some people love being active, and travel with DVDs or gym equipment. Others will dutifully use the hotel gym if one is available and that’s great too. If you don’t have that kind of impassioned commitment to your fitness (no judgement, that’s not for everyone!) then simply consider what a small time investment each day may do for helping you feel better on holiday.

This isn’t about you coming home and not feeling bad about your pants being tight. This is about how you can enjoy the day with more energy and fewer aches and pains. I have easily tense shoulders and neck and if I don’t stretch each morning a little, even if it’s just a quick yoga flow sequence, I just end up miserable and headachey by the afternoon, which ruins my whole day. Use your Wifi in your hotel to pull up any of the myriad 10-minute hotel-room workouts on offer and just invest that small amount of time in the morning to move your body, get things aligned properly and set about your day.

Remember as well that unless your goal is a beach resort holiday where you literally lie on the beach all day every day, you will probably be doing a fair amount of walking – more than you would usually do at your desk job, for example. So you’ll be moving your body already, which means there’s not as much need to do hour-long workouts, as you’re not counteracting a sedentary day job.

5. Mostly, RELAX.

No vacation is enjoyed if your mind is always wondering what My Fitness Pal would be saying about your meal choices, or how many steps your Fitbit is counting each day. It’s vacation! The main purpose and benefit is to enjoy yourself and relax, getting away from your daily life and stressors. So don’t take them with you. Leave the relentless tracking at home – no weighing scales, no Fitbit counting, no calorie counting or meal tracking on this vacation. Trust that you know how to do moderation, listen to your own cues and move your body in a way that feels best. That is, after all, how we should live all the time – not just on vacation!