Many of us were unable to travel to see family last year, to protect them and those around us during the pandemic. This year is, fortunately, different and so if you’re planning to travel to see family or to get away this holiday season, you’re likely considering how to balance the excitement of seeing them again with your new healthy habits.
With a little planning, you can avoid putting on those holiday pounds or picking up your first cold in over a year. Here are 7 tips for staying healthy while traveling for the holidays without compromising your enjoyment.
7 Tips For Staying Healthy This Holiday Season
1. Plan Ahead
One of the most important aspects of traveling is making sure to plan ahead. This doesn’t just mean travel plans and accommodation but also what you will be able to eat while you are away from home.
If you are going to be staying in a hotel, spend some time online to look at the restaurant options in the area and the food offered at your hotel. If you are on a limited diet you want to be sure that there are a few good options available for you, or call and ask the hotel if they can alter some of their menu for you.
If you’re going to be driving to a family member’s home, consider prepping some healthy meals and snacks before you get on the road and keep them in a cool bag. This will help you avoid being tempted by fast food options you pass.
If you are going to a family member’s home and you’re on a diet plan, you may want to think about taking food along that is on your plan but that others will be able to share with you. That way you can keep to your diet without feeling like you are excluding yourself or anyone else.
2. Stay Active
Just because you are on your holidays doesn’t mean that you can’t stay active. Make sure to include events in your itinerary that get your body moving! Take a walk around a new town. Go on a hike with the family. Try some bike riding.
If you are going somewhere tropical take advantage of being by the water with activities such as paddle ball, snorkeling, paddle boarding, or kayaking. If you’re going somewhere that’s likely to have snow, consider buying a day pass for a local gym (it’s a great option for active families or if you like a little “me” time between the festivities) or simply walk through or shovel snow. It’s not glamorous, but it certainly will burn some calories!
These activities don’t have to be particularly strenuous. Anything that gets you up and about and your body moving will benefit you greatly!
3. Monitor Your Alcohol Intake
The holiday season means there are plenty of opportunities to have a drink and not have anywhere to get up and go in the morning, but try not to overdo it. Plan ahead and think about how you can limit your intake. If you prefer not to drink and you aren’t staying the night, consider nominating yourself as a designated driver.
If you love a good drink and often lose control over how much you have after a few drinks, think about how you can limit your alcohol intake. Here are a few ways you can curb your alcohol intake:
Make yourself drink a glass of water between each drink
Only get singles, not doubles
Order a virgin cocktail so you don’t feel left out
Order weaker drinks
Drink a couple of stronger drinks early in the night so you feel the “buzz” you’re after, and then switch to diet soft drinks
Don’t forget that most alcoholic beverages also contain a lot of empty calories, so if you want to avoid them, stick to spirits mixed with diet sodas.
You don’t have to rule out having a drink or two but it is a good idea to create a maximum drink limit for yourself and do your best to stick to it. Not only will it mean you can avoid potentially embarrassing alcohol-induced situations, but your body will most certainly thank you the next day!
4. Don’t Forget to Take Your Vitamins
Just because you are going on vacation doesn’t mean that your body doesn’t need its normal upkeep. It is even more important to support the immune system while traveling, especially if you’re flying. Make sure you include a daily supplement of vitamin C, zinc, or quercetin.
5. Don’t Forget to Stay Hydrated
To stay healthy while traveling you also need to make sure that you don’t forget to stay hydrated with plenty of water. When you are outside of your normal day-to-day routine, it is often easy to forget to do the little things that keep you healthy, like drinking water.
Staying hydrated is especially important if you are flying or visiting a warmer climate as lack of water can lead to adverse effects such as headaches, migraines, and fatigue. Carry a water bottle around with you at all times so that you can ensure you are always feeling your best while on vacation.
6. Wash Your Hands as Often as Possible
Although we rely on masks as our shield from harmful bacteria, the simple routine of washing your hands frequently is the most powerful of all!
It’s still just as important as ever to wash your hands whenever you are able, or at the very least sanitize them after touching public things until you have access to soap and water. This will ensure that you are minimizing your risk of picking up any harmful bacteria or viruses that will make you sick.
7. Give Yourself a Few Indulgences
All of this being said, make sure you give yourself a few indulgences when you are on vacation or visiting family for the holidays. By planning to have that slice of your mom’s famous pumpkin pie or the local delicacy, you’ll be much more likely to stick to your healthy habits the rest of the time.
Staying healthy over the holidays doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the festivities! By adjusting your diet to allow for a few indulgences here and there, you’re more likely to stick to your healthy lifestyle the majority of the time and leave the holiday season in good health.
Dr. Nancy Rahnama, MD, ABOM, ABIM, is a medical doctor board certified by both the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Her specialty is Clinical Nutrition, that is, the use of nutrition by a medical doctor to diagnose and treat disease. Dr. Rahnama has helped thousands of people achieve their goals of weight loss, gut health, improved mood and sleep, and managing chronic disease.