Since summer travel season is in full swing, and my last post featured my favorite travel snack, and lots of other great ideas from The Recipe ReDux group, I though I’d continue the with travel theme for one more post. Our family has been really fortunate to take some amazing vacations over the past few years. Mr. CSH racked up lots of frequent flyer miles in his last job, and we decided years ago we’d rather see some of the world, than drive fancy cars or have lots of “toys”. Our kids were at a great age when we started traveling- young enough to want to come on vacations with us, but old enough to remember them, and we’ve had so many great memories, so it was a great decision on our part!
My family is going to kill me for publishing these.
Vacations are often synonymous with overindulging – whether it’s too much food, drink, sun, partying, or (gasp) rest – but that’s why they call it a vacation. When it’s over, it’s back to reality. Personally, I love to experience new and definitely local food when I travel, and some of the best, and most memorable meals I’ve had have been while on vacation – I can still taste the gnocchi with truffles I had in Tuscany, the grilled octopus in Malta, the fish tacos in southern California, the tapas with honey and Manchego in Spain, and nowhere have I had a better Margarita than in Mexico. Sigh. I need a vacation.
If you read my blog though, you know I’m all about moderation, and even though I won’t skimp on my vacation dinners, and I probably do drink a bit more wine (or Margaritas) when on vacation, than at home, I still try to stay on track with diet and exercise, because I just feel better when I do. It makes my vacation all the more enjoyable, and there is no recovery time when I get home. No trying to drop the 5 pounds I gained last week, or trying to get “my system” back on track, or sore muscles from trying to get back to exercise. The key to eating well and not overdoing it during vacation is like anything else – advance planning. So if you’re lucky enough to be heading out for a little R & R this summer, here are my tips for keeping yourself on track while still enjoying your vacation.
Do your research. I’m guessing you probably don’t just hop on a plane or get in the car without planning out where you’re going, and what you’ll do, and your vacation meals deserve the same amount of planning. Try to find out what will be available for meals wherever you are staying. Are you planning to eat at your hotel? Are there restaurants within walking or cab distance if you won’t have a car? If you’re staying with friends or family, what kind of food do they like to cook and eat?
We tend to eat lunch and dinners at restaurants, and I absolutely love the recommendations from the Frommer’s guides. I always make a list of the restaurants that look best, and look up the menus online before we leave, so I know what our healthier options are.
Take the time to pack at least a few healthy snacks, and hit the store when you arrive. Prepare and pack a few snack bags with dried fruit, nuts, pretzels, or whole grain crackers so you have something to munch on in the car, at the airport, or for a snack in your hotel room. Try my No Need to Stop For Breakfast bars, which double as a snack -or breakfast if you add some milk. If you have access to a refrigerator (many hotels will let you rent a small one for a small fee), stop at a grocery store or even a convenience store on the way to your hotel or resort and stock up on fruit, yogurt, low fat milk and cereal, as well as a few healthy snacks, and bottled water. Eating breakfast and snacks in your hotel room, even just a few days, not only saves serious money, but also saves major calories to spend on a nice dinner. One word of advice – be careful about using the room’s mini bar as a refrigerator because as soon as you remove something (even if you don’t eat or drink it, a sensor will add it to your room bill). I learned this the hard way :(.
Don’t forget your fiber! Not to get too personal here, but stomach problems are the most common ailment while on vacation. Too much food or alcohol, or just eating food that your system isn’t used to, can upset your stomach, and quickly ruin a vacation. Make sure you get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables by including at least one serving with each meal and snack, and ideally have a whole grain cereal or bread for breakfast to help keep things “regular” :). I also swear by one serving of yogurt each day.
Watch out for “empty calories”. While it’s tempting to order those fancy drinks every day at the pool bar, or sample the gelato at every gelateria in Italy, those calories really add up. Enjoy a few treats – you are on vacation after all, but be aware of how much, or how often you treat yourself or you’ll end up with a lot more “baggage” coming home!
Pack your shoes. Running shoes, that is. Most people tell me they don’t have time for exercise because they are too busy with work, so that means vacations are the perfect time to exercise! Get in a walk, run, or workout at the resort gym every morning before you head out, or as soon as you get back from the beach, pool, or sightseeing. If you’re having a beach vacation, go for a long walk on the beach each day. Many hotels will also provide running or walking maps, and some Westin resorts will rent workout clothing and shoes in case you prefer to travel light. Again, research your options and plan ahead.
Hope you have a wonderful, safe, and healthy vacation! Do you have any favorite vacation food memories?