Eating Healthy on Vacation

Summer is in full swing and for some of us, a vacation still may be around the corner. Whether you are away from home for two days or two weeks, not being in our normal surroundings with a regular routine and not having familiar access to healthy food choices can be challenging. With a little planning and foresight however, you can go on vacation and work towards your health goals.

Snacks for Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Though there are strict limits to how much liquid you can bring with you on an airplane, you have a bit more flexibility when it comes to dry foods you can pack. This includes any leftovers from lunch or dinner you had last night. That’s right! Don’t let your food go to waste; pack it up for your travel adventures instead. Just want some snacks to nibble on? Grab an insulated lunch bag for some easy-to-pack foods.

Hardboiled eggs pack a protein punch. You can pre-peel your eggs, making them an easy snack which does not require any utensils.

Fresh vegetables, such as carrots, green peppers, cucumber, grape tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower are easy to cut up. Don’t want to eat them plain? You can pack a bit of hummus to go with them.

Fresh fruit is always great in the summer. Pack fruits that are high in fiber such as apples, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Pack these in an airtight container for a refreshing treat.

Nuts and seeds are high in healthy fats and also have protein, which will help you feel fuller longer. Combine your favorite options and make your own trail mix with this recipe.

Kale chips are easy to make at home and make a great portable snack. One cup of kale has nearly 3 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fiber, and vitamins A, C, K, and folate.

Jerky is a tasty option that’s also high in protein. You can can opt for fish, turkey, beef, bison, venison, or chicken jerky. Just make sure to pick up options that are low in sodium and added sugars.

Roasted chickpeas are a delicious snack that is high in fiber and easy to make at home. Check out this recipe with colorful photos and helpful tips.

Protein bars are great in a pinch. They travel well and do not need to be kept cool. Be sure to check the ingredients and the nutrition facts for added sugar and ingredients you may not recognize.

Canned fish, such as tuna, is high in protein and healthy fats. You can easily pack some salt and pepper or seasoning of your choice to spice it up.

Didn’t bring snacks? Most flights and trains offer snacks (though at a much higher price). Try to aim for those which are high in protein and healthy fats, and low in processed carbohydrates and sugar.

Once you arrive at your destination, it can be tempting to jump ship from your healthy habits and overindulge. But don’t go swimming just yet! Here are some ways to help you stay on board with your health goals while still enjoying yourself.

Stay on Track During Vacation

If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen, try cooking more of your meals and pick one meal each day to enjoy out. Find a local grocery store to load up on your favorite healthy foods and make some of your home-cooked favorites. You can also use this as an opportunity to cook with new foods if you are traveling to a different country or even state.

If you know you will be indulging in a larger meal, plan ahead for that day and make healthy choices. It’s vacation and indulging once in awhile is expected! If you know you are going to have a larger or less-healthy meal, try to have more balanced ones for the remainder of that day. This brings me to my next tip, which is….

Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals will only leave you feeling more hungry throughout the day, which increases the likelihood of over-indulging at one meal and making less-healthy choices. Be sure to eat at least three meals each day and don’t wait too long to eat each meal.

Only have the foods you REALLY want. Have a plan and decide ahead of time which foods are worth the splurge. Do not eat food just because you are on vacation; eat it because it is special to you or because it is a dish you only have while visiting a particular place.

Stay hydrated. It’s easy to forget to drink water when we are traveling. Bring a refillable water bottle with you, and refill it multiple times throughout the day. Drinking water will help keep you feeling energized and satiated.

Split dishes with family and friends. Portion sizes tend to be larger at restaurants and hotels often do not have refrigerators to store leftovers. Splitting a dish with someone is a great way to control portion sizes and also try new dishes.

If you are dining out, research the menu first. Check out the menu and see if there are healthy options. You can even make your meal choices beforehand so you can feel prepared and not tempted by the other menu items when you arrive.

Include some activity each day. Go for a walk and use this as an opportunity to explore your surroundings and enjoy the outdoors. If there is a pool where you are staying, go for a swim; or if there is a gym available, you can fit in a workout there. Try getting your exercise in earlier, as studies have shown that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to make healthier food choices throughout the day.

Don’t make a mountain out of a sand dune. At the end of the day, no one is perfect and no one expects you to be. If you overindulge, the next meal is a new opportunity to make healthier choices and move forward. Do your best and most importantly, have fun. Enjoy your vacation and remember we will be here when you return!

Bon voyage and bon appétit!


Julie lives in Berkeley, California and is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She is currently working towards her registered dietitian license, and has a Master’s in English. In her free time, she can be found hiking, camping, running, and reading.