Staring out at the ocean from our private corner of the Earth—Anini Beach.

How I Stay Healthy While Traveling

As the world starts to slowly open back up after months of lockdown due to COVID-19, people are starting to think about traveling again and how to do so responsibly. As an avid traveler (who is very excited to start traveling again), I often get asked how I stay healthy and maintain my vegan lifestyle while on vacation or traveling. I always chuckle before answering because so often people are surprised by my response: Maintaining my vegan lifestyle, even while traveling, is how I stay healthy and fit. So, I decided to share some tips on how I stay fit and healthy while I roam around the world.

Staring out at the ocean from our private corner of the Earth—Anini Beach.
Exploring Hawaii.

Don’t make it all about food.

You can be a foodie and not be obsessed with food. You can also be a foodie and eat clean, plant-based meals. Let go of the “I’m on vacation, I can eat anything I want” mentality and adopt the “there’s more to traveling than eating” mentality. Rather than spending all your time and effort trying as many local restaurants as you can, plan on exploring two or three can’t-miss food destinations that give you a taste of local flavor and let the rest of your trip be about sight-seeing and experiencing the local culture.

Make any dish vegan.

Now maintaining a healthy vegan lifestyle while traveling can be difficult. There aren’t always vegan options at restaurants, much less healthy vegan options. However, converting a meal into a vegan alternative is often easier than people think. I often peruse the salad section, opting for no cheese and asking for a simple oil and vinegar dressing, bringing the calorie count way down and leaving room for a big plate of fries for the table. If you are looking for something heartier, take a look at the burger section and find the veggie option (often a black bean burger, which is much healthier for the heart!) and opt for no cheese. I often check out a restaurant’s menu options ahead of time, ensuring that they have a vegan option (or a dish I can make vegan).

Split meals when possible or take half to-go.

I try and split meals when going out to eat because the portions are typically so large (at most restaurants) that one entrée is too much anyway. More often than not (if going out to eat with friends), we’ll order an appetizer (or two depending on size and cost) and an entrée per two people and eat family-style. If we can’t agree on what to order, we will order our own dishes and ask for to-go containers, saving half for another meal. This not only saves money, but also keeps me from overeating, which is very common while on vacation.

Walk more. Uber less.

Try and plan activities that are closer together so you can walk from place to place. Walking not only burns calories and stimulates the mind, but also allows you to see a place through the eyes of the locals. You may even come across a cute boutique or vintage jewelry store (like we did while walking New Orleans). Additionally, plan at least one activity a day that requires more movement—hiking, dancing, walking tour, swimming—especially if you are skipping your usual workout in order to squeeze in more sightseeing opportunities.

It's easy to get distracted while hiking to Hanging Lake so be careful.
Hiking to Hanging Lake.

Limit your alcohol intake and stay hydrated.

I know this one can be hard, especially if you are going to a bachelor/bachelorette party, wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, or pretty much any alcohol-driven event. However, limiting yourself to two or three low-calorie drinks (think uncomplicated well drinks or beer) and sipping them thoughtfully (rather than downing shots or gulping down several sugary drinks) is very effective. For every alcoholic beverage, drink two cups of water to stay hydrated and prevent bloating and water-weight gain the next day.

Since adopting a vegan lifestyle, I have not only revitalized my health but also found it easier to stay fit and healthy while traveling (instead of spending weeks trying to lose those pesky post-vacation pounds).  How exactly? Traveling typically requires my body to move more. Between the mountain hikes, paddleboarding excursions, and walking tours of new cities, I end up burning more calories than usual. By following the above guidelines, I burn more calories than I take in and as a result, lose weight. Which is why I am always eager to venture out of my comfort zone and stir up my typical routine with a travel-related escapade!

Stand-up-paddleboard (SUP) yoga is a great way to burn a few extra calories while enjoying a day off on calm waters.
Practicing stand up paddleboard (SUP) yoga—a great way to burn a few extra calories while enjoying a day off on calm waters.

Until next time,

Leah Pinkus

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