Carol (Missy) Cohen MPH, CHHC

6 Ways to Stay Healthy on Vacation

What happens on vacation stays on vacation. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. When we start making less than stellar food choices on a regular basis, we start craving those foods and it gets harder and harder to get back on track. Do you also notice how hard it is to get back into our routines after a vacation? Don’t let your summer vacation change your healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices.

Plan, Plan, Plan

  1. This is absolutely key for a fun, healthy vacation that doesn’t throw you off balance. Think about how you are getting to your vacation destination. Are you driving? Flying? Taking a train? How you are getting there will determine what you can bring with you and how to pack it.
  2.  Call your destination ahead of time. Ask about cooking facilities. Staying in an apartment may cost a little more up front, but you can make up the difference by not eating out as frequently. Find out where the local grocery stores are and if they have good produce sections. What is the area that you are going to known for? We had the lovely experience of going to Oregon during marionberry season. I did not know what a marionberry was before we left but I’m in love! We ate them on oatmeal. We had them topped with cream for a dessert and we threw them in a container to take with us hiking.
  3. Take the time to figure out your meals. This will not only save your health but your pocketbook as well. Cooking Light magazine has a great article to get you started. Make your list out ahead of time so that you are not tempted to add things in that you normally wouldn’t. DO allow yourself something special. It is, after all, vacation.
  4. Some vacation destinations will offer discounts to gyms or yoga studios. Also, if you belong to a gym now, you may be able to get a discount at a gym at your destination. I highly suggest that you use your vacation to find other ways to move your body than your usual. Try something new. Maybe introduce yourself to yoga – aerial yoga, anyone? Many places have water sports such as wind surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, and more. Hiking is almost always an option, too, and it’s inexpensive. Or maybe you want to take a walking tour of a city. Ghost or historical tours can exercise your brain and your body in a fun way
  5. If you are driving, it is much easier to pack foods that you are familiar with and that travel well. Make some smoothies up and store them in mason jars. You can throw them in the freezer and then use them as ice packs in a cooler to pack other foods. As they thaw, they become healthy meals and snacks. Unfortunately, you can’t take them to the airport with you but other traveling options are fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas and grapes. Nuts travel really well. Again, you may not be able to eat them on a plane with nut allergies being so prevalent but you can always save them for later. Cut up vegetables travel well and throw some hummus in as an extra treat. Of course, there is always the mighty avocado. Did you know that avocados make a perfect meal all by themselves and ripe, soft avocados are a great first food to feed infants. Plus, you can mash up any leftover avocado when you get to your destination and have a decadent cocktail hour when you first arrive with your leftover veggies.
  6. Once you get to your destination, take some time to kick back and relax. Your first morning on vacation might be a good time to opt to eat breakfast out but before you take inventory. Do you have a refrigerator or can you store everything in a cooler? Do you have a stove top? How about soap to wash dishes? Do you have an oven? If the answer is no, you can still have a healthy vacation. You just will be eating more raw foods which, really, is not a bad thing.   Diners can be hard to find healthy options at. Try to find a place that offers omelets with plenty of vegetables or pick up a fruit cup at a coffee stand and start your day with that. I mentioned smoothies earlier. The ones you make at home, you can pack with fruits, vegetables, nuts and healthy non-dairy milks. However, the ones that you might buy at a smoothie bar are loaded with sugar and chemicals. Make sure you know what you are buying – and putting into your body.


So, remember, what happens on vacation doesn’t have to stay on vacation. Taking the time to relax and just be are things that are missing in so many people’s lives and result in a chronically stressed out, tired population. Vacations can be a great time to start a new healthy habit. Instead of stopping at your favorite coffee shop on your way to work in the morning, practice having a healthy smoothie that you created at home. Your health and your wallet will thank you and you will be able to go on that next vacation that much sooner.


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