We all work hard during the year to take care of our bodies so that we can finally feel fit and healthy once the holidays arrive. But when you think of holidays, you think of food, and we quickly gain back the extra 10 pounds! So how can you stay in shape while travelling without depriving yourself?
Here are my top 13 holiday tips for the fitness-mad intrepid traveler
1. Move Fast
I followed intermittent fasting for a while, and though I no longer do it 99% of the time, I do think it’s a good approach to take on holiday.
The main reason I think IF is a good tactic is because by cutting out a portion of your day when you’re not consuming any calories, you’ve got more leeway for your other meals and can stress less about what you eat in the afternoons and evenings.
Note – if breakfast is included in the cost of wherever you’re going, IGNORE THIS ADVICE! You want to make the most of a free meal, so fill your pockets until they’re overflowing with muffins, strategically hide bits of bacon up your sleeve and smuggle some Tupperware into the buffet room.
Your outward travel day (and possibly the homeward bound trip too) is the best day to fast, unless you’re traveling really late, as let’s face it, airport food is pretty terrible.
2. Eat well and stay hydrated
Our bodies need calories to function properly. And when we travel, whether we are in lazy mode, shopping or on an adventure, we consume many more calories than normal. You have to remember to eat your 3 to 4 meals a day: meat, starchy foods, fruit and vegetables, to stay in shape and avoid the feeling of relapse that makes us turn directly to sweets. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water, because your body dehydrates faster, whether you’re in the sun or the snow.
3. Train (If you want to)
I’m not going to come across all faux-hardcore and say you have to train no matter what, but you can train if you want to. Personally I do tend to train on holiday as I enjoy it, and on holiday you’re supposed to do things that you enjoy. In fact, at the time of writing, I’m in Dusseldorf and this current trip is the first time I’ve not trained.
Reason being I did a power lifting meet yesterday and as a consequence my hamstrings, quads, pecs, and spinal erectors feel like they’ve been used as Floyd Mayweather’s punching bag, and my nervous system has got about as much get up and go as a carrier bag full of custard, so I’ve made the conscious decision not to train. But this is really up to you.
4. Try the Good Stuff
I have a rule on holiday – all “must-have” local foods are calorie-free.
In Spain, I have to have paella and tapas. Amsterdam it was waffles, and I’m currently on the lookout for Bratwurst and stollen. Don’t be so finicky with your diet – unless you’re near the very end of prep for a show or shoot, you may never have the chance to try these foods how they’re supposed to be made again.
5. Walk on foot
As much as possible, travel on foot. Even if your idea of a dream holiday is lounging by the beach or pool without moving a finger, you should take advantage of the time in front of you to do your body good. Between long walks on the sand at sunset or discovering the monuments of the old city, daily walking is your friend. Not only will you lose weight very quickly, but you’ll also gain beautiful, streamlined legs.
6. Reduce Meal Frequency
Similar to the idea of fasting, reducing meal frequency is just a way of saving calories. On holiday your days are probably shorter anyway, due to getting up later, so cutting from four or five meals over a normal day to just two or three is easy.
7. Keep your regular routine
Not always easy when you travel a lot, but I also like to keep as regular a routine as possible. I like to get up around 7am to work early, or simply to visit and make the most of my day. If I start early, I avoid going home at midnight or even going out too often. Otherwise, it’s impossible to get up the next day and keep up the pace afterwards.
Of course, you have to go out from time to time, that’s also the point of the manoeuvre, isn’t it? But the important thing is not to mix everything up and burn the wick at both ends! Nomads and people who travel a lot always keep a spare wick!
8. Be a Minimalist
Relating back to point 3, if you’re going to train, keep your gear choices light. Here are the rules for gym gear when holidaying –
- Forget workout socks. It’s only for a few days, you can use regular socks or just go sock-less – your shoes won’t smell that bad after a few sweaty workouts.
- For footwear, either double up by wearing some Chuck Taylors out and about and in the gym, or take some really light training shoes. (I like New Balance Minimus, but Vibrams, Inov8s, Merrels, etc. all do the job.)
- Get shorts – Might sound mad, but short shorts take up much less room in your luggage than long, or heavy cotton shorts.
- Now for tees, you’ve got three options as I see it. First one is to take a light, stringer-style vest. They take up virtually no room whatsoever, but you might get mistaken for some dude from the Abercrombie catalogue. Secondly, just recycle your tees – the one you wore out one day gets relegated to the ranks of gym tee shirt the next. Your final choice is an air vent tee. These are super lightweight and provided you hang it up overnight, you can just about get away without washing it. Call me skanky, but I’m happy to be a lil bit smelly on holiday.
Whether it’s in the waves of a tropical beach or the pool of your hotel, swimming will not only do your body good but also your mind! Immersion in water is an experience akin to meditation.
Swimming, and water sports in general, are also the activities that increase our cardio capacity the most and burn the most calories. So drop your magazine and get in the water, you’ll feel great and your body will thank you.
10. Get Cleaner
Argh. Clean eating. The bane of my life.
I hate the word, as I don’t think you can define “clean” and “junk” foods, and it’s really a non-issue, but on holiday, I tend to stick to foods that most people would deem as clean, the majority of the time I’m away. That’s when I’m not eating the must-have meals. This means I’m on lean proteins, veg, some dairy, maybe a few grains or nuts, and so on. Again, this is just another method of calorie control.
12. If in Doubt, Follow the Crowds
Not really fitness-related, but one tip I’ve found is this – if you’re going the opposite way to everyone else, you’re probably going the wrong way. Forget maps and GPS, just follow the crowds and you’ll most likely end up where you want to go.
13. Get Hot and Sweaty in Your Hotel Room
Calm down, not like that. Well, you’re on holiday I guess….
We’re talking hotel room workouts here. If you can’t be bothered tracking down a gym, but want to keep active, there’s no reason you can’t train in your hotel room. It doesn’t have to be a gut-busting balls to the wall session, but something like this from Nate Green is perfect
13. Look Out for Freebies
Holiday freebies are awesome. What am I talking about?
They’re those mini pastries you get with your coffee. The shots after dinner, and the small plate of nuts you’re given with every beer, by every over-tanned waiter, in every Spanish beach front bar. In the UK (and possibly in the US – you guys will have to let me know) we suck at giving out freebies with drinks, but in mainland Europe it seems to be the done thing.
Not eating these is just down right rude, so I command you to fill your boots and don’t even think about counting them in your macros.
What have I missed?
I’m sure there are a few key tips I’ve neglected, so drop yours below. Also, I’d love to get your recommendations on the best places in Europe to visit – both fitness and non-fitness related. Hit me up and I could be in a city near you very soon.