When you travel, the world can at times feel like a personal all-you-can-eat buffet. Pizza in Naples? Check. Pit roasted BBQ in Texas? Of course. Chocolate croissants in Paris? How can you say no?
Frequent travelers know that all of this constant eating will eventually catch up with you, either in the form of heartburn, or tight pants. Calories still count, no matter where you are in the world. Fortunately, there are some compromises you can make to ensure that you eat in a healthy way and still enjoy the culinary delights of travel.
Face it: you make terrible choices when you are hungry. After a long day of traveling or sightseeing you are tired, sweaty, and most importantly: starving. Are you going to browse for the best possible eating option, or are you going to grab the first hamburger you see? Quick and easy almost always trumps extra work when your stomach is rumbling.
You can circumvent this by planning ahead and already knowing your lunch or dinner plans. Use online services like Yelp and FourSquare to figure out your options. You can find all the information you need including recommendations from locals and even online menus. Make your healthy choice ahead of time and that hamburger will be far less tempting.
If you're not an obsessive food planner, at least buy yourself some extra time by carrying snacks in your bag. Nuts, granola bars, apples, or crackers are all good options for a quick blood sugar rush while you look for a better option.
Airport food is some of the worst stuff you can eat. It's overpriced, packed with calories, and usually doesn't even taste very good. It's only marginally better than airplane food, which is pretty awful too.
Don't accidentally overeat at the airport. If you can, try to eat before you leave for your flight. Otherwise, consider bringing your own snacks or sandwiches (yes, you can take a sandwich past security), to tide you over until you reach your destination.
For some people it's not a vacation without a giant, fruity alcoholic drink. There's no shame in that, but do know that these drinks are usually packed with an absurd amount of hidden calories. Just two of those mango, strawberry margarita things could equal an entire steak dinner!
Budget your calories wisely and stick to lighter drinks. Drink water whenever you get the chance - hydration not only fights jet lag, it also means less snacking.
Look: you're not going to go to Atlanta and not try the fried chicken, you're not going to go to China without sampling soup dumplings and you're definitely not going to Italy without eating (a lot of) gelato. Don't even let yourself feel guilty for sampling the local cuisine - it's one of the great joys of travel.
Just try to enjoy your indulgences in moderation. Try one scoop of pistachio gelato instead of three. Make healthy choices the rest of the time so that you can really enjoy the famous and delicious dishes of the place you are visiting.
What are some of your best tips for healthy travel habits?
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Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! Since graduating college in 2007 she has either been traveling or planning to travel. She's lived on four continents and visited everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef. She now writes and travels full time, blogging about her adventures on Why Wait To See The World? (formerly Twenty-Something Travel). Follow Stephanie on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.
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