The Top 7 Tips for a Healthy Vacation

How to enjoy your vacations to the fullest, and come back healthier, well rested, and more fit!

Why We Love Vacation

Why do we all look forward to vacation? So many reasons! A few examples for you:

  1. Going to places we love
  2. Spending time with the people we love
  3. Time away from work
  4. A chance to be spontaneous and not have a schedule
  5. Delicious food (and drink)
  6. Making memories
  7. Do some activities that fulfill us, that we don’t have time for/can’t do at home

I picked 7 common reasons we look forward to vacation, what are some of yours?

As much as we love vacations, a common pitfall of them can be coming back from vacation feeling tired, sluggish, and maybe with a few extra pounds we did not intend to gain.

Why Do We Feel Sluggish and Unhealthy After Vacation?

Top 3 Reasons People come back unhealthy and sluggish after a vacation:

  1. Overeating and Drinking: You typically have a routine when you are at home and going to work, however on vacation this can shift dramatically. One of the great features we look forward to on vacation is great food and drink, and often we don’t have a plan or set a limit.
  2. Lack of Exercise: Unless your vacation is centered around physical activity (Hiking, Rock Climbing, Skiing), most likely you do not have high levels of physical activity. Even people who exercise regularly while they are at home will let this slip while on vacation.
  3. Lack of Sleep: A lot of us will tend to neglect sleep while on vacation, because there are so many fun things to do, especially late at night! Lack of sleep, or even a change in your sleep routine, can compound the impacts of other lifestyle factors above.

Let’s Talk About these Big 3 [Video]

Top 7 Tips for Success

  1. Make a Plan: It seems basic, but you need a plan for your vacation! Areas to consider making your plan: Where are you going? How are you traveling? How long is your vacation? What is your budget? What kind of experiences will you have? Why this vacation, what do you love about it? If you are a naturally spontaneous person, I understand this may stress you out. Never fear, you can plan unscheduled time in your vacation!
  2. Do Not Go Out to Eat for Every Meal: A lot of us love going out to eat as part of vacation, and this can lead to frequent over eating and contribution to that sluggish feeling. Portions when you go out to eat are usually on the larger side; even if you don’t eat all of it in one sitting, most likely you are hitting those left overs later. To plan, think about what food or restaurants are unique to your vacation, what can you get on this vacation that you can’t get at home? What is your favorite meal to go out for? If it is Breakfast, find some great Breakfast places around your vacation site. If you go out for one meal per day, and do some grocery shopping for other meals, your waistline (and your budget) will thank you after the vacation. Don’t go out to eat just for the sake of going out to eat or because you are on vacation.
  3. Plan Your Exercise: If you are going on a vacation that involves physical activity every day (hiking, rock climbing, skiing as examples) you can skip this step. However, for vacations that do not involve physical activity, you need to make a plan. If you are going on a 6 day vacation, decide in advance how many days you will exercise, and hold yourself accountable. Also, plan around the type of facilities and equipment you will have available. No gym at the hotel? Plan for body weight exercise, walking, jogging!
  4. Train for Vacation: What I mean by this, is spend 3-4 weeks exercising the way you will on vacation. For example, if you have no gym and plan to run and do body weight training, spend 3-4 weeks exercising this way BEFORE you go on vacation. Why? If you have not been running for months, and go for a 5 miler day one of vacation, your legs will be shot the next day, and you are much less likely to be successful on your exercise program for your 6 day vacation. Same idea if you have not been doing push ups, and run yourself through an intense body weight circuit day one of vacation. Train and prepare so you have a routine you can be successful with on vacation.
  5. Prioritize Your Sleep: Make sure you get enough sleep on vacation. Do not stay up late watching TV, go out every night etc, just because you are on vacation and you can. If nightlife and shows are part of the experience of your vacation, great! Just make sure you make up the sleep during the day, do not burn the candle at both ends. If you have a usual bedtime or routine around sleep, stick as close to that as possible while on vacation, and if anything, get more sleep. Parents, make sure your kids stick to their routine as well.
  6. Limit the Booze: If you don’t drink alcohol, you can skip this section. Drinking lots of alcohol adds extra calories, and compounds the issue of overeating. Excess alcohol will also mess with your sleep, and if your are hungover you are less motivated to work out…ask me how I know all this 😉 The tip here is to make sure that IF you have alcohol on vacation, that it enhances your experience and is unique to your vacation. Examples: going to a local Winery, Brewery, Distillery; enjoying a tropical umbrella drink; enjoying a drinking with friends and family. If you roll in to the local liquor store when you arrive onsite and stock up on cheap beer, wine, whiskey that you can just as easily get while you are at home…ask yourself if this is really enhancing your vacation experience? Same advice as with going out to eat, do not drink on vacation just for the sake of drinking.
  7. Make It All About the Experience! The theme in all of these areas is to really focus on your experience on vacation. Make sure the vacation is something you and your family love and will cherish, and that everything else enhances the theme of your experience! If you are going out to eat and having a treat, make sure it is truly special and enhances your vacation! If you find yourself going out for cheap pizza or fried food you could get at home just because you are on vacation and deserve it, ask why? If you stay up late, make sure it is for a show, late night walk on the beach, and not just flipping through TV channels like you could do at home.

Let’s Talk Tips [Videos]

If you like the video discussion format, follow along with me. I had a lot of fun shooting these videos, on scene at Cap Cod, MA.

Tips for Exercise on Vacation
Eat Healthy, and Enjoy Your Favorite Foods
Alcohol as part of your vacation experience-not post vacation hangover
The importance of sleep, and making sure you do not neglect it on vacation

Have a Healthy Vacation!

You can come back from vacation feeling fit, healthy, and well rested if you follow these tips above! Give them a try, and let me know what you think. So far, I have tried them out on a 3 day weekend vacation with great success, and look forward to the next time I am able to have a longer vacation to come back healthy, fit and well rested! Until next time, go find your beach!

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