Traveling presents a unique challenge for the dieter. You may be successful in finding opportunities to exercise while you are on the road but have a more difficult time staying on track when it comes to food. If you travel a lot, or even just a little, here are 15 practical tips for travel weight loss.
1. If you are traveling by car, I suggest purchasing a high-quality cooler that has a dual power option: one that plugs into the receptacle in your car and one that plugs into a standard wall outlet. Because it has both options, you can keep perishable foods cool in the car and in your hotel room.
2. Take a bag with non-perishable food items and the utensils you'll need to prepare meals on the go. Include knives, a small cutting board, soap, plastic utensils, reusable containers, seasonings, packets of mustard and salad dressing, and dried fruit.
3. Get to a grocery store as soon as you arrive. Pick up perishable foods you can store in your hotel room refrigerator. Think fruit, low-calorie whole grain bread or wraps, baby carrots, yogurt, pre-boiled eggs, and individual containers of salad or precooked meat.
4. When dining out while traveling, stick to tried and true options. Don’t be like I used to be and choose the highest-calorie option like a fried Monte Cristo sandwich as a vacation treat. Choose a grilled meat, a salad or steamed vegetables, and brown rice or baked potato.
5. Bring several homemade breakfast bars with you. Keep them frozen until you leave and stash them in your cooler.
6. Drink mainly zero-calorie beverages. Don’t throw caution to the wind and live it up on vacation by having a bunch of high-calorie cocktails, milkshakes, or 500-calorie coffee drinks.
7. If not staying with friends, look into staying in a suite-type hotel or renting a condo. For our family, it’s almost always cheaper to rent a condo than get several hotel rooms. The plus is that you have a full kitchen, which makes sticking to your diet much easier.
8. For work travel, don’t be afraid to make suggestions on which restaurants to visit with clients. And when you get to the restaurant, ask the server for your entrée prepared just the way you want it.
9. Be mentally prepared to stick with your diet in the face of relatives, friends, or colleagues offering you foods that you know don’t fit in with your diet plan. I know this can be tricky, but I discovered that at the end of the day, most people really don’t care if you say no.
10. Take advantage of free continental breakfast offerings at your hotel, but be smart in what you pick. Most have fresh fruit, eggs made to order, cereal and skim milk, and of course, donuts and pastries. Skip the donuts and choose the healthier options.
11. Pack some Quest bars, Lärabars, or another type of healthy granola bar you like. They can assuage your hunger in a pinch and keep you out of the candy aisle at the gas station.
12. A good quality thermos can hold hot or cold soup. While this probably wouldn’t be good on a plane trip, it’s a great way to fill yourself up the first day of a road trip. After the first day, use it to hold ice water or unsweetened coffee or tea.
13. Be sure to familiarize yourself with what’s going to be near your final destination. I remember one time traveling to a beach town only to find it would take an expensive taxi ride to get any fresh food. I had to make do with what was available at the hotel.
14. Allow yourself one cheat food every few days. I’m not a fan of cheat meals, but even I know that it can be depressing to watch others eat the best-looking chocolate cake while you look on. Just keep the portion small and savor each bite.
15. Plan your meals as best you can. It’s not always possible to plan every single meal when you are traveling, but do try. The times that my clients are most successful in dieting while traveling is when they take the time to plan ahead.