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How to Break The “Travel Norm” to Live Healthy

Most people go on a trip and completely ignore their health. They come back completely out of shape and feeling horrible. I always hear people coming back saying they need to “detox” or get to the gym immediately. Why does travel have to make us feel like this? Is it a requirement to go and stuff yourself trying to absorb every bit of foreign food? Unfortunately, with short vacations and limited time, this is the “travel norm.”


Following the “travel norm” in Italy

I used to travel exactly like this. Eating every bit of food was my first priority because I was afraid I would never go back. I didn’t bother to exercise because “I had not time for it.” Upon return, I was a sad excuse of health. I felt rundown, tired, and out of shape. It took months to return to good health. My trip to Italy was a prime example of this. I ignored exercise and ate everything Italy had to offer. I was a living and breathing part of the “travel norm.” I finally broke out of the travel norm and now I create health on the road. So, how do you break out of the “travel norm?”

Be Realistic With the Tradeoffs You Are Willing to Make

The first step is to be realistic with your tradeoffs. Many of us are not willing to sacrifice that must-eat dish for health. This is especially true when we are on short trips. There is a lot more pressure to ignore health and eat everything! Being realistic with your tradeoffs goes back to your goals. If you are trying to lose weight, that donut might not be so appealing. Tie your food expectations back to your goals. Set the tradeoffs you are willing to make upfront.


Making tradeoffs means reaching your goals!

Be realistic with how far you are willing to slack from your goals. You are definitely going to eat some unhealthy meals on the road. The key question is how many? How far do you want your health to slip? How much are you willing to sacrifice training? Answering these questions can help you paint a real picture of your approach to food on the road.

Eat Just a Little Bit

There is no reason you need to destroy every bit of unhealthy food on the road. How many times have you felt the effects of a sugar binge? You feel horrible the next day. It ruins everything you have planned. Are these binges worth it? It may seem great at the time, but anything in excess causes more problems later. The key is moderation. Instead of eating two cupcakes try one. Better yet split one with a friend. Avoid drinking six beers. I find that I enjoy things so much more in moderation. Moderation lets you enjoy the flavors and spices.


A small treat in Australia

Change your mindset that you need to eat everything. A bite here and there won’t hurt you. Eating the whole bag of candy can. Approach food on the road with the mindset to savor it. Eating slowly to 80% full can help with this. Take your time eating and enjoy a nice conversation with a local or a friend. Here are some more tips to use while on the road.

Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People

The “travel norm” is unhealthy eating. This makes eating healthy so much more difficult. Most people will want to splurge and enjoy the little vacation they have. This makes it really difficult to maintain healthy habits on the road. Even if you eat with these people, you may be branded as the guy or girl that has to eat healthy. We never want to stick out from a crowd, so this can be devastating to our health. If you’re around these people stick to your guns. Set your mind that you have to eat healthy. Don’t make it an option.


My brother and my support squad!

If you find yourself surrounded by negative influences, look for people with the same values as you. It is so much easier to stay healthy when everyone around you is doing the same. You can find these people by joining local exercise groups or attending exercise classes. These people will make it so much easier to keep healthy habits. Surround yourself with a tribe that supports you!

Slow Down

Most of our poor eating on the road comes from rushing through our travels. We feel the need to try everything because we are afraid we will never get a chance. Break this mindset and slow down. Enjoy the food you do eat. Take the time to explore local healthy options. I have found that slowing down has allowed me to enjoy the local cuisine so much more. You will never be able to try everything, so try what you love and enjoy it.


Slowing down in Vietnam

Traveling slowly will also help in this respect. You will be more inclined to eat healthy because you know you will be spending more time on the road. Try to go on trips where you have more time to explore destinations. It is tough with short vacation time, but find a way to travel slower. Even if you have less time, a slower trip can be more fulfilling. You will be able to experience the local culture better and really get to know a place. Don’t be afraid to travel slowly. This will also give you a chance to integrate more training. This gives you the chance to try some treats as a reward. Check out my comprehensive post about training on the road.

Break Out From the “Travel Norm”

The “travel norm” is devastating to our health. It leaves us unhappy, lethargic, and out of shape. Break out of this norm, and live healthy on the road. It won’t be easy, but it will be so worth it. You can continue to strive towards your goals even when on the road. Your fitness will improve! It is so worth it to be different and healthy. To break out of the travel norm follow these steps:

  1. Remain realistic with your tradeoffs
    1. How much are you willing to give up to stick to your goals?
  2. Eat smaller portions slowly and mindfully
  3. Surround yourself with healthy people
  4. Slow down your travels

Breaking the “travel norm” can be tough, but it is so worth it. You will feel better and your goals won’t go out the window. Check out my comprehensive post about nutrition at home and on the road.


How do you break the “travel norm” on the road? What are some methods you use to eat healthy? What are your experiences with nutrition and travel? Let me know in the comments!


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