Living Well While Travelling
Ah, travel! We could probably have saved for a house deposit by now, but we decided that for season one of our marriage, we would prioritise experiences together exploring the world and taking intentional time out from our busy lives. The house can wait. Now that baby is on the way, we decided we'd go out with a bang and spend a month exploring a new part of South East Asia for us: Vietnam.
One of the challenges, though, when travelling, is to find a balance between enjoying the heck out of yourself, while not going so overboard crazy with splurging that you have a ton of hard work to get back on track health-wise once you're home again.
If you're a traveling person who also likes to (or wants to) live well as consistently as possible, then this blog is for you! I'll be sharing tips on how to keep active, eat clean, and maintain a healthy mindset while travelling, as well as some specific places and experiences we found helped us on our recent Thailand/Vietnam trip (March 2018).
Before You Leave
To ensure I stay as healthy as possible when abroad, there's a few things I always take with me:
- Multivitamins (currently taking a prenatal one)
- Probiotics (I love the Bioceuticals brand, however it should stay refrigerated, so a non-refrigerated one is probably best)
- Activated charcoal (for stomach bugs, food poisoning etc)
- Slippery elm powder (helps with digestion)
- A good quality greens powder/capsules (I took spirulina)
- SB Pro (in case of diarrhoea or vomiting)
- Essential oils (essentials are Young Living peppermint, thieve blend, lemon, lavender, ginger, and digeze)
- Hand sanitiser (I use the Young Living Thieves brand)
- Lip balm
- Workout clothes (if I don't take them, I don't workout)
On this trip, we ended up using every single one of these items at one time or another. SO glad I thought ahead!
One great aspect to travelling abroad and not having your own transport, is that you end up walking a whole lot more.
Explore on foot
It’s pretty easy to rack up at least 10,000 steps a day when you’re out and about exploring. This is an easy way to stay active. We found our motivation to get steps was enhanced by using our fitness watches. Each day we would try and reach a certain goal and compare how many steps and kilometres we did. So if you’ve got an upcoming trip, make sure to use a pedometer device to track your steps. You’ll be surprised how much you can do in a day!
Do a short workout in the morning
Getting in a short workout (even just 10 minutes) before your day really begins can be another way to keep active, especially if you know you’re not going to be walking as much (ie. commuting between locations or on a tour). The best way to make a short workout effective is to increase the intensity. For example, intervals on a treadmill (30 seconds walk, 30 seconds run x 10) or a HIIT bodyweight workout. Need some ideas? I’ve got heaps of bodyweight 10-minute workouts here on my YouTube Channel. You’ll feel so much better for it, especially on days when you’re not getting much other movement in.
Find a local gym
For the more serious peeps who love a good weights session (like we do), this is always a fun adventure: checking out the local gyms! And an adventure for more reason than one; you often find funny, quirky and down-right interesting cultural differences when you get in amongst the locals. We always enjoy this. The other great thing is that a day pass in SE Asia to a gym is usually really cheap, so it won’t break the bank.
Take resistance bands
If you’re not likely to seek out a local gym, but you still want to work those muscles more specifically, I highly suggest taking a resistance band or two. Bands are small, lightweight, affordable and usable if all you’ve got is your hotel room.
There’s two kinds- loop or handle bands. The small loop bands are great for working out your thighs and butt, and the handle bands are excellent for your upper body. I took one of each so I always had options.
If you’re serious about plant-based eating abroad, it usually takes a bit of planning and effort. We were pleasantly surprised on our SE Asia trip to find there were always places that had food we eat, but it did take some searching.
Here’s are few tips:
- Use the Trip Advisor app. When searching a location in Trip Advisor for restaurants, use the ‘vegetarian, vegan-friendly’ filters. This will help locate the restaurants that at least have options, if not fully plant-based. This helped us find somewhere to eat a number of times.
- Get the Happy Cow app. This one is specifically designed to find vegan, vegetarian, and veg-friendly eateries around the world. Happy Cow led us to one of the only vegetarian restaurants - Yo Green Restaurant in Patong Beach, which we ended up eating at several times.
- If you know anyone who eats similar to you who has been to the places you’re travelling to, ask them before you leave. We were blessed to have some friends give us the names of several great places to eat in Ho Chi Minh and Hoi An before we left Australia. All I did was find them on Google maps, and save/star the location for later.
- Book hotels that include breakfast. This not only saves some money on one less meal to eat out, but most restaurants will cater to plant-based in some way. Just be mindful that for complete vegans, it may leave you with eating fresh fruit, bread or rice for breakfast. For those who also eat eggs, you usually have an egg station where you can get your eggs cooked to order. A little tip to check out whether a hotel’s breakfast is good for vegetarians is: a) search the hotel name in Trip Advisor, b) go to the reviews and find the search tab, c) type in ‘vegetarian,’ and any reviews that mention vegetarian will come up. You can then see what others have said about the vegetarian options.
Eat light at night or just do two
I don’t know about you, but I find it easy to overeat when I’m on holiday, just because, I’m on holiday! Here’s two way to remedy this:
- Eat a light dinner at night, such as a smoothie, soup, or salad. You’ll feel much better, lighter and actually hungry for breakfast the next day.
- Eat two meals a day. This works well if you have a late breakfast (9:30-10am), and an early-ish dinner (5-6pm). We did this quite a few times during the trip, and not only did we curb over-eating, we saved money by skipping a meal.
Pace your treats
We definitely found some tasty treats in Thailand and Vietnam. Banana and Nutella crepes were a favourite in Thailand. And thanks to the French influence in Vietnam, there were some delectable bakeries around. We splurged a few times, I’ll admit. The one suggestion I’ll make though, is pace it. If you really are serious about maintaining your health and weight while abroad, keep your treats paced out, have them in the first half of the day so you can burn them off with all the walking, and be sure to drink lots of water.
Decide before you go
I think there is merit in taking a moment or two before your holiday begins to think about what you’re expecting of yourself while on holidays. For example, for us on this most recent trip, our goal was to enjoy time away from everyday life, explore new places, try new foods, and get a couple of decent workouts in each week. Normally at home I eat gluten-free and dairy-free most of the time, however I chose not to be as strict while on holiday. Knowing beforehand what I was expecting of myself, made it easier to stick to the plan, while not being too worried if it didn’t happen 100% as we wished (we didn’t get a workout in our last week, for example).
Travel buddies for accountability
Whoever you’re travelling with can make a big difference in the choices you make while abroad. If you’re travelling with someone who doesn’t share similar values or healthy living principles, and moreso don’t respect yours, it can sometimes make the trip more difficult than you’d like. Dan and I thankfully share similar values when it comes to our health, so making choices together was easy. There were a few times when my motivation to workout was quite low, but because Dan wanted to, it encouraged me to go too.
As much as possible, travel with people who share the same values, as the better the trip will be. If that’s just not possible, I recommend chatting about what your expectations are beforehand so there’s no surprises later.
Keep consistent but realistic
I don’t know anyone who goes on holiday to specifically get fit, eat clean and lose weight. It’s not really the point of most holidays, right? As much as staying consistent is a great goal to have, make sure you stay realistic about what’s possible and what’s not. Don’t beat yourself up if you take an extra day to do nothing, or have that piece of cheesecake. Enjoy it, own your choices, but whatever you do, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water by eating rubbish the rest of the trip just because you made one less healthy choice that you planned to. Do what you can to stick to your health principles and values, but remember there’s no need to let that stop you from enjoying yourself, and letting your hair down. If your goal is to relax, enjoy time exploring and try new things, do just that, while incorporating healthy choices whenever possible.
It's a fantastic holiday if you come home feeling refreshed, renewed and ready to jump back into life with new energy and excitement! I truly believe that a big part of that being a reality is staying consistent in living well (while realistic) when abroad. I hope my blog on living well while travelling will help you on your next trip!
If you're planning on visiting Thailand/Vietnam, grab my Where To Eat, Train, Explore & Stay Guide for specific details of the best highlights of our trip BELOW!