One of the most frequent questions I am asked from clients is how to stay on track with their nutrition plan while traveling. I have traveled quite a bit over the past few years, and can tell you from personal experience – as hard as it may seem, it’s not impossible. Whether it’s a job that requires you to travel frequently or a long weekend out of town, there are ways to cope without completely derailing your fitness goals. Here are a few tips to help.
TRAVEL TIP #1: Be Flexible
Believe it or not, tracking your macronutrient and calorie intake will allow for more flexibility than following a strict meal plan. Additionally, eating a variety of foods rather than labeling foods as ones you can eat (good foods) and ones you can’t (bad foods) will also increase flexibility and will give you a healthier relationship with food in general.
TRAVEL TIP #2: Plan Ahead
Staying on track with your nutrition on the road is generally more difficult than staying on track while at home. That’s where planning ahead comes into play. Your entire daily menu does not necessarily need to be planned ahead of time (especially if the purpose of your trip is vacation and relaxation), but having an idea of your meals and options for the day is a good first step in helping you plan accordingly.
TRAVEL TIP #3: Don’t Be Afraid Of Eating Out
Most people think of eating out and automatically think that means veering off plan to some degree, but it doesn’t need to be a reason to blow your nutrition plan. Estimates of nutritional information can be easily obtained online or via apps like MyFitnessPal. If you eat at a local restaurant or a chain restaurant that does not have nutritional information available, you can generally find nutritional information from something similar at a chain restaurant. For example, if you have a burger from a local restaurant, you can use nutritional information for a burger from Applebee’s, Fridays, Ruby Tuesday, or a similar chain restaurant to estimate the nutritional content. Additionally, most restaurants will cook foods to your request, so it never hurts to ask. You may be surprised how helpful restaurant staff can be in helping you stay on track.
TRAVEL TIP #4: Bring Your Own Food
While it is doable, eating out exclusively can make it much more difficult to stay on track. Bringing along some food of your own or picking up some food once you reach your location will give you a convenient way to supplement the food you eat when dining out. I prefer to bring healthy, travel-friendly foods that are high in protein (e.g. canned or packaged tuna, protein bars, protein powder), carbohydrates (e.g. oatmeal, bread, cereal, fruits, veggies), and “good” fats (e.g. mixed nuts, peanut butter) for a good number of meals to give me more flexibility with my calories and macros when I do decide to eat out.
TRAVEL TIP #5: Be Mindful
Traveling and eating out does not need to be an excuse to binge. You can eat out and enjoy yourself, but remember to be mindful of portions sizes. Enjoy yourself in moderation so that those couple slices of pizza don’t turn into a whole pizza.
TRAVEL TIP #6: Give Yourself A Break
You don’t need to be perfect. For the vast majority of people not dieting for a physique-related competition, estimation is ok. If you do happen to go off of your plan one day, give yourself a break and learn from the experience so that you reduce the chances of it happening again in the future. Get back on track the next day and stay consistent over time and you will be able to stay on track towards reaching your goals – wherever you may be.