Traveling and trying to eat and live healthy don’t really sound like they go together. When we travel for fun or even when we go on business trips, most of us let loose. We’re far from home, far from the healthy comforts of our homes and our fitness routines, and often feel like we have no choice but just to relax, stuff our faces, and drink to our heart’s content. And while some trips are great for that, if you travel consistently like some of us, and you pretty much DGAF every time you reach your destination, you’re not doing your body good.
If you’re interested in making a better effort to stay active and eat right while moving about in the world, we talked to Food Network chef and The Kitchen star Sunny Anderson about what options you have, including when it comes to food, so you don’t return home full of guilt–and junk.
Bag What Food You Have At Home
Don’t play yourself and assume you’re going to get all the snacks an airline has to offer. Many actually wait a long time before dispersing drinks and bites, and honestly, if your flight isn’t a long one, that’s all you’re going to get. So you know what that means: When you land, you’re going to want to eat the first harmful thing you can find. But if you prepare yourself by packing sandwich bags with some of your favorite not-so-bad-for-you bites, you’ll be okay. Snack packs, fruit, granola bars, trail mix and more will help you stay nourished, and on the right path.
Look For Affordable Lodging With A Kitchen
When you do have the option, Anderson says hotels that offer kitchens, or at least a decent refrigerator, are the way to go. Like Extended Stay America hotels. They have nearly 700 locations all across the country, and they are well-equipped to help you stay on track. After feeling cornered to eat a smorgasbord of unhealthy food while traveling in the past, Anderson saw the light–on the sign at an Extended Stay America hotel.
“In 2013 I learned about Extended Stay America hotels,” Anderson said. “They’ve been around for a long time. The cool thing about them is obviously because I love to cook, and I do it for a living, they have a kitchen in every single room. And I’m not talking about a kitchenette. Like a kitchen, kitchen. That means pots and pans and knives and spoons and forks, bowls for mixing. And you also get a refrigerator, a real, full-sized refrigerator. Like one at home. The most annoying thing is going into a hotel, and they have those tiny refrigerators. Then you open it up, and it’s filled with beer that you’ll never drink, sodas you shouldn’t drink. It’s warm. Or if you have that tiny, square freezer in it, it’s like over frosted. So there’s something awesome about walking into a hotel room, and it feels like home.”
Flock To A Grocery Or Store With Options
Some swanky hotels have a car that they use to transport guests to run errands nearby. Other times, you’ll either have to get a cab or walk. But finding a nearby grocery or store (like a Walgreens or Target) with an array of food options is the way to go when you know you’ll be staying in a hotel for more than just a day or so. Instead of relying on whoever is buying your overpriced, overcooked meals, you can always have options in your room. Bottles of water, mandarin oranges, snack packs, nuts, raisins, air-popped popcorn, smoothies. And if you actually come across a grocery and have a fridge that’s a decent size, don’t be afraid to try a healthy twist on comfort foods and get to cookin’:
“One of the recipes I have on the website awayfromhomecooking.com is a quesadilla,” Anderson said. “You might think, ‘What’s healthy about that?’ You can use a wheat tortilla. You can get low-fat shredded cheese and then the insides can be lean chicken breasts or rotisserie chicken that you shred. If you want to add even more traditional value, you can add Pica de Gallo. And that’s a healthier version of a quesadilla. If you do it right, it’s not going to taste worse or taste different. You’re still going to feel like you’re eating healthy.”
You’ll never go hungry if you get proactive.
Take Advantage Of Opportunities To Be Active
Is your hotel offering you free classes at the fitness center in the hotel? What about free access to the fitness center? Well, hop to it! And don’t forget to pack workout clothes for every trip. When you bring them, the more inclined you will feel to use them. When you don’t, you have the perfect excuse. And if the gym is not an option, take advantage of opportunities to go on walks or jogs around the hotel (preferably outside…), to do more walking if possible instead of always relying on vehicles, or go dancing when exploring the nightlife. Just get moving.
Don’t Be Afraid To Get Rowdy In Your Room
Even if you don’t have a lot of time to run to the fitness center or to go outside and get active, if you bring a laptop or tablet (or even your phone), we also recommend getting moving in your room. Apps like Nike Training Camp or the many fitness videos that stream on YouTube can help you burn some calories and feel great before a busy day of meetings or sightseeing, or as you prepare to wind down from a busy day.
As a study done by Extended Stay America found, which Anderson relayed to us, “If you’re away from home for two weeks, you can gain up to two to three pounds with the bad options you have on the road.” But that doesn’t have to be the case. Bring goods from home (Anderson recommends cereal), get moving, and try healthy options–whether you’re buying them from the store or picking them on a menu at a fancy restaurant. It’s definitely not easy to eat and live right while on the go, but it’s truly worth it to try.