How to Stay Healthy on Vacation

Tips to help you balance fun and fitness.

By Brooke Porter Katz

It happens to almost everyone: You establish a routine of working out and eating well, only to take a vacation—during which it’s easy to let all of the rules go out the window. Well, it’s not only possible to stick to your healthy habits while traveling, but traveling in the first place can improve your mental and physical health, according to Project: Time Off, a group that encourages Americans to take advantage of all their days off. Katie Denis, the company’s chief of research and strategy, cites studies that suggest regular vacations can improve health and longevity. This means you’re already making a good decision by getting away. Here’s how to keep to healthy habits when you’re away from home.

Don’t overdo it at breakfast.

“I like to point out that when you go to a restaurant, you’d never order the oatmeal and French toast and an omelet and fruit—and that’s often what people put on their plates at buffets,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, the creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It. If you’re staying at the same place for several days, consider trying something different every morning—or order off the menu and avoid the buffet altogether.

Walk it out.

Although vacations often have a lot of free time, it can be hard to work in a trip to the gym. Don’t despair, says Taub-Dix. Try to be on your feet as much as possible—you can take the stairs instead of the elevator or choose a walking tour instead of a bus option. Plus, walking is a great way to explore a new destination; it allows you to get up close to the sights and discover places you might miss when driving from point A to point B. (Discover more ways to stay active on vacation.)

Use your smartphone.

There’s an app for just about every type of workout for your mind or body. Into yoga? Yoga Studio (iTunes/Android; $4.99) allows you to create personalized routines. Headspace (iTunes/Android; free) helps you meditate anywhere, while workouts on Power 20 (iTunes/Android; $2.99) and Sworkit (iTunes/Android; free) don’t require a gym or even equipment. Do your chosen activity in the morning before you’re more likely to find reasons to skip it. And if you prefer exercising in a group setting, MindBody (iTunes/Android; free) lists nearby fitness classes (as well as spas and salons).

Don’t forget to indulge…just not every day.

If you’re in Italy, for example, Taub-Dix is all for eating gelato—but maybe save it for the last day or seek out that one special shop where you know it’s going to be great. And on a beach getaway, rather than sip sugary daiquiris all day, plan a special night out that includes cocktails at sunset. It’s healthier, and you’re less likely to feel guilty when you do treat yourself. A vacation should feel like a vacation, after all.

  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: February 2018