Maintaining Your Health While on Vacation

How to Keep It Relaxing, Fun and Healthy.

(updated June 5, 2019)

When we go on vacation, we want it to be relaxing and fun. In most cases, the last thing we want to think about is whether we’re being healthy or not. After all, this is our time to take it easy on ourselves. While that’s definitely true, if we do everything differently than we do at home, we may end up feeling run down, tired, having digestive problems because we’re eating differently and just not ourselves before the vacation is even over.

Integrated living is an important concept all of the time and not one that you can really take time off from. But that’s the whole idea. Recognizing how everything is connected shouldn’t be a burden, a hardship or create a lifestyle that isn’t enjoyable. It isn’t something that you should need a break from and is a mindset that you should want to take with you wherever you go. Yes, when you are in a different place or have a different schedule, you do have to be flexible. But you don’t have to compromise on everything and your health certainly shouldn’t suffer. That’s why we’re going to take a look at a few ways you can keep it relaxing, fun and healthy all at the same time.

Vacation Pitfalls

If you’re spending the entire week at one place – like a grandparent’s or the beach – it’s fairly easy to have at least some control over your routine and what you’re eating. It’s when you’re on a vacation where you’re staying in a hotel the whole time or moving from place to place frequently that things can get a little more challenging.

In my family, we usually put our vacations into two categories – “do nothing” and “see stuff.” The “do nothing” ones are where, you guessed it, we go to do as little as possible and to just relax (hello beach!). The biggest pitfall I run into on these types of vacations, especially now that our kids are older, is that before I know it, I haven’t truly moved in several days, and I start to feel it. Sitting for long periods of time without getting up and stretching or moving is just as unhealthy on vacation as it is when I’m working.

The “see stuff” vacations are where we do a lot of sightseeing or other types of activities. If I’m not careful, I tend to get a little crazy with these. I simply want to pack as much into the time as possible – to the point of wearing everyone out. Eating even halfway healthy is also a challenge on these types of vacations – although it is possible.

Healthy Vacation Eating

When you think about it, how you fuel your body is just as important when you’re on vacation as it is at any other time. What you eat is part of what gives you energy and makes you feel good. That doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to local specialties – by all means, take advantage of getting to taste different foods than you might not get to have otherwise. But remember, if it’s something that would make you feel bad at home, it will probably make you feel worse on vacation.

Here are some tips for keeping it somewhat healthy while you’re away.

Take your own snacks for the airport and plane ride. Yes, you can take many food items through security, just remember that all food must undergo x-ray screening. This will keep you from relying only on the packaged cookies that are offered by the airlines and will prevent you from being ravenous once you reach your destination when you still have to get your luggage and possibly a rental car. According to the TSA website, “Solid food items (not liquids or gels) can be transported in either your carry-on or checked bags. Liquid or gel food items larger than 3.4 oz. are not allowed in carry-on bags and should be placed in your checked bags if possible.” For a list of what is and is not allowed, visit the TSA website.

Suggestions include:

  • Fresh whole fruit
  • Carrots and celery (in a baggie or container)
  • Natural nuts (this is one place where you do have control over whether you can avoid refined oils) ** If you’re sitting next to someone you don’t know, be sure and check with them first about any nut allergies
  • Chunks of real cheese **out of consideration for other passengers, avoid strong-smelling cheeses.

If you’re traveling with someone with food allergies, Million Mile Secrets has a helpful guide on How to Fly Safely With Food Allergies. You’ll definitely want to check it out because it will help you know what to expect and how to prepare, which, as anyone with food allergies knows, can make all the difference in whether a vacation is stressful or truly relaxing.

Pack snacks and healthy breakfast and/or lunch items for long car rides. This is an easy one when it comes to staying healthy (and on a budget) on vacation.

Suggestions include:

  • Natural nuts
  • Whole fruit
  • Pack a cooler and load with hummus, cut up veggies, cut fruit, pre-made (at home) salads, chunks of real cheese
  • Waters
  • Whole wheat bread, peanut butter and jelly
  • Whole wheat or other healthy-ish crackers

Stock your hotel mini-fridge (and cooler if you have a car). Once you arrive to your destination, make one of your first stops the grocery store. My family recently took a trip to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and surrounding areas. I packed a big cooler bag in my suitcase, and once we got there, we stopped at a grocery store and loaded up on food for breakfast and lunch for the week. This enabled us to meet everyone’s different dietary needs* and to have plenty of food along as we hiked and did different activities. Simply pack lunch before you head out for the day and put it in backpacks to take with you.

Suggestions include:

  • Pre-peeled boiled eggs
  • Natural nuts
  • Whole fruit
  • Hummus
  • Cut up veggies
  • Cut fruit
  • Pre-made salads
  • Chunks of real cheese
  • Waters
  • Whole wheat bread, peanut butter and jelly
  • Whole wheat or other healthy-ish crackers
  • Oatmeal (plain because everything else is loaded with sugar)
  • Healthy-ish cereals (If you don’t regularly eat cereal, vacation is not necessarily the time to start because it can cause serious bloating and digestive issues if that’s not something you’re used to. I speak from experience on this!)

*Full disclosure – this type of eating was not necessarily the best for my teenage protein-fueled/several thousand calorie-a-day weightlifter son. He was “starving” (according to him) and felt pretty bad by the end of the trip.  I’m still trying to figure out the best way to travel with him when we’re not just staying in one place the entire time. I’ll let you know what I figure out.

Down time

Scheduling in some down time each day is a must for a successful vacation. If you’re doing a “see stuff”- type trip, it can be very tempting to want to pack every minute. But then everyone starts to get very tired and grouchy and that’s not good for anyone. Making sure that there’s an hour or two every day for each person to just relax and do their own thing can make all the difference in the world. We know to do this when we have babies, but it’s just as important for older kids, teens and adults too.

Be sure and agree on the maximum amount of time that’s going to be set aside so that everyone is on the same page. If everyone is ready to get at it again before then, that’s fine.

Suggestions for how to spend down time include:

  • Nap
  • Read
  • Meditate (or just go off and be quiet by yourself)
  • Exercise


This one is really fairly straightforward. Make sure to get enough sleep while on vacation. Getting a regular seven to eight hours is important for everyone and can make the difference between a miserable day or one that’s so good you’ll never forget it. If there’s a snorer in the bunch, try to get him (or her) to sleep on their side. Just in case that doesn’t work though, everyone else may want to have ear buds or ear muffs at the ready.

These are just a few of the ways you can make sure that you’re staying as healthy as possible while on vacation. We’re not talking about weight gain here. Those pounds will come off. The main thing is that you feel good so that you don’t miss a minute of making memories. If you can do that, you’ve had a successful vacation.

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