I recently had the opportunity to take a wonderful trip with my dad and my brother. We went on a Carnival cruise that visited Cozumel, Belize, Honduras (Isla Roatan), and Grand Cayman. I’ll have (much) more on that next week, but to summarize, it was just a week of contentedness, relaxation, and family bonding that I was so sad to see end of, but I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity.
I wanted to share a few healthy tips that help me make the most of a vacation - all focusing on feeling GOOD. Because I am a firm believer that vacation is a time to LET GO. Ain’t nobody got time for any worries when you’re busy swimming in the ocean, exploring cities, and playing board games with your family, amirite or amirite? I mean, just check out some of my other travel posts and you'll see how much I love exploring cities by means of food!
In defense of letting go
I remember reading somewhere that traveling for leisure and traveling for work should be considered completely different. They said: when it’s work, you should keep up as many of your normal routines as possible; when it’s leisure, it’s okay to let go. I agree wholeheartedly. I wish I could remember where I read this so I could give them a huge internet high-five.
You see, I don’t think it’s healthy (especially for those who have had restrictive eating patterns in the past, but really for everyone) to worry about choosing the right food or fitting in time for working out while you’re traveling. A vacation is a break from your normal life, a chance to forget about everything on your plate and to just relax and have fun. To let go.
Now for me, letting go doesn’t mean lying on the couch all day, eating chips and candy bars! That doesn’t even sound like a satisfying vacation to me, how about you? For me, letting go simply means appreciating the entirety of the trip - enjoying exploration and walking just as much as the naps on a beach chair, accepting that some days will have more activity than others but you WILL get your heart rate up in one way or another. It means enjoying the fresh produce in your meals just as much as the decadent desserts, accepting that not all of your food will be the healthiest but your body WILL be nourished (and your taste buds will be very happy indeed). It means self-care TO DA MAX.
Letting go means saying yes, but it also means saying no. Okay that wasn't very clear. Here’s an example: I said yes to many ice cream cones throughout the course of the week. But when my dad and brother would go back for seconds (and then thirds), I would opt out, simply because I am not someone who craves three ice cream cones in a row (and dinner is a-waitin’, gotta save space)! I said yes to a lot of mouthwatering desserts, but when my dad would offer me the last of a plate, sometimes I would say no, because I was already stuffed and didn’t want my tummy to hurt!
None of this indulgence set me “off course” when I returned home. The main thing I was sad about upon our return was the SNOW (Wisconsin…) and finals week. As for my healthy routines, I just gently went back to my healthy meals and exercise, and it was A-OK.
After all, healthy routines shouldn’t be a prison, or a chore. They’re something to keep up with because they make you feel good, both physically, feeling strong and energized, and mentally, knowing you are preserving your long-term health. If they are something you absolutely dread, I think it’s time to take a step back. Maybe your exercise routine isn’t exciting enough, and maybe you need to incorporate more recipes into your rotation. If you learn to enjoy healthy living, then taking a vacation from it will simply make you more excited to jump back into it!
Whew, that turned out longer than I thought it would be! I just have a lot to say on this topic because I feel that it’s so so SO important to avoid crossing the line from healthy lifestyle into excessive worrying about nutrition and fitness. By all means, if going for a morning run or hitting the gym while on vacation pleases you and feels natural to you, DO IT! Find your own “letting go”.
Drink lots of water
When at school, at home, at work, drinking water can become an easy habit. At school, I fill up my water bottle between the same classes almost every day. I empty my water bottle at regular intervals. At home, the refrigerator is just right there. On the cruise, it wasn’t so easy. The buffet with the water was a whole three stories up (ah, so far, so hard). Obviously, it wasn’t physically challenging to get up there, but mentally, it just became easier to completely forget that I was a human being that needed H2O to function. By the time I’d realize, I was already dehydrated.
So carry that water bottle around with you like it’s your baby. If you see it, you’ll remember to sip it. And whenever you pass a water fountain, fill it up.
Get enough sleep
I didn’t think sleep would be an issue on vacation but that gosh darn ship just haaas to dock as early as 7AM, huh? Well, when you’ve paid for a cruise, you sure want to get the most bang for your buck, so you try to head out into port as early as possible, which means waking up early after a late night of dinner and shows. It’s a vicious cycle that can happen on any trip. The urge to explore more, more, more always seems to strike!
Even though I toss my daily habits aside when traveling, sleep is something that needs even more attention on vacation than usual. Just remember that you can’t be the present, relaxed, engaged traveler you want to be if you are running on little sleep. Take pleasure in the routine of going to bed while on vacation (one could argue it’s the best part). Slowly getting ready, maybe watching some TV, listening to the sounds outside your hotel room, and drifting off to sleep knowing you’ve got no work on tomorrow’s plate.
Also, naps are great. Enough said.
When we are working out in the gym, running, doing home videos, whatever, we always stretch (riiiight?), it’s just part of the routine. But when a trek around a new town ends up being 4 hours of walking, or a surfing lesson leaves you feeling sore, we don’t really think of it the same way and might forget to stretch. Also, we all know that traveling also includes long stretches in airplane, bus, or car seats. Those sure need a stretch, too. So if you can’t stretch right away, try to remember to do a nice little stretch in the morning or before bed. It’ll refresh you, relax you or energize you (depending on the time of day), and loosen up those tight spots that might prevent you from traveling 100%.
Walk as much as possible
Walking just makes you feel good, ya know? If you’re like me and live in the suburbs where nothing is in walking distance, it’s not something you do very often. On vacation, however, it’s the perfect way to explore a new place and take everything in. Bus tours are cool but you just have to hop out at some point to breathe the air of the city, feel the sunshine, and take your own path.
Bonus: Take the stairs whenever you can. Elevators and escalators abound these days, but there’s usually a good ol’ set of stairs there to save the day. Even if you don’t feel like it, a quick climb up a few flights will get your heart rate up and give you a quick jolt of energy. Plus, as long as you’re not visiting the Empire State Building observation deck, taking 0 elevators during your trip can be a fun challenge!
Get fresh air
This one’s more pertinent to certain vacations than others. For me it was the sea days on the cruise, when there’s so much happening on the inside of the ship that you have no reason to go outside. All of a sudden you realize you feel kinda down, tired. And then you step out onto the balcony, feel the cool, salty breeze, and realize that was all you needed. Sure there’s lots of fun indoor activities out there, but make sure you’re balancing that out with outdoor time. It’ll do ya some good.
What does "letting go" on vacation look like for YOU?
Alrighty, I hope you enjoyed this post! I know it's not peak traveling season but hopefully you will find it helpful :)
Now I’m off to finish up some stuff for the day. It’s finals week, it’s late, I’m tired, and boy did writing this post make me wish I was back on vacation!