Most of us come home from vacation packing a few extra pounds, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We think we need to restrict ourselves to maintain health but this mentality sets us up for failure and practically guarantees inappropriate splurging.
Plan instead to indulge yourself with healthy gourmet food and a variety of activities. A good vacation should provide plenty of stimulation beyond the buffet table or the pool bar.
Start by drinking plenty of pure bottled water wherever you are. Staying hydrated is the number one rule to staying healthy when traveling and will give you energy to move in warmer climates.
You don’t have to stay away from good food or watering holes completely – think about adding a glass of heart-healthy red wine to that salad and seafood, and finish off with a whirl on the dance floor to add fun to your fitness. New activities bring vitality to your holiday.
The biggest travel wave sweeping the world is culinary tourism, which combines healthy local food with excursions to farms, restaurants, and tastings with chefs, and allows you to engage with the local people in a meaningful way.
Enjoy exotic fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Awaken your taste buds with new flavors and cuisine while eating lightly and enjoying more. Learn about the spices and herbs used to create the regional flavors and you will be able to prepare authentic meals.
If all you want to do is flop on the beach, make sure you are well protected from sun damage, cool off with the occasional vigorous swims or take evening strolls when the lights are dazzling and the evenings cool. Body surfing, snorkeling and diving are even more physically challenging, and will open your eyes to a whole new marine world.
Increasingly, boutique travel companies customize vacations to specific needs: Do you want rugged, relaxing, or a mix of both? Talk to a travel advisor and map out an itinerary that suits you.
Moving your body in new ways can have surprising results. Go local: try badminton in Malaysia, tai chi in China, or hiking in North America’s gorgeous national and provincial parks.
If you are looking for that little bit of extra edge, try a more daring itinerary – ziplining, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, skydiving or something else you have always dreamed of doing. Maybe it’s as simple as driving a Vespa scooter around a Caribbean Isle – do it. The fun factor will nudge your giggle gland, and that’s good!
Something Old, Something New
Try a light adventure company with flexible itineraries and experienced guides who can provide you with activities suited to your fitness level. You may not be ready to climb Ben Nevis in Scotland, but you could try a walking trip on the West Highland Way.
A hike in the rainforests or volcanoes of the Andes is invigorating, but take time to acclimatize yourself to the higher elevations beforehand. If you have enough adrenaline in your life, try a yoga or spa retreat and round out demanding activities with a massage. Most quality accommodations offer a menu of spa treatments.
Try out your new Spanish phrases while in Mexico and meet some of the local people beyond the boundaries of your hotel. Laugh and enjoy the company of new friends you would never have met at home.
Extend the experience back home: Invite friends for a meal using your new culinary skills, put on a CD of local music and share a select few photos, vid clips or MyTrip.com. People will love feeling part of your healthy vacation and may even try it for themselves next time.
A good vacation should let you step outside of yourself and try something new. You will arrive home feeling lighter, healthier, and just a little happier.
A few suggestions to rev up your vacation engine:
Cruises offer a variety of fun and challenging activities to keep you fit while sailing, such as jogging and walking tracks, yoga classes, and on-site gyms, combined with shore excursions. On-board bistro restaurants offer gourmet experiences.
Eco-adventure tourism and culinary tourism: Costa Rica, Ecuador, Italy, Vancouver Island, Nova Scotia and Scotland are just a few of the destinations offering low eco-footprint yet high-energy activities and good local food.
If you don’t have the time or money for a long vacation, try a mini-break for a low output yet high return for your dollar. A quality mini-break can refresh, decompress, and rejuvenate with minor time, cost, and travel constraints. Sample a local spa, stay for the weekend pampering yourself with treatments and taking in local attractions.
Most of all, enjoy yourself – you are on vacation after all.