I know…kind of a strong title…but that’s what happens, right?

We’re so excited for our vacation: we eat better, exercise more, drink less ALL in preparation to go somewhere and look good…AND eat too much, possibly drink too much and not exercise much! Then we get home needing a vacation from our vacation! I know you can relate!

As our family gets ready to (finally) get back to some vacation planning, I have some super valuable tips for you (and me)!

First: Planning the type of vacation that will support your healthy habits is the place to start. Choosing a vacation that’s actually centered around activity and possibly even healthful eating is one of the best things you can do to ensure a better outcome.

There are all sorts of options out there! If you’re light on funds, or just thrifty, any outdoor style vacation has options for hiking, biking, paddling and even tennis, golf and skiing! Yes! Just a little Google searching will come up with all sorts of ideas for you: “10 Best Adventure Vacations on a Budget”, “Active Vacations I can afford”, etc. There are so many national, state and local parks with low entrance fees and lots of camping opportunities that put you into the heart of your active vacation.

Not quite so rustic, you say? Using Airbnb or VRBO services can find you a range of accommodations for youand your family where you can avoid the higher costs of hotels and prepare most or all of your meals at home. Our family operates 3 such vacation rentals in Santa Barbara and I’m always amazed at how someone could stay in one of the most expensive destinations in the country, but get a reasonable deal on lodging and then have access to so many inexpensive or free outdoor activities! 

Many destinations that you may think are out of your budget reach are similar. For example, here in Santa Barbara we have free and super inexpensive tennis and pickleball courts and a public golf course that I’m told is very reasonable. Hiking trails are plentiful, and you can bring your own paddle boards and bikes (or find affordable rentals) and have an amazing and full outdoor experience without breaking the bank.

If you’re able to spend more, there are all sorts of “done for you” adventure vacations from all-inclusive resorts like Club Med (our family’s favorite) to deluxe trips designed by companies like Backdoor Travel. Most destinations also have local companies whose mission is to provide outdoor adventures, so you don’t have to do all the prep and arranging.

So, if you choose an active vacation, you’ve got the movement part handled but what about the eating? That’s always a challenge for me because even if I’m active during the day, I’m still tempted to stray outside my normal eating habits because “I’m on vacation, right?” It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that vacation calories don’t count…a staple joke among those of us who would like it to be true! This leads to the next step!

Second: Put some thought ahead of your vacation about how you want to eat. Maybe you decide what splurges are worth it and which ones you would like to avoid. I often get trapped by late eating while on vacation because we’re usually doing fun stuff until the sun goes down and THEN we decide to eat. A little planning helps me avoid that!

If you’re camping or staying in a vacation rental, you have more control over what and when you eat than if you’re eating all of your meals out. Make sure you stock up on healthy choices including lots of fruits and veggies and then choose a couple of “treat meals”. 

Although I love the all-inclusiveness of resorts like Club Med for all the activities, the all-inclusiveness of food and drink is a problem for me! Part of me is tempted by all the goodies I don’t normally have around part of me falls into the trap of not realizing how much I’m actually consuming and, I have to admit, there’s a part of me that wants to make sure I get the most for my dollars! I mean, I already paid for it, right?

I find I do best if I “pre-pave” what my day will be like. What will I have for each meal and how will I work the entertainment and togetherness around eating while still being true to my plan of how I want to eat for my health? Another trick I often choose is to have my mid-day meal (lunch or late lunch) be my main or even last meal of the day. I find it’s easier to make healthier choices earlier in the day! Do you?

If you must eat all of your meals in restaurants, look for healthier choices. I did an Instagram post about an app we love: Happy Cow! This handy free app can show you every healthy option in any town you’re visiting…even in foreign countries! You can also ask for recommendations from locals and from friends who have possibly taken the same trip. I love learning from someone else’s experience rather than having to find out on my own. I guess that’s why review sites are so popular!

One of the first things to go from our normally healthy eating plan is getting plenty of fruits and veggies onto our plates. Some restaurants idea of a side serving of veggies is a sprig of broccoli! Our family has been combatting this by using a clinically proven plant concentrate for over 25 years and we can’t recommend it enough. Hope you decide to pack it right beside your tennies!

Third: Having a plan around sleep…such a conundrum on vacation! We want to stay out late and often get up early, so we squeeze the most out of each day. However, sleep is a pattern that is really tough for us to adjust and missing sleep can really take a toll on our health. Aim to head into your vacation well-rested, avoiding the temptation to try to get too much done before you leave and try to stick to your normal sleep habits as much as possible. Read my blog on sleep here.

For those of you who are chronically sleep deprived, you may find vacation a welcome opportunity to sleep more! Yay!

Fourth: If you’re not planning an active vacation, make sure you add some exercise into each day. It could be as simple as walking. In 2019, our family went to New York City for an amazing vacation, and we put in an average of 9 miles/day! If you won’t be walking during the day, try to get out for a walk, bike-ride, swim or run before the day begins. We will often rent bikes in cities we have never been to so we can see more of the city up close and personal.

Fifth: Make sure you stay hydrated. Keep in mind that on top of our normal water needs of at least ½ our body weight in ounces, travel and the outdoors place even great hydration demands, and we also tend to not drink as much water when we’re out and about. Make sure that everyone in your group is outfitted with a re-usable water bottle and either bring a portable water filter with you or scope out all the places you can refill with clean water.

Sixth and last: Find some time for yourself whether it’s in exercise or meditation or even taking a nap. Even though it’s so fun to be together while on vacation, taking time to re-charge yourself every day will help you enjoy the trip more AND bring you home feeling truly rested.

So, go ahead! The world is opening up! Start making your travel plans and include plans to stay healthy when you do!


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