As I checked my luggage at the end of my trip to Italy, the airline attendant slapped a tag on my bag that read "heavy." Rightfully so – I should have been wearing one, too.
When dining out at home, words like “dressing on the side,” “grilled instead of fried” and “appetizer instead of entrée size” flow as freely from my lips as the oil flowed in Florence. But when traveling, I gleefully delve into the cuisine of the region the way it's meant to be – my foodie experiences are as important to me as the town I'm visiting. Local traditions and how families interacts when they sit at the table together say so much about a culture. We all raise our children based upon traditions that we grew up with or, in some cases, we take an opposite direction.
[Read: 10 Healthy Vacations.]
I always savor hearing about how a food is grown, how it’s prepared, how it's served and, of course, how it looks, smells and tastes. And if you're like me, I so enjoy sharing my foodie experiences (including lots of photos!) through social media interactions. According to the U.S. Travel Association, trip planning sources have shifted over the past few years, with social media and mobile devices being used more often. In 2012, 5 percent of users relied on electronic social sources (social media and mobile devices) to help them plan a trip, compared to 2 percent in 2009. And in 2012, two billion Americans took trips for business and leisure purposes, but how many packed on pounds after packing their bags? Weight gain while traveling is an issue addressed regularly in my office, and it's a problem that has several different solutions.
To help travelers stay healthy and fit while on the road, I paired with the U.S. News travel team and Yahoo Travel for a Twitter chat that drew more than 6 million impressions. Here are some of my favorite tips to provide shortcuts for long-term health, whether you're home or abroad.
[Read: Best Vacations for Health Nuts.]
- Tip: Wear your bathing suit around the house! (Only kidding, but that would be very motivating.)
- If you plan on walking a lot, be sure to pack a comfy pair of sneakers so you focus on sights and not aching feet.
- I never leave home without bringing along some snacks I can rely on. My favorites are almonds, energy bars with at least 5 grams of protein and dried fruit.
- Even though airports now offer healthier choices, you never know exactly what you’ll find or how long you may be stranded. BYOS (Bring Your Own Snacks.)
- If I have a suitcase, I have snacks. Leaving your home without a snack leaves you open to whatever the airport offers.
- Always pack a nutritious snack with the powerful combination of protein and complex carbs. That will keep you full and satisfied.
- Pre-cut veggies, almonds, individually-packaged cheese and portable fruits (such as apples and bananas) make great, hassle-free snacks.
- I always bring almond butter on whole-grain bread, just in case the meal on board makes me bored.
- Don’t forget to drink! Here’s how to healthfully hydrate.
- Before I go on a business trip, I always leave baked goods at home for my family. Do you do anything special to remind them of you while you're away?
- Life saving motto: When in doubt, throw it out. Don't take a doggy bag if you don't have a fridge.
- Think hydration. Drinking sufficient fluids is imperative, especially when you're flying (it’s naturally dehydrating) and when visiting a warm climate. Stick with water.
- Learn about food poisoning from my real life vacation horror story.
- Check here to see if you're are eating internationally banned foods.
- You deserve to relax and feel good on vacation. Make exercise fun: Take a walk on the beach, swim and walk instead of driving to see sights.
- Get up and walk around the plane to avoid muscle cramps and get your blood circulating. (Save power-walks for your destination.)
- Walk whenever you get the opportunity. You’ll see more sights, mingle with the locals and burn off those hefty dinners.
- Some hotels have beautiful fitness centers. Wake up a little earlier and take a yoga class, ride a bike or swim.
Foodie Travel Tips:
- Flying is a time for mindless munching, so don’t mistake thirst for hunger. Even on a road trip, don’t skip liquids to avoid bathroom breaks.
- What about foodie photos when traveling? Here’s how to share your dish with your friends at home.
- Any city anywhere has healthy offerings – remember that you’re traveling with the same body that wanted to be healthy at home.
- Eating well and keeping fit while traveling sets an example for your kids about how to take care when away from home and you.
- Food is woven into the fabric of every culture. Exploring the tastes of other countries is always number one on my itinerary.
- I try to take cooking classes in other countries, and then I bring those lessons home to share in my own kitchen.
- Once you get bitten by the travel bug, you’ll want to stay healthy and fit to keep exploring the rest of the globe.
- Traveling helps keep your work and home life balanced, and you'll be able to appreciate both where you're going and where you've come from.
- When I return home from a trip where my palate took priority over my pants size, I'm sure to carry home fond memories, new recipes, tasty treats and an upcoming date with my elliptical machine to help turn chow into ciao. Safe travels to you, even if you're traveling from your door to your kitchen.