You’ve planned and booked your trip. You’ve worked hard to get in shape and shed a few pounds before this vacation. Maybe you’re headed to the beach or back to see some old friends or family and want to show off your improved body.
Maybe you are just in a good place and worried that vacation will get you out of your diet and work out routine. No matter what your reason is, here are some tips on to work out and diet while traveling with your kids.
We all know that kids complicate everything! So let’s take this a step farther and look at how to stay in shape while traveling when you have kids.
Even if you don’t have kids, you will still find value in these suggestions. For the parents that are vacationing with kids, we’ll walk through some doable steps to help you stay in shape on your trip.
Start by setting a goal
If you go into your trip by planning and setting a goal you can come back in the same shape or similar shape as when you left. Here is what I mean by setting a goal before you go, and it’s not what you think. Trust me, goals are the biggest key factor in how to work out and diet while traveling with your kids.
Unless you are on a yoga retreat or fitness camp, you are probably on vacation to let loose and enjoy yourself. Sticking to your diet and exercising on vacation can be difficult but it’s not impossible.
Your goal is not about how many times you work out or counting your calories. It is more like an agreement or settlement between your diet, exercise habits, your vacation, and your enjoyment.
You probably don’t want to miss out on some of the joys of being on vacation, which oftentimes can be the amazing food and drinks.
So let’s talk about that goal! Set a goal such as, “I only want to allow myself to gain more than 3-4 pounds this week while traveling,” or maybe “I don’t want to not gain any weight on this trip.”
Having an idea of what is acceptable to you will help with your enjoyment on vacation. This way you won’t feel bad or guilty if you indulge a little or miss a morning workout.
This isn’t to open the flood gates to go crazy on everything you see to eat but allows you to pick and choose those things really worth trying.
You can set additional goals as to how many times you want to work out while traveling or how many drinks or desserts you will have each day.
These are great goals, but I like setting the goal of either maintaining my appearance and weight or allowing for just a little wiggle room. This has allowed me to enjoy both the vacation and my routine for eating and working out while traveling.
Set goals for yourself that are achievable while you are on vacation, you don’t want to give up on working out and dieting. But you also don’t want to end up sore and starving all day.
How to stick to a diet while traveling with kids
Sticking to your diet while traveling can be a challenge. Usually one of the first places we head when we get somewhere new is a nearby restaurant.
Normally restaurants serving size portions are larger than we are accustomed to eating on a daily basis. They also add in little extras that we normally don’t have on our average meal.
Such as they bring a basket of bread, or offer soup with your meal, and include a dessert. Even if you order the healthy option, it’s so much easier to overeat at a restaurant.
Don’t stress yourself out if you do this a couple of times. It’s not going to change you that fast. The problem is that on vacation we are eating at restaurants every meal. So watch your portions and make sure you are balancing how much you eat.
As a parent, don’t finish off your kids’ food! I know this is tempting and easy to do. After all, you just paid for that Mac and Cheese someone has to eat it. DON’T DO IT. These added calories will kill your diet!
Limit your sugar intake
The biggest thing to avoid anytime you are eating healthy is to monitor and limit your sugars and processed foods. But how can you avoid those yummy treats or pastries? You don’t always have to on vacation.
Instead of completely cutting out all sugar, you limit the amount of how much you will eat each day. Here are a few tips on how to cut down on sugar.
If you can share it, then, by all means, share it. Even if you are a foodie and you’ve been waiting to try a number of things. You can take a bite or two of each one.
When you’re traveling with your kids, let them pick out the treats and then you taste a bite or two. This will easily help you lower how much sugar you take in and stick to your diet.
Another big tip on cutting down on sugar is to watch your drinks. Did you know the average margarita has 24 grams of sugar! Be careful of these hidden sugars.
No one is forcing you to eat the entire thing. I know the mentality of “well then I am just wasting food if I don’t finish it.” You need to change your mentality and look at giving back the food as an investment into yourself or I’ve heard someone call it an “Ab Tax.”
The Ab Tax
The Ab Tax can also refer to the cost of a nutritious meal, such as a healthy salad, even if the salad is more expensive then junk food you still have to buy the salad.
It is crazy to me that salads have become more expensive than many other foods. I mean come on guys, lettuce is like the cheapest thing to buy in the store.
But I look at this as an Ab Tax. I am willing to pay the difference for the way that I will feel after. Let me state that I don’t have a six-pack and I do love cake, but I do have to limit myself.
Just to be able to feel good about my weight and just how I feel in general. Eating too much sugar or processed foods makes me feel tired throughout the day, and on the flip side if I don’t get enough vegetables and nutrients I feel sluggish as well.
So plan on spending a little more on healthy foods while you are traveling. Build into your budget and then it’s not as difficult. Your abs will thank you later.
Allow yourself a treat a day while you travel
Part of being on vacation is to escape your everyday reality. If you have been on a strict diet and looking forward to indulging a little bit, then allow yourself some room to indulge.
A good idea is to allow yourself a special treat each day. Maybe it’s the cotton candy at Disneyland or the Crepe in Paris. Your kids will also want treats to add to their experience. If you limit yourself and your kids to one treat a day, everyone will be able to indulge and you can stick to your diet.
This is also a great way to experience some of the local traditional foods. Remember as stated above, you don’t have to eat the entire thing just because you bought it.
Eat your sugar during the day and avoid it in the evening
As we just talked about, I like to allow myself one treat or dessert a day. But I have to eat it after lunch or in the afternoon.
I try to avoid anything sugary or unhealthy around dinner time or in the evening. I feel like I have time to work off some of the calories if I indulge earlier in the day.
This goes for alcohol as well, try to avoid those drinks that are high in sugar or carbohydrates. I am not sure if any of you are like me but sugar also tends to make me not sleep as well. Another reason to eat it earlier in the day.
I know for my kids if they have sugar in the evening they are a pain to put to bed and even toss and turn all night. It’s easier to avoid sugars as a parent to be able to say no to my kids at night too. Making it not only a healthy habit for myself but a tip on the nighttime routine.
OK, what should I eat?
This is such a broad question to try and answer for anyone. Everyone responds differently to all foods. Some have allergies, intolerances, and preferences for food. Some of us are vegetarian, or we don’t eat red meat or pork.
The one thing that is common among all these diets is to limit your processed food consumption and sugars.
For me; I have found a diet based on a higher protein and lower-carbs lifestyle is best. Another thing I do is increase my vegetable consumption. This helps me fill up on healthy things first and limits my sugar.
I know that this can be difficult to find restaurants that offer vegetables. Vegetables are nutrient-dense and your body will use these nutrients for energy and many other things.
Eating vegetables provides health benefits – people who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.
If you make sure to eat your vegetables on vacation, you will have more energy to go out and have fun. Making the most of your time away.
Overall, find what works for you. Your diet needs to be your lifestyle, not a short term restriction. Learn what foods make you feel good and eat more of that. Avoid the foods that make you feel sluggish.
Intermitting fasting~ Something to think about
Something that is becoming more and more popular is intermitting fasting. Researchers are coming out with all the benefits of fasting occasionally.
For those that are not familiar with what intermittent fasting is. It is going without food for a period of hours. Most intermittent fasters will fast be starting about 2 hours before you go to bed. Then try to skip breakfast and make your first meal around lunch. This should give you about a 16-hour window of fasting.
The purpose of this is to put your body into ketosis so it begins to burn fat for energy. Hence you burn fat quicker. This may be an easy way for you to stay on track while you are traveling.
But this might not be for you if so skip this section we still have lots of great tips.
If you have never done intermittent fasting, maybe try it before your vacation for the first time. You may become very hangry and upset everyone you are traveling with.
If you have done this or think this is a good idea make sure that you have practiced intermittent fasting prior to your travels. Does intermittent fasting on vacation work?
Yes! This is one of the best ways I know to sort of minimize the damage done to your physique when you’re eating, drinking, and working out less (or not at all) while traveling.
What this also does is help to limit your intake of food. Make sure not to overeat once you break your fast. Don’t forget your kids in all of this as they will still need to eat meals each day.
If you are staying at a hotel that included breakfast great! Take your kids to breakfast even when you are skipping it.
But if you are not or breakfast is expensive, one thing that we have done with our kids is to pack the small boxes of cereal. Order them on Amazon before you go, or have them shipped to the hotel where you are staying.
We will pick up milk from a nearby market, or sometimes the hotel is willing to give just milk for free. These are light to pack and the kids get their favorite cereal.
Eat this not That
Road trip food is the best part of the trip, right?! A bag of chips and soda taste soooo good on a road trip! They’ve never tasted so good.
But I hate the way I feel after, and unfortunately the older I get the worse I feel when I eat junk food. So now I try to substitute junk food while I am traveling or on vacation.
Instead of a bag of chips, I will opt for beef jerky or a protein bar. I love the Pure Protein bars, you can get them from Amazon or I’ve picked them up at Walmart and Target before. They are high in protein and low in Sugar. My kids even like the chocolate peanut butter flavor.
For a sugary soda, I will now opt for a diet soda or even sparkling water. Something that is no sugar. If you can get sparkling water with a Lime or lemon it can hit the spot. This is now my goto drink on the airplane. It also helps me avoid sodas that are high in sodium that tend to bloat me.
These all tend to help me feel full and snack less. I also buy the individual packs to put in my kid’s carry on. This way they can access it when they want, and I don’t have to carry everything.
I try to buy before I fly because they are super expensive at the airport. I like to get them at Costco or Target, and if I can’t make it to one of those places I will order them from Amazon.
Looking for a healthy snack to share with your kids?
I love to snack and unfortunately, I love sweets! So I was so excited when I found Twins & Travels recipe for healthy brownies. Bake a few before your trip and pack them for the plane! It’s a great way to avoid all the convenient snacks at the airport.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water
If you are like me and love to snack throughout the day. One way to feel full is to drink more water. Especially if you are flying a long distance, it is good for you to drink plenty of water. This can help with possible jet lag and recovery faster.
When you are traveling, it’s incredibly important to drink lots of water! But a new cute water bottle before you go on your trip to give you the motivation to keep drinking and help reduce waste.
Working out while traveling
Plan time to exercise before you go. Build exercise it into your daily plan of activities. As I mentioned before goals are one of the key factors in how to work out and diet while traveling with your kids. The other key factor is to put things on your schedule.
If you have a schedule or know when you need to be at a specific place you can build exercise into your schedule.
If put it on your schedule it will happen!
Hit the Gym, and it doesn’t need to be your hotel gym
Now you might be thinking about the gym in the hotel. Yes, that is a great option if you have it, but if your hotel doesn’t have a gym or it’s not well equipped. You can hit a local gym too. Normally there are day passes available.
Your current gym membership may even have a location near where you are vacationing. Maybe you have a gym membership that can be used in multiple cities.
For example, orange Theory Fitness offers a membership that can be used at any of their gyms. Maybe you are into Crossfit. This is a great chance to check out the CrossFit gym. Whatever you are into, don’t limit it or stop just because you are on vacation.
Some of these gyms even have babysitting available for a small fee or it might be included in your membership. Just check before you go.
The Hotel Gym
I actually love working out at the hotel gym. When I walk in the door of a new gym it’s like walking into a toy store. All new equipment, all new possibilities. It’s so nice to mix up my routine.
Hotel gyms can be a great way to change some things up in your workout routine. You might get a chance to try out some new equipment. Hotel gyms are great because they can save you time going out to a gym. They make it easy to work out while traveling for fun or even if you are there for business.
What if I don’t have someone to watch my kids? If your kids are old enough to leave alone in the hotel room, you will be close by. If your kids are young like mine, one of the parents might have to stay back.
But then this would double the workout time if both were to go to the gym. What we do is one parent will stay back in the room and workout in the room. The other will head to the gym.
There are times that we will take our kids into the gym with us on vacation. I think it is a great experience to show my kids at an early age that physical activity is healthy and is important.
I also like to show my daughters that they too can exercise and lift weights. It helps to get them comfortable around gym equipment. I didn’t grow up athletic or involved in sports. It took me many years to feel comfortable around a gym and I want my kids to be confident and comfortable in a gym setting.
**If you take your kids to the gym with you, keep a close eye on them at all times. They can easily get hurt with the heavy equipment. Make sure you are with them all the time.
What if the hotel doesn’t have a gym or I can’t leave my kids?
Luckily we live in the Youtube era and you can find almost any type of workout you are looking for. You can find high-intensity interval training, yoga videos, beginner videos, and body strength videos.
These can be done in your hotel room, just make sure you don’t jump too much and disturb your neighbors.
Here are a couple of videos we use to work out when we travel: When I was still getting into working out and a beginner with my fitness I started doing Fitness Blender every day. My husband tried to do these a few times with me but he found them a little slow, and over time I needed something a little more challenging.
We now both do videos by Millionaire Hoy. He does a mix of body weight and high-intensity interval training. He also offers 30-day plans and workouts specifically for working out while traveling.
Exercise while traveling can be included in your activities
If possible plan exercising or walks before you go. Even if you are heading back home or to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Plan to exercise, even get some of the family involved.
You can do a 5K turkey trot (running race) or maybe a 4th of July fun run. If not, just plan to get out and do something if you don’t have access to a gym. Getting the family involved can be a great way to bond with family and friends but also feel good about what you are doing.
When you are traveling with your kids, make exercise fun. Take the kids to a trampoline park and jump with them. Race in the kids in the pool. Have an impromptu dance party. Chase them at the playground. Have fun, kids love to move!
Walk or plan a jog to a site
The gym or working out while traveling might not be your thing, and that is perfectly okay. Go out wherever you are and walk or even plan a run. Walking is great exercise too!
On our last trip to Paris, we stayed in an Airbnb so we didn’t have a gym. We knew we would be walking a ton throughout the day but we got up each morning and went for a short jog. Just to start the day right.
We looked up a couple of places like the Opera House to run to. This made it fun to run to a destination. This was also a great way to see something at a time of day that many people are not out.
Working out while traveling
Walking can be a secret weapon and a great way to work out while traveling with your kids. Walking can help to offset some of those extra calories that you might have consumed while you have been traveling.
If you haven’t walked enough for the day when you finish dinner plan an evening stroll. This is a great way to explore a city, a nice cool walk along the beach, or maybe a nearby park. If those are not safe options, try to find a nearby shopping mall and walk around.
Even with young kids, we will still go for a walk. With our baby, this is a great way to get her to fall asleep in her stroller before bed.
Take advantage of the swimming pool or ocean
Did you know that swimming can help to boost your metabolism? Cardiovascular exercise (running, swimming, aerobics, walking) stimulates your metabolism, helps you burn calories and can even temporarily suppress your appetite post-workout.
Traveling with kids keeps you pretty active most of the time, but they too can get bored walking and seeing old historical buildings or museums. Going back to the hotel or hitting the beach or lake are great ways to break up a day and burn some calories.
Instead of sitting on the side reading a book or looking at your phone. Hop in and get moving. If you are not traveling with kids, it’s your turn to act like a kid. Think of how many calories kids burn by their constant movement.
Enjoy the outdoors
We’ve talked about swimming, but that isn’t the only thing to do to keep you and your family active on vacation. Here are some ideas depending on your location.
Working out while traveling can still be fun!
At the Beach: If your kids are old enough to venture out and swim in the ocean, go snorkeling with them. Even riding a couple of waves in will get you moving and your heart rate up.
Short races on the beach: My husband loves to have short races into the water or along the beach with the kids. This gets the family moving and active and helps to make the beach a fun place for the kids.
Explore looking for seashells: My kids can spend hours walking up and down the beach filling buckets full of shells. They might not get to keep them but it is fun and they love to look for different color shells.
In the Mountains or forest: If you are close to a park, mountains, or just a natural forest. There is probably a hike or walk that you can take. We love to explore nature and try to spot some animals or hike to a waterfall is a great way that you can be working out while traveling.
Maybe look to rent bikes, kayaks, or paddleboards to enhance your travel experience and these are things kids can do with you.
Exploring the city: I’m sure this is already on your list of things to do if you are visiting a city, but I want to add a twist. Instead of renting a car, use the public transportation system. And even if you are using the public transportation system, opt to try and walk a bit more.
This might be a challenge with kids but here is a way that you can make it fun for them. Create an urban scavenger hunt for them. Have them take a selfie in front of a payphone, find 10 pigeons, etc… You can consider this working out while traveling.
Wrap up on how to work out and diet while traveling with your kids.
In the end, remember to enjoy your vacation! Make plans for your diet and a work out schedule before you leave for your trip. If you plan everything in advance, it will be so much easier for you on your trip.
Keep in mind, balance is key. Have a healthy relationship with food and exercise. Enjoy your vacation and be gracious with yourself. Balance eating well and exercising into your daily vacation plans.