How to not gain weight on vacation and stay fit while traveling

  • 3 Minutes Read
Martha M. Henze
Martha M. Henze, MPH, MS, RDN - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Global Public Health Epidemiologist

Healthy vacation habits begin when you are planning and packing for your travels. Follow these tips on how to not gain weight while on vacation so you can not only prevent weight gain but also stay fit while traveling. Bon voyage!

How to not gain weight on vacation

While dishing up my French scrambled eggs mixed with hot sauce and mustard at a bed and breakfast in the South, I overheard one of the other guests lamenting. Even though he had increased his steps to 15,000 per day while walking on vacation, it still didn't offset the calories of the Southern cooking he was eating.

Follow these tips about planning and packing to avoid weight gain and stay fit while traveling.

How to not gain weight while on vacation: Start by planning

Use the internet to open up possibilities of active vacations that you didn't realize existed. Here are two different approaches for not gaining weight and creating the perfect active vacation.

1. Plan for an active vacation

Find a pre-organized or guided active vacation by typing in the name of the city or country you are visiting and the type of exercise that you enjoy, such as "Vermont Bicycle Vacation" or "Kayak Tour in Sweden." You will find a plethora of companies who offer active vacations. Whether you enjoy hiking, walking, bicycling, kayaking, or even culinary walking tours, many options are available to you. On these tours, each day is generally planned for you, but they often have options for meals on your own or extra activities, such as museum tours. The advantage of these trips is that accommodations, luggage transfers, meals and outings are already planned for you which decreases the amount of time and coordination that you have to do. Time is money as you will notice by the price tag of these guided trips.

Tip for budget shoppers:
Look at the itinerary of guided trips and use that as a template for planning your own vacation.

Biking tip: We enjoyed seeing three countries in seven days by bicycling around Lake Constance in Europe which borders Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. We stayed overnight at bed and breakfasts advertised by signs that said, "Zimmer Frei". What a great way to learn about the landscape and culture by staying with locals in their own homes!

2. Try these activities

Plan active days within your vacation

Keep your eyes out for local options. By searching on the internet using the word, "Events" and the name of the city you are visiting, you will find festivals, music events, and activities that are going on when you arrive. Recently, while in the middle of New Orleans, we participated in a free yoga class with live jazz music played in the background. What a great way to start the day!

Guided bicycle tours

The first day I am in a new city, I enjoy a guided bicycle tour. It not only gets the kinks out of my joints from a long flight or drive, but also offers an overview of the city. There are also many self-guided biking trips online as well.

Walking tours

Rather than a bus tour, look for a walking tour of a city. Many of them are free with a donation if you liked the tour. You would be amazed at how many steps you accrue while learning fascinating facts and tidbits from a local.

Kayak or canoe trip or stand up paddle board (SUP)

Rather than taking a motor boat tour or an evening dinner cruise, consider a quiet kayak trip. You will not only get an upper body workout, but also see parts of nature you didn't know existed. Thankfully on our last Louisiana bayou kayak trip, the alligators were sleeping! If you have teenagers, these types of adventures are certainly enticing.

Choose hotels that have a gym or access to a gym

Waking up and working out is a great day to start the day, particularly if you are attending a conference all day.

Consider what you're packing

Not gaining weight while on your vacation means keeping it simple when packing activewear for your trip.


Of course, packing your workout clothes depends on how much activity you are planning. Most tour companies give you a list of what to pack for kayaking and hiking adventures. However, if you are planning on active days within your trip, keep it simple. One pair of shorts, leggings, or sweatpants, T-shirt, sweatshirt, socks and running shoes are all you need. In a "Packing Light Class" (that my daughters said I desperately needed), I learned that if your running shoes take up too much room in your suitcase, wear them or tie them to the outside of your backpack or carry on.

Water bottle

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Bring your own water bottle to remind you to drink water instead of other calorie laden beverages. Especially on vacation, many people drink more calories than they eat.

Stretch bands

Stretch bands are elastic bands used for resistance training and building muscles. Because they are lightweight and versatile, they are the perfect piece of exercise equipment to pack in your suitcase. Try this fun travel workout video with exercise bands to get you started.

This blog would not be complete without one tip on eating healthy while on vacation.

How to eat healthy while on vacation: Consider these healthy food tips

When eating out, share meals or order two appetizers. One guest at our bed and breakfast reported that she heard that when Julia Childs goes on vacation, in order to keep her youthful figure, she just chooses two appetizers rather than a full meal and a salad.

Bottom line

By focusing on planning and packing, you, too, can go on vacation and not gain weight.

Please share with us your best travel tips to not gain weight while traveling. We would love to hear from you. Bon voyage!

Travel->Exercise Travel->Maintain Don't Gain
Feb 11, 2020

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