People always complain about gaining weight when they travel.  And while I personally don’t think putting on a few pounds on the road is that big a deal, especially if you’re going on a weeklong cruise (you’re supposed to eat whatever you want), there are a few things you can do to not gain weight while traveling.

My view is that short term travel (a week to two weeks) is all about indulgence, having fun and not worrying about things like your gym regiment, stringent diet, etc.  You go on short term vacations, because 1. You only get two weeks a year of vacation and therefore should treat yourself to anything you want, or, 2. You just need a quick “reboot” and should therefore treat yourself to anything you want.

Extended travel is another story and when you should really worry about your personal fitness and diet.  In reality, you can only physically gain a few pounds in a week or two of travel, which is easily lost in a couple weeks of diet and exercise.  But 6 months to a year on the open road is a different animal all together.  Here are 4 tips to not gain weight while traveling:

1.      Don’t Commit Carbicide.

You’ve just arrived in Paris and are walking down a quiet rue in the Place de la Bastille district, when all of a sudden, you smell it, a heavenly waft of fresh buttery croissants swirling in and around your easily persuadable nostrils.  Your feet lift off the ground as you float your way right through the bakery door, over the counter and face first into the basket of sweet breads. Whoah! Wake up.  One of the quickest and easiest ways to put on weight while traveling is to stuff your pie hole with breads (cookies, croissants, pan dulce, baguette, etc.) while on the road.  Carbohydrates are quickly digesting energy sources, so unless you’re running a marathon, try and limit your carb intake. I know it’s not so easy, but try and eat other foods that will help satiate you more, but are more slowly digesting and wholesome like lean meats, fish, fresh fruits and vegetables.  Carbs are actually stored in your body with the aid of water, so eating too many will actually bloat you.

2.      Eat Smaller Meals Throughout the Day.

There has actually been research to show that eating 5-6 smaller meals per day is healthier for you than 3 larger ones.  It makes perfect sense, human beings didn’t evolve eating 3 square meals a day.  We are foragers, and in caveman days, we would eat things as we found them (nuts, berries, the occasional protein meal, etc).  This is actually really easy to do while traveling because you will most likely be walking around a city all day, or will have a schedule open enough to eat 5 or 6 meals smaller meals a day. Taking vitamins to boost metabolism will keep it revved up and burning extra calories just through having to digest food all day long.  Eating every couple of hours also thwarts hunger urges that will force you to the quickest thing you can put in your mouth (usually not a salad). And hey, if you’re eating more meals, you get to try more things!

 3.      Walk it Out!

If you’re used to going to a gym, then you will most likely want to add in some physical activity to your daily regimen while traveling.  While I personally enjoy paying the day rate at gyms in various countries just to witness the gym culture (I went to gyms in Argentina, Mexico, Spain and Guatemala), that might be the last thing that interests you on a trip.  But, the best thing you can do to help keep your heart healthy and stop from gaining weight is to walk as much as possible.  Look on a map, if something you’re trying to get to is only a mile or two away, just walk.  You will honestly probably get there in the same amount of time if you have to wait for the bus or metro anyways.  And, you get to see so much more of a place on foot rather than just darting around via public transportation.

4.       Limit Your Alcohol Intake.

I know, I know. I can’t believe I’m saying this either, but if you don’t want to gain excessive weight on the road, then you have to limit your boozing.  Alcohol is high in calories, and what do you do after a night of drinking (and most likely late night grubbin’)?  You go right to sleep.  At night, your body’s metabolic system runs much more slowly and will turn any surplus calories in your stomach not needed for energy (you don’t move much when you sleep unless you have restless leg syndrome) into fat stores.  I won’t give you any advice on how much to drink, best things to drink, how many nights a week to drink, so you decide what you want to do.  Sorry!

Does anyone else have any good tips to not gain weight while traveling?  Please comment and share them with us.