By Cole Milen
A vacation is an opportunity to indulge yourself. Most people take a vacation as a chance to pamper themselves with the finer things in life that are typically off limits during the other 51 weeks of the year. For many, food is an essential part of the vacation experience. You are faced with a dizzying variety of rich, exotic food, much of which may not be very healthy by your usual standards.
Avoid the pitfalls of airport food. Eat a healthy, satisfying meal prior to leaving for the airport. While on layovers, walk around to get some brief exercise and fresh air. If you do need to sit, avoid the food court and its dangerous smells! Plan to pack some low calorie, protein rich, healthy snacks in your carry on bag or purse that will tide you over. This could be an organic nutrition bar, dried fruit, nuts, or a controlled sugar protein shake. Drink bottled water rather than a highly caloric coffee creation. If you are forced to eat a meal at the airport, look for a salad with grilled chicken or turkey and ask for the dressing on the side.
One of the most important aspects of your travels is to ensure that you are staying in a hotel that will allow you to maintain your healthy lifestyle while you are away from home. After all, you are living there for the time being. It is important to make sure that hotel you choose has the appropriate amenities and offerings. This can often be extremely difficult. I have found that reviews from other travelers provide the most honest and unbiased form of information. I most recently took a trip out west and found a great site that listed reviews for Las Vegas hotels regarding all aspects necessary from their amenities, to the restaurants in the area, even to things to do. This made it possible to ensure that I was eating right while in and out of my hotel.
Choosing exotic local cuisine might be a way to experience new tastes as well as stick to your ideal diet. Local ethnic cuisine is often prepared fresh and made-to-order. This means that the food you'll get at these restaurants are often more wholesome and made with nutritious ingredients that haven't been frozen or packed with preservatives. Also, since vacation season often coincides with peak harvest season for vegetables, you may be able to find restaurants serving freshly harvested local options. The local food movement has been growing and gaining momentum for several years now, and restaurants, which specialize in local, sustainable, wholesome food are becoming more and more common.
If you're in a big city you may have access to a natural foods or whole foods store that you may not find back home. Take some time with your family to go shopping and explore the amazing variety you'll find there. Going to an exotic grocery store can be an adventure in itself, and you can pick up some ingredients for healthy snacks and lunch. Go for simple options like wraps or sandwiches: things that can be prepared with few or no utensils other than maybe plastic forks and knives. Most of these fresh foods stores have delis where you can find prepackaged but fresh options for a fun, healthy, and mobile lunch.
One last tried-and-true trick that applies to many different aspects of traveling applies equally well to finding good food: ask the locals! If you are having trouble finding fresh nutritious food, or just want to know what options might be hiding under the radar of a tourist unfamiliar with the area, just ask around. A good place to start might be at your hotel. Ask anyone working there about the best options for local fresh food. You can bet they'll be able to give you some hints for finding healthy food options at restaurants, markets, and health food stores you may not find in your guidebook or on the internet!
Cole Millen, is an avid traveler and foodie who never forgets that life's best memories are made through real life apprehension of legitimate "experiences." Follow his blog at Cole’s Mill.