Sure, a vacation sometimes means those good habits you’ve worked so hard to stick to at home—like going to the gym a few times a week and adding a salad with dinner—become less of a priority. But with wellness tourism experiencing a 6.5% annual growth every year, you now have more options when it comes to choosing nutritious foods and participating in heart-pumping activities on a trip.
Of course, you don’t have to book a yoga retreat or avoid savory local foods to stay healthy while traveling —still take the vacation you want, but know there are a few things you can do which will help you feel great during your whole holiday. Dan Churchill, Healthy Chef and Wellness Expert offers some key advice for travelers who want to stay healthy while on the road.
“My philosophy is to control the uncontrollable,” said Dan. “I can’t control what I have around me, but I can control knowing what is there.” By taking the time to look at restaurants, locate farmers markets and speaking with friends, he gets a better feel for what sort of choices he’ll have on the ground.
Social media, particularly Instagram, also proves to be a powerful tool for travel research. A recent easyJet survey showed that over half of the participants ages 18 to 65 years old booked trips based off of what they found on Instagram. Dan suggested using the Explore page to type in your destination, and then explore some of the healthier food options available, all from the comfort of your smartphone.
Pack The Trainers
Aside from packaging a jump rope for those times he just ne a quick workout at the hotel, Dan also takes his gym shoes everywhere he travels. “Again, that’s the ‘control’ aspect,” he explained, “because even if there’s not a gym available on site I can still be ready to run.
Getting around by foot—whether it’s a run or even just walking through a neighborhood—is an excellent way to go sightseeing, too. It gives travelers the chance to explore the parts of a destination which they won’t necessarily find in a top ten list; instead, they can catch glimpses of local life and get a better feel of a city.
“Running is one of the best ways I can see a city when I’m traveling for work,” admitted Dan. “Last year I went to a number of different cities, and I think one of my favorites was Portland. Running along the riverbed and on the bridges and coming back to the Under Armour Performance Center—it was awesome.”
Indulging In Local Food Is A Good Thing
To keep healthy routines in place, strike a balance between more nutritious meals and rich indulgences. Dan admitted there is no set rule or percentage to go by, but that it’s important to enjoy a destination’s cuisine even if it doesn’t embody the height of wellness.
“You release some of the most high impact serotonin and endorphins when eating this delectable food that we all love,” Dan explained. “There is nothing better than a beautiful bowl of pasta in Rome, you know?”
No, an enormous bowl of ravioli in Italy, a caramel-kissed flan in Mexico, or a pile of dumplings in South Korea aren’t the healthiest options you’ll find on your trip—but don’t let that hold you back from enjoying these dishes when you travel.
“ One of the most exciting things about traveling is experiencing the culture, and the best way to tap into that is through food because food tells a story,” he added. “So yes, indulge! One hundred percent.”
As health-focused options become something more travelers want, expect to see an increasing number of hotels and accommodations with this extra focus. Whether it’s group fitness classes or farm-to-table dining, it means a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to completely disappear during a trip.
Dan’s own passion for wellness recently led him to partner with Westin this summer. Whether it’s the ability to rent running shoes from the front desk or their specially designed Heavenly Bed, the hotel brand focuses on bringing convenient wellness offerings to guests—something which deeply resonated with Dan.
They also recently released their new Eat Well menu, and it offers guests something beyond the typical hotel fare of dressing-drenched salads and french fries. Dan contributed his own recipe to the Eat Well menu for those craving something extra nourishing on the road. His Ancient Grain PBJ took an American classic and gave it a grain bowl twist, packing it with protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
“Most importantly, it tastes wicked,” he said. “I didn’t make it for the menu so you look at it and go, ‘Oh, this is going to be amazing for me.’ You’ll just think it sounds wicked. It’s perfect for recovery and wellness, and that’s my job.”