With summer in full swing, I’m daydreaming about the travels I have planned for the season — including a couple of weeks in Europe — and about ways to make my travels healthier too. The tactic I’m using for part of my Europe trip: renting an apartment. This allows me to prep breakfast and even dinners — plus, I get the bonus of getting to cook with local produce! When my boyfriend and I were visiting the Pacific Northwest last summer, we whipped up the most delicious meal in our apartment rental, using mushrooms and huckleberries from a local farmers’ market.
To help you have the healthiest vacation possible, I rounded up top tips from my dietitian colleagues. I hope you put them to good use!
Load up on local produce. Hello, papaya and passion fruit! “Resort and cruise buffets are jam packed with fruits, vegetables, as well as lean protein options, which can help you feel full on fewer calories,” says Marisa Moore, RDN, owner of Marisa Moore Nutrition. “Fill up on those foods during your first trip to the buffet. If you’re heading to a tropical location, indulge in the abundant local fruits and vegetables, which are naturally nutritious and lower in calories.”
Pick your own fruit. “Looking for an activity that also happens to get you active and eating healthier?” asks Christy Brissette, RD, a spokesperson for the Blueberry Council. “Go blueberry picking on your vacation. It gets everyone outside for some fresh air and sunshine — and after you’re done with the fun of picking your own blueberries, you’ll have a low-calorie, nutrient-packed snack for the car ride.” Pencil a pick-your-own farm into your vacation schedule—you can pick raspberries, cherries, and peaches, too.
Plan in activity. “Walking is the best way to see a city,” says Moore. “In cities from New York City to Amsterdam, many hotels have bikes that you can borrow or rent to explore the city. If you’re enjoying a resort or community that has a shuttle or golf carts designated for getting around, walk or bike instead. Many resorts have free bicycles to check out and get from your room to the beach or other attractions.” Also go ahead and book a kayaking adventure or a dance lesson. “One of my favorite vacation memories is from a Merengue lesson during my first trip to the Dominican Republic.” adds Moore.
Stock up on groceries. “The best way to ensure you’re having a lighter breakfast is to go to a deli or supermarket and pick up some fresh fruit, nuts, and yogurt to start your day,” says Brissette. “That also means you can get going earlier with any activities you have planned!” You can also schedule a farmers’ market visit and use that excursion to load up on local produce.
Get cooking when you get home. Indulging on vacation is completely normal! Just make sure to get back to your normal, healthy habits upon return — and pronto. Keep the vacation spirit alive while whipping up inspired, nutritious dishes. “Think of travel as an opportunity for cooking inspiration that will last for years,” says Stephanie McKercher, MS, RDN, recipe developer at The Grateful Grazer. “Remember the flavors and ingredients used in your favorite dishes so you can recreate them once you’re back at home. You can always give your homemade versions a healthier twist, like switching from white to whole-grain pasta or incorporating an extra serving of vegetables.”
Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, FitnessMagazine.com, Dr. Oz the Good Life, Runner’s World, and more—as well as WeightWatchers.com, where she was a longtime editor. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.