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Weight Loss On Vacation Is Possible

By Natalie Suttmoeller, RN BSN CCRN CBN

Is a vacation on the horizon for you and your family? Vacations are fun and relaxing but the effect on our weight can be guilt-inducing. Several months of careful eating and exercise can be undone in 1 to 2 weeks of unhealthy living. This can lead to extreme frustration and apathy towards long term weight loss and maintenance goals. Pre-planning can help prevent vacation weight gain, while you still have fun—and even save some hard earned dollars.


Here are some general tips to good nutritional survival on vacation:

  • Start trips with a healthy breakfast. By skipping breakfast, you increase your chances of overeating later in the day when you may become famished from a lack of food.
  • Depending on getting your meals from fast food restaurants, gas station snack pantries, or airline flights will surely start your trip off on a wrong note. When you are waiting or bored, (i.e. in a car, airport, or plane) mindless eating and snacking can become an issue. Beware!
  • Pack your own healthy snacks that do not require refrigeration. This puts you back in control of your food intake and not at the mercy of vendors.
  • Stay hydrated by bringing your own refillable water bottle along on your road trips and fill up your bottle after passing through security at the airport. Many people will interpret thirst as hunger and eat when they should be hydrating. Drink up! Hydrating also decreases the chance of developing deep vein thrombosis on long trips.
  • Have a diversion available. Boredom while traveling is your enemy. Books, music and movies help pass the time and will keep your mind off snacking.
  • Keep the kids busy as well!

If a long road trip is part of your travel plans, a fully stocked cooler is invaluable. Pack some good healthy food. Get a good night’s rest prior to a road trip. This will prevent reaching for high calorie snacks for energy. Try to remain as close to your regular eating schedule as possible. This will prevent the famished feelings that lead to over-indulgence. Pull over and walk often as you drive.


You will almost certainly go out to eat on vacation. Oftentimes, part of the enjoyment of a vacation is sampling the local cuisine. To avoid dining out disasters consider a few of these ideas: 

  • Try to remain close to your regular eating schedule. This will prevent the famished feelings that lead to over-indulgence.
  • Pre planning your meals will save you from gas station snack pantries and other sources of unhealthy foods.
  • Avoid fatty or sugary sauces and reach for vegetables that are steamed, broiled, or grilled instead of breaded or fried. 
  • Look for healthful local specialties: Part of the fun of a vacation is in trying different food that’s not available at home.
  • Avoid liquid calories such as soda or alcohol.  Water with lemon, lime or unsweetened beverages are better options. 
  • Ask about small portions or share entrees with family members. 
  • Sharing a healthful appetizer with a side salad is a better option than a full entrée.
  • When you get full, slow down and stop eating!
  • No one is going to scold you for not cleaning your plate.  If you can, store it for later. 

Because you are on vacation, feel free to indulge in moderation. Keep a mental tally of your daily intake. Try to get exercise on vacation as well. This will help balance the extra calorie intake. Activities such as walking tours or exploring are very beneficial. Most hotels and resorts have gyms and swimming pools available for exercise. Have fun on vacation, and don’t bring home guilt from poor eating habits!