I Stuck to the Habits of Fit People on Vacation!

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Vacations are great. They're a chance to visit new places, spend time with loved ones, and take a break from the daily grind. While I would never consider the dailySpark "the daily grind," (I truly LOVE my job!) it is nice to get away from real life from time to time.

I recently had the opportunity to spend 10 days in Guatemala with a wonderful nonprofit, Cooperative for Education. I try to travel internationally at least once a year, but sometimes it makes sticking to my healthy habits a bit tricky.

This trip was a success in more ways than one. Not only did I recharge my batteries, see amazing places and learn about a wonderfully rich culture, but I also managed to work in exercise every day and stick to my healthy eating habits. Unlike some other vacations, this time I didn't come home dreading the scale and feeling bloated and lazy.

How did I do it? NEAT, exercising control at the hotel buffets, and sticking with many of Coach Nicole's Habits of Fit People.

My trip was long, packed with activities and involved hours and hours of sitting on buses and planes. I knew I had to plan ahead to stay on track. I started by packing my bag before I left: 2 pairs of yoga pants, a sweat-wicking sleeveless top, a hooded sweatshirt for chilly mornings, socks, running shoes and a sports bra (I could hand wash clothes and hang them to dry).

Day One: My trip started when I left for the airport at 3:45 in the afternoon. I was traveling from a city 90 minutes from my home (the flight was much cheaper!), but bad weather meant I had to turn around and drive 90 minutes home through rush hour. I was in a time crunch, so instead of taking that day as a rest day, I ran for 10 minutes from the airport to the long-term parking lot, then raced another 10 minutes through Airport No. 2 to reach my gate. I still had plenty of time, so I spent 15 minutes pacing to work off my nerves from the stressful car ride.
Fitness minutes: 35 (cardio)

Day Two: I arrived early the next morning, groggy and tired. I took it a bit easy: 15 minutes of yoga to loosen muscles that were constricted to an airplane seat for five hours and a 15 minute walk around the "Zona Viva," where my hotel was located.
Fitness minutes: 30 (cardio, flexibility)

Day Three: We arrived at Lago de Atitlan, a beautiful ringed by volcanoes. I spent the day walking through the city of Panajachel and hiking along the beach. I also played a funny beach ball game called "Quetzal Ball" for an hour. (It involved lots of jumping up to smack a beach ball while counting in Spanish.)
Fitness minutes: 120 of moderate walking (not cardio, but still good for my body!); 60 minutes of moderate swimming and jumping around in the water (cardio)

This is the lake we jumped in! No photos of me in it as I knew the camera might not survive a dunk in the lake.

Day Four: I'm not a runner. I usually take three Spinning classes a week and do yoga most days. However, I can run, so when it's running or nothing, I run. I awoke at 5:30 a.m. and met three others in the hotel lobby, flashlight in one hand and water bottle in the other. We ran 1 1/2 miles, then celebrated by jumping in Lake Atitlan and watching the sun rise. I walked most of the 1 1/2 miles back because my soaked yoga pants had stiffened my muscles.
Fitness minutes: 30 minutes (cardio)

Day Five: We switched hotels and headed to the city of Quetzaltenango (Xela). Our day was full, and while I spent a good bit of time walking outside and playing in the schoolyard with kids, I really only got about 10 minutes of yoga and my thrice-weekly pushups routine in before I collapsed into bed! Running the previous day had worn me out.
Fitness Minutes: 20 (cardio, strength and stretching)

Day Six: I felt slightly better the next day. I again arose early, with the promise of a beautiful view of the valley and the city of Huehuetenango. I joined the other runners on the trip but soon realized I was not ready to run hills. I hiked with the others up a steep hill (through a place called Dog Alley because of all the loose, barking, but harmless dogs) and eventually crested the hills. My reward was a beautiful sunrise and a nice, leisurely job back down! (That's the main photo you see!)
Fitness minutes: 45 (cardio, plus stretching after the run)

View from the end of the run!

Day Seven: I needed another rest day after that "mountain" run. I slept in and did about 20 minutes of body weight strength exercises (lunges, squats, pushups, planks and triceps dips) before breakfast.
Fitness minutes: 20 (strength)

Day Eight: After a week full of good deeds and visits to Guatemalan schools, we headed to Antigua for a bit of R&R. Many of the people on our trip decided to go out dancing. For a solid three hours, a handful of us danced and danced. We were sweaty and tired, but those fitness minutes counted! (I will admit to having two rum cocktails and about 10 glasses of club soda during those three hours!) I always forget that dancing is cardio. I'm going to start getting my gal pals together for monthly dance nights. It's a GREAT workout!
Fitness minutes: 180 (cardio and 10 minutes of stretching when I got home)

Day Nine: After that marathon night of dancing, my body was happily sore. (Don't you love the feeling of being just a tiny bit sore and tired after a good workout? You're not in pain, but your body reminds you what it is capable of achieving!) I lounged by the pool for a while, then swam laps for about 15 minutes and did pushups and dips in the pool.
Fitness minutes: 25 (cardio and strength)

Day Ten: I spent the day wandering around Antigua and preparing to leave. Aside from some moderate walking, I didn't really do much.
Fitness minutes: 120 minutes of moderate walking (not cardio, just activity minutes!)

Day Eleven: My wonderful trip ended, but a long day of airports awaited me. Nervous about arriving home for my connections in time, I spent 15 minutes pacing the San Salvador airport (airport 2 of 4 for the day!).
Fitness minutes: 15 (cardio)
Total: 460 minutes of exercise, including three strength workouts and four stretching sessions!

When I left on vacation, I worried about breaking my routine. However, I stuck to my good habits even though I was away from home. At the hotel buffets, I filled half my plate with vegetables, sipped broth-based vegetable soup with dinner, and treated myself to large plates of local tropical fruit each day. I ate regular snacks throughout the day so I wouldn't overeat at meals, and I limited my alcohol intake (people seem to drink more on vacation, I've noticed).

I never once set foot in a gym (though many of our hotels had them), but I managed to get in strength, cardio, and stretching. I had some great exercise experiences, and I came home feeling great!

How do you stick to your healthy eating and exercise habits while on vacation?

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I LIVE in Guatemala and it was so fun to read about your adventures here. (I'm about half an hour up the mountain from Antigua!) Report
I'm getting ready to go on a 3 day in a nearby city. I'm planning some serious walking (and enjoying the Christmas lights and snow) and swimming at the hotel. Now if I can only control how much I eat (and drink!) I'll be good. Report
just got back from a ski trip - 6 hours of skiing for 4 days - that's staying fit! My quads were rock hard when I returned home Report
Great Advice! Before changing my health habits for the better (7 days ago) I was the one who came home from vacation 7-10lbs heavier, feeling well, YUCKY! I'm planning a vacation for next October and I will revisit this article to remind me of the "better" way to vacation! Can't wait! Thanks! Report
When we go on a long road trip, we stop at rest stops and do at least 3 laps around the whole place. Have noticed that many others do that too, including Seniors, and they keep a fast pace, no strolling, intentional exercise. It does help keep things "moving" inside of you too, so you feel better. Report
Great blog...I definitely will plan on incorporating my workout on my next vacation. I actually have been thinking about that very thing. I went out of town twice this summer right after I joined SP in July. I did not use the hotel gym but I did a lot of walking while sight seeing. I also watched what I ate and lost weight while away. When I go out of town in December...I do plan to use the hotel gym as well as get in a lot of walking...I'm taking the kids to Disney World for 5 days and that's alot of walking!!! Report
very inspiring. i will have to remember this the next time my hubby and I are on vacation. We tend to do a lot of eating, which really isn't that great! Report
What a great blog. I am going on vacation in July, and don't want to undo all my hard work. I found out they have an exercise room, and I am bringing my 3 pound weights. I will be walking the beach also. Eating will be an issue, because the only meal we eat in is breakfast, but I will do my best. Thanks for the inspiration. Report
I'm so glad i came across this blog. I have a vacation of sorts coming up in a few weeks and having just started this journey i've been really worried about slipping up and falling off the wagon while i'm away from home. After reading your blog, i finally feel like it can be done and i plan to do it just like you did. I'm gonna try to keep a daily journal (as it will be only 10 days it should be easy) and log in to spark from my laptop as much as possible to keep me focused. here's to hoping that my plan works! Report
I enjoyed your healthy vacation blog but mostly having the opportunity to see your pictures of such a beautiful place on this earth - thank you for sharing Report
This is awesome inspiration!!! I am even more motivated!! Report
Great job on the exercise while on vacation. Report
wow what a great job at keeping workout in your vacation. I don't know if I could do what you did not even as much if I tried. I am not a runner!! Report
WOW!!! You are trully amazing! Good job! :-) Report
Great job!!!!!! You are an inspiration! Report
I am seldom able to find really good food in other areas so the only real challenge is finding good fresh fruit and veggies. Hotels offer good exercise resources and much of the outdoors where I visit are great. Report
It can be done...I had a goal of 3 lbs. during the week I left for New Orleans for MARDI GRAS...and guess what...on that Monday when I weighed in, I hit it! Probably would have been more if it weren't for the darn beignet's the night before! Report
We are planning a trip to California (from Canada) in April. This article has inspired me to find creative ways to get in daily cardio ( in the airports) and I am looking forward to some hiking along the California coast. I will also take along my resistance bands to do some strength training. Wish me luck. Report
WOW! good for you!! I was thinking about taking a road trip from TX to WI with my daughter (we love the bonding time) but I cancelled the trip until I get on more of a routine (the weather will be better in WI in the summer anyway *wink*). Changing my diet and adding exercise is totally new for me and this lifestyle change needs some getting used to and I don't want to make any big changes until it starts to feel more natural but for now, I'm still in the adjustment phase. Report
Stephanie, great job on the exercise regime while you were away! It sounds like you had a lot of fun, and I'm envious of the views you had!

When I'm traveling (usually for business), I'm on a tight schedule, so I usually work out (cardio) at home before I take the plane flight, and then I utilize the hotel gym while I'm away. It is usually not the most advanced equipment, but even the change from my usual routine challenges my body. I try to get in at least 30 minutes of cardio every day that I'm away, and it is a GREAT stress-reliever when I'm out of my element in a different environment (city). Report
So far I have not been on an extended vacation since switching to a healthy lifestyle. The last time I was away was ot my in-laws and I kept up a routine the whole time there by waking up before everyone and getting it in while I could. I also took out my mother in laws bike and it made me realize how much I miss biking, unfortunately the area around me is WAY too hilly to get a bike up it. Report
This is just what I needed! I am leaving in a week for a 10 day trip to my paradise - Maui. I won't have a treadmill, which is what I always use for my exercise, but I can hike and swim. I'll be in a condo so that's a big plus for food control. I'll eat mahi-mahi and other mild fish as ofter as possible. The brunch buffets will be screaming my name and I know I'll do that a couple of times, as well as eating lunch out daily. If anyone has great ideas for food in Maui, please share.

Thanks for the positive article about your success! Sounds like you had a wonderful adventure. Report
Way to go on vacation. I am trying to learn to do that on weekends. I can't trust myself on vacation yet. Report
This was a great article and the comments were most helpful. I will definitely pack my resistance bands for our next trip. Also, that two hours we spend in the airport prior to our flight will be a great time to walk and walk and walk! Report
I've started sticking to the routine on vacation in the last 2 years - WOW does it make a huge difference! Good for you, and welcome to the club. Report
Way to go!! I'm always mindful when on vacation. I have the little "Sparky" voice whispering in my ear (that's what happens when you've been on this site for a while). Still, I'm not perfect. I do try to walk as much as possible and definitely hit the hotel's gym if available. Report
Whenever I travel, I always pack my jogging shoes, a couple of resistance bands, and my HRM. That's really all I need to maintain my routine fitness program and it is compact and portable. Eating can be a bit trickier, especially when it is leisure travel to a new or different culture. We are taking a 3 week trip to the UK this summer. We went to Scotland a couple of years ago, and I did gain a couple of pounds even though I kept up my exercise throughout the trip. On that trip we stayed in rented cottages with full kitchens so we ate only about half of our meals out. The trip this summer we will be staying in hotels and it will be a week longer than the previous trip. I plan to have fresh fruit and nutrition bars handy and for restaurant meals will just have to exercise portion control. I know my biggest weakness will be all the roadside tea rooms and cafes that serve a delightful variety of scones, biscuits, and clootie dumplings. I found that while British "treats" aren't particularly sweet and sugary, they do have a really high fat content. Report
Even though I'm eating out I always seem to eat healthier when on vacation. As far as exercise goes I might not get in fabulous workouts but I do it in a lot of walking. We never rent a car we always walk most places. Plus I always try to hit the pool. Report
Wow, great job keeping active on vacation! We actually plan active vacations, so it's never difficult to fit in "exercise". I am a planner, so, for example, we take a lot of cruises, but typically the type that has you in a different port each day, so I book active excursions in each of those ports, like a hiking or kayaking trip. When we have a stay-in-one-place vacation, i invest in tour books for the area, and plan active excursions for each day, hikes, bike rides, etc. I always feel so great at dinner that night, talking about the activities we did that day, and it helps me enjoy those special meals i only indulge in when on vacation so much more! Report
Sounds like a great trip! I actually love working out when traveling, especially internationally. I particularly enjoyed a brisk morning walk up and down the mountains along the Italian coastline as well as a long leisurely run through Florence. For me it's easy to stay on track when traveling! Report
WOO HOO!! WTG Report
I love being just a bit sore after a good work out. Good job on vaca work outs. My husband thinks I'm odd because I work out when we go on vaca. It just makes me feel so good. So, congrats on the excellent life style change. Report
This is educational and inspiration for me. Report
Awesome job! I am completely jealous of your trip! My husband served a mission in that area of Guatemala and we really want to visit there! I hope when you go to Disneyland in April I can do as well as you! Report
Sounds like a wonder trip! When my clients go on trip I always make them write up a plan for their vacation, including their exercise and eating programs. They don't need to be perfect but when they have a plan/guideline to follow it's a lot easier when it comes to making the right decision. Report
Nice running commentary. On vacations, I make sure that I take comfortable clothing for walking/swimming/jogging. Each day, I either get up early of if we go out sightseeing, have a drop-off point where I can get over a mile walking/jogging back to where we are staying. I avoid tours at all costs and we usually timeshare, so I am not tied to a schedule of where to be when. I also take a journal with me to record food eaten, exercise done, as well as trip happenings I want to remember. Another thing about my vacations, sometimes they are build around swim meets like April this year I am going to Ft. Lauderdale for a long weekend to swim in the YMCA National Masters Championships. The exercise is built-in with the warm up, racing, and cool-down swimming and then I don't rent a car so I have to walk everywhere. I see vacations as an opportunity to do more exercise than when I am home working..... Report
Thanks for your support, everyone! It's amazing what we can do when we put our minds to it. Sometimes, when I talk about SparkPeople, I think about those old Hair Club for Men commercials: I'm not just an employee; I'm also a member! :) Report
This past month i traveled a lot for business and one of the hotel's gym was $25 a day! I checked this out in advance, and brought my laptop and lots of fitness dvds! I worked out (either in my room, in the hotel gym, or even running on the las vegas strip) almost every night of my 3 weeks of travel. I wasn't superb on the eating part, but i supplimented it with LOTs of working out! Report
I love to exercise do no biggie to do this on vacation but far as the food. I enjoy living not sacrificing everything so I will delight in experiencing a new food that I have never tried before. I have been ill in the past and have since learned not to take "healthy" eating to the extreme in every aspect of my life. Especially on a vacation it is a downer for those not wanting to hear from the food police. But.... I will balance it with a night out of dancing or hiking, skiing ... etc. It works for everyone. And I do not gain from my indulgences.

Great article. Cheers.
A few years ago I went on a Mission Trip to the Dominican Republic where we helped build a new Church, which was up a HILL at the top, so the walking was unreal, not to mention all the bricklaying I did, and filling wheel barrels all day with dirt. THAT was a working vacation! Report
I just got back from vacation yesterday. My husband and I went snowboarding in Breckenridge, CO. , so I definitely got enough exercise. My issue was trying to eat right while eating out for just about every meal! By using the tools I learned on SP, I think I did a pretty good job.

Congrats to you too, Stepfanie, for sticking to a plan and making it work! Report
Wow! Good for you! The only exercise that I got on vacation was walking around the historical sights and looking through the windows Report
As with anything, planning is key. Congrats on your success. I enjoyed your story very much Report
I love your phrase "Don't you love the feeling of being just a tiny bit sore and tired after a good workout? " YES - I do! And I don't take pain killers to dull that feeling, but I like the small reminder of what I did and what I can do! Great job and lovely travel journal... Report
I enjoyed reading about your vacation. shows when we plan and stick to it we can do it. I will be going on vacation this summer. No where like you went but just a trip for a week with friends to Nashville. We do lots and lots of walking but that is about the only exercise I will get. Watching my food is what is important. With spark motivation I know I will do it. Report
What a great blog! And timely too! I'm leaving for a ten day Elderhostel and I hope to stay on program. I hope to be able to manage. Thanks for some ideas. Report
This is exactly the motivation that I need. I am going on vacation next week. 10days away from home. I will have limited access to a computer so I will have to track my food in a note book.

Of the 10 days, 7 will be on a cruise! :S A great trip, but the breeding ground for over eating!

This article will help me keep focused! Thank you! Report
The last vacation I took was on a cruise (around the British Isles. While at sea my husband and I walked the deck after dinner each night for at least one - two miles around the ship and chose to take the stairs for the majority of the trip. We also chose the smaller plates offered rather than the super sized platters masquerading as plates. I ate fresh fruit every day as well. We also chose more active tours like walking to Blarney castle and kissing the Blarney Stone and walking around the Giant's Causeway for several hours. I didn't lose any weight, but I didn't gain any either and I had a blast! Report
I don't really go on vacations because my job is so weird. When I do treat myself I try to incorporate hiking, kayaking, & museum visits (walking). Report
You did a great job, and this proves that you can still stick to a fit, healthy routine while traveling. I've done similar things on my multiples moves throughout the country in the last year - squeezing in activity whenever I can, and eating the right stuff . It does pay off to be a bit organized AND to stick to your guns!