Wellness shouldn’t take a vacation when we travel. But it often feels like we have a whole set of excuses ready to go that justify us engaging in unhealthy behaviors when we’re away from home.
Some of these negative behaviors are: unhealthy eating, losing your exercise routine, drinking too much, and neglecting our mental health.
But why do we do this?
I had a chance to sit and speak with Dr. Rachel Goldman, Ph.D., FTOS, about the excuses we make to neglect our health and wellbeing when we travel. She is a licensed psychologist practicing in NYC, specializing in health and wellness.
Sometimes when we travel it may seem like we have no other choice than to skip the workout or get the fast food, but according to Dr. Goldman: “There is always a healthier option.”
So what can we do to combat our tendency to slide when it comes to our health and wellness when we travel?
5 excuses we tell ourselves to permit putting health on hold during travel
1. “I have been so good at eating healthy that I deserve to treat my self. All hats are off Mcdonalds here I come.”
Goldman says that “what is readily available and accessible is what we eat. If we have an apple with us that is what we eat, if we have no options we will go with the vending machine.”
It’s easy to get too hungry when we travel because we haven’t planned, and that leads to bad decisions about the food we eat. Taking the extra time to plan how and where you’re going to maintain a healthy diet makes all the difference.
2. “My vacation or travel is a break from my real life.”
There are some things it’s good to take a break from, like the stresses of work or home, or long commuting times. There are other things we need to learn to enjoy doing no matter where we are. These are things like eating well and exercising.
Instead of scrapping your workout routine, try doing something different when you travel. Instead of treadmills hit some outdoor trails, and instead of topping your oatmeal with berries for breakfast, try out some local, seasonal fruit instead. There are ways to vary a healthy routine without throwing it out the window.
3. “I go to the gym every day so its okay not to exercise during travel.”
A fitness routine is important for that very reason: it’s an ongoing routine. To maintain a healthy lifestyle we need to keep working at it. We only start to see real results when we’ve stuck with it for a while, so breaking a routine sets you back to square one.
Try being creative with working out during travel. Make use of your hotel pool, rent bikes to explore the city, and choose to get around on foot while you’re away. You may even find that exercising during travel reinspires you to dedicate yourself to your routine at home.
4. “This is the perfect time to get drunk.”
Would you drink at home at 7 am? Probably not. We can often end up convincing ourselves its okay to have a drink at the airport or on board a flight (because it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?), but this is letting poor judgment take over.
Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean there aren’t health impacts to that drink. Try opting for a non-alcoholic version instead, or find some freshly pressed juice to quench your thirst. You’ll thank yourself when you arrive at your destination refreshed and energized.
5. “I am going to buy that box of cigarettes because its duty-free.”
There is always no end to the excuses on offer for making poor decisions when we travel. The key to avoiding the mental traps is to mentally prepare for what you know you’re going to face. “Anticipate difficult situations and plan for them,” Goldman says.
Taking a moment to be still and having a mental pep-talk mid-airport is a healthy way to talk to yourself during your travel day. It’ll help you gain perspective and stick to your intentions.
Dr. Goldman explains that these common excuses reveal a trend: “Are we going to go with the healthier choice or, the easier choice?”
We know travel can be stressful and disruptive, but taking some ownership can be empowering. Whenever you find yourself facing a healthy travel excuse, challenge the assumption that there are no other options. There is always another option.
Dr. Goldman’s advice is: “Get away from that all-or-nothing mentality” and be “flexible in your thinking.” Don’t forget to celebrate your healthy mini travel wins too. Even something as small as saying no to that whipped cream topping on your coffee is worth a mental pat on the back.