10 Practical Tips for How to Prevent Weight Gain While Traveling.


1. Are you having any of the following cognitive distortions?

– Everyone gains weight while on vacation
– Its inevitable I’m going to gain weight. I have no control over it.
– I can’t have fun without overeating.
– I can’t fully experience and enjoy the food culture of the place I’m visiting without overeating.

Challenge these self sabotaging thoughts.

2. Don’t eat all your meals at restaurants.

At least in Western countries, restaurant meals tend to me higher calorie (higher fat, larger portions etc) than you would serve when you’re cooking at home.

There are bound to be times when you don’t feel like going out eat or don’t want to interrupt your day to go to a restaurant (e.g. you’re going to be spending the day at a museum and suspect the food that’s available nearby will be overpriced and/or gross).

Plan alternatives e.g. visit a local supermarket and purchase healthier items for your own picnic lunch.

3. Take with you – a knife, spoon, fork, and container that can serve as a bowl (I use a microwavable plastic bowl that has a resealable lid).

The knife comes in handy for making sandwiches and cutting fruit (e.g. slicing and removing skin from mangoes) and a spoon is great for the likes of a yoghurt.

The bowl is useful for cereal and for stopping food from getting squashed in your daypack.

4. I love visiting foreign supermarkets and produce markets.

– It gives you an experience of the everyday life of the people who live where you’re visiting.
– In non-English speaking countries, you can try out your language skills.

When traveling in the US, I like to go to the Wholefoods chain of supermarkets because they have great vegetarian/vegan choices, often have nice seating areas, and many stores have microwaves for heating your purchases. If you’re in New York, try the upstairs seating area at Wholefoods Union Square/14th St. The view across Union Square towards the Empire State Building is amazing and the buzzy atmosphere is also very cool.

In other US cities, the Wholefoods stores are often in interesting neighborhoods that are out of the tourist areas so venturing there can provide a different view of a city. Another great US supermarket with well priced and excellent food options is Trader Joe’s.

– In many countries, buying produce at the market is an essential part of the culture. At least, go stock up on fruit.

5. Consider staying at non-hotel accommodation that has cooking facilities for part of your trip.

In Rome, our B&B had a kitchen that we used to cook pasta and store a tub of gelato in the freezer section of the fridge. (B&Bs are an extremely common form of accommodation in Rome and not like B&Bs other places. They’re usually an apartment with only a few bedrooms, each with their own bathrooms, and there are not usually staff present outside of breakfast time or to greet arriving guests. Highly recommended).

Hostels usually have kitchens.

6. Write yourself a note of the advantages of NOT overeating while on vacation.

Here are some examples.

– Coming home after vacation is hard enough without the additional suffering of losing the weight you gained while you were away.
– You’ll establish a positive pattern that you can go on vacation without gaining weight.
– You won’t have experiences of feeling sick from having overeaten.
– You might spend less money on food and booze if you’re being moderate about your consumption.
– You won’t have a negative memory associated with your trip i.e. the memory that you gained weight.

7. Prioritize Getting Enough Sleep and Water

If you’re overtired, you’ll probably overeat to pick up your energy.

If you’re dehydrated you might end up overeating for hydration (i.e. mistake thirst for hunger). Watch out for this on days you’re flying/busing/training.

8. Think ahead.

Thinking ahead can help prevent you overeating due to having become overly hungry.

What approx times do you want to eat meals? Where are you likely to be at those times?

Is there likely to be good food nearby, or are you likely to need to go somewhere different to eat?

Do you need to take food with you?

9. Cheap carbs can lead to traveler’s constipation and/or gaining weight.

Cheap food options (e.g. pizza) aren’t so cheap if you end up with constipation or gaining weight.

10. Watch the extra calories from drinks.

Extra calories from booze and iced coffees, sodas etc add up.

Its easy to end up buying sugary drinks when you’re somewhere you can’t drink the tap water or in hot countries.

Image by Tony Alter under Creative Commons license.


  1. //

    Great tips.

    I often find that it’s not how much I eat when I’m traveling, but what I eat. With all the delicious choices on a restaurant menu it is often tempting to go with something high in calories with really thinking the choice through.

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