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Healthy Holidays: My Biggest Tip for a Healthier Vacation (Without Giving up the Fun)

As a travel blogger, I travel a lot. As in, its my job. When I wear other work-related hats, such as my consulting work, I also find myself flying hither and yon for client meetings, conferences, etc. So when it comes to my holiday time (vacation, in American parlance), I really hold it sacred and want to get away from “reality” as much as possible. Bring on the wine, heavy food, sleeping until noon and doing a whole lotta nothing.

But here’s the catch. I’ve learned that as much as holidays should be as pleasurable as possible, they shouldn’t really lead to a complete abrogation of real life. I’ve found that ignoring your real world, routine and all, makes the return home a heck of a lot worse. I’ve gotten so ill I can barely function, had terrible breakouts, massive anxiety attacks, IBS flares…you name it, upon my return from certain vacations, I’ve felt almost like going on holiday wasn’t worth the issues I experienced when I got back. So how to balance your need and right to relax and unwind with the seemingly competing objective of staying holistically well?

Here’s my one tip:

Exercise.

I know, I know. The last thing you want to do after sleeping in until noon is hit the hotel gym. (If, like me, you prefer Airbnbs in most places, you might not even have access to a gym.) But the cool thing is, if you aren’t a gym bunny like me you don’t have to go to the gym to get in some good exercise. Exercise means so much more than physical activity (although that’s a component of it).

Blend physical activity into your holiday plans

When I was in Bali I did yoga every day, trying new yoga centres and studios. I also hiked a volcano. In Positano, we swam and swam and swam, and when we pruned up we hiked around the mountainous towns, climbing hundreds of stairs. In Montenegro, I hiked around Kotor to enjoy the views and find an old war bunker. The bottom line: there’s always, always something you can do that fits in with the spirit of your holiday that’s active and healthy. Even if you’re on a city break for a weekend, you can walk instead of taking public transport (weather permitting). Its actually an awesome way to get to know a new place. Even if its raining cats and dogs and you have a million indoor plans, you can walk around a museum for an hour, hit up a cool lookin’ boutique fitness studio or do a little stretching in your Airbnb or hotel. You can always do something.

Exercise your mind and spirit, too!

Notice that I distinguish between exercise and physical activity. That’s because there are so many other ways you can and should exercise that don’t require you to get up and move around! You know yourself and your body. If you’re flat out exhausted or burned out, you should exercise constraint- put down your phone, unplug and enjoy your surroundings. Even dab some essential oils on yourself (I like lavender, it helps me find calm) and try to meditate (I use Calm or Mindspace apps for a five minute meditation). If you’re someone who typically watches TV to wind down, try reading a book or writing. If you like a margarita at noon on your holidays, start with a lemonade, coconut water or iced tea, and add in some adaptogens (I prefer reishi and chaga powders, which you can pack in small containers or baggies and mix in your tea. They’re great to ward off post-travel sickness, amongst other things!). Just try something new- that’s what vacation is all about, and its an exercise in and of itself to expand your horizons.

Indulging is exercise, of a sort

I’m all for indulging on holiday (and even when not on holiday!), so the physical activity is a good way to keep your toe in reality at least a little- without bringing you completely out of the holiday mood. But I should reinforce this- I spent so much of my 20s denying myself even the slightest of indulgences because my eye was always on some sort of prize, that I almost didn’t know how to treat myself at a certain point- so self indulgence is really important. Its almost like training yourself. All work has rewards, and your holiday is your reward. You know yourself, so you have to find that biting point where you’ve indulged but also haven’t given away all the #gotitness you’ve got and will need to kick into gear upon your return to reality.

What are your favorite ways to exercise while on holiday?

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