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Tacy Yoga on the Beach

How to Stay Healthy while Traveling

Tacy Nielson is a Yoga Instructor and Reiki healer who is passionate about holistic healing, traveling and living life to the fullest. She was born and raised in Minnesota and is now enjoying life in sunny San Diego. Read more from Tacy here.

While there are so many benefits to traveling, one of the less positive aspects can be difficulty in maintaining a healthy routine. It takes extra awareness and planning that isn’t always feasible on the road. For example, my husband Ryan and I recently did some traveling. We first drove from Minnesota to the tip of Baja Sur, Mexico where we stayed for a month. After arriving back in San Diego we then went on a two-week road trip through some of the western United States. Over the course of the trip, we hit Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches and Redwood National Parks! We also did some hiking in Portland, OR at Multnomah Falls, which was beautiful. To finish out the trip we drove down the west coast starting in Cannon Falls, OR and ending back in San Diego, CA.

Before leaving Minnesota, I made a commitment to myself to keep up with my healthy routines while on our trips and I’m happy to say that I found it was easier than I thought. Some of my tips relate specifically to road trips but you can apply them to any kind of travel and make them work for you!

Healthy snacks (and chocolate of course!)

First off, I knew we were going to be spending tons of time in the car… and I mean TONS of time! Let me start by telling you that I LOVE junk food in any and all varieties. Knowing this about myself, I took precautions before we headed out for two weeks of junk food temptations.

National Park Tacy
My first precaution was to pack some kind of nuts, my favorite being almonds. (I love the Less Salt Almonds from Trader Joe’s.) I also packed a trail mix. I choose one with mostly dried fruits and less fatty nuts like almonds or pecans. My go to pick is again from Trader Joe’s, the Omega Trek Mix with Fortified Cranberries. If you are a chocolate freak like me, maybe pick one with a chocolate covered fruit or nut, but try to steer clear of M&M-filled mixes because, sadly, that’s really just candy. I love the Trader Joe’s Happy Trekking Mix.

But because I know I will need to have some chocolate throughout the drive, I packed a dark chocolate bar and carefully rationed it out little by little so I didn’t run out! Sometimes I even shared it with Ryan, if I was feeling generous. Other great options are clementines, bananas, apples or rice cakes with PB, and of course I fill up my biggest water bottle to stay hydrated.

In terms of beverages, I do my best to stick with water and refill my bottle from the fountain machines at gas stations. If you need a hit of something other than water, you can go for something like a Naked Juice. My personal favorite is the Acai Machine. It’s true that these juices have a lot of sugar in them, but it is all natural coming from the fruit and is free of added sweeteners.

If you need more of a pick-me-up, there are a lot of good Kombuchas on shelves right now too, but again you’ll want to check that sugar content. Of course coffee is always an option, and I’d recommend going for it as black as you can take it to avoid the sugar-filled creamers.

If you are not a planner and packing food isn’t your thing, then I have a couple tips for sorting through the gas station and convenience stores that will be unavoidable on a road trip. Most of these have fresh fruit like apples or bananas, which are always great options. Granola bars can come in handy as long as you take a couple minutes to make sure you are picking one with low sugar and real, natural ingredients. One of my favorites is KIND bars. They have a lot of flavor options without a ton of added sugar. You probably could have guessed that I go for the chocolate dipped ones! My personal pick is the Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt. It has 200 calories, 7g of Fiber, 6g of protein (to keep you nice and full) and only 5g sugar. You can always grab some trail mix or nuts here too!

When it comes to restaurants I don’t have many restrictions or rules. After all, you are on vacation, right? I do my best to eat as I normally would and allow myself to splurge on fun new foods or a delicious dessert. Really it isn’t a vacation until you checked out the local ice cream shop anyway! Balance is key, people!

Workin’ on my fitness… yes, even on vacay

As a yogi, I do not travel for any length of time without my yoga mat. It’s a little bit like a security blanket. A yoga mat is especially convenient because it’s pretty small and can be shoved into an already packed car or even carried on if you are flying somewhere. Plus, yoga can also be done almost anywhere: In a hotel room, on a hotel balcony, on the ground next to your tent, in the courtyard of your hotel, the gym at your hotel or even on the beach (my personal favorite!). If you don’t have a clue what to do outside of your yoga class there are some great websites with varying lengths of free classes! A really great one, for example, is doyogawithme.com.

Tacy NP
If you’re not a yogi and have other workouts you enjoy, it can be just as easy to keep those up too! You can go for a run around your hotel or campsite or rent a bike and cruise around the city. My favorite trips and cities have been the ones I have explored on foot or by bike. Get your traveling partner(s) to come with you and make it part of the trip by taking walks on the beach, going surfing, taking a walk after dinner (before you find that ice cream parlor), swimming in the hotel pool or hitting up the hotel gym. There are so many options!

You can also incorporate your exercise into your outdoor surroundings. If you are on an already active trip like ours, where we were hiking almost every day, let that be your exercise and call it a day. Or if you did bring your mat, get on it at the end of the day and stretch out those sore legs. In my opinion, the best type of exercise while on a road trip is definitely car dancing. Crank the tunes and bust a move!

Stay Healthy Traveling 

Keeping up my fitness routine means that I will have a more relaxed and enjoyable vacation overall. Road trips in particular can make you feel stiff and tired, so getting some exercise in each day will keep you grounded, calm and boost your mood. Even if you feel like you don’t have time and your trip is keeping you crazy busy, try getting up just 20 minutes earlier to get whatever movement in you can. You will thank yourself later and I promise it will be well worth the lost snooze.

Better yet, when you get home from your trip you won’t have that readjustment period to get yourself back into those healthy routines you follow in your everyday life. Since you’ve been doing them all along you can just keep on going! No guilt and no vacation weight means you can fully enjoy your trip and feel great about yourself when you get home! Give these a try and I promise your next vacation will be your best.

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Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Alternate Black Friday Activities

Ahhh, Thanksgiving. It can be such a bittersweet time of year. Namely because it signals a number of things, including the start of the holidays and the end of the year, which are both exciting and, let’s face it, a little bit scary. The day before the holiday itself has long been dubbed the busiest travel day of the year. So before you ever get to cut into a slice of dark meat, you have to brave crowded airports and hour-long traffic delays – yikes!

Then, once the pie has been served, gears begin their not-so-subtle shift into Christmastime. Black Friday shoppers line up one after another, waiting for doors to open like kids on Christmas morning. Meanwhile, I personally do my best to avoid any semblance of shopping despite the overwhelming draw to every sale sign.

Here’s how you can skip the shopping this holiday:

Luckily, some companies are supporting my protest this year by offering alternate Black Friday activities and making it easier to travel somewhere slightly more fun than the local shopping mall. REI, for example, is encouraging its customers, like always, to Opt Outside. The retailer is giving their employees a paid day off and closing all brick and mortar locations so that everyone remotely related to REI can spend an extended Thanksgiving holiday with their families outdoors.

I, for one, love this idea. It brings back the connectedness to the holiday – plus, I could certainly stand a little outdoor activity following the self-induced food coma from Thursday. As if this initiative wasn’t exciting enough all on its own, several state park services have since joined in, offering free admission and waiving camp fees on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

State Parks throughout California, Minnesota, Missouri and Oregon have all opted in. Or out, depending on your perspective. Even if your home state hasn’t followed suit, don’t be discouraged! Day-use park fees are often only a handful of dollars, and the prices pale in comparison to the value of spending quality time with your favorite folks.

Whatever way you choose to spend it, we hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!

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