Guest Post: The Challenges of Healthy Traveling: Family Struggles

Hello! My name is Caitlin and I blog over at Caitlin Lives Well where I write about eating and cooking healthy and delicious food, running, and more.

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I’ve maintained a 40+ pound weight loss for almost 4 years now. I love Theodora’s blog and read it daily, so I’m so excited to be doing a guest post!

Even though I spent the majority of my life being overweight and eating fairly unhealthily, I think because I’ve maintained a lot of positive changes for almost 4 years, it’s hard for me to deviate from my way of life now since these little changes have become such a regular part of my daily life.

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(Me 40 pounds ago)

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(Me now)

I often struggle with making healthy choices when I’m travelling since I don’t have all of the resources available to me that I do at home. This past weekend I went to meet my family in Milwaukee for my younger sister’s college graduation. Not only was it a super short trip (less than 48 hours) but I had also just run a half marathon the morning before I left, so planning for my trip was a bit different this time around.

First of all, I decided to leave the workout gear at home. Not only was I planning on taking the two days as rest days after running a half marathon, but our schedule was absolutely packed with graduation ceremonies, parties, and packing and moving my sister out of her house, so I knew unless I was willing to give up the little sleep I would be getting, I wouldn’t be making time to run.

Second, if you’ve never been to Milwaukee, let me just tell you that it isn’t the healthy eating capital of America. Nothing personal (I really, really love the city) but there is a reason it’s known for cheese and beer. Vegetables are hard to come by, and I’m the only (mostly) vegetarian in my family.

While I normally would have celebrated a race with a veggie burger, I ended up celebrating with a giant Jimmy John’s turkey sandwich (the only food available after midnight in Milwaukee).

Especially when travelling with other people, I’m often at their mercy as to when and where food will be obtained (aka not eating until the group decides it’s time for a meal or when they are able to drive me to a store/restaurant/etc.) Traveling with family or friends who don’t necessarily have the same health-conscious priorities as I do can also be tricky – I wanted to be able to maintain my healthy habits but didn’t want to offend anyone by going against their choices. I didn’t want to get preachy either – “We shouldn’t skip breakfast, we need to drink more water, let’s not eat pizza for lunch, etc.” either – so it was a tough situation all around.

I also didn’t want to be a huge burden (hey Dad – I know you have to make two trips everywhere since the whole family can’t fit in the car at once, but how about we stop and get me some lunch since all I’ve had to eat today is a handful of almonds?) but I tried to strike some kind of balance– asking for what I needed, but also making certain sacrifices. I did what I could with what was available while allowing for some deviation – like eating salad and soup for lunch and then splurging on Chinese food for dinner, all the while guzzling loads of water.

If I can give you a few tips I learned this past weekend for staying healthy while traveling with family, here they are:

*Plan ahead as much as possible! Decide before you go what you are going to make a priority and where you will be flexible. I decided I would take two rest days and be a little more lenient with my diet than I am at home, but also made sure to eat salads/vegetables when available and drink tons of water all weekend long, Next time I will also definitely pack some snacks – fruit, nuts, Luna bars, etc. (something usually do, but with the half-marathon I was rushed getting to the airport and didn’t have time to do).

*Be your own advocate– if you have specific needs, speak up. When I was hungry, I made it known. This is something I found I need to work on though – I could have asked to go to somewhere else for lunch besides a pizza place, or asked to stop by a grocery store to pick up some fruit for snacks. For me this is where it got sticky, because I didn’t want my family to think I was judging them for not having the same eating habits as I do. Bottom line, my family loves me and wants me to be happy. I need to remind myself of this.

*At the end of the day, vacations are usually short. It’s important to remember I will shortly be back to my regular life, so if I have to make adjustments to keep things smooth, sometimes that’s okay.

How do you deal with traveling or spending time with family members or friends who do not live the way you do? What tips do you have for staying healthy while keeping everyone happy and not offending anyone?

3 comments on “Guest Post: The Challenges of Healthy Traveling: Family Struggles

  1. Cait @ Beyond Bananas

    I really try and do whatever I can to balance enjoying the trip -and maintaing my lifestyle. If I am traveling with the family… I may use my early bird genes to go out and take a run. I try to eat my breakfasts in – and lighter lunches.. and then I have a little bit more flexibility at dinner time!

  2. Nichelle

    I’ve lost a large amount of weight…when I first lost my weight, I used to try to be super controlling even when on vacation. However, the longer I’ve maintained, the more I’ve relaxed and realized that vacations are times to not be as controlled and just live a bit. I try enjoy myself and indulge when necessary, but hold back when necessary.

  3. Blair James

    Whenever I am on a vacation trip with my family, it can be a challenge when it comes to maintaining my lifestyle. You see people around you enjoying the luxury of having the liberty to eat what you like and most of our trips are about food. But what I do to overcome it is to think about the hardwork I have committed in order to achieve what I have right now. I am also glad that my family and friends are also there to support me.


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