How to stay on track on vacation and still have a good time

How to stay on track on vacation and still have a good time

Vacations can take you from one extreme to another. Leading up to it, you’re super strict with your diet and consistently working out in attempt to get in shape. Once you’re there, you end up drinking and eating everything in sight whilst saying goodbye to your workout routine. It’s all well and good to have a break, especially when you deserve one. A break isn’t an excuse to go overboard and erase all that hard work though. So how do you stay on track whilst you’re on vacation?

You can stay on track whilst on vacation without much effort. It takes a little bit of extra planning but it’s so worthwhile. 

Momentum is everything…

The worst thing about falling off track when you go away is losing momentum. 

The longer the momentum is gone, the harder it is to build up again when you get home. The reward for staying on track whilst on vacation is that you’ll keep the momentum as well as your results.

Why go backwards when you can keep moving forwards?

Forward movement while on vacation is not about losing more fat. It’s simply keeping the fat loss you’ve already made and minimising fat regain.

This means eating at around your maintenance calories. You’ll be able to go back into a calorie deficit for fat loss as soon as you get home and keep making progress. And no, you don’t have to track your food whilst you’re away. You don’t have to restrict yourself either. You just have to follow some basic guidelines.

Next time you go on vacation, take a few days rest to settle, get over jet lag and get into some kind of sleep pattern. Then use these 7 tips to help you stay on track whilst on vacation.


1. Keep some structure with your eating

I know how easy it can be to get caught up in the excitement of going somewhere new and trying out all the different food. The best way to avoid making impulsive choices and overeating is to keep some kind of structure to your meals!

This means first of all deciding how often you want to eat each day.

When I go away I like to skip breakfast. This gives me more calories for later in the day when I’m likely to go out for food. I barely go over my maintenance calories, even when I eat out and have a few glasses of wine. I like to drink coffee to start my day anyway so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

If you love eating breakfast then you might want to eat 3 meals a day. That can work too.

When eating out you still need to be mindful of what you’re choosing for most of your meals. Say you’re eating three meals a day, keep the first two high in protein and veggies, and the last one can be more flexible. If you’re drinking alcohol with dinner then skip dessert. Having room for dessert means you’ll need to skip the drinks (or maybe stick to just one).

How much you can eat exactly will depend on your body and goals. I’ve been tracking my macros for years. When I go away I can make good estimations on what I need without having to actually track my food. If you’ve never tracked your macros before, I recommend doing it for a few weeks before you go away. Then you can get a better idea of what your body needs. You can learn more about how to do this in my article here.

Some other tips when eating out:

  • Choose steamed, grilled or baked food over fried for most meals
  • Get sides of steamed veggies or salad without dressing, especially if you’ll be drinking. (I like to count alcohol as my carb source so then usually I’ll choose something higher in protein for my meal.)
  • Pick one night per week where you can eat whatever you want.
  • If you want to splurge on the breakfast buffet then just make sure its on a day where you can order salads for your other meals.
  • Remember moderation! You don’t have to eat everything on your plate if the serving size is too big.

If you go over your maintenance calories for one day it won’t matter. When you go over for multiple days in a row, for a few weeks, you’ll gain weight. If you’re only away for a few days then it won’t really matter. The longer you’re away, the more you want to pay attention to your diet in order to stay on track whilst on vacation.

2. Go grocery shopping

Grocery shopping in different cities can be as fun as going to restaurants. There will be heaps of new things to try. Preparing meals yourself means you’ll be able to control your portion sizes better, and reduce the amount of added oils (aka excess calories). You’ll also be able to easily include more protein and veggies which can be difficult to do when eating out.

If you’re staying somewhere which has a kitchen, I would recommend making most of your meals at home. You can save the last meal of the day to eat out. Some days you might be out all day so it won’t be possible. Buying some groceries will give you the option to eat at home when you can. Stock up mostly on protein sources and fresh or frozen fruit and veggies rather than processed foods.

If you do eat at home for some of your meals, you’ll likely have more calories left over to enjoy a more calorie dense dinner. This should prevent you from going over your maintenance calorie intake.

And no, eating large meals at night won’t cause you to gain fat. Eating too many calories over the course of the day is what causes fat gain.

3. Take a workout plan with you

Don’t go into vacation mode thinking that you can eat like crazy as long as you still workout. That isn’t the purpose of keeping up your training whilst on vacation.

If you’re away for more than a few days, I would aim to keep working out. Even if it is only 30 minutes for 2 days a week. This will help keep that momentum going. When you get home, it won’t be so hard to get back into things because you haven’t stopped.

To make it easier to workout on vacation, you need to prepare before you leave. Find out whether the place you’re staying in has a gym and what equipment it has, or whether you’ll need to find one close by. Then make up a rough plan based on how many days you want to workout and what equipment is available. Taking a workout plan with you means you’ll be more likely to stick to it.

On the days you’ve decided to workout, set your alarm and get it done before your day starts. It’s easier to come up with excuses for not going to gym as the day goes on. Training early will prevent you talking yourself out of it. You’ll feel so much better for doing it!

When you’re on vacation you have more free time. Spending a tiny portion of it working out a few days a week kinda makes sense. If you don’t want to workout whilst on vacation, that’s fine too. Energy balance is the most important thing when it comes to gaining or losing weight. Pay attention to your eating first and if you want to keep up the momentum of regular training, aim to get 2-3 sessions in per week whilst you’re away.

4. Watch your drinks

Liquid calories are one of the easiest ways to push you over your daily calorie requirement.

When you eat out it is easy to feel the need to order a drink with every meal. Try to avoid this by choosing water, black coffee or tea, and diet soda most of the time. By staying strict with your drink choices during the day, you’ll save up a bunch of calories for a few drinks with dinner. These can be whatever you like, including alcohol if you want it. You’ll also stay hydrated which will help give you more energy!

5. Deal with external pressure in advance

The hardest thing about staying on track during vacation is dealing with friends and family who give you shit for it. They can easily influence you into making poor food choices when you don’t even want to. Or to skip your workout when you had planned to go.

Don’t succumb to the pressure of fitting into their lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to stay healthy whilst you’re away.

To deal with any negative influences from friends or family, speak to them before you go. Let them know that you plan to be mindful of what you eat for most meals as well as get some workouts in, and that you’d appreciate their support.

6. Change your focus

Eating out in different restaurants is fun but it isn’t the only thing that makes going on vacation special.

You can still have a good time by appreciating where you’re at, the environment, and the company you’re with. A great vacation is about experiencing things you wouldn’t normally back home. Eating different food is the cherry on the cake. And you can have this without going to extremes.

Will that extra glass of wine really make your night better? Would a glass of water as your second drink be just as good if you focused on the fact you were sitting somewhere cool, with good company? 

You can enjoy yourself in the short term but still work towards your goals. You just need to focus on the right things. I doubt you’ll regret not having that second glass of wine with dinner. Or pigging out on the breakfast buffet because it was free. You’ll be thankful for the memories and for being able to get into things easily when you get home. 

7. Don’t waste calories on shit food

I don’t know why I kept this for last when it is the first part of every vacation…

In most cases your journey begins with a flight at an airport, or it might just be a long drive.

When it comes to flying, airport and plane food is hardly ever worth wasting calories on. I used to pack my own food and take it with me. Easy options include apples, bananas, carrot sticks, protein bars and jerky. If you can’t be bothered taking stuff then you can usually buy these from the general store at the airport. (I don’t actually know what the store is called but all airports have them and they usually sell magazines, books and water).

A long drive is easy… prepare a heap of high protein and nutrient dense snacks to take with you. The ones mentioned above are good examples. 

Now when I fly I don’t eat at all. Even if my flight is an all day event. It helps prevent jet lag and bloating when you land. You don’t have to eat just because food is being offered to you. Your body will not go into starvation mode if you don’t eat for a day. I drink black coffee, and herbal tea to help with hunger. You’ll find you don’t even get hungry once you get over the initial hunger pangs. The first meal when you get to your destination will be 100 times better too.



Don’t go into your vacation with the expectation that its too hard or you should have a break from everything. You can still have a break and enjoy yourself. You just need to be mindful. A healthy lifestyle is one you can choose to keep no matter where you are in the world.