35 Ways to Avoid Weight Gain on Vacation

Relax on vacation without worry with these helpful tips.
Published March 18, 2019


It may not be realistic to expect that your weight loss will continue while you’re on vacation. But that doesn’t mean you have to erase lots of good work. Think about what will be an acceptable result for you, whether that’s staying the same or even a minor, but manageable, gain. Adjust, if you need to. Be realistic. If you think you can continue to lose weight while you’re traveling, that’s great. But if you’ve struggled to stay on plan while traveling in the past, it may be more realistic to maintain your weight during your trip.


Your Vacation Action Plan


Research the cuisine. Many destinations have their local “must-try” delicacies. Decide ahead of time which ones you really want to try, plan the rest of your meals around them, and enjoy! Also consider what produce is going to be in season and what healthier foods are locally available. Texas specializes in barbecue and cheesy Tex-Mex, for example, but it also offers amazing fresh seafood.

Check your destination’s walkability. Gym intentions are all well and good, but why plan to spend your trip indoors? Taking a walk or jog through a different scene can be the best way to explore a new place. Use online maps — particularly street views with photos — to figure out whether you can safely and easily take walks. Some cities are less walk-friendly, but may have hotels close to parks.

Know the climate. Don’t let rain, high humidity or an unexpected chill ruin your activity plans. Pack for the predicted weather and you’ll be able to enjoy the outdoors.

Look for a healthy hotel. The best hotel should feel like a home away from home. Failing that, it should at least have some healthy, convenient food options and make it easy for you to fit in some activity. (The fact that someone else will pick up the towels is just an added perk.)

Book a room with a kitchenette. You can fill it with healthy breakfasts and snacks instead of relying on deep-fried room service choices.

Ask the hotel to de-stock the minibar. Remove temptation before you even check in. Make this request when you reserve the room, then follow up the day before you arrive.

Ask for a mini-fridge. Many hotels will be able to supply one for your snacks and breakfasts, even if there’s no kitchen.

Don’t buy the theme park meal plan. Even if it seems like good value, paying extra for the theme park meal plan can mean a more limited menu and a feeling of obligation to eat three large meals a day. (Many meal plans include high-calorie snacks and sodas, too.) You’ll feel more in control if you can order your meals a la carte instead of having to choose between the lesser of a few unhealthy options on the set menu. That outweighs any potential savings.

Research your meal options. If you’re planning to eat meals at your hotel, review and know the best choices to make before you arrive, not when you’re starving after a long day of sightseeing.

Learn to deal with disruption. Wherever you’re stranded and stressed, study the available food options. Look up chicken noodle soup in your Tracker or see how many SmartPoints a small burger will be. Eat what you need to get you where you're going, and try to save some SmartPoints for when you get to your destination.

Road trips often mean traffic. Pack healthy snacks and keep them within reach so you don’t have to pull over for fast food when hunger strikes. If you must make a stop, you can usually buy fresh fruit cups, low-fat yogurt and/or jerky — snacks that’ll keep you satisfied without using too many SmartPoints values. Use these road trip snack suggestions.

Driving through dinner? Review your route for healthy restaurants and pit-stops along the way, so you don’t panic and pull over at the first roadside stop you see. Rely on your go-to, plan-friendly options such as a grilled chicken sandwich, salad, chili, or minestrone soup.

Decide what meals are worth a splurge. Do you really want that over-the-top breakfast buffet every day? If you stick to the healthy, filling breakfast you have at home, that’s one daily meal you have complete control over. And, of course, you can save those SmartPoints values for something better.

Keep your focus on health. Just because you're not trying to lose weight at the moment doesn't mean you need to lose sight of your efforts to be healthier. When possible, reach for the same good foods that helped you lose your weight.

Stick to your workout schedule. Morning exerciser? Get up early, then enjoy the rest of your day. Not a gym goer? No problem; many hotels now offer running and walking trail guides, and your concierge can point you to local parks or tracks.

Bring all-weather workout gear. A lightweight, foldable rain jacket takes up barely any room.

Bring sweat-anywhere equipment. Stash a lightweight jump rope or exercise band in your suitcase.

Plan your post-trip treats. Do you really want to blow your weekly SmartPoints budget on a business trip you don’t even want to be on? Or would you rather save it for winding down once you get home? Plan a post-trip treat — ice-cream night with the family, or a drink with friends — and summon thoughts of it whenever you’re tempted to blow your budget.

Wherever you go, for whatever reason, don’t leave home without:

  • Bottled water. Don’t rely on rest stops or the in-flight beverage carts. Stay hydrated! (If you’re flying, bring an empty bottle to refill after you clear security.)
  • Snacks for traveling. Think fruit or veggies + protein. Bring extra, in case you hit delays.
  • Comfortable shoes. Better yet, wear them — that way you definitely won’t forget ’em. Stay active on your journey (stretching at rest stops, baggage claim — wherever!) and log FitPoints daily once you reach your destination.

Hit the local market for fresh produce and grocery items. Then stash them in the in-room fridge for healthy options, 24-7. No fridge? Most fruit, and all high-fibre cereal doesn’t need one.

Long airport layover? Do some warm-up stretches at the gate, then pop in your earphones and walk the length of the terminal at a fast clip. Working out while you wait has the triple benefit of reducing your stress, increasing your FitPoints for the day, and keeping you away from the cinnamon buns in the food court. Checking bags? Keep a comfortable spare outfit in your carry-on, so that even if luggage gets waylaid, you can hit the ground running (or at least walking briskly).

Make a special effort to move more. The feeling of well-being that activity gives you can help you make better food decisions — and that can be a huge help when you’re stressed from traveling. Consider 30 sneaky ways to fit in fitness while traveling.

Find a meeting. If you’re a meetings member, consider going to a local meeting at your destination. Not only will it help you stay focused, it might also yield secrets of local members’ favorite on-plan restaurants and activities.

Prepare breakfast in the room. A “homemade” meal nearly always has fewer SmartPoints values than a restaurant meal.

If you're traveling with friends, offer to grocery shop and cook meals. Take note of any dietary restrictions, then tell everyone to leave the choices to you. You can impress them with delicious, healthy fare that keeps you on plan.

Check out restaurant menus and book reservations. Nearly every cuisine offers healthy options, so you’re sure to find a crowd-pleaser that also has some good choices for you.

Suggest group fun. Propose a walking tour around town, rent bikes, hike the nearby national park.

Preserve your “me time.” Even on a group vacation, it’s OK to fly solo. Get out on your own — either before everyone’s awake, or while they’re busy spending money at the outlets.

Stockpile SmartPoints values. On the days leading up to your quick trip, stick to your budget and try to earn a few extra FitPoints. You’ll have a full bank when you go.

Change your weight-tracking day. A couple of weeks before your trip, think about starting your weight-tracking week on the day after you return. So, if your week normally resets on a Thursday, but you’re going away for the weekend, change it to Monday. That way, you’ve got five days to build your SmartPoints budget, and the day after you get back, you get a clean slate.

Don’t abandon the plan entirely. “It’s only two days,” you might say. But if those two days take you completely off your routine, it’ll be harder to get back on. Take your healthy breakfast with you, or keep your activity up. This will help you stay connected to your efforts.

Walk to the conference center. Short bursts of activity count, too. Squeeze in fitness wherever you can.

Bring a book or magazine to a courtyard, local park or city center. Without the lure of food or booze you really don’t want, it’s a safer downtime hangout than a bar or café.

Facing another night of hotel room TV and mini-bar temptation? Remove yourself from the situation. Head to the local movie theater or bring your laptop to the hotel lobby.

Stick to your regular meal strategy. If you normally have a big breakfast, small lunch and big dinner, try to stick to that. Supplement (or replace) the food provided with what you need to make that happen, with tricks like bringing your own bananas to add to breakfast (or eat before the group meals).

Beware of all-day grazing. Conferences in particular are notorious for an all-day supply of snacks. If you’re lucky, there’ll be a fruit plate, but even that can get lost among the constantly replenished trays of baked goods. Remember your typical pattern: If you normally have an 11am or 3pm snack, then help yourself to fruit then. As extra insurance, smuggle your own portion-controlled snacks in with you if fruit isn’t enough.