Traveling anywhere is stressful, but the holidays add insult to injury… why? Because the whole experience masquerades as something lovely, inviting, and cozy, but then you get hit over the head with delayed flights in crowded airports, mind-numbing traffic jams, irritating in-laws, and a million other things that cause you to turn to the comforts of fattening food and skipped workouts.
But here's the thing: if you can make it through the holidays with your health in tact, not only will you feel like a Superhero, but there is a high likelihood that you will have a positive impact on family & friends. People watch what we’re doing, even if they don’t say it out loud, and inspiring others is an amazing byproduct of sticking to our own wellness goals.
Recently, George & I have taken several trips that left us feeling very proud of ourselves, because we were able to plan ahead and find creative ways to stay on track.
From surviving Thanksgiving Dinner - which was a total WIN because we left nothing up to chance and simply brought our own food...
..to navigating a large family trip to Disney World completely unscathed (like being caught in a real-life game of nutritional “Frogger”), we’ve learned that with the right plan, you can maintain your health goals ANYWHERE!.
I wanted to share some of my favorite life hacks with you guys to help you stay on track this holiday season and enter the New Year feeling great… because honestly, it really doesn’t have to fall apart just because you’re out of your everyday routine!
So with that, I present our “Top 5 Tips for Surviving Holiday Travel!”
TIP #1 - PACK AHEAD
We know that most places we’re traveling won’t have what we need to feel satisfied in a healthy way, so rather than waiting to “see what’s available” (and then making bad choices), we completely pack ahead.
We have a Yeti cooler, which allows us to tote a lot of perishable stuff if we’re going someplace within driving distance. If we’re flying, we’ll either find a local grocery delivery service to have things there upon arrival, or we’ll just have the taxi/Uber make a quick grocery store stop on our way from the airport to our hotel (or wherever we’re staying).
Here’s a breakdown of what we’ll most commonly have on-hand while traveling - we find this is a pretty good set-up to help us feel “armed” for 2-3 days away from the comforts of own kitchen:
Apples (we budget about 2 per day for snacks)
Bananas (for nibbles with nut butter)
Pineapple (one fresh cut container per day for my dessert snack)
Almond Butter (a full jar, to mix with bananas slices as a snack. We like the 365 Crunchy variety)
We pre-prep & package (in a ziplock) George’s homemade oat energy bars. We cut them into small portions after baking and nibble on them non-stop as a small refuel treat.
Enough Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal instant cups to eat one each morning
Pre-portioned protein powder (I add this to my oatmeal for flavor & protein). Currently crushing hard on Optimum Nutrition Fit 40, designed for athletes 40+.
A case of water, or a refillable water bottle (but I HAVE to know where I will be filling it - I pre-check if there will be a water cooler or filtered water available - if not, I order a case of water)
Further Food Matcha powder
I also firmly believe in staying ahead of my hunger while traveling and eating on a schedule to avoid getting “hangry.” A strategically consumed, clean mid-day protein bar can make the difference between staying on track and falling off the wagon. Some of my favorites are the new Plant-Based One Bars, as well as Health Warrior Chia Bars (perfect 100 calorie size) and/or Health Warrior Pumpkin Seed Protein Bars.
I’m especially crushing on the Pumpkin Seed bars lately because they’re truly clean and offer at least 7g of plant-based protein. They’re also USDA Certified Organic and come in fun flavors like Dark Chocolate… so they’re perfect to share with Mason too when he gets a touch of the “hangry” (like mother, like kiddo!).
And for the love of God…. please just keep CHUGGING WATER like there’s no tomorrow. If you’ve followed me for any length of time on Instagram, you know it’s my #1 tip BY FAR. When we were in Disney, I literally chugged one full bottle of water in between every activity throughout the whole trip and it SAVED MY LIFE. I actually came home from Disney three pounds DOWN from my normal weight - which had definitely never been the case in my past!
TIP #2 - STRUCTURE & SIGN-UPs
You guys know I FIRMLY believe that a failure to plan is a plan to fail. That said, I never leave my workouts up to chance, especially while traveling.
George and I do major reconnaissance before a trip! We find the gyms and/or boutique workouts in the area and SIGN UP. Once you’ve signed up, you’re more likely to go. Another thing I often do is reach out to the instructor or GM on Instagram and introduce myself and tell them what class I'm attending, and that I'm looking forward to trying their gym/studio/class… once you’ve made that personal connection, it’s MUCH harder to blow it off!
We also know we can get a day pass to 28 West, a little hole-in-the-wall gym we visit in Woodstock each time we go…
...funny story, when we first had Mason, we didn’t really know how to juggle workouts yet, so we tried going to 28 West together, at the same time... one person worked-out while the other stayed with the baby in the car, rolling him around in circles in his stroller in the parking lot when he cried. Needless to say, that experience was essentially torture (hehe), so we learned that a better plan is to secure a local a babysitter from 8-10am so we can get our workout in before taking the kiddos to breakfast.
Tip #3 - MY SECRET WEAPON
Ok, so this one isn’t necessarily groundbreaking… but at the same time it TOTALLY IS. Ready for this?
How often have you been in a situation where the only “healthy” option is a crummy salad that doesn’t look very appetizing, so you make a different (read: naughty) choice?
Hands raised? Mine too.
A great example is our recent trip to Disney World. Let’s just be honest: Disney is amazing, but definitely NOT known for their culinary prowess. The food options in the theme parks was really not that appealing if you’re trying to make healthy choices, and without my secret weapon, I would have been screwed.
Ready to learn about this “secret weapon?”
It’s simply a little plastic screw-top container which I always keep in my purse, containing a mixture of unsalted pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds. Honestly... that's it!
I always order my salads without dressing, so I need a little something to jazz them up, and this really hits the spot. I simply unscrew the top and discretely sprinkle this delightful little mixture all over my (boring!) salad, adding protein, healthy fats, and superfood antioxidants!
Voila! I’m satisfied, stay full for longer, and don’t feel like I had a boring lunch while everyone else munched on cheeseburgers.
Tip #4 - (HEALTHY) FUN FOR THE KIDDOS
My holiday travel plans are INSANE this season. Ready for this?? I was in the Hamptons over this past weekend, drove home late Saturday night, took the train to PA to be on QVC Sunday-Monday, then back to NYC, grab the kids, and head to CT for Christmas Eve/Day, then pack up the whole crew and head BACK down to PA for the rest of the week because I have more appearances on QVC, then we all head back to NYC, and so on and so forth.
Sheesh! I just exhausted myself by just writing that!
Since my kiddos are little, the only thing that matters is that we’re TOGETHER. They don’t care where we are… just that we’re enjoying the winter and the holidays as a family.
That said, I like to find creative ways to lean in to holiday traditions without giving in to unhealthy, refined sugars. One thing I’m excited to do - no matter where we are - is to come in from the chilly weather to make hot chocolate, so I’ve created my own healthy take on this classic winter time tradition:
Scoop two scoops of Further Food Collagen Peptides into a mug, add half cup of boiling water. Stir.
In a separate cup, put ¼ cup almond milk in the microwave for 15 seconds. Then use a portable milk frother (I bring mine everywhere - it was $12 on Amazon!) to froth the milk. Pour over hot chocolate, and voila! You have a healthy drink with faux whipped cream that everyone can enjoy.
Tip #5 - "ACTIVITY" CAN COME IN MANY PACKAGES… AND SERVE MANY-A-PURPOSE!
Look, I understand you may genuinely not be able to get in your workouts every day over the holidays, or it may be difficult to find gyms you like in your area, but rather than just giving up entirely, try getting creative.
For instance, when we go anywhere where we can take advantage of the outdoors, we do. Exploring desert terrain in Arizona, jogging stroller outtings in Baltimore, trekking through the forest in New Hampshire, we've done it all.
We usually spend New Years' in Woodstock (upstate NY), which is the perfect time to hike outdoors as a family, even if it’s snowing. Are we able to move fast or climb very far into the woods? No, it’s snowy! But does it allow us to get outside, get our blood pumping, and show our kiddos the wonderment of nature? Yes, and they’re memories we’ll cherish for ever.
One thing I’ve discovered that’s really helped us take these types of excursions is the Moby Flex Wrap, made with a breathable mesh featherweight fabric designed for high performance on-the-go. It’s suitable for babies 8-33 lbs, and allows you to keep cool while bundling up with your little one. It’s super easy to use and machine washable so even when you work up a sweat with little one in tow, you’re good to go.
Another fun idea is to use an app to do an at-home workout, and invite a family member to join. When we went to my sister’s wedding in Mexico, we found spin bikes in the hotel gym, and I fired up my Peloton App and several bridesmaids joined in for a ride - it was a blast! Even a simple Yoga flow, or cardio sweat sesh on Obe Fitness could be a great bonding experience and an easy way to laugh together.
That brings me to my last point - the family that sweats together, stays together - because endorphins make people happy! We all know our families know how to push our buttons. After all, they are the ones who “installed” them in the first place! So rather than sitting around on the couch waiting for someone’s temper to flare or oversensitive feelings to be hurt, why not encourage everyone to go out and take a brisk walk together? Sometimes a little fresh air is just what the doctor ordered, and if you can lead by example, you’re truly giving your family the best holiday gift of all.