Trying to lose weight while traveling? It’s a tough game to play but it’s not impossible! The craving to try authentic food in every destination is so much stronger than the cravings at home. I left the United States and moved abroad to Taiwan and I was content with my weight at the time. However, three months into our crazy travel adventure, in which we travel from country to country teaching English online, I had actually gained weight. Back then I wasn’t really thinking about losing weight.
Well, January came around and we headed to Europe. Budapest, Hungary, was our destination and let’s just say that in the land of cheap sausage, goulash, cheese, beer, you get the idea…it wasn’t easy!
But I’ve come a long way in the meantime! Without sacrificing the joy of eating foreign food, I’ve been able to lose almost 30 pounds in five months. That goal is pretty slow compared to most I know back home, but when being constantly on the go and never in the same home for more than a month, I’m pretty ecstatic!
I have a lot more to lose and I’m sticking by these essential things listed below! This checklist is key to my losing weight, but how about some ideas for healthy travel snacks that won’t ruin that authentic meal?
Most Importantly, Know Your Diet
For me, I count calories. I’ve tried other diets like Weight Watchers and while I was successful on them I didn’t like them. I find counting calories to be easy and helpful and I get to be creative with my meals.
You may not be on a calorie counting diet. You may be on Keto, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Southbeach…. Whatever your diet make sure you know what you can and can’t eat while you’re traveling
Maybe look up the local cuisine and plan ahead on what you’ll try and what you’ll pass on. If your diet plan is like Weight Watchers where you have meetings and a support group then maybe reach out to people in your meeting and ask what they do on vacation.
If your diet doesn’t include a support group then there’s always the subreddit forum group r/loseit! While I don’t post often on this group, they are so incredibly supportive and are happy to share any tips and tricks that made their diet successful.
All of this cooking while traveling would be in vain if not for tracking calories! This is vital to losing weight while traveling.
My go-to app for calorie counting is MyNetDiary. It’s easy to use and the best part is the barcode scanner. Is the nutrition label in a foreign language you don’t understand? Scan the barcode and odds are this app has the info for you! Worst case scenario, you’ll probably be able to at least tell how many calories are in something because it always says “kcal”. Fat, protein, fiber, etc…are all a bit harder without translating the label.
We’ve only tested this app in Europe though, not in Asia. When we return to Asia in 2020 we’ll have to test it out and update this post!
Cook (most of) Your Meals
Seeing as the name of this website is Where Food Takes Us, making all of my meals would be kind of silly, right? We travel to try food and experience new places. But when we arrive at a new destination, we tend to load up at the grocery, make our own meals for most days, then seek out the awesome local flavors on those special days in between.
Is this lame? Mostly yes. But we’ve been on the road for an entire year as of writing this post and I can say eating out will add way more calories to your tummy and thighs and is way worse for your wallet. Trust me, losing weight while traveling is doable but you have to commit. That includes a commitment in your own kitchen!
This is the main reason we use Airbnb when we travel because we have a kitchen to ourselves and we typically live in a neighborhood near a grocery store. Eggs, fruits, nuts, all great choices for breakfast and you can find them all over the world. As for lunch and dinner, try beans, chicken, rice, any combination of anything that isn’t caloric.
The important thing is that you track everything, even on the bad days. I’ve noticed on days (or weeks) I don’t track I end up feeling a lot worse.
Walk Everywhere You Can
The healthiest thing about our full-time travels is all the walking. We’d exercise back home with “real” jobs too but we wouldn’t walk/run except on weekends or the occasional after-work run during the week.
The benefit of traveling like we do is that we walk practically everywhere. Rome for a day, we trekked almost 18 miles. In Taipei, our daily record was 17 miles.
Granted, we don’t walk this much every day but it’s a common occurrence. If you eat right and just simply walk on a regular basis, the calories will fall off and you’ll succeed at losing weight while traveling!
Hiking and Outdoor Activities
Hiking is similar to walking except more work, which means more burn! Not only do you burn more calories on your hiking adventure, you’re seeing some beautiful nature while on your travels! Some of our most memorable days have been hikes, whether in the USA, Asia, or Europe. You’re being rewarded for burning calories with a gorgeous view. Hiking has been one of my favorite ways of losing weight while traveling!
Hiking not your thing? Look into what kind of outdoor experiences are available on your trip like swimming, kayaking, or surfing. There’s no better way to burn calories than to have fun while doing it!
Lay Off the Alcohol
This goes for Europe especially. Alcohol here is cheap, tasty, fun, but a weight loss killer. I can have the best day of dieting and then a couple glasses of wine will ruin everything. It’s most difficult when dining out. A bottle of wine with dinner in the States was never cheap but in Europe, especially the Balkans, it’s a steal.
Regardless of whether it’s cheap or not, try to avoid drinking alcohol! If you know you’re having wine with dinner or a few beers at a ruin pub in Budapest, make sure you adjust your calories from food so you don’t go over your daily limit!
If you do go over your limit, hopefully you had walked a lot that day and burned some of those extra calories!
Water, Water, Water!
While we’re on the subject of liquids, nothing is better for your weight loss than water. It will keep you hydrated and flush the bad out of your body. MyNetDiary app has an easy-to-use water tracker in addition to calories. I drink around 120 oz. a day but do some research on what your target should be. You may want to invest in a reusable water bottle with measurements. The more you substitute water for other drinks like juice and soda (they’re just sugar!) the better your weight loss travel success story will be!
Weigh Yourself Often!
I left the States without a travel scale. Whoops! Didn’t realize I’d be on a diet 5 months later! Thankfully, I began my diet in Budapest, Hungary, and while our Airbnb didn’t have a scale, the pharmacies in the city did! It was just a Euro to weigh.
Putting my weight info into my tracker app (MyNetDiary) allowed me to set a goal and start tracking my daily calories. From then on, we’ve been pretty fortunate to have scales in our Airbnb’s and have run into a few scales on the streets of Vienna.
I personally like weighing myself every day as opposed to once a week. It keeps me accountable. However, it’s hard to come by scales in some countries so if I could do it again I would have purchased a travel scale. Not only is it compact and great for those daily weigh-ins but you can also use it to weigh your luggage. Win-win!
Weight Loss Support!
Nothing kills a diet like people rolling their eyes at you for wanting a salad instead of a pizza. Make sure you talk to the people you’re traveling with about your goals and how you don’t want this trip to set you back. If they’re good people, they’ll support you and even try to help keep you accountable. If they’re bad people then I guess you have some extra weight to lose.
Good support is essential to weight loss whether you’re traveling or not!
Summary of Losing Weight While Traveling
Losing weight is hard enough while in the routine at home, but it’s even harder while traveling! It takes work and is easier said than done, but you can do it! Calories are the most important aspect to tackle so stay on top of your tracking! See the world, be healthy, and reach the weight goal you’re aiming for!
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission (thanks for that!) at no extra cost to you.