There are fit travelers who do this all the time. They have a plan worked out, something they’ve been doing for years. They don’t see vacations as a time to pull the muzzle on their inner Cujo, but a time to let out his leash a little bit.
Note from Damon: If you don’t know Cujo, then you missed the most important film of the 80’s. You now have homework to do.
It’s normal to come home weighing more than before you left. Souvenirs are heavy. If you’d like to only bring back weight in the form of trinkets, a little planning is in order.
Even a loosely defined eating schedule beats none at all. Combine that with your plan to get around and some premeditated naughtiness, then you may even come home leaner and meaner.
Plan your meals a little
We’re not talking about how you plan meals at home. You will not pack the Tupperware and scale.
Instead, spend some time on a site like Trip Advisor before you leave.
Double Jeopardy: This saves you from eating in places that aren’t well reviewed. It also means you can scout out some lighter dining options. The value of eating light, and by light I mean calories, you get more wiggle room when you want it.
The last thing you want is to happen upon some treat you just hafta-hafta try, but you’re either too full to try it or too full of guilt to allow it. Worse yet, you cram it in any way, not able to enjoy your new experience to its fullest. Dumb.
Eat as many lean meals a day as you can. This mean, if you’re a drinker, you stick to leaner drinks.
Side note on drinking: Alcohol is higher in calories than many foods, especially if you’re ordering fancy drinks, but many drinkers find they eat less when they drink. A stomach coated in alcohol doesn’t feel as hungry as one that’s empty. For others, drinking is the first step before terrible food choices. You gotta consider your style, then plan around it.
Get around smart
Riding in gondolas, rickshaws or bicycle taxis is novel. Do it once for the Instagram shot. Rent a car or take the train between towns, but walk in town. If you’re in a wheelchair, able to wheel yourself, do it.
Every move you make is calories burned. It means you can relax a little more when you decide to let loose. You may not live the active life you imagine for yourself at home, but you’re on vacation.
You’d be surprised what you discover about yourself away from home. People find whole new sides of themselves when they travel, one of the most important reasons to do so.
Don’t be surprised to come home with the knowledge that hiking is just walking, with more hills and stuff. It’s a great calorie burn, true, but it’s the only way to experience a new place. Walk amongst the people.
Cut loose once a day
This is the best part. You have to try new things on vacation. It’s a rule.
For this author, that means chocolates and cakes. For you, that may mean fried something at the bar. It may mean layers of fruity cocktail goodness at the same bar or a wine you’ve never experienced.
Do it. Do as much of it as you can, but try to keep your gastronomic excursions to fewer than one per day.
As you consider step one, the planning portion, weigh the value of your normal meals. Are you a morning foodie? Will you be more delighted to go crazy at breakfast? Do you prefer late-night adventures in dining? Are you all over the map? (Pun totally intended.)
Bake these aspects of your preferences into the plan.
Don’t worry too much about everyone else on your trip. If it had mattered to them, they’d have done the planning, but they left it up to you.
Alternatively, get them involved. It may make your decision making easier if your travel companions are on your side, working the same plan. Once you actually arrive at your destination, adhere to this plan the best you can, but don’t make yourself a nuisance.
Allowing a little freedom within the framework of your plans is what vacation planning is all about.