For many of us, taking the annual summer vacation is our well deserved reward for all the hard work we did since the previous August. By around May or June, most of us usually have an idea of where to head this time when that long-awaited first summer vacation day arrives. Desires are individual and various, but fortunately, an entire business has been built on fulfilling our dream of a perfect vacation. While some just want to relax in a hammock on the beach, others hit the streets of an old, historical location, hunting all the offered sightseeing opportunities to enhance their cultural knowledge. But there is one thing all tourists wish to do during this special time of the year, they want to try the local cuisine, and they will usually hit it hard!

I am visiting Hungary this summer, where I am originally from, and because traveling to Europe from the US is pretty time and money consuming, I would like to wander around a little with my friends and family to take advantage of the easy and cheap accessibility of European countries from within the continent. Because my best friend, who will be “tagging along,” and I are interested in literally everything on this whole wide world which includes any existing country and nation, the plan is constantly changing of where to go to. Each time we communicate, the name of a new country comes up, and when we consider to visit it, I can’t help thinking firstly of the food I can enjoy there made by native cooks in the real and traditional way. So this made me wonder, why is that if I hear “Greece,” immediately I think of juicy roasted lamb accompanied with cold Ouzo and I actually can taste the anise in my mouth? Or if I think of Rome, right after the Colosseum I have the picture of pizza, meatballs, and pasta in my head? Can we go for a vacation without the motive of pigging out there and what can be done to stay healthy and fit while traveling?

Well, as a huge fan of food I will never advise anyone not to try the myriad of local deliciousness while visiting different countries. Deprivation is very anti-fun, so I would rather suggest a couple of smart steps that can be easily followed to remain slim while on a vacation and will still satisfy the gourmand inside of us.

Visit the local markets!

Besides offering amusement and an opportunity to learn about the people whose land you are visiting, finding and trying the locally-grown vegetables and fruits will be an entertaining, and more importantly, healthy mission. Fresh produce that is usually not available in your homeland could make an exotic, low-calorie, and nutritious preference for your body.

Stay active!

There is no need to stop and neglect your regular exercise routine. Pack your training clothes and some light, portable equipment (resistance bands, workout DVDs, jump ropes, etc.) to remind you of fitness and to keep your options open for an available everywhere and anytime workout. Hotel bathtubs and chairs are always near-at-hand for a couple of tricep dips, same as windowsills for incline push-ups, or the ground for sit-ups and other body-weight floor exercises.

Truth be told, I am one of the biggest fans of lazy vacations, with nothing to do but lay at the pool and clear my mind by reading exciting books or listening to great music. I do suggest every traveler to calculate a couple of those days in the trip itinerary and take advantage of  the chance for relaxing and unwinding from the everyday stress. To balance it out, try to keep moving around as much as you can for the rest of your vacation, because exercising is the only thing giving you the green light to enjoy extra calories without weight gain (and the guilt). Renting a bike can be an excellent option, and it is also a cheap mode of transportation that provides easy access to all tour sites, and let’s not forget that riding is an awesome cardio and calorie-burning activity. If your vacation spot is close to a beach, go for a nice run or try the huge selection of available water sports, such as swimming, diving, beach ball, jet skiing, surfing, paddle boating, windsurfing, water skiing, canoeing, kayaking… I could keep going, because this list is endless!

For those who are vacationing surrounded by mountains, surely there’s no need to explain the benefits and joy of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, mountain climbing, skiing, snowboarding, or fell running. Golf and tennis are very popular sports usually available around most hotels for the tourists.

To assist in estimating and balancing out calorie intake/burning, here is a little chart of how many calories certain exercises diminish in a 1-hour duration. Please keep in mind that this is an approximate calculation for a 130 lbs, a 155 lbs, a 180 lbs, and a 205 lbs person, made missing important data such as gender, age, velocity, or intensity of exercise.

Portion Control!

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “Ah, not this crap again!” Unfortunately (or fortunately), this tip really works and vacations are a perfect time to make use of it. If you consume food in smaller portions you will feel full all day, and your metabolism won’t stop working, constantly burning calories by using the nourishment you are steadily providing. Another important and also fun segment here is that if you eat less at each meal, you will have room left in your stomach to try more of the local food variance. A simply way to put it: Eat less bisques, quiches, and baguettes so that you will be able to have some creme brulee for dessert! ;-)

Polish VodkaDrinking can solve the problem!

Yeah, this is one of those few situations… First of all, if you fill up on water thoroughly you can easily trick your hunger, but I don’t think I said anything new so far. What you may not be aware of is the calorie content of different beverages you gulp on hot summer days; Sugary drinks will not just double your thirst, but will have the same effect on your butt size. Alcoholic beverages are just as evil, so you have to choose wisely. Instead of sweet cocktails, prefer a glass of wine, get light beers, and still watch how much you swallow by the end of the night.

Think and plan ahead!

Even when you are just in the process of choosing your vacation spot, guarantee yourself to have the option for physical activity around the place you will be staying at. Most hotel are equipped with fitness rooms nowadays, but in case yours is not, the surroundings should offer some ways to keep fit during your holiday.

Always have some nutritious snack on your person while out discovering the area; with a semi-full tummy, we tend to make healthier decisions when it comes to choosing a restaurant to eat and a meal from the menu.

Work out with the locals!

Sign up for the regional salsa, flamenco, sirtaki, or whatever traditional dance they have at your hang out and shake off that extra fat!

Find health clubs around you that provide couple of days or 1-week trials, so you can experience authentic local fitness group classes and perhaps even become friends with the residents. Popular tourist locations are often known for outstanding hospitality towards foreigners and will support many activities that make visitors enjoy their stays, hoping they return next year.

Vacations are no time to lose weight, adapt, and commit to any new behavioral change in lifestyle. Do not have illusions; while out of town, you probably will be even lazier and less-focused than usual, which is OK, because your self-control needs a break, too. Aim to do at least half of your regular physical activity routine and to not gain more than 1-2 lbs during a 7-10 days stay. And when you come home well rested and rich with unforgettable memories and culinary experiences, go and celebrate on the treadmill, because both your body and mind will crave it!

Have a great summer, everyone!

This is a guest post written by Renata Czina