healthy family travelWith all of the decadent food and many parties at home and work, the holidays offer many challenges to staying healthy and fit. Adding travel to homework service the mix just adds to these challenges. However, traveling during the holidays doesn’t have to negatively impact your health and wellness; instead, there are a few simple steps you can take to eat right and stay fit. As such, Gayl Canfield, RD, director of nutrition, and Scott Danberg, director of fitness, of Pritikin Longevity Center share their six wellness tips for maintaining health and wellness for holiday travelers.

1. Pack smart before you fly

Before leaving the house, drop a few tasty, hunger-curbing foods in your carry-on bag, such as a whole-grain bagel and easy-to-eat fruit like apples, tangerines and grapes. If you forget to pack these goodies, grab a healthy snack before your board. Many airline terminals provide selections of food to purchase on your way to the gate. Look for the salads, nonfat yogurt and fruit.

2. Eat healthy at the in-laws

Keep your healthy routine while you are away. Make the kitchen your own! Check ahead with the in-laws and ask to stake out a corner in their refrigerator for your veggies, fruit and yogurt, and another in the pantry for your healthy foods like oatmeal and cans of low-sodium soups, beans, tuna and salmon. Another idea: Order a special gift for your host – a big basket of luscious fruit – that everyone, including you, can enjoy.

3. Healthy road trip pit stops

For a quick bite en route to family and friends, burgers and fried foods are not your only option. One great alternative is to stop at upscale grocery markets like Whole Foods, where you will find bountiful salad bars full of freshly cut veggies with healthy toppings like freshly roasted chicken. Stop off at the bakery for some freshly made whole-grain bread and head for the refrigerated section for bottles of water – now you are set.

Are the kids and grandkids in the back seat itching for fast food? Scout out options that allow you to choose your fillings. At sandwich counters, load up on fresh veggies jazzed up with a little mustard and/or jalapeno pepper. Craving Mexican? Stop off at build-your-own-burrito eateries with healthier options like grilled bell peppers, onions, black beans, pinto beans, freshly cut lettuce, salsa and grilled chicken breast strips.

4. Stay active away from the gym

Although you are away from your home gym, a little creativity can go a long way. Try to be physically active as you take part in the holiday fun. Don’t miss a chance to jump into the fray when the kids and grandkids are playing soccer, throwing a football or building a snowman. At home, turn up the holiday music and sing and dance with the entire family. Just getting up from the couch is good for your heart and waistline.

Wherever you are, seek out opportunities to move. Take the stairs instead of elevators. Park at the far end of the mall lot, and burn some calories as you walk to and through the stores. If you take buses or trains, don’t wait at the nearest stop. Walk to the next pick-up site. Alternatively, when returning home, get off a stop early and finish your journey on foot. There is nothing more refreshing than a brisk winter walk!

5. Wellness tips for dining out

Dining out with friends and family does not have to involve high-carb foods. Offer dine-out suggestions that offer healthier meal alternatives. When ordering, ask for a side of veggies instead of carb-heavy sides like French fries. During the holidays and year-round, always remember the No. 1 tip in restaurant dining: Ask questions. Ask about ingredients. Ask how items are prepared – what sort of sauce is being used, and if there are available substitutions like baked potatoes in place of French fries.

6. Wellness tips for a healthy hotel stay

Choosing the right hotel when visiting for the holidays can be tricky depending on where you are traveling to; however, a little research on the hotel’s amenities can be a big help. Choose to stay in hotels that accommodate not only your business or vacation needs, but also your exercise and nutritional needs. Most major hotels provide their guests with special health-conscious menus as well as exercise equipment or access to a nearby gym.