Summer Travel Tips: Stay on Your Diet During Vacation

woman eating
Smart snacking will keep your appetite in check. Image: © [2009] Jupiterimages Corporation

You've packed your bags and set the itinerary ... you've put the pooch in the kennel and canceled newspaper delivery ... but there's one more thing you need to do before you hit the road: Figure out how you will stay on your diet during vacation!

Just like you wouldn't leave home without doing those other things, if you are trying to lose weight, you will need to make some plans and set some guidelines so you don't come back from a relaxing vacation with extra weight as your souvenir.

Check out these easy ways to stay on your diet during vacation:

Ease Up on Imbibing

It's easy to give in to a few "adult beverages" on summer vacation, even if you don't normally drink them. When it's hot, they'll cool you down and when you're not quite in "vacation mode," they'll help you relax. But enjoying a few drinks can add up your caloric intake quite quickly. Case in point: A strawberry daiquiri contains around 250 calories. Down two, and you've taken in as many calories as an average meal!

Solution: Alternate drinks with plain water to cut back on calories (and to stay hydrated). Add cucumber or lemon slices if the water gets boring. Iced herbal teas, diet lemonade, and low-cal fruit-flavored waters are also refreshing, diet-friendly options.
More: Alcoholic Drinks Quick Guide

Do Restaurant Reconnaissance

An all-you-can-eat crab restaurant! An old fashioned diner with car hops! These are the memories I hold from childhood vacations.

Forget sight-seeing, I was into restaurant-trying. It can be tough to resist the high-fat offerings at a new restaurant because being on vacation makes you want something different. Unfortunately, that "newness" can lead to impulse ordering and lots of extra calories.

Solution: Use online maps to do some research on close-by eateries before leaving home.

Visit the restaurant's online menu and print it for future reference. Before stashing it away, take just a few moments to highlight some of the healthier-sounding choices or make notes of special requests that will help you cut calories, such as eliminating sauces.
More: 10 Tips for Eating Out

Avoid Mini Bar Mayhem

It's an interesting phenomenon: Candy you don't even normally enjoy becomes extremely enticing when it's in a hotel room. And an ice-cold soda sounds oh-so-tempting after a hot day in the sun when normally you sip water. The mini bar is a friend to no one. Everything in it costs many times what it should, and nothing in it is diet-friendly.

Solution: Pack a cooler with your favorite healthy snacks and beverages and then make room for them in the mini fridge when you arrive. Be sure your stash will be the first options you see when you open the fridge door. This will cut serious calories and save serious cash.
More: Healthy Snacks that are Good to Go

Eat In-Room

We tend to have an "I deserve it!" mind frame on vacation and for some of us, that translates into treating ourselves to restaurant meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After all, you have to cook at home all the time ...

isn't the whole point of vacation to not do those typical at-home chores?

Solution: Make in-room meals a snap by stocking up on non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items such as whole-grain bread and natural peanut butter, protein bars, and fresh fruit from a nearby market. Or, if you have a microwave, a low-calorie frozen meal from the closest grocery store and a side salad from a fast food eatery can be a quick, easy way to save calories, time and cash.
More: Smarter Summer Salads

Snack Smart

You've been on the go all day and you've missed your normal healthy snacks. For a while, the activity and heat have kept your appetite at bay.

But suddenly, you're ravenous and that ice cream vendor is just a few steps away...

Solution: Don't take a vacation from your snacking schedule. If you normally have morning and afternoon snacks to prevent overeating at mealtimes, vacation is no time to stop this smart habit. Take a mini cooler stocked with your healthy favorites to the beach or along with you in the car so you'll have smart choices on-hand. Plan to rest and enjoy your snack at the time you normally eat it.

It's Splitsville

You've been good for days. You've planned your restaurant choices and cut back on the cocktails ... but tonight, as you stare at that dessert tray, you could swear you actually hear the strawberry shortcake calling your name. Is dessert going to lead to dietary disaster?

Solution: Hey, give yourself a break! Whether it's an appetizer that sounds just too appetizing or a dessert that's too delightful to resist, treating yourself to a small portion of something "bad" once or twice give you a diet-friendly vacation without a sense of deprivation. The best way to keep your portion in check? Split your treat with a friend -- you can both have something special without paying for it in too many extra calories.
More: 10 Ways to Control Portions