Vacations are always fun, but let me ask you something: The last time you arrived back from your favorite travel destination, were you — quite literally — “tipping the scale”? You might think that staying in shape and keeping the pounds off while you’re away on vacation is a difficult — if not damn near impossible — task, but it’s actually not!
The Main Idea:
Through all of my years of traveling there are really 5 key elements that I’ve discovered which have allowed me to always return back home in perfect shape while still enjoying myself entirely. Here’s exactly what I do:
- Train 2x per day to earn calories
- Eat lots of vegetables with every meal
- Drink loads of water throughout the day
- Limit the ever-so-delicious “cocktails of the day”
- Unplug from the outside world entirely
Enjoy Yourself Fully Without Any Guilt
I’m currently typing this article while away on vacation in beautiful sunny Montego Bay, Jamaica. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the beach, sun, people, culture, and all of the activities. And MOST important of all, the wonderful food and drinks — 100% guilt-free.
I just finished breakfast not too long ago and I didn’t hold back in ANY way, shape, or form. In fact, although I wasn’t even counting up until right now, my breakfast alone has probably been sitting around 1,500 calories total every day since I’ve been here. 😊
“How in the f#$% is that possible,” do you ask? That’s exactly what I’m going to explain to you now. This routine has been so effective for me that in my previous trip I actually LOST 0.4 pounds when I arrived back home in Toronto. I know! Crazy, right?
By the end of this article, my hope is that you’ll be able to go on your next trip with a surefire plan that eliminates any chance of you having to worry about what you look like, how much you weigh, or how you feel when you get back home.
When you’re done reading, leave a comment down below to let me know if I succeeded with that. If I didn’t, let me know that too and exactly why. Your feedback is important to me and will help improve the way I write content on this blog. 😃
Here’s exactly what we’ll cover in this article:
Feel free to use the navigation box above to skip ahead at your leisure. I think the effects of the five tips are maximized when they’re all used together in harmony, but if one in particular is really screaming at you right now, heck, go after it!
This article is absolutely NOT for everyday individuals who aren’t currently on a fitness journey. The tips shared in this article would be extremely difficult for those individuals to follow and way out of their comfort zone.
This article is geared towards fitness enthusiasts and people who are serious about achieving their goals and maintaining their results while they’re away.
1. Stick to a Solid Training Routine
I can’t stress the importance of this one enough! As such, it’s also going to be the longest section in this article. It’s absolutely imperative that you create a routine that you can adhere to for your entire vacation.
I’m presuming you’re only reading this article because you’re already in excellent or otherwise pretty good shape, and you don’t want to squander it all just because you’re on vacation for a week or two.
And so you’ve got to think yourself: Up to this point, how did you get in such great shape to begin with? By following a routine, silly! 😜
Create a Realistic Routine That You Can Actually Follow
For me, personally, that means waking up at 4:30 a.m. every morning while going to bed at around 10:00 p.m. to ensure I’ve got enough sleep to tackle my morning workout.
I also like to take lots of cat naps out in the sun, so the fact that I’m only getting 6 or 7 hours of solid sleep each night isn’t worrisome for me because I make up for the other hours during nap time on the beach. 😴
I don’t expect everyone to follow a routine this extreme, especially while you’re on vacation, but you must create one that works for YOU and stick to it just as you would if you weren’t on vacation.
Though I’ll admit — and I’m sure others might agree — that my routine is a wee bit on the enthusiast side, this is the routine that works for ME! I don’t have a hard time sticking to it all; so I always use it.
However, when putting together the perfect routine for yourself, there are pretty much three key things you need to focus on:
- Getting up at a consistent time each morning to train (earlier the better)
- Slotting out a secondary time each day to burn some extra calories
- Doing the actual work (even though you’re on vacation and probably don’t want to)
Are you already making this face… 😩 Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but…
“It’s gotta be done, mate!”
And on that note, let me share a quick story:
The Tale of Elliot
One morning, while I was getting into my second set of lat pull downs, a gentleman from London that I had met a few days prior came strolling in around 5:45 a.m.
He asked me how I was doing and I replied, “Good! Had a little trouble getting up this morning, but I’m here nonetheless.” He then replied (word for word), “Me too, bruv! This morning was tough, but it’s gotta be done, mate!”
It was clear that Elliot already understood the importance of this first tip: creating and sticking to a solid routine. It’s also no wonder why he, too, was in such impeccable shape.
But let’s rewind to a few days earlier…
I remember the very first morning I saw Elliot, he strolled into the gym around 7:00 a.m. This was the first time we had seen each other and neither of us had even bothered to introduce ourselves.
It didn’t really help that both of us had headphones in and we were both extremely focused on getting the work done and getting the f#$% out.
The next day, Elliot arrived at around 6:00 a.m. and judging by his body language, he seemed quite surprised to see me there so early the second day in a row. At this point, I had already completed my workout and was getting started on my cardio.
The third day, Elliot, in an effort to beat me to the training grounds, showed up at 5:00 a.m. This morning he seemed even MORE shocked to see I had beaten him to the gym, yet again.
As soon as we made eye contact, he immediately took his headphones out of his ears and said, “Yo, bruv! What time do you start your mornings?” He continued, “I literally have tried to beat you to the equipment two days in a row now.” 😄
We both had a good laugh and I explained my schedule to him and he was in absolute awe; both of us were actually. Personally, I’d never met someone as determined as myself to get to the gym that early on any other resort I’ve ever visited.
The Earlier You Train the Better
Most people stroll into the resort gyms around 7:00 a.m. or 8:00 a.m., since they usually all go to bed quite late. By then, I’m already showered up and sitting down for breakfast — when the food is always the freshest. Yum yum! ?
If the earliest your gym opens at your resort is 7:00 a.m. or 8:00 a.m., then you’d better start making friends with the resort staff to get them to sneak you in early. I do it all the time! 😄
The other beauty, of course, in training so early is that there is no one else in the gym with you! You’ve got “all of the equipment” to yourself!
If you’re a frequent traveler, then you know that even some of the nicest resorts around the world are plagued by tiny gyms with both limited space and equipment that’s outdated. But if I can have ALL of the limited equipment ALL to myself, then I can still have a great and productive workout. 😁
As they say, “The early bird gets the worm.” And in my opinion there’s nothing better than starting your day off with your metabolism firing on all cylinders.
Train 2x Per Day
When I travel, I follow a very similar training regimen to that of when I’m back home and I simply make a few adjustments depending on the equipment that’s available to me.
When I’m NOT on vacation, I usually only train 3–4x per week. My workouts usually consist of about 45–60 minutes of resistance training and I usually only do 15-20 minutes of efficient machine cardio purely for heart health.
Now, I’m not going to get into any specific details here regarding “vacation training workouts” because that’s not what this article is about. But I will say this:
When I am on vacation, I usually switch my lifting routine to 4 days on, 1 day off. I also utilize a circuit-style training program to ramp up my calorie burning and I increase my cardio sessions to 60 minutes (twice per day) for the same reason.
This strategy allows me to achieve one major objective: To eat as many calories as I want with absolutely zero guilt.
The last thing I want to do while on vacation is count my calories — or even worry about them in general — so I don’t. And if there is one thing that I can attribute most to that “food freedom” it’s doubling up on my training sessions.
Bringing It All Together
So what does my daily schedule like when it’s all said and done? Something like this:
|4:30 a.m.||Workout #1: Resistance Training + Cardio (2 hours)|
|6:30 a.m.||Take a shower|
|7:00 a.m.||Eat a really, really HUGE and satisfying breakfast|
|12:00 p.m.||Eat a really, really HUGE and satisfying lunch|
|4:00 p.m.||Workout #2: More Cardio (1 hour)|
|5:00 p.m.||Take another shower|
|6:00 p.m.||Eat a really, really HUGE and satisfying dinner with LOTS of dessert|
|10:00 p.m.||Head to bed|
Somewhere in between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. is where I fit in my 1–2 hour nap. Sometimes I even slot in an hour or two nap in between breakfast and lunch instead.
If you’re planning on going on any excursions, just schedule those in on your off days. If you need to take an extra day off to go and have fun, then absolutely do it!
The Benefits of Burning So Many Calories
I answered this earlier, but here it is again: Absolute food freedom! 🤤
If I were to tell you how ginormous my plates of food are you probably wouldn’t believe me. So I’ll just show you instead:
Crazy, right? ? Sometimes, to be honest, it even feels a bit gluttonous but in reality, it’s not — I’ve actually EARNED the food energy!
Of course, I’m not worried about calories at all here because I’m crushing two-a-day workouts and burning around 1,200–1,500 calories total each day.
I also know that my daily maintenance calories sit somewhere around 3,000 kcal or so, which means on any given day I’m allowed to eat between 4,000–4,500 calories without gaining a single pound of body fat.
Want to know exactly how many calories you need to eat to maintain your weight? We’ve got a calculator that does that for you!
Do I sound like someone who’s worried about calories right now? Nope!
Now, your metabolism will obviously vary, but regardless, if you want to have “food freedom” as well, then start training twice per day while you’re away. You won’t regret it. And the best part is: you’ve got so much free time to do it! What else are you gonna do? Just laze around on the beach all day? 😝
The Bottom Line:
This first tip is probably the biggest game changer of them all simply because of how many additional calories it will allow you to consume while you’re away. If you could only follow a single rule listed here, it should definitely be this one.
2. Fill Your Plate Up With Vegetables
Somebody somewhere is yelling at their screen right now, “But you said this article was about eating guilt-free!” 😠
Wait! It is! Before you go crazy on me, just hear me out! I didn’t say to only eat vegetables; I’m just saying that you should actually eat them — period!
If you stick with the first trick, you’re going to earn yourself s#!& tonnes of food to eat. I just showed you visual proof of that up above! But did you also notice something in particular with every single picture? I ALWAYS fill my plate with at least ⅓ of vegetables.
Vegetables Auto-Balance Out the Calories
If you’re anything like I am, food quality is one of the top deciding factors when selecting which resort to stay at. To be honest, it might be more important than the beach for me!
At the resorts I usually stay at, the food options are both delicious and endless — and therefore FULL of hidden calories. They’ve usually got all sorts of fried foods, tonnes of carbs, dessert for days. I’m like a kid at the frickin’ candy store!
Now, I don’t usually get to eat these types of foods — on a regular basis anyway — so now is not the time to be reserved. Like I hinted earlier; now is the time to go crazy! I’ve worked my ass off and I’ve earned it!
However, if you go SUPER crazy, you can EASILY exceed the calories you’ve earned for the day. And one of the easiest ways I’ve found to mitigate this — without having to think about or calculate anything AT ALL — is just by filling a third of my plate up with some veg.
Even if my meal had the chance of being upwards of 2,000 kcal total, it’s now automatically only 1,300 calories, which is right in my safe zone per meal. I’ve found this to be one of the strongest tools in my arsenal, again, because it takes the thinking process out of my eating entirely!
I don’t question how much grams of fat is in all of the bacon slices I had for breakfast; I’m not worried about counting all of the carbs in all of the rice and peas on my plate for lunch; and I’m not counting all of the calories in the oxtail I’m about to devour for dinner.
Instead, since right now I’m in Jamaica, with every meal that I’m having, I make sure to fill up a ⅓ of my plate with Jamaican callaloo — one of my favourite greens of all. And theeeeeennnnnnnn I throw WHATEVER the hell else I want on the plate.
Always Eat Your Vegetables First
This next tip is equally as important as the first for a few reasons! For one, the order you should always be eating your meals in for the most efficient digestion is as follows:
- Carbs (rice, potatoes, etc.)
- Protein (fish, meat, poultry, etc.)
If you’re not interested in better digestion 😄, then the second reason this is so useful is because eating your veggies first is going to give you a more true sense of when it is you’re actually full.
Vegetables take a longer time to chew and swallow. More chewing + less frequent swallowing = longer meal time. Ultimately, this means your brain now has time to register when your stomach is actually full to maximum capacity.
There are so many times when I feel absolutely STARVING, only to fill up my plate sky-high and realize two thirds into the way of finishing my meal that I’m pretty much already at the limit.
The point is, it’s easy to get carried away on vacation, especially if your resort is serving up all-you-can-eat delights for every single meal. If you fill up your plate with only the goodies, you could quite easily rack up 2,000–4,000 calories every meal.
Which is why it’s not unheard of to hear people say they’ve put on 10–15 (or more) pounds upon arriving back from vacation. 😬 Eek!
The Bottom Line:
I hate to admit it, but mom and dad were right; always eat your vegetables!
3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
I’m sure you’re already aware of just how important water is to your overall fitness goals, if you’re not — or even if you want to learn a new thing or two — you should definitely check out this article.
Right now though, I’m going to be specifically discussing how you can use water as a tool to help you maintain the beautiful body you’ve worked so hard to build.
Water helps me do three important things while I’m away on vacation:
- stay hydrated in the intense heat (duh!)
- retain less water and therefore look leaner
- eliminate the urge to eat non-stop throughout the day
- balance out the dehydrating effects of alcohol overload
Stay Hydrated – The first one is obviously a no-brainer. When it’s hot, you sweat more; when you sweat more, you need more water. End of story.
Retain Less Water – The second thing is also obvious if you understand how the body utilizes water. If not, long story short, the more water you drink, the less water you retain, and the leaner your body looks. End of story.
These next two points, however, require a bit more explaining…
Water Reduces Your Urge to Eat More
If you’re used to staying at all-inclusive resorts, this next tip is going to serve you well. One of the biggest temptations is the yearning to want to eat (and even drink) non-stop throughout the day.
You’ve usually got your 3 main meals — breakfast, lunch, and dinner, of course — and then you’ve usually got a 24×7 snack bar of some sorts. If you’re really lucky (if you want to call it that), you’ve even got beach service where they’re constantly bringing you drinks, fruits, snick snacks, and whatever else to make you happy.
Usually these are served in between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and if you give in, you’ll surely go over your calorie limit for the day. In the past, I’ve fallen victim to this time and time again.
When you keep your water intake high in between your meals, however, you’ve got no choice to decline because you simply aren’t hungry! Your stomach is literally full of water!
Drinking Water Balances Out the Alcohol
If you’re anything like me, I LOVE to drink while I’m on vacation. I don’t drink alcohol on a regular basis — though I do enjoy the occasional glass or two or three or four of red wine when I’m back at home — so this is really my time to shine and let loose a bit (or a lot)! 🥴
If you’re an “experienced” drinker like I am (like that’s anything to brag about), then one thing you’ve probably learned over the years is just how quickly alcohol can dehydrate you.
The general tactic I’ve always used to counterbalance this is to have a glass of water with each drink to negate the dehydrating effects of the alcohol — whether that be a cocktail, a shot, a glass of wine, or everybody’s favourite morning mimosa!
Also, if you usually prefer to drink your spirits straight, and you want to feed two birds with one scone, you can use one of my favourite tricks of all: drink vodka waters, rum waters, cognac waters, or whatever else tickles your fancy. I’ve even seen people drink beer with ice on vacation! Not exactly my thing, but they definitely get bonus points for creativity! 😄
The Bottom Line:
Drinking more water is, of course, always a good thing; however, on vacation specifically, it helps greatly reduce the overindulgence of food in between meals.
4. Limit High-Calorie Drinks
As we speak, I’m sitting down with my Ray and Nephew Overproof Rum and water on the rocks, using the tip I discussed from the very last section.
Everyone else, on the other hand, seems to be drinking one of the following:
- Bob Marley
- Jamaica Me Crazy
- Dirty Banana
- Jamaican Rum Punch
And mm mmmm mmmmmmm… boy are they delicious! How do I know? Because I’ve had ’em all! In fact, I just had a rum punch not too long ago. 😋
Look, you’re on vacation! Have fun! Live a little! You don’t have to avoid these drinks entirely; just don’t go crazy!
Be Mindful of the Calories
You need to understand something about these calorie bombs. The reason most people drink these wildly delicious drinks non-stop all-day is for two reasons:
- They’re wildly delicious, of course
- They’re trying to get drunk and these drinks are not strong
A few years ago when I was in Mexico, and obviously not employing the tip I’m about to give you, I must’ve had at least 12 piña colada back-to-back within an hour’s span. 2,400 calories later — yup, you read that right — I finally started to feel a nice little buzz.
Here in Jamaica, a “Dirty Banana” can pack in even MORE calories than that. Here’s the recipe: a whole banana, chocolate syrup, Tia Maria (coffee liqueur), full-fat cream, and milk. Care to do the math on that one yourself? Didn’t think so. 😄
These types of drinks are known as “calorie bombs”. They look innocent but in reality they’re packing a s#!% tonne of hidden and empty calories, which is why they’re so delicious in the first place.
If you’re following the most renowned nutrition tip in the world, “don’t drink your calories”, then you’d know to stay very, very far away from them. But you’re on vacation! And I don’t want you to stay away from them entirely.
So let’s just get a bit creative with the strategy here instead…
If the OBVIOUS mission here is to get drunk, then why not just tell your bartender to add some extra oomph to your cocktail? Seems logical, right? By doubling or tripling the amount of alcohol, you can avoid drinking 12 rum punches worth 3,000 calories and 300g of sugar, and instead, have only 3 or so worth 1,200 calories and 75 grams of sugar.
Beware of Bloat:
If there’s one drink I would recommend avoiding at all costs while on vacation it would be beer. Even if you’re drinking light beer, which is lower in calories, your stomach is going to be bloated for most of the day — and that’s never cute!
The Bottom Line:
One or two fancy cocktails per day is fine and likely won’t break your calorie bank. However, go crazy and your waistline will undoubtedly suffer the consequences.
5. Unleash, Relax, Unplug, and Unwind
My friends and family never know when I’m on vacation. Why? For one, it’s not something that I broadcast to the world via social media because it’s none of their business; but more importantly, when I’m on vacation I totally unplug from everything I’ve left behind.
It’s a well known fact that going on vacation reduces stress and helps you recharge so you can continue to perform at optimal levels in all areas of your life. It’s also widely known that maintaining low levels of stress is pivotal to maintaining an amazing looking physique. 💪
This leads me to the final and shortest tip of this article: Wanna know a surefire way to increase your stress level while you’re away on vacation? Stay connected to everything and everyone back home. Yeeeaaaaaahhh… ain’t nobody got time for that!
Instead, I’m just going to encourage you to do the exact opposite.
Disconnect From Everything
I’m serious. Turn off everything:
- your phone;
- your email;
- social media; and
- whatever else you’re usually glued to
Just let it all go! Work, stress, bills, problems, anxiety, toxic relationships, nagging managers and coworkers — everything. And if you don’t have any (or many) of those things to begin with, even better.
Instead, read a book, meditate, go to a party, relax on the beach, do yoga, go swimming, write in a journal, meet new people, self-reflect, learn something new, play beach volleyball, exercise (obviously), play a board game. Do whatever you’re not used to doing! UNLEASH!
The Bottom Line:
Leave all of your stress, worries, and responsibilities at home where they belong. Low stress means low cortisol, and low cortisol means a better looking body.
I love traveling; I love eating all of the local foods; I love drinking, partying, and having a good time. I think it’s safe to presume that you do too!
Hopefully this article has given you a new outlook on how you can still do ALL of that A) without feeling guilty about it; B) without making any sacrifices; and C) without packing on any unnecessary pounds in the process.
I personally use EVERY single tip I’ve outlined in this article when I go away on vacation. They’re tried, tested, and true. Trust me people: they work!
The looks and stares and comments that I get on vacation are absolutely amazing, hilarious, and priceless! They range from, “Hey! What football team do you play for?” to “Oh my god! How in the hell do you look like that and eat like THAT!” to “Seriously… c’mon… tell me! What’s your secret?”
Well, here they are! These are my top 5 “secrets” — if that’s what you wanna call them — exposed. I think “tactics” might be a bit more fitting. Dare to give them a try? 😄
I’m interested: What are your thoughts? Have you used any of these tips before to stay in great shape? Do you think you could follow the tips I shared in this article? How early do you train while you’re on vacation? How many times per day? Per week? Leave a comment down below and let me know!