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Non-Restrictive Nutrition Strategies for Vacation

Updated: May 27, 2022

Vacation season is upon us! Summertime is the time of year when most people plan to take time off from work either to vacation, visit family, or even enjoy a nice staycation in their hometown. From long weekend trips a few hours away to traveling across the country or to different parts of the world, vacationing & getting time away from the day to day is always an exciting time.

Sometimes, though, we see newer clients get anxious about traveling & going on vacation. This is usually coming out of a place of not wanting to undo any progress they've while they’re on their trip or face setbacks upon returning home. Mostly, in part, due to the fact that they want to be flexible in the decisions they’re making around their food choices, but don’t want to sacrifice flexibility for loss of progress. And flexibility is exactly what we want for our clients & encourage them to think about it while they’re vacationing!

We usually periodize our client’s nutrition so that they aren’t actively dieting around this time as it tends to be very travel-heavy for many of us. Ideally, they’re in some kind of maintenance phase or slight surplus at this point so that our clients already feel like they have additional freedoms & flexibility around food most of us desire around this time anyway. Then, we can focus on getting them out of the scarcity mindset while they’re on their planned vacations & instead focus on what they know will make them feel good while they’re there.

It’s very common for someone that’s newer to their health & wellness journey to go into a vacation thinking they have to be super restrictive & sacrifice making memories & getting foods they will enjoy to “stay on track.” On the opposite end of the spectrum, we also see people get wrapped up in the “all or nothing” mentality by going absolutely ham on their vacation & completely tossing their nutrition & wellness habits to the curb. This might feel really good in the moment but only leaves them feeling stressed about their body & like crap when they return home.

If any of this sounds like how you approach vacations, we’re here to tell you there is a middle ground! It’s a place in which we can still enjoy ourselves on vacation while still being conscious of our nutrition, fitness, & wellness to a certain degree. Finding your happy medium here will lead to vacations free from guilt, anxiety, & regret around what you did or didn’t eat/did or didn’t do.

Because at the end of the day, vacations are supposed to be enjoyable experiences & experiences that don’t have to be void of making any health-conscious decisions. If you have a vacation coming up & know you want to keep your nutrition a priority while you’re there, today’s blog post is for you! We’ll be diving into some tips, tricks, & suggestions for you on not only how to keep your nutrition a priority while you’re on vacation, but also hopefully make eating while you’re on vacation a more enjoyable experience no matter where you’re at on your health & wellness journey.

Let’s get into it!

Add before you subtract

We love to tell ourselves what we can & can’t have especially on vacation when usually it’s not the presence of foods we typically think of as being “off-limits” that make us feel unsuccessful as much as it is the absence of foods we know make us feel really good. In which case, adding foods that we know are nutrient-dense either to meals we want to indulge in or alongside these meals/fun foods can be an easy way to get in foods we want to eat while also prioritizing foods that make us feel good.

For example, this might look like…

  • Adding berries on top of a delicious, decadent chocolate dessert.

  • Having a side salad with a burger & fries.

  • Ordering a side of fruit with your order of pancakes, eggs, & bacon.

Usually having this add vs. subtract mentality while on vacation makes the whole experience more enjoyable & gives you more room to remain flexible while still keeping your health-oriented goals a priority.

Move your body

When we say “move your body,” we don’t necessarily mean go smash yourself through a full-on workout while you’re on your vacation. We simply mean MOVE in a way that feels good to you. Usually, some type of restorative movement is a great way to reset the body & mind while vacationing.

This means your form of movement on your trip might look like long walks on the beach, hiking in the mountains, doing yoga on the beach or in the crisp mountain air, biking, snorkeling, or even just swimming. Don’t get us wrong, vacation is the perfect time to sit around & be lazy more often than not, but usually taking the opportunity to prioritize some type of daily movement will make you feel better in the long run.

And by all means, if you truly feel like crushing a workout either at your hotel gym, a local CrossFit box, or hitting up a local group fitness class, then go for it! However, there’s no need to force yourself into doing a workout out of fear of losing your gains. Trust us, your gains aren’t going anywhere & the gym will be waiting for you when you get home!


Yes, with water ;)

Of course, consuming alcoholic beverages & letting loose on your vacation is encouraged if that’s what you want to do, but it’s also important to stay hydrated throughout your trip.

Not only will you feel better overall in keeping hydration a priority, but you’ll also be less likely to overconsume & might even feel less hungover the night after some festivities.

You also may be surprised to know that hydration is soooo much more than just drinking enough water. In fact, you can actually drink a bunch of water & be dehydrated if you’re deficient in electrolytes. Especially, if you’re moving around a lot on your trip, choosing to exercise, or even just breaking a sweat by tanning on the beach in a humid climate.

Those that are diffident in electrolytes or dehydrated might feel brain fog, might be extremely thirsty even though they’re drinking plenty of water, or not sweating or peeing even though they’re drinking water. Being dehydrated can also make us feel sluggish & under-recovered coming home post-vacay. This is why we recommend utilizing electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, etc. since they work to bring water to your cells that are circling outside your bloodstream.

Hydrating on your trip might come in a variety of different ways such as…

Drinking plenty of water.

Yes, drinking water is still important for hydration, but how much? General recommendations are that most individuals shoot to consume 2/3 of their body weight in lbs to fluid oz per day. If you’re exercising or moving around a lot, add 15oz of water per hour of exercise or rigorous activity. You also might find it helpful to have a glass or around 8oz of water in between each of your alcoholic beverages of choice to help prevent dehydration or feeling hungover the following day.

Prioritizing fruits & veggies.

These puppies are PACKED with vitamins, minerals & even water! Most fruits & veggies are comprised of a decent amount of water & electrolytes so this is an easy way to up your electrolyte & water intake while you’re on vacation especially if you’re choosing to indulge in some fun foods & drinks.

Salting your food!

Adding pink Himalayan or regular sea salt to your dishes is an easy & delicious way to up your sodium intake. Most restaurants provide salt & pepper on the table so adding a sprinkle in here & there as you remember to do so will do the trick.

Bringing electrolyte packs.

We, personally, love LMNT packs since you get the most bang for your buck in terms of electrolytes per serving. Some other decent options are LiquidIV & Nuun tablets that are very easy to travel with & won’t take up much in your luggage.

Cook when you want

If you have the luxury to stay somewhere in which you have access to a kitchen, cooking some of your meals on your vacation gives you the opportunity to consume meals you know work well for you. You can go to a grocery store or a local convenience store to stock up on some of your at-home staples or even use this time to create different recipes & try out fun meals to also make when you get home.

Cooking meals at your Airbnb or rental when & where you can & as you want to can also be a super cost-effective strategy to cut down on how much money you’re spending on eating out. Breakfast tends to be the easiest meal for most people to cook in when they’re on a vacation. You can either create different breakfast recipes than what you’re used to eating at home or even have a similar breakfast to what you would typically eat in your everyday life. In doing so, you can start your day prioritizing the things you want to focus on (i.e. a high protein, fruit/veggie-dense breakfast) & then have lunch & dinner to enjoy eating out!

Alongside cooking when you can & want to, some of our Clar-e-ty clients find it comforting to shoot for 3 specific meals when they're traveling…

1 meal they NEED

1 meal they’re PROUD OF

And 1 meal they ENJOY

Structuring some or all of your days’ worth of meals using this format while you’re on vacation can be helpful in giving you some guidelines for how you might remain flexible & also prioritize the factors within your nutrition plan that make you feel best & most successful.

Set small goals

In order to help you keep the bigger picture in mind, some of our clients find it helpful to set 1-3 small goals for themselves while they’re on vacation to help them feel set up for success. Usually, the goals clients find most comforting to set are a combination of the tips we’ve laid out above. However, the goals you choose to set for yourself, if any, are ultimately up to you & what makes YOU feel your best. These goals will be specific to you & might even change day-to-day while you’re there, but having some attainable goals set can help to keep you grounded & help you maintain the habits you’re trying to instill even while on vacation.

Some clients find it more comforting to track their intake or some of their meals while they’re on vacation, but many clients choose to not track & enjoy the opportunity to practice their nutrition habits without the accountability of tracking. We encourage our clients not to track, if they feel comfortable doing so, while still setting those 1-3 small goals. This way they create the mental space for themselves to not focus on tracking or hitting specific targets on their vacations.

Some of the most common goals many of our clients find helpful are…

  • Having an identifiable protein and/or fruit/veggie at each meal. This helps them feel like they’re keeping protein & nutrient-dense foods a priority but also gives them the flexibility to get foods they know they will actually enjoy & look forward to eating.

  • Daily movement. As mentioned above, this doesn’t have to look like a grueling workout or going on a 10-mile run but can be something as simple as a daily beach walk or a hike.

  • Prioritizing hydration. This goal tends to feel most inviting & is an easy way to keep your nutrition & health a priority even on vacation.

At the end of the day, a vacation should be fun! Making your nutrition & wellness a priority when you’re on a trip doesn’t have to feel restrictive or like you have to miss out on any of the exquisite cuisines at the destination you’re traveling to.

Our biggest tip is to align your food & drink consumption with how you want to feel while you're away. If you truly want to let loose & not worry about setting goals, moving, hydrating, etc. don’t! Just be prepared to have to take some recovery days after your trip which is totally fine if that’s how you want to play it.

However, if you know you want to feel as good as possible coming home from your vacation, you might look to set 1 to 3 small goals for yourself & choose to focus on filling the majority of your vacation days with the food you know makes you feel good while also sprinkling in treats & drinks in there!

Regardless of if you choose to track, not to track, keep protein, veggies, hydration, & movement a priority or not, all of your nutrition habits & fitness will be waiting for you when you get home. One week of choosing to enjoy a much-needed vacation & not focusing on your nutrition & fitness habits isn’t going to kill your gainz or interfere with any future results or hinder your progress.

What’s most important is that you ENJOY your vacation & then hop right back to your typical nutrition & fitness routine upon your arrival home without guilt, resentment, remorse, or feeling the need to punish yourself.

We hope you enjoy any vacations you’re looking forward to this summer & prioritize some R & R!


Resources and Coaching:

Online Coaching here.

[Free] Nutrition Guide here.

Recipe & Macro Guide here.

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