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5 big diet mistakes travelers make

Rich, exotic foods. Large portion sizes. Festive drinks. It’s no wonder many of us can gain five pounds while on vacation. Not only are the choices different, our schedules are, too.  

“When you’re away, whether for vacation or on a business trip, your entire schedule is thrown off,” said Jillian Reece, RD, of the Weight and Wellness Center at Tufts Medical Center.  “You may be sleeping later so you find you skip breakfast, but you don’t have dinner until 9pm and you’re skipping your regular workout routine.”

But being away from home, and your kitchen, doesn’t mean you need to resolve yourself to the extra pounds.

“You will most certainly be dining out while you’re away, probably for every meal. You need to be mindful about what you choose, while still giving yourself some leeway to enjoy different foods,” said Melissa Page, RD of the Weight and Wellness Center.

Here are some common mistakes travelers make when it comes to what they eat while on the road:

  1. Living on Room Service

    Most hotels, especially those that have late-night service, tend to offer high calorie foods – pizza, meats with gravy, pasta and burgers. Be sure to choose wisely, asking for a lean protein like a fish or grilled chicken and vegetables. For breakfast, skip the sugar-powdered pancakes and choose scrambled eggs with fruit.

  2. Eating While Driving – to Stay Awake!

    When you are spending hours and hours in the car, it seems only natural to stop occasionally for a break. Drive through windows make it easy to also grab food on the run, but beware most of what’s offered is high in calories and fat.  Go into the rest stop’s convenience store, and it’s likely you may come out with a bag of chips or some other high calories snack. The experts say it’s too easy to go through a large bag of chips while driving and not being mindful of what you eat, especially since these types of foods are not very filling. The solution: think ahead. Bring pre-portioned, nutrient dense snacks, like trail mix (check out or Happy Trail Mix recipe), nuts, a dry high-fiber cereal, or peanut butter on pita bread.

  3. Consuming Fancy, Umbrella Drinks!

    Yes, they are festive and perfect for vacation-mode.  But watch the calorie content of your alcoholic choices.  Opt for a light beer or glass of wine vs. a margarita and you’ll save 500 calories or more. High calorie libations include Long Island Ice Tea (780), Pina Colada (640), and Mai Tai (350). A typical beer or glass of wine is in the 120 calorie range.

  4. Eating High Calorie Foods Without Really Enjoying Them

    How many times do you start your trip away with a not-so-delicious fatty airport hamburger and side of fries? Would those calories taste better spent somewhere else? Try eating something light from home before you travel. Or bring a protein bar or cheese and whole wheat crackers. Save the big calorie meals for a special dinner or that Philly cheesesteak sandwich you’ve always heard about.

  5. Drinking Too Little Water

We all know you can’t bring your own water onto an airplane, but you CAN bring an empty water bottle, and fill it once you go through the gate. Staying hydrated helps you maintain energy. Plus, people often mistake being thirst for being hungry, once cause of overeating.  When looking for an afternoon pick-me-up, reach for the water bottle and not a cup of coffee, which can be further dehydrating.