If someone were to ask you "If you could choose between having enough money to travel the world or enough money to buy a house, a car, and start a family. What would you choose?" The most common answer would to travel the world because people are trying to learn about new experiences.
But, the question that seems to run through some people's minds is "how is it possible to travel but maintain a healthy lifestyle? There are quite a few vegetarians and/or vegans that have found it quite difficult to find those kinds of foods in each country that they are travelling to because some places may not accommodate to vegetarian options.
Generally, when we plan our backpacking journey, we plan the countries that we are going to but not the food we eat and where we are going to eat it. For people that have lived in hostels before, you know how the typical traveler conversation starts; "How are you? What's your name? Where have you been? Where are you from? Where are you going next?" But, after those pleasantries, some people will start talking about the deeper things. Some conversations may include what people do in their "normal lives" and some may say that they miss working out and eating healthy because when they are traveling, they try and eat whatever they can find that is within their budget so that they can also go out with people and not break their budget.
These are some tips that can make eating healthy not a burden on your adventure, to try and fit it in the best you can without feeling guilty.
1) Fast food isn't always a bad thing.
When we get food while traveling, we try to find the quickest, easiest, and cheapest option. 7-Eleven Ham & Cheese toasties are a prime example of that. The problem with that is those options may not exactly be the best for out bodies. The best way to go about this is to choose the "healthiest" fast food option. The good thing about Southeast Asia is their ample amount of street food at any time of day. So, try and find the healthier option but don't feel guilty if you don't. Some example of healthy street food can include Rojak which is relatively healthy because it includes a lot of vegetables and fruit. In Thailand, a healthy food option would be Som Tam (papaya salad) there are many different types of papaya salad but it includes a healthy variation of papaya and sauces. In Vietnam, the few healthy options can include Pho and fresh spring rolls.
2) Eat frequently and in smaller amounts
Southeast Asia has a plethora of options when it comes to food. Whether it be street food, cafes, restaurants, pubs, etc. We are always on the move for most of the day trying to soak up as many sights as we can throughout the time we are in that place. Because of that, we don't usually find the time to really sit down and have a proper meal. But, with the abundance of street food is easy to just grab and go. But, the key to staying healthy and having enough energy is to eat frequently throughout the day and in small amounts. If you eat large amounts at one time, it is most likely that you will feel sluggish after an hour or two. You want all the energy you can get when you are walking around in the heat
3) Skip the alcohol
When someone hears the word "backpacking" they assume that it is all about going to each country, seeing the sights, and going out on a night out because it is cheaper in this part of the world than anywhere else. However, as much as it may be fun at the moment, the next morning you and your bank account would most likely be crying. Another thing about alcohol is that thee are so many empty calories in each drink and the sugar content is so high that your body and liver will not be happy with you. If you do plan on going out, limit yourself to just a few days of fun.
4) Eat as healthy as possible in restaurants
When we go out to eat, we try to eat things that we normally don't get at home because it is either too unhealthy or too time consuming to make. But, one of the best ways to stay healthy is to try and find the healthiest option on the menu. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't try the local food of course, or indulge once in a while, but try and go for things that you might eat when you are at home in full training mode.
When you are traveling on a budget, your main priority is not to find a gym to spend so much money on a day pass. However, now-a-days with the abundance of "at-home workout videos online, you could even find an open space somewhere to do a workout. Another way to stay in shape is walking, Sometimes public transportation can be tedious and irritating and getting a Grab or Uber is a hassle because of traffic. So, if you are going to a new city try and walk around to see the sights because not only are you getting exercise, but you may also see things that you might not be able to see if you are in a car.
6) Enjoy yourself, Don't deprive yourself, Don't get down on yourself!
The whole point of traveling is to enjoy your surroundings, learn different cultures and get away from your "normal life" You don't want to be that one person who is constantly counting calories and saying that there are things you don't want to eat because they are too many calories or too healthy. You need to experience everything to the fullest, but also try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you are feeling like things are getting too much, take a step back and evaluate what you really want from your trip. If you slip on your diet, don't get down on yourself and just enjoy. You always know that when you get back you can get back on the wagon.