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How to Plan a Fit and Fun Vacation

Getting ready for a getaway? These three tips will ensure you enjoy yourself to the maximum while keeping your waistline to a minimum.

You've created a healthy lifestyle in your day-to-day routine, so it makes sense to create a vacation that enhances, rather than sabotages, your fitness efforts. Begin organizing your vacation by thinking about the outcome. Do you want your clothes to fit just as well when you come home as when you leave? Would you like to return rested? Would you like to strengthen ties with your traveling companions?

If your goal is come back fit, energized, and emotionally nourished, keep these three FIT tips in mind:

F = Fun.  A vacation allows you to abandon your daily chores and responsibilities and explore opportunities to have fun and stay fit. Save plenty of room for play on your vacation. Dude ranches in Montana, yoga and dance classes in Mexico, themed cruise lines, and all-inclusive resorts—these can provide fun and fitness for everyone.

Walking is the easiest and cheapest way to explore new territory, whether your journey includes urban hiking or guided tours through the mountains and historical sites. By relying on your feet, you will you learn more about your destination while burning calories.

Continue doing the exercises you enjoy: Swimmers might snorkel in the ocean, dancers might try hula or salsa lessons, and bicyclists might explore new roads and trails.

I = Individualize.  Rather than abandon your routine, take your fitness journey to a new level. Get on the Internet and do some research to find out what activities, classes, and resources are available at your destination or along the way. Think through the different forms of exercise you can integrate into your vacation, taking into account age, conditioning, and preferences. A destination resort generally includes something for everyone.

Tasting new and wonderful foods can be a highlight of a trip. Think through how you will choose foods when eating out, or consider an activity that will compensate for extra calories.

Vary your activities so sedentary activities, such as riding in a car, alternate with physical activities. Pre-pack snacks and water so there is no need to succumb to fast food.

T = Together. Select what works for you and reconnect with family and friends. Set aside time to be together. Replace technology with a group activity. Encourage your traveling companions to join you for a walk, swim, or a game of catch. Lessons in surfing, scuba diving, dancing, and cooking—all encourage group interaction.

Certain destinations cater to families and friends by providing healthy activities, such as horseback riding, river rafting, "sky walks" among the trees in a rain forest, or going through a ropes course.

While we may go on vacation, our bodies don't. We still need to eat consciously and to exercise regularly. Follow the three tips I've outlined and you'll come back a new person—ready to reenter your life with enthusiasm and optimism.

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