Every heard of the ‘Heathrow Injection?’ Some of you will know it all too well… it’s the 5-10kgs all Aussie backpackers and gap year kids seem to whack on simply by arriving in London. BAM. I’ve personally been there and done that. Living and eating at a UK boarding school, becoming a Malibu and Coke connoisseur and consuming my fair share of tea and biscuits really was not a great idea in hindsight. Who’d have thought?
Since that fateful year, I’ve managed to return from trips overseas feeling relatively healthy – but I’ll admit it’s not easy! The change in routine, the happy holiday carefree-ness, all that eating out conspires to have you returning home with a little more junk in the trunk. So what’s a gal to do? Here are my tried and tested tips for staying healthy and active overseas, and coming home with nothing but a sweet tan.
Be the nerd on the plane that packs their own food
I cannot recommend this highly enough. Did you know at high altitude your tastebuds aren’t as sensitive – so airline food has a bunch of added salt, sugar and fat to make it taste better? Not cool. It leaves you bloated and feeling crappy – the worst way to start your trip. Instead, pack nutrient dense snacks and meals to fuel your journey. My carry-on bag usually contains a big bottle of water (try to avoid the drink cart as alcohol and soft drink will only dehydrate you even more), lots of crunchy snacks like roasted chickpeas, carrots and pistachios, a big quinoa salad and some homemade protein balls. I also pack some relaxing herbal tea to help me get some zzzz’s (just ask the airhostess for a cup of boiling water!).
Walk baby, walk
Overseas adventures are for WALKING. Fall into bed exhausted because you’ve been on the go all day type of walking. Compared to my usual 9-5 at a desk, I’m much more active on holidays which is AWESOME because I’m also probably also eating Italian pizza instead my usual office salad. Make the most of it, pack comfy shoes.
Eat breakfast at home
Eating at new places is always a huge part of our travels – and can easily slide into 1, 2 or 3 meals out and about. If you have the facilities (we always stay somewhere with a kitchen) prepare your breakky at home. It sounds like nothing, but having total control over at least one meal really starts your day on the right track. Plus how fun is browsing foreign supermarkets for new and wonderful mueslis, yoghurts and fruits?! No? Maybe that’s just me…
Incorporate exercise into your trip in a cool way
Hitting the gym on a holiday – not on your life! There’s no way I’m wasting travel time being stuck in a stuffy room when I could be out exploring. Try to incorporate fun activities (funtivities!) into your day that also get some blood pumping – hire bikes and cruise the beachfront, go canoeing, attempt to play golf or suss out a sweet hike and pack a good lunch to have at the top. Personally, we’re big on trips that actually revolve around stuff like snowboarding, surfing or hiking – it’s a great excuse to see new countries (plus you can eat A LOT in the evening…) WIN.
Eating the local cuisine not only immerses you in another culture but ensures you’re eating the freshest produce. Pho in Vietnam, minestrone in Italy, noodles in Japan…. you get the gist. Pick up on their eating habits too – ever noticed Europeans don’t snack? Goddam those sexy Swedes. Savour your meals and get involved!
Best of London:
Returning to London 8 years after my gap year (feeling old) was a totally different experience from my first time round. Where as before I was pretty content eating at any old Aussie Bar (the shame!) this time I armed myself with a list of foodie hot spots – mostly in East London – and created a 48 hour hit list.* London has probably the most varied food scene I’ve come across; hipster Korean bar next to loud Mexican diner next to traditional gastro-pub. Definitely my kind of scene.
* Insert BIG celebrity brag. While in Switzerland I met Jamie Oliver. Holy crap. Long and very awesome story that ended with us having a few drinks with him one spectacular afternoon, and getting his top recommendations for the best London eats. My life is seriously complete.
There are literally thousands of places to go in London. But here are some of our favourites (both stumbled upon and recommended)…
London’s food mecca and my absolute favourite place to visit. Go on a Friday instead of Saturday if you can to miss the heaving crowds.
On the Bab
Uber trendy Korean hot spot in East London. Kimchi on everything please!
Albion Cafe, Bakery and Foodstore
Go for a proper English tea and breakfast or check out the foodstore attached for hand-made muesli.
Best coffee in East London – try the filter.
All that you’d expect of a Jamie Oliver venue! Sophisticated but still relaxed with hearty warming menu.
Unpretentious little cafe off the tourist trail – try the poached pears or eggs & salmon.
Tiny café where you can expect to be welcomed by some of the friendliest staff (that also happen to do a very good coffee). If you want to have an entire café to yourself – head here.
Where we stayed
Incredible apartment in Shoreditch, East London.