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3 Active Vacation Ideas

July 23, 2014
by Staci Amend

A vacation can be an excuse to binge on guilty pleasures: long days lounging in your beach chair, trashy novels, copious cocktails and extra helpings at every meal. We’re all for recharging one’s batteries, but in the end, will you really feel relaxed after your splurge-y holiday…or stressed out about having strayed from your healthy lifestyle?

Here’s an easy solution: plan your next vacation around a fun physical activity, and you’ll not only work off the extra calories you ingest sampling the local fare—you’ll also be more likely to make healthy food choices at any latitude. Here are a few ideas for making your next getaway equal parts happy and healthy, and sticking to your weight loss motivation.

1. Explore Costa Rica
This tiny Central American country, which is only about the size of Massachusetts, is a veritable adventurer’s paradise—with thousands of fun, fascinating ways to make working out feel decidedly unlike work. Within its 25+ national parks and countless preserves and protected areas, you’ll find mile after mile of natural beauty to explore. Hike at elevation in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Visit deserted islands by sea kayak in the Nicoya Peninsula. Circumnavigate an active volcano in La Fortuna—then soothe your tired muscles in magma-heated pools. More good news: Tíco (Costa Rican) food is always fresh and healthy, with lots of rice, beans and sautéed fresh veggies on virtually every menu.

2. Cycle around Europe
The Europeans invented bike culture, so when in Rome (or Amsterdam, for that matter) skip the stuffy tour bus and see the city by cycle. Many major cities throughout the EU have self-service bike rental stations at locations around town, and you can find cycling tour maps all over the Internet. Traveling by bike gives you an intimate perspective that you won’t get with a tour group—and you’ll be much less likely to overeat if there’s a brisk ride in your near future. Cities that rank highest for beautiful bike paths and easy access to key attractions: Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin and Barcelona. If you’re more of an open-road or organized tour type, try a cycling tour of Tuscany. Each challenging hill reveals a vista more beautiful than the last.

3. Pick a park - any park
Want to stay a little closer to home? America’s National Park system is a rich and vastly untapped resource for active travelers. Hike or raft the incredible Grand Canyon, and cross a killer trip off your bucket list. Hit Yosemite for a trip up world-famous Half Dome; thanks to a sturdy cable system bored right into this iconic semi-circular rock, even moderate hikers can make the summit. Spend a thrilling day on the blue-hued ice at Glacier National Park, or cycle from geyser to geyser at Yellowstone. Chances are, you grew up hearing about these amazing places, now’s your chance to see the truly great outdoors that’s in your own backyard.

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