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Losing Weight: Another Perk of Long-Term Travel

We often think that embarking on long-term travel will cause everything in our lives to deteriorate, from our safety to our waistlines.

Having almost been blown up back home in Boston this week, however, I assure you that’s not the case.

For nine straight months of travel, I was perfectly safe on rickety Southeast Asian buses, in creaky Ghanaian hotels, and on the streets of notoriously mugger-friendly Southern Spain.

And yet, in month one of my new apartment in Boston, I just found out that there was a giant gas leak seeping from a hole in one of our pipes, slowly spewing toxic, flammable fumes into our lungs, ready to ignite at the first spark!

Thanks to some sharp-nosed friends, I reported the smell and a VERY alarmed gas technician came immediately to fix it. But… sheesh! What an annoyance it would have been to explode back home after successful long-term travel abroad!

BEFORE: 8/15/09, my bro and my pudgier face before flying to Japan
BEFORE: 8/15/09, my bro and my pudgier face before flying to Japan

And here’s another surprising boon of extended travel besides the fact that it’s often safer than being back home: Travel appears to have slimmed me down!

Check out these before and after photos and judge for yourself. Pre-travel I was a cheeky little missy. Post-travel, I got a nice defined chin goin’ on. If you trace the progression on the 400 photo-filled articles on this blog, you may see the steady change as well.

Now, this weight loss is NOT what I would have expected, given the ridiculous number of articles on this blog with the label: “Lusciousness: Food.”

But when I ponder it, I can see some reasons why travel could tighten up one’s body:

  • Extended travel makes you lose bulkiness and gain lean muscle from the miles and miles of walking you do, and the many times you hoist your big backpack!
  • All the food I ate abroad combined likely had less toxic preservatives than one week of processed American food!
  • When you travel for months on end, you HAVE to learn moderation in food and drink, because a hedonistic vacation lifestyle can only last so long before your system freaks out.
  • Before I left, I was in an extremely stressful job, and thus was stress-eating like crazy. During long-term travel, you can often sleep as much as you want, and do anything it takes to make yourself less stressed. And thus some of that stress weight melts away.
Losing weight from travel
AFTER: Skinny face on 5/29/10 at a friend’s wedding
  • While traveling, I had a whole year without winter, meaning I didn’t gain that customary cold weather insulating pudge.
  • Since it was warm everywhere I went and there were lots of coasts, there was much swimming to be done, and swimming is superb exercise.
  • Long-term travel with no steady income means a miniature budget, which forces you to think extra hard before paying for another snack or a bigger meal.
  • There are lots and lots of nubile young backpackers on the road with you, and thus you have extra incentive to keep up with their muscular physique!
  • Almost certainly, you will get sick during long-term travel, which, for better or worse, re-sets your system.
  • When you travel in Developing Countries and live with local people, you cannot indulge in constant expensive eating as you might in America with friends, because your local friends do not and cannot live that way.

So there you have it: want to lose weight? You can either exercise more and eat better at home… or hop on a plane and start traveling for months on end. Or, as in my case, you can do both! Here’s to stayin’ healthy, chums.


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Lindsay Hartfiel

Wednesday 28th of March 2012

I'm unfortunately one of the few who has had the opposite happen. During my 5 months in Italy and 1.5 years in Costa Rica I GAINED weight both times. Even though I was walking more (and sweating a lot more in Costa Rica), I packed on the pounds. I think of it as "happy" weight, though!


Thursday 29th of March 2012

"Happy weight"! Love it!


Saturday 19th of November 2011

interesting article check it out! ive been living in mexico city for the past 5 months and have lost almost 7 kgs without "consciously trying"... bit freaked out at first, but if i consider the dietary changes (much fresher food than back home), lots and lots of chilli consumption (supposed to boost metabolism ive heard?) and now this altitude theory (mexico city has a moderately high altitude and where i come from is at sea level)... hmm possible explanation!


Sunday 7th of January 2018

Wow that’s incredible I have found this article I have recently returned back home to Canada from a long term travel in Mexico City and have returned 15 pounds lighter. Although I feel I was eating more there and frequently. It could have been there are more healthy options and tortillas and hot peppers are included in almost anything you eat. Also I believe as a foreigner from upper part of North America you may burn more calories from a faster metabolism.


Saturday 19th of November 2011

Interesting! Thanks for sharing!

Sofia L :)

Monday 17th of October 2011

I think that all the traveling you did made you lose weight and feel exhausted at the same time, but the good thing is that you had fun. Now that your back in Boston you might have gain some of the calories you lost so you aren't that skinny. :)


Tuesday 20th of September 2011

That IS a bonus!

Back at home I'm a huge snacker! Like, every hour of every day. But now that I'm on the road, you can't always be snacking in temples or munching away on goodies while scootering coastlines.

Just another perk to travel!


Monday 13th of December 2010

This article is so true! Usually when I travel I become a little hesitant of trying new foods which can causes me to lose weight, and I frequently get sick. When I return home, my appetite sky-rockets but I still don't gain weight, which frustrates me. There should be different methods to gain weight while traveling, as well as when you're home because nothing seems to work for me!

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