How to stay healthy on your summer holiday

Going on holiday changes our day-to-day routine and can impact diet, skin health, and the amount of physical activity we're getting.

Thankfully, with a few adjustments before and during our holiday, we can all look and feel healthier whilst soaking up some summer sun.

We've put this quick and easy guide together to showcase some of the tips and tricks we use both before and during our holidays to help us look and feel great when we're away.

Six weeks before your holiday

Find your 'why'

Before launching into a new health regime, establish your ‘why’.

Are you looking to change your body composition or boost your energy levels? Do you have sensitive skin that could potentially burn and ruin your holiday, or are you looking to avoid bloating after a big meal?

Defining your holiday goals is the first step to making them happen. They can be as big or small as you want, but try to focus on maximising your enjoyment and minimising the negative impact of things you can control while you're away.

Seek expert advice

Now you’ve defined your ’why,' seek the help of an expert who can help with the 'how'.

At Nuffield Health, we can help connect you with a range of professionals who can provide advice to help you get the most out of your holiday and prevent health issues from spoiling your trip.

This includes:

  • Personal trainers
  • Nutritional therapists
  • General practitioners
  • Physiologists
  • Health Assessment screenings

Click here to learn more about our broad range of services

Avoid drastic changes

Establishing a realistic plan will help avoid unsustainable and unrealistic plans or goals. You wouldn't jump right into a new exercise plan two weeks before a race, so try to avoid doing the same when it comes to your holiday.

If you have a goal or health problem you want to get assessed, do it at least a month before you're going on holiday. That way, you can get used to any medication, exercises, or dietary changes you need to make before you leave.

Make yourself accountable

Connect with groups of like-minded people who inspire, motivate and support you to reach your goals. This might mean you enlist the help of friends and family to keep you on track before your holiday. Accountability can be a really valuable tool for staying focused and disciplined.

One week before your holiday

Know what you're going to be eating

Stock up on healthy, portable snacks so you’re never caught ‘hangry’ in unfamiliar territory.

If you're travelling abroad and don't eat certain foods, make sure you've taken that into account. Visiting a new country means different cuisines that may not cater for specific dietary requirements.

Prepare your skin for the sun

Amp up your skin’s defence with a skin supportive supplement that combines vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and biotin to protect from within. Eat antioxidant rich foods such as vegetables, fruit and try to drink healthier liquids like green tea.

Stock up on sun cream to prevent short and long-term skin damage. Look for a broad-spectrum cream, that protects from both UVA, which causes premature ageing, and UVB, which causes burning. As well as SPF, check for a star rating, which is the measure of UVA protection. Three to five stars is usually sufficient.

During your holiday

Be kind to yourself and monitor your anxiety levels

Feeling anxious about your trip? Send a message to your sympathetic nervous system that everything is fine. Try taking deep breaths and internalise some calming dialogue to try and kick your anxiety into touch.

This might sound something like:

  • "Thanks, but you’re not needed right now"
  • "I'm not in any immediate danger"
  • "I recognise how i'm feeling, but i'm going to try and have fun instead"

Eat locally and enjoy fresh food!

Explore local delicacies for a fresher seasonal meal that's been expertly prepared meal. As well as being freshly prepared, local meals will make you feel more acquainted with the locals. 

Consider combining meals if you’re getting up later

If you're sleeping in or waking up later than usual, brunch and an indulgent evening meal later in the evening should see you through.

Top up on food rich in beta carotene and anti-inflammatory properties such as tomatoes, oily fish, nuts and seeds to help heal sun-damaged skin and enjoy the extra rest we all know and love on holiday!

Manage your alcohol intake

Limit the amount of cocktails you drink to avoid nasty hangovers. The same goes for heavier drinks like lager and shots. Enjoy yourself, but don't overindulge if you're worried about feeling rough the following morning.

A few glasses of wine with a meal or a clear spirit with a light mixer, interspersed with plenty of water is a wiser choice.

Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water

One of the most vital bits of advice we can give you is to drink plenty of water. If you're out in the sun all day, you'll naturally sweat more, meaning you have to drink even more to stay hydrated.

This is especially important if you're drinking alcohol. Many people drink alcoholic beverages and fall asleep in the sun, which can be incredibly dangerous.

Drink more water than you think you'll need and spread your intake out across the day to make sure your body is nice and hydrated.

Treat sunburn the right way

Cool any sunburned skin for at least 45 minutes to minimise blistering. Don’t pick peeling skin or burst blisters. Hydrate with oil-based moisturiser which won’t sting broken skin.

Take a travel pro-biotic to regulate your digestion, protect against bad bacteria and reduce risk of traveller's diarrhoea: look for one containing non-pathogenic yeast.

Reduce bloating

Bypass the bloat by swapping out refined white carbs for wholegrains. Reduce the amount of wheat you're eating and always remember to hydrate regularly.

Take a travel pro-biotic to regulate your digestion, protect against bad bacteria and reduce risk of traveller's diarrhoea: look for one containing non-pathogenic yeast.

The bottom line

Your summer holiday may only last for two weeks, but the health and wellbeing benefits you'll get from following the advice above can extend far longer.

From fine-tuning your nutrition and exercise to improving your mental health, a holiday in a relaxing setting  is an excellent opportunity to develop habits that will nurture your mind, body, and spirit all year round.


The following Nuffield Health experts helped provide advice and expertise during the writing of this article:

Last updated Wednesday 29 May 2024

First published on Thursday 2 May 2019