I’ve spent well over a year of my life travelling in total, from short vacays, to study abroads, to being an expat living in another country. It’s actually probably much closer to a couple years of being in a foreign country. From that time away, I’ve definitely learnt my fair share when it comes to travel. Over the course of those couple of years, I’ve picked up various travel tips, some which have stayed and others haven’t. However, the #1 thing that has helped my travel experience more than anything else may surprise you. It’s not about saving money on flights and accommodation. It has nothing to do with packing, being efficient, or travel hacking. In fact, it’s simply a small alteration I made for myself, that has since changed my entire time travelling for the better:
Intermittent Fasting. Aka skipping breakfast.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term/practise/approach/whatever you want to call it, you can learn more about it via the man who got me started on it, JMax Fitness.
Of course, the actual practise of intermittent fasting can vary significantly from person to person. For me, it means not eating until lunch, or whenever I get hungry (usually around noon hour). But I wasn’t always this way. In fact, up to last August, I had never skipped breakfast in my entire life. Let that sink in a moment. The very first thing I did every single morning was eat. And if I even waited ten minutes, my stomach would rumble uncontrollably, and the longer I waited I would start to shake. Essentially, I was completely nonfunctioning until I had food in my belly. The way I started my mornings seemed to dictate the rest of my day. When I started getting hungry throughout the day, I would need to stop what I was doing right that second, and eat. There was no stopping the hunger pangs, or even prolonging them, and my mind couldn’t focus and my vision blurred.
Although my need to eat the very second I got hungry faired just fine in an everyday office setting, this pattern proved rather difficult while travelling. It actually put a damper on my travels, as a good chunk of my time was spent in search of something to eat to ensure I wouldn’t get hangry. It even affected the people I was travelling with. When my boyfriend first started intermittent fasting a few years ago, I scoffed. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Or so we were made to believe (mostly by those large cereal companies, whom influence a lot more than you may think). But besides the well-known “fact”, I just could not even fathom the thought of going the morning without eating. So I dubbed the fad ‘not for me’, and after reading this post on the consequences of fasting with women, I was further convinced.
However, when I moved abroad last year, and started travelling quite often, I realised my experiences were impaired by my immediate need for food at any point in the day. When we’d stay in hotel, or apartment, the first thing I needed to do when I woke up was eat breakfast. Which meant running out the door in search of the nearest food joint. On top of all this, I was pretty particular about what I ate, preferring a good protein & vegg meal than some carb-loaded pastry. This made it even more difficult, as healthier food are tough to get a hold of, especially in a foreign country.
My usual healthy breakfast options: Egg Muffins + Low Carb Granola
My big break actually came accidentally. I became quite sick last summer, and awoke without feeling the need to eat immediately. As I got better, I kept it up, slowly but surely. I started eating breakfast an hour after waking. Then two. Soon, I could go the entire morning, a good 5 or 6 hours without eating and without impairing how I functioned. In fact, I become more productive, better focused, and happier. I now controlled my hunger, and it didn’t control me.
Our first trip (staying in a hotel without breakfast) after I started fasting was daunting. But it proved the easiest trip yet, and after that I was hooked on intermittent fasting. It has completely changed my life and how I travel. Food is no longer the priority for the entire day (although I still love it!). I now just eat whenever I want, whenever is convenient for me. If we’re spending the day hiking and there isn’t a restaurant nearby, no problem. It’s way more convenient while travelling as well, as once we head out of the door of our hotel, instead of wasting time on a lengthly breakfast, we head straight to the sights or whatever we may be doing that day. It’s made travelling, and life in general, all the more enjoyable!