Should You Worry About Your Weight During Your Travels?

As I gazed into the mirror and stared at the scale I realized something: I am overweight.

But hey, let’s backtrack a little bit, shall we?

This all started one rainy morning in Budapest a few days ago when I made the decision of not paying for the funicular up to Buda Hill and instead decided to hike it.

After 7 minutes of going up I was starting to have problems breathing. After 15 minutes my head started to feel dizzy and I had to actually sit down for a long period of time in order to calm myself.

“Come on, Raphael, you climbed the Great Wall of China! You conquered the cliffs of Easter Island! You even boarded down an active volcano in Nicaragua! What’s wrong with you today?” I kept thinking inside my mind.

The answer was a simple one that I refused to hear and it took me a while to finally admit: I have had let myself go.

Polish BBQ Hell Yeah!

Come on, this is really hard to resist!

My problem with weight loss: The story of my life

It might be surprising for you to learn that back in primary school (and most of high-school) I was the funny fat kid who cracked jokes at classes and everybody loved to hang around with…but never in a romantic way.  In fact, did you know that I never dated anyone until I was 20 years old? Shocker.

When I first started college in Monterrey, Mexico I decided to completely focus on my health and started to eat better (and less) plus I finally went to the gym for the first time. In my first two years there I lost more than 20 kilos (44 pounds) and not only did my confidence improved but also my physical prowess.

I was indestructible. I was fit as hell. I was dating the most beautiful girls of the class. I was the soul of the parties. I was the king of the world!

And then…France happened.

How I learned not to worry about my physical appearance

During my time abroad, from being a student in France to a expat worker in Argentina I learned that physical appearance was overrated and that (as long as you feel healthy) a little bit of extra weight here and there doesn’t harm anybody. I decided to just focus on enjoying life and stop worrying about going to the gym at all.

The best part? I started to try all sorts of new different meals and specialties (because come on, eating only fruits and chicken breasts gets boring after a few weeks) while still enjoying the same lifestyle I had back in Mexico. And hey, did you know you can eat in Europe for less than 4 euros a day?

I realized that I didn’t need to be physically fit in order to feel indestructible. I didn’t need to be physically fit in order to date the most beautiful girls of the city. I didn’t need to be physically fit in order to be the soul of the parties. I didn’t need to be physically fit to be the king of the world. All I needed was to have confidence and well, just be myself!


Yes, I'm fat. Kind of

2014: Me in Hungary at the age of 24

All of that is good until you realize that your health is in danger

I’m no expert on fitness and concepts such as body mass index and adrenal fatigue . What I do know is that being out of breath after hiking for 7 minutes is a warning for an early heart attack and a clear signal that I needed to improve my eating habits. What I do know is that being 1.76 meters tall (5’8 feet) while having a weight of 84 kilograms (185 pounds) is probably not healthy.

Scratch that. It’s definitely NOT healthy.  So, while I will still try the amazing local cuisine during my travels, I will also do my best now to avoid things that are bad for a healthy life. It’s time to say goodbye to the kebabs and welcome back tropical fruits! And yes, some morning jogging is definitely a must-do!

Dieting is all about having discipline and it’s better to take care of it now before the problem is already too big to fix (the problem being me in this case). Have you ever gotten fat during your travels? Got any tips to share to stay healthy on the road? Do you think I look sexy despite being fat? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think (especially about that last question haha)!!!


Fresh fruit in Turkey

Not a bad choice for breakfast. And lunch. Probably diner too.

14 Responses

  1. Agness

    Don’t worry mate. Every traveler who is a real foodie struggled or still struggle with the weight. Try to move more!! It will help! :) Don’t give up on eating and drinking though :D!!

  2. World Travel Family

    Opposite here. I suppose because I come from the “fat” parts of the world, Australia and the UK, when I get to Asia, my favourite part of the world, the weight just drops off. I’m looking forward to getting back on the road, 2 cruisses, a month in the USA and now a few months in London = lard arse. But I’m 48 so people don’t care so much.

  3. Alli Blair

    It’s interesting for me to read people making statements like “I wanted to focus on enjoying life, so I stopped exercising.” I would neither be happy or enjoying life if I stopped being active. Healthy living – eating well and exercising, is a great passion of mine. I don’t think it needs to be an ultimatum between one or the other, you can do both! Exercise, eat well, and treat yourself every so often :) I don’t think you can go wrong there.

  4. Charli & Ben

    Being healthy and active, and enjoying life, is part and parcel in my world. If I feel heavy and sluggish I avoid certain activities, I worry about my appearance – shallow perhaps I know – and I find I don;t enjoy the experiences I have when I travel. For me health is a gift everyone should grant themselves. Eat, drink and be merry of course! Just don’t then sit on your backside all day!!

  5. megan_claire

    Great post – though Ive found when I travel I actually lose weight – probably because I’m more active when I travel and always make an effort to walk to explore a city, whereas when Im at home I tend to stay inside like a hermit in my computer chair to work on my blog!!

  6. Mytanfeet

    Yeison and I are both having this dilemma right now… we’ve been eating SOOO much since we left Costa Rica haha. We’ve been walking a button but then again we eat a lot too haha. Sometimes it’s hard to resist all the yummy food but everything has to be balance in life.

  7. Hannah Logan

    Always a problem when travelling! You want to try everything ( especially the bad stuff). I make myself pay for it by walking everywhere, using stairs etc. so far it’s worked out

  8. The Crowded Planet

    Oh Raphael, I definitely know how you feel. I’ve always been slim and when I went to Asia for the first time, I couldn’t stop eating. I can’t look at my pics of the trip, it’s the only time in my life I’ve been fat. In any case, I agree with Alli. Healthy, active life can be fun – you should try rock-climbing!

  9. Escaping Abroad

    I guess I’m in the minority here – I find it incredibly easy to stay fit and travel. There’s a gym in nearly every single medium and large sized city in the world. Most are cheap. What’s 45 minutes 3 times a week.. a tiny percentage of your time! Traveling isn’t an excuse to neglect your body and mind’s health and well being :)

  10. Globetrotter Travel Guide

    Raphael, I’m sure you weren’t in danger of a heart attack. haha! 185 at 5’8″ is not bad for your age. I’m almost twice your age and lugged my 65 pound pack (first backpacking trip!) up the Berg Lake Trail around Mount Robson and survived. I’m carrying about 30 pounds more than you and I’m only a couple inches taller. I will travel lighter next time though!

  11. Chronicles of a Travel Addict

    Yeah, I’ve definitely gained *a bit* of weight indulging in travels over the past 11 years… Even with all of the walking and trekking, it still happens. You’re not alone!

  12. Clare

    I love this.. I recently wrote an article for another source called… Having my cake and travelling the world too. I experience, fight and bask in gaining weight while travelling. It’s almost excusable (to an extend) :)

  13. Escape Hunter

    I tend to lose a lot of weight whenever I travel. I’m actually struggling to find ways to compensate the losses.
    Why? I wander, climb, even run a lot during my trips.
    I think it’s actually very healthy to travel :)

  14. Vincenzo Politi

    The secret is doing some ‘fasting cycles’. We are used to think that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, but in reality what is really important is what you eat and when you eat it. We actually don’t need all the food we usually have. You can comfortably skip breakfast and just have lunch and an early(ish) dinner. In this way, between your dinner and your next meal, you will be fasting for 16+ hours every day.
    Last week I went to Spain: I was eating all sorts of tapas and drinking beers every evening, but in the morning I was walking around Barcelona, admiring the stunning beauties of the city, on an empty stomach and with only a bottle of water with me. Still, I was feeling energised. Actually, if you start to eat less, although it may feel a bit weird at the beginning, you will ALWAYS feel more energised. And, of course, you can still have breakfast every now and then: this is just a method to keep an eye on your weight.