9 Reasons You’ll Lose Weight Traveling

Travel weight loss is a snap if you visit the right part of the world


Forget your fear of packing on the pounds after a 10-day Caribbean cruise. Where you’re going, there are no all-you-can-eat buffets, thousand-calorie cocktails or cheese lover’s pizza.

Hell, there probably isn’t even cheese.

Where you’re going, my friend, is to a magical land of effortless travel weight loss, where the very foods you eat and air you breathe will melt the pounds away faster than you can say “How can I do this at home?”

Here are 9 reasons why long-term, international travel will help you lose weight (sometimes whether you like it or not.)

1. You’ll get sick

Ok, I hope that it goes without saying that I’m not suggesting you try and get food poisoning.

That being said, you probably will get food poisoning at some point during your travels. If not the full-blown, coming-out-both-ends version, you’ll at least get traveler’s diarrhea as your stomach attempts to navigate the rocky waters of so many foreign invaders being dumped down your gullet.

The good news is that once you’ve recovered (as a mean, lean, 10-pounds-lighter version of you), your system will be able to handle just about anything.


Best crab ever or worst food poisoning yet?

Get sick early in your trip, and you can relax the rest of the time you’re traveling. Hell, after my Exorcist-like episode in Nepal, my immune system is so strong I don’t even have to wash my hands anymore.

Kidding. Kind of.

2. The food is fresh

Meet your dinner.

Meet your dinner.

That chicken you’re eating never saw the inside of a truck, was never shipped anywhere, and was never frozen. In fact, she probably lived about a block away from the restaurant you’re eating in right now.

In the absence of hormones, preservatives, and the chemicals we’re used to ingesting when we eat at home, the body begins to deflate at lightning speed.

You can even choose “bad” foods – like fried foods, and bread – because somehow even those are less fattening.

My theory is that all of the ingredients used in Southeast Asia, and even in developing areas of Eastern Europe, are just “closer to home” – the butter was churned a few doors down, the flour was milled at a local farm, the milk came out of someone’s friend’s cow a few hours ago.

I’m no expert, but it seems to me that freshness is much more important than the ingredients themselves when it comes to losing weight. Pancakes in Los Angeles make me fat. Pancakes in Vietnam do not.

3. You’re constantly active


When you’re traveling, the majority of your time is spent doing stuff, seeing stuff, then getting up early the next day to go do and see even more stuff.

A lot of the time, the coolest stuff can only be accessed via exercise. That is to say, in order to experience what you’ve come to experience, you must first hike to the stupa, climb the waterfall, kayak down the river or cycle across town. In a lot of cases, there simply are no non-exertive (read: motorized) options available.

Even if you’re not into exercise or adventure travel, you’ll end up exercising more than ever simply by going to see cool stuff in whatever town you’re in.

I mean, you’re not going to not see the largest Buddha statue in Vietnam, just because it’s at the top of 200 steps, right? Right.

4. You’ll eat less

Hungry? Here ya go.

Hungry? Here ya go.

People eat less in other parts of the world. In Nepal, dahlbat is served 2x per day, and there’s rarely snacking in between.

In many of the Asian countries I’ve visited, it seems that locals simply don’t eat that much, at least by Western standards. One or two meals per day is the norm.

In Taiwan, on the other hand, people seemed to eat constantly, but it’s always something small – a smoothie, a handful of nuts or seeds, a chicken foot. The eating habits of the entire country make a great case for the whole metabolism-boosting theory.

And yes, a chicken foot.

What surprised me most was how easy it was to fall into the routine of infrequent eating. In Taiwan, I ate less because I was a) a big chicken, and b) too afraid to try a big chicken (foot).

In my subsequent travels, I’ve found it really easy to adopt the eat-to-live habits of those around me.

Again, I’m no scientist and no diet expert. All I know is that when I’m around people who eat less, I eat less, and when I eat less, I lose weight.

5. You’ll feel like a heffer

I feel ginormous.

I feel ginormous.

So….Americans are fat. We all know this. We see the reports of epidemic obesity on the nightly news, we joke about our portion sizes, we marvel at the mesmerizing 500-pound creatures who tend to frequent state fairs…

But it’s not us, right? We’re normal. We could stand to lose 10 pounds, sure, but we’re not overweight.

And then you step off the plane…..

I’m not saying you should lose weight. However, being around people who are infinitely more fit than you are does something to your psyche.

I believe that people are like fish – we adapt to our environment. Put us in a big fish bowl with lots of space, we’ll eat more and grow large. Put us in a tiny space with other tiny fish, we’re sure to follow suit.

Besides, it’s impossible to feel sexy next to gorgeous 90-pound Thai women who manage to make that weight look not only healthy, but like it’s the epitome of femininity.

You may not be inclined to shoot for double digits, but you may very well be inclined to shoot for your own healthy number.

6. You’ll have to wear a swimsuit


High heels and model pose are optional.

It’s not hard to never wear a swimsuit at home, but when you’re traveling, there’s always a pool, a sauna, or a midnight skinny-dipping opportunity that seems to be calling your name.

You’re not going to want to feel gross in your swimsuit – especially next to all the tiny local girls!

7. There’s no dairy or wheat

things this delicious actually CAN be good for you

Things this delicious actually CAN be good for you

This reason applies specifically to Asia, where dairy and wheat are rarely used in traditional cooking. You won’t even notice they’re missing either, as you try all sorts of fresh, flavorful, delicious dishes that’ll make you say “Laughing Cow, Schmaffing Cow.”

Rice is no longer your side dish, it’s your God.

It’s your go-to ingredient for everything from noodles to soup to – well, to actual rice. Especially in Asia, you can trust that just about everything is made from rice, meaning you’re essentially removing wheat and gluten from your diet without even trying.

When you eat “naughty” foods you love from home, like noodles and desserts, you’re actually eating rice whether you realize it or not.

Your daily diet will consist of fresh meats or tofu, vegetables, seafood, fruits, soups, and rice, instead of bread, cheese, pizza, and sandwiches. You won’t even be tempted by those foods because a) they won’t even be available, or b) they’ll be available but crazy expensive.

After a little while, you’ll start to feel so clean and energized that indulging in dairy or wheat just makes you feel bloated and lethargic. Who needs ice cream anyway when you can have mango sticky rice drenched in coconut milk? [insert Homer Simpson donuuuuuuuut noise here].

And the best part is that this massive diet change happens naturally – without you having to “try and be good.”

8. You’ll hate the food



I hope this doesn’t ever happen to you, but it’s happened to me. While I didn’t relish spending a month in Taiwan subsisting almost entirely on Ramen noodles, I did lose 10 pounds.

If you hate the food and can’t find anything you like, losing weight is inevitable. [Sidenote: I absolutely realize that there is delicious food in Taiwan and that it’s one of Asia’s greatest culinary destinations. Unfortunately, due to a massive attack of culture shock,  I just didn’t realize it while I was there.]

What’s remarkable is that in the West, we’re so used to being able to get whatever we want to eat, whenever we want it. But in many parts of the world, that luxury simply doesn’t exist. And if you don’t speak the language and can’t ask for what you want, you’re even more shit out of luck.

But look on the bright side – those rumbling hunger pangs are going to make that bikini look better than ever.

9. You’ll sweat your balls off

Sweat stains are SO hot this season.

Sweat stains are SO hot this season.

Have a wedding coming up and want to shed a few pounds? Fly to Siem Reap in April. Or try Taipei in August. You’ll be sweating all day and night. If you’re lucky enough to have AC, you’ll sweat the second you walk outside. Don’t worry about looking like a disheveled jerk, either – everyone rocks sweat stains during the hot season.

I’ve never been good at losing weight, and I’m a notoriously inconsistent exerciser. But since I’ve been traveling in Asia, I’ve lost 10 pounds without even trying. Food poisoning kicked off the slim-down, but fresh food and the local lifestyle have kept the weight off.

Have you ever lost weight traveling? How did you do it?

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Quick+Dirty Takeaway

You will automatically lose weight while traveling abroad (especially to Asia) because:

1. You'll get sick
2. The food is actually fresh
3. You’re constantly exercising whether you like it or not
4. You’ll eat less because everyone around you eats 1x per day
5. You’ll feel like a heffer next to all the tiny local girls
6. You’ll have to wear a bikini every other day
7. There IS no dairy or wheat
8. You'll hate the food
9. You'll sweat your balls off

Want to dig deeper? Go for it!

12 comments on “9 Reasons You’ll Lose Weight Traveling

  1. Martin

    I like this very encouraging article but I am a 47yr old 16 1/2 stone man. Will I also have to wear a bikini every other day?

    1. RebekahVoss Post author

      Dear Martin,

      I hate to say it but yes, you WILL have to wear a bikini every other day. The good news is that on Mondays and Wednesdays you can “go topless,” which will help you blend in with all the speedo-wearing gents from Spain and Russia. (:

      Thanks for your hilarious comment!!


  2. Agness

    I agree and I can totally relate to it. The food in Asia is very fresh and you have access to healthy snacks such as fruits, veggies and raw nuts everywhere. Before I started travelling my weight was 60 kg, now I am struggling to gain weight and I’m belowe 50kg. I’m so active and eat a lot of fruits and veggies.

    1. RebekahVoss Post author

      That’s awesome Agness! I’m terrified that the second I leave Asia I’ll blow up like a balloon. If you’re having trouble gaining weight, I’d suggest drinking a ton of BeerLao. That always seems to work for me. (:

  3. Rashad Pharaon

    I’m not a solo female traveler, am I eligible to comment? ;( lol

    I love the modeling pose haha, nice captions 😀

    I don’t know what it is, Rebecca, but I seem to gain weight on the road. I usually hit the gym to keep my overeating in check because mango sticky rice does a man in. Have you had a lot of stomach problems on the road?

    Love your site! So much color and fun content. And these captchas…. playing with them… quite therapeutic…

    1. RebekahVoss Post author

      Thanks Rashad!!!

      Dang, I hadn’t considered mango sticky rice….my problem is all the beer drinking! It’s hard to abstain when it costs 50 cents a pint. It’s awesome that you go to the gym while traveling, I haven’t been nearly as disciplined. I also haven’t been to Thailand yet, so maybe when I go this entire post will have to be re-written as “Why You’ll Gain 50 Pounds Traveling.” (:

      Thanks so much for the kind words about the site. Yes, the captchas have already provided hours of entertainment.
      RebekahVoss recently posted…A Taste of Thamel KathmanduMy Profile

  4. Megan

    OMG! If you make your way to Singapore, I assure you will be gaining weight instead of losing weight! It’s a food heaven! I see that you are in SEA now and Malaysia & Indonesia are on your list to go. I hope you have chance to drop by Singapore! A very modern and urban city yet we have very good hawker food!!

    1. RebekahVoss Post author

      Hi Megan!! Singapore sounds amazing, I have a friend there who is a performer at Universal Studios, so that + great food is all the more reason to visit! It sounds amazing to have all the comforts of a modern city PLUS wonderful, cheap street food.

  5. Austin Bariatric

    I should say YES to everything you have mentioned here! I am a traveler and this is one of my ways to stay fit and lose weight. When you are in an unfamiliar place, you got no choice but to adjust with the foods that they eat, the way of living that they have, the transportation that they use, the practices that the perform. You have no excuses.
    Austin Bariatric recently posted…Waco, TexasMy Profile

  6. Leona

    My dream is to travel around the world, I will do it when the time come. Anyway, great story!
    Just want to share some tips to lose weight:

    Eating vegetables to lose weight
    Fiber contents, proteins and vitamins that are present in the vegetables help you stay healthy. Appetite can be maintained by replacing meals with steamed vegetables in which there are low calories but rich in nutrition. This habit helps you lose weight and look fit.

    After breakfast, stick to water. At breakfast, go ahead and drink orange juice. But throughout the rest of the day, focus on water instead of juice or soda. The average American consumes an extra 245 calories a day from soft drinks. That’s nearly 90,000 calories a year—or 25 pounds! And research shows that despite the calories, sugary drinks don’t trigger a sense of fullness the way that food does.

    Throw out your “fat” clothes for good. Once you’ve started losing weight, throw out or give away every piece of clothing that doesn’t fit. The idea of having to buy a whole new wardrobe if you gain the weight back will serve as a strong incentive to stay fit.
    Leona recently posted…Healthiest foods for losing weightMy Profile

  7. Harshwardhan Azad Singh

    Hi Rebekah,

    Very nice. The most important thing that is managed by travel is your weight. While travelling, people have less comfort and also you become active as you have to move always.

    The un-timely food and the regular movement helps you a lot in maintaining your body weight. It is hard for those who are slim or thin as they lose their weight and get sick which really harms them. It is better to be fit before going on a trip.

    Thanks for posting it.
    Have a nice week ahead.

    ~ Harshwardhan
    Harshwardhan Azad Singh recently posted…17 Tips for Solo Female TravellersMy Profile

  8. Leo Tat

    Actually the two times we went traveling to Thailand, my wife and I both gained weight. There was so much to choose from, and we like trying the local cuisine. In UK, I typically miss my breakfast and just do with a coffee (with coconut oil). But when we booked with hotels, they include breakfast which we feel we have to eat (don’t want to lose what we pay).

    There was one thing I just could not eat though; in the market, they were selling fried insects, looked horrible.
    Leo Tat recently posted…Best Vitamin C Supplements to TakeMy Profile


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