Travel Weight Graph

Do You Gain Weight or Lose Weight When You Travel?


I am a human experiment on world diets.When I travel, I usually see a dramatic swing in weight one way or the other. I normally get the same amount of exercise on each trip – i.e. lots of walking, some hiking, the occasional bike ride, futile haggling, tout dodging –  and the trips have all lasted at least two months. Therefore, food and drink are the variable factors.

Let us examine the chart below:

Travel Weight Graph

A few things stand out, but the most salient point from a personal perspective is that for the last four years I have been chubby when I departed for my trips. Prior to that I was always near my target weight. (Read: creeping obesity)

  • In Asia, I always lose weight, which makes sense because they eat a very healthy diet. In Indonesia last year, I lost nine pounds in nine weeks. In India three years ago, I lost 10 pounds in two months, then gained it all back on a 4-day Disney Cruise after returning. I still hate myself for that.
  • I gain weight in Europe. However, two years ago I dropped five pounds right away in Turkey and Greece, where the diet is famously healthy. I gained it all back and then some during our month in Italy, where I ate sugary pastries for breakfast, arancini for snacks and pizza the other four meals of the day. My pants went from snug to falling-off to buttons-bursting in 10 weeks.
  • You are probably wondering how I got fat in Africa. I am still trying to figure that out too.
street food India

I eat whatever I want in Asia and still lose weight.

This fall, before we head off to Mexico, I am a bit worried. Mexico recently overtook America as the fattest nation on Earth. Mexico is the one country where they eat worse than we do. After two months of beef tacos and pork tamales, will the locals affectionately call me Gringo Gordo?  If Las Vegas odds-makers started taking bets on an over/under at my current weight, then I’d have to bet heavy on me getting heavier. That isn’t good. I return just in time for the winter fattening season known as Christmas. I may have to buy all new clothes for 2016.

Last time I went to Mexico and Cuba, I returned emaciated. Drinking the local water and suffering the consequences will do that to a person. How will I fare this time? I have no idea.

One thing is certain: I will be departing this trip chubby. There is no way around that. Perhaps I should get off this computer and go for a run. I may need a head start.

Do you gain or lose weight when you travel? 

What type of traveling do you do? 

Follow Planet Bell on Social Media to see how fat I get in Mexico

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Currently living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I travel, write, take photos, and stalk street cats. ~

18 thoughts on “Do You Gain Weight or Lose Weight When You Travel?”

  1. My weight tends to stay somewhat the same. I start chubby and stay chubby. It will be interesting to see how you do in Mexico. Since it seems you are anticipating the possibility of gaining, are you going to try to diet before you go?

  2. that traveling nurse says:

    I gain some weight because we are such huge foodies! 😉

  3. Since we’ve been on the road for four years now my weight has been all over the place. I got sick in India and lost weight, then gradually over the next 2-3 years I gained weight, then 2 months in Cyprus of eating way delicious but fatty meals and ice cream every day and no exercise suddenly I was 27lb over my starting weight. I thought of crying but that wouldn’t help.I stayed that way for about 6 months until I found the commitment to go on the low carb, no sugar, hi protein high fat diet. I’ve lost 17 of those extra lbs yay. We’re really not foodies, but ice cream will do me in every time. Good luck in Mexico!

    • You are an interesting case study also – Four years in various places in the world. You could classify Kristi and I as foodies, but we like to eat cheap food, lots of street food and places with lots of character. Ice Cream is my wife’s vice too.

  4. Surprisingly my weight remains the same. I ate more than usual during my travel as I want to try every local food I saw but at the same time I did a lot of activities during my travel from walking to scuba diving.
    I have read that scuba diving for one hour in average will burn 600 calories and usually I dive two or three times per day. That explains I keep my weight, I guess I should not eat too much during scuba diving holiday 😀

    • That is interesting about scuba diving – I had no idea you burned so many calories doing it. I probably get more exercise when I travel also and certainly more walking. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I’m way out of shape, but not overweight. I’ve never been overweight. I do have this Michelin tire now around my waist that I can’t seem to deflate. But oddly, I’ve weighed within a pound or two of the same weight for a couple decades now. Muscle turned to fat, muscle weighs more than fat, so…weight stays the same.
    You already went to Cuba? They sell Cuban cigars in Bintang Market here in Ubud!! If I smoked, I’d buy one and pretend.

    • The joys of getting older – muscle turning to fat. If I get truly fat, I’ll go live in Indonesia for 6 months and lose it all. The diet is so healthy there. Smoke a Cuban for me anyway and do it on a bus or something to payback all the Indonesians who smoke all over you all the time.

      • OK!! You’ve given me a great idea…I’m going out today and buy that cigar. But I’m not going to smoke it near locals (they just don’t know any better). I’m going to smoke it and blow it in the faces of Europeans who smoke in restaurants here just because there’s no law. They can’t do it at home, but they do it here! I’m buying two cigars, and light them both up at the same time!!

  6. Hey! Someone else who’s body size and shape changes dramatically over a short period of time! I’m finally getting old enough to watch my body with amusement rather than beat myself up for not looking “perfect.”

    But to your actual question, I invariably gain weight when I travel. So far only in the U.S. and Canada, but I always want to try the best of the local food, local brew, local wine. I figure – if I want, I can diet and work out when I get home, but I will still remember how this tastes. But if I don’t taste this now, I’ll never know.

    • Very good point – when traveling, it is a great idea to live in the moment and enjoy each day. Calories don’t really count while traveling 🙂

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