Before she takes a trip, Kathryn Alice spends as much time researching food as she does hotels.
Not because she wants to find the best barbecue or burger in town. Instead, she's on the lookout for something far less indulgent: a salad or baby carrots.
As frequent travelers, Alice and her husband worry about packing on the pounds. So when they hit the road, they pack healthy items from Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. They favor low-calorie meals heated up in their hotel microwave over heavy restaurant fare.
"My healthy diet almost falls apart in some places due to time constraints and hardship in finding decent, healthy food," Alice, a road warrior in Los Angeles, says.
Staying fit is a challenge for many Americans on most days, but even more so when they're on the road.
A recent TripAdvisor survey of 1,400 U.S. travelers found that 29% always or often gain weight during a vacation. The travelers also confessed that they are more likely to overindulge while on the road: 65% said they eat more, while 48% said they drink more alcohol.
Business travelers are just as, or even more, vulnerable, according to a Columbia University analysis of medical records of more than 13,000 employees last year. Road warriors who traveled for business two or more weeks a month had higher body mass index and rates of obesity, the survey found.
"It's hard to make healthy choices," says Scott Isaacs, a weight-loss specialist and author of Beat Overeating Now! Take Control of Your Hunger Hormones to Lose Weight Fast. "When they're in the airports and their plane is delayed, they don't want to have an apple. They want to have wings and a beer."
Many travelers are increasingly starting to watch what they eat now that first lady Michelle Obama is shining a light on the nation's obesity problem. According to TripAdvisor's July survey, 75% say they often or always eat healthfully on vacation, and 58% travel with wholesome snacks.
"I think people are realizing how they dine affects the way they feel," says Niki Leondakis, president and chief operating officer of Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants.