Summer is here and that usually means a vacation of some sort. Many of my clients and friends have asked me how to eat healthy while they are traveling. I’ve been known to sprout in hotel rooms and make salads in plastic bags on buses. While I’m not fanatic about food as I was a few years ago, I’ve learned a great deal about how to eat in alignment with my life away from home.
1. Check out where you are going.
The first thing I do before going to a new destination is research that place. I look up cafes, restaurants and natural food markets so that I have a sense of where I can get good foods before I get there. I bookmark where I want to go in Yelp that way I don’t have to worry about remembering it.
2. Pack supplements and tools.
Some places are easier than others to find quality foods. A few years ago I was teaching in Banff, Alberta, a ski town in Canada in the middle of winter. Needless to say I knew it was going to be challenging to find fresh foods and organics would be costly. For that trip I packed my travel blender and quality supplements like my green powder so I could make simple nutrient packed smoothies with some produce from the local market. I’ve taken this blender on many trips and I am always grateful to have it with me.
3. Prep and pack food.
Airport food is generally gross and super expensive. A couple of days before my trip I prepare a bunch of snacks and a meal for the trip. Flying overseas is a bit more challenging but I’ve done it enough to know how to make it work. I just pack extra food and make sure I have plenty of fresh fruit, veggies and quality protein that travels well like beans and nut butter. On some international flights you might not be able to take produce out of customs but that’s usually not an issue for me as I’ve gobbled up everything on the plane ;)
Here is a sample list of what I like to take:
- Sliced carrots, cucumbers, celery, bell peppers
- Almond butter
- Granola bars
- Kale chips
- Tea: ginger, licorice, peppermint
Depending on what time I am leaving I usually eat at least one meal on the plane. Usually my meal is a version of this bowl that I pack in a big container. For breakfast time flights I like to bring chia pudding and/or a big green smoothie.
4. Drink plenty of water.
This is common sense but it’s easy to forget. Flying is very dehydrating. Try to drink 16 ounces of water before you get on the plane and when the flight attendant comes around ask for water without ice. Usually I am able to talk them into giving me an entire bottle! Staying hydrated on the plane will make for a smoother transition when you reach your destination. I can’t tell you how many times I have flown and felt terrible when I landed. I felt drained, exhausted and would get pounding headaches. This rarely happens now because I drink so much water. Avoid alcohol and coffee, they are acidic and non-hydrating.
5. Hit the grocery store.
When you get to your destination make it a point to go to the grocery store and stock up. Every time I go back to Atlanta to visit my family our first stop is always Whole Foods. My Mom knows I need to get my food in order so I don’t have to worry about it during my trip. If you’re not staying in a place with a kitchen, make use of the mini bar fridge to set yourself up for success. I have the hotel just clear it out so it’s ready for all of my goodies.
Here are some options for stocking your hotel fridge:
- Pre-chopped veggies
- Hummus or other yummy dip
- Precooked meat if you eat it, or tuna pouches, this can save you a lot of money if you don’t want to eat out a bunch
It’s rare these days that I travel and stay in a place without a kitchen. The way I eat is a part of my life and I don’t like to sacrifice my health on trips. Sure there are times when I’m on a short trip and a kitchen just isn’t possible. For the most part though I make it a point to be able to make my food as much as I can when I am away from home, especially if I am in a place with few options. This way of living is so integrated into my life it doesn’t feel weird or hard in the least.
Also, if you are staying some where with a good organic grocery store nearby, they usually have salad bars, hot and cold cases with foods that are healthy and easy to grab and go.
6. Make smart choices eating out.
Chances are you are going to eat out on your trip. Hopefully you have been able to find a place beforehand that you are looking forward to trying. If not, know that many restaurants in the States will be accommodating, especially if you call ahead and ask. If you are going to a work dinner where you didn’t get to pick the location, look for menu items that are baked, braised, raw, steamed or grilled. Ask for dressings or sauces on the side if you aren’t sure about their contents. One thing I like to do if the salad dressings look too rich is to ask for some lemon and olive oil. It’s never been a problem. Use those great manners you have and be super polite when asking the server to make adjustments, it always helps!
7. Take good care of yourself.
Self-care while traveling is very important. I know it’s exciting to visit new places and see friends and family. While I allow for plenty of leeway while on trips it’s still necessary for me to get plenty of rest, move my body and spend time checking in with myself. A while back I wrote a self-care while traveling post that has some great tips.
Clients often tell me they feel like they are supposed to indulge on vacations and they are afraid of missing out if they don’t. I usually suggest that they do indulge and see how it feels. The only way we’re going to know is if we do it. Eat the delicious handmade pastry, have the fancy cocktail, stay out all night dancing. There is nothing wrong with any of this! I don’t judge it at all. It is your trip and you can do whatever you want. My thing is just check in with yourself about it, try your best to stay present through it and by all means savor every second of it. There is nothing worse than eating a sweet and then shaming ourselves for it. That is honestly more of an issue than the sweet itself. And remember, just because we have a sweet it doesn’t mean we need to have one for breakfast, lunch and dinner.