Traveling as a healthy eater is certainly not easy. From crummy airline foods, to limited choices to take on board with you, it’s really tough to eat healthy during your exciting travel quests or business trips. Still, like anything, where there is a will, there is always a way, and eating healthy while traveling is worth it. Healthy eating keeps you looking and feeling your best, will boost mental focus, and supports your digestion, which is already under a bit of stress while you’re out of your usual routine.
In general, it’s not hard to eat vegan when you travel. There are many healthy vegan options at airports everywhere and in most cities you visit. However, it can also cost you a pretty penny for a measly salad, vegan protein bar, or container of hummus with veggies at the airport that you could have bought $20 worth of groceries with. And the airline regulations don’t make things easier, with weight restrictions per suitcase and the inability to take some items in your carry-on bag.
If you’ve ever found yourself stuck traveling as a clean eater while watching your budget, here are five tips that you can use that I personally use whenever I travel and don’t want to sacrifice healthy eating:
1. Take Breakfast With You
Prepare to eat breakfast in your hotel room without ordering room service or eating at the hotel dining room, which are filled with unhealthy or expensive options, if not both. I’m a fan of overnight oatmeal mixed with coconut flour, a non-GMO vegan vanilla whole food nutritional powder, coconut yogurt, non-dairy unsweetened almond milk, frozen or freeze-dried cranberries, and cinnamon, so I mix these up ahead, put them in small mason jars and actually freeze them a day ahead before I pack. Since I don’t like to carry multiple ingredients (which would also weigh more) and spoons to mix everything up when I get there, this is the easiest option and there’s no prep time at all during my trip. These prep jars stay frozen as I travel so they don’t spoil (to date, they’ve made it up to 13 hours during one flight) and when I get to the hotel room, I put them in the mini-fridge or fridge that’s in the hotel room (you can also request one if they don’t have one in your room). These thaw within a few hours once they come out of the suitcase, and are just as fresh each day as if I made them at home for me to enjoy every morning. This also works with smoothie prep jars, if you’re wondering.
You can also bring: instant oatmeal packets to make your own plain oatmeal with just some fruit, your own coffee (since hotel room coffee is a nightmare), and package out just how much you’ll need for each meal. If you’re a fan of smoothies, then all you have to do is bring your own blender, or a smaller blender like a Nutribullet, VitamixS30, or Magic Bullet as even better option. Purchase some smoothie goods at a store when you get there, carry a few portable items with you, and make your own blended delights each morning to start your day. (Have no shame about the noise, healthy eaters needn’t apologize for taking care of themselves!)
This tip won’t just save you money, but will also give your body something it’s used to, so you’ll feel well during your trip with plenty of energy to enjoy yourself, your destination, and others you’re with.
2. Pack Your Favorite Snacks
Be sure you also pack a few snack with you before you go. Good choices include fruit, vegan fruit and nut or vegan protein bars, homemade trail mix, healthy oatmeal or raw cookies, and even kale chips if that’s your thing. Even portable fruits like zucchini, tomatoes, avocados, and cucumbers can all be taken with you either as snacks or in your suitcase. If you make your own snacks at home, these are safe to pack in your suitcase (pack them in a lightweight container so they don’t smush), but if you put them in your carry-on, they have to be in a completely sealed package or quart-size baggie to be allowed on the plane. While not snacks, herbal teas are also great to keep with you instead of resorting to caffeine-based energy drinks.
3. Carry an Empty Stainless Steel Water Bottle
This does two things: One, it means you’ll drink more water and two, you won’t be paying $4-$5 for a bottle of water that’s likely a source of BPA and a harm to the environment and animals. You can just wash it out in your hotel room and reuse every day during your trip. Just be sure it’s empty before you go through security (you can fill it up once you’re past security to take on the plane).
4. Choose Simple Meals
When you’re eating out at a restaurant and want to eat healthy, simple is usually best. Veggies, whole grains, salads, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, and fruits are all good choices. You can build all kinds of good meals with these ingredients wherever you are (even a steakhouse), and can request them in any form at any restaurant you’re going to. If you don’t want to be a fussy customer at a restaurant, just go with a vegan soup, salad, or entree with simple ingredients. Avoid heavy sauces, oils and especially salty dishes that can rob your energy, cause digestion problems, or just not make you feel your best. Pick something bright in color with fresh foods and you’ll likely to be on the right track.
5. Carry Enough Food Without Worry
Last, be sure you carry enough food with you. You’re not strange for doing this and certainly not alone. Many fitness professionals, vegans, and even celebrities do this. Taking care of your body, eating foods that keep you feeling great, and saving money are never bad things. Remember, the airline sees it all, so who cares if they go through your suitcase and see your blender or food stash? (They might even be jealous!) It’s also smart to carry enough food with you in case you have to spend more time somewhere than you imagined, are hungrier than normal, or have a dreaded flight delay at an airport and find yourself starving, but don’t want to pay a large amount for a small meal or snack.
A Few More Tips…
Remember to fuel your body so you can feel great and be the best you during your trip. If you have the option to visit a local grocery store or produce stand, definitely do so to stock up on some budget-friendly, healthy staples. Be sure to get some natural movement each day (which your body needs to thrive), take your regular multivitamin (if needed), and a good probiotic to support gut function, mood and immunity. And don’t forget to have a good time! Food is only part of the equation, so don’t fret too much to the point it ruins your fun. Try new healthy foods where you’re at, and post pictures to your social media pages to show how easy healthy eating can be.
Let us know if you have your own favorite healthy traveling tips!
Lead Image Source: Luke Ma/Flickr