Eating Healthy While Traveling

In my last travel post, I mentioned it was essential for me to eat healthy while traveling because I have such a sensitive stomach, but I didn’t expand on how I do that. Here are a few tricks that have worked for me. Feel free to add anything in the comments if you have anything that’s helped you eat healthier while traveling!

I used to make a million excuses on why I couldn’t eat healthy while traveling, especially while on a flight or road trip. Sometimes, there really aren’t any healthy options along the way and a girls gotta eat, right?

Once I started studying nutrition, I was completely appalled by the ingredients in fast food meals so I stopped making excuses and came up with some solutions. I’ve been on a ton of trips since then and have successfully avoided fast food & junk food, here’s how…

Road Trips

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The best thing you can do for a road trip is… yep, you guessed it, plan ahead! If you get in the car and just start driving hoping you are going to find a healthy option along the way, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Sure, you may find something, but then again, you might not (especially in the south)! I personally make food ahead of time and pack it in a cooler. Here are some of my favorites that I bring with me on every road trip…

The last road trip I took, I bought a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods, took all the meat off of the bones, put it in Tupperware and threw it in the cooler. I’m weird and will eat anything cold so if that doesn’t appeal to you, find something you’ll eat cold, like a chicken or tuna salad.

If you don’t want to pack a cooler or snacks, map out your route and look for something that will have healthy options along the way. Pick out a few places along the route that way if you’re not hungry when the first place comes along, you’ll have other options. Panera has awesome salad options (even Whole30 compliant options) so that’s a good one to look for.

If you do have to stop at a fast food place, get the healthiest option possible. If they have grilled chicken sandwiches, eat the grilled chicken without the bread and whatever healthy side you can get. Most places have fruit as a side now. Side salads are fine, but most people use the dressing and most dressings aren’t awesome for you. Remember low fat does not equal healthy. If you bring along your Tessemaes packets, problem solved!

In general, keep your carbs lower. You’re sitting for hours at a time and not burning any carbs, so stick with proteins and healthy fats.

Flying

Two non-negotiables for traveling  are one, always eat a meal before you leave for the airport and two, pack as many snacks as you can in your carry on. The worst thing you can do is be stuck without food or eat the junk they give you on the plane. I’ve brought full meals with me on the plane plenty of times and they don’t question it (ice pack and all!) Territory meals are a great option and super easy for on the go!

If you have a layover somewhere and have time to eat, look up healthy food options at the airport before you even arrive. As always, it’s easier to eat healthier when you’ve already made up your mind about what you’re going to eat.

Drink water! It’s easy to forget to drink water while traveling, sometimes you think you’re hungry but you’re really just thirsty! Staying hydrated is essential for staying healthy in all aspects while traveling. I personally take a water bottle with me and fill it up once I get through security. The flight attendants are usually nice enough to fill it up once I get on the plane as well.

Eating Out

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Eating out while traveling is part of the experience and something to be enjoyed , but also can quickly become a miserable experience if you have any sensitivities. In order to avoid those experiences, I do all my homework ahead of time. I look up places that serve gluten-free/paleo friendly foods and write them all down, that way I already know my options when I arrive at my destination. Plan ahead. I HATE planning and I can do this, so you can too! Here are some places I recommend, I’ll be adding more to this map as I travel!

Here are some other tips while eating out…

Stop eating when you’re full. If the portions are large, share with someone, or get a to-go box. Also sometimes restaurants will let you order lunch portions if you ask.

Order water or unsweet tea, especially if there are free refills. The last thing you want to do is drink 3 sodas mindlessly as they refill your cup.

Ask if they have a Gluten Free Menu– even if you’re not gluten free. The menu usually has healthier options, plus it usually doesn’t offer dessert. Not that dessert is always bad, but if you’re trying to break a sugar habit, out of sight is better.

If the restaurant serves bread ask them to not bring the bread out if you don’t want the temptation.

If you’re starving, order an appetizer that’s protein heavy instead of eating bread/chips so you don’t fill up on empty carbs before your meal.

Eat a mix of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats.

Alcohol- if you like dry red wine, that’s your best bet. It’s pretty low in carbs. If you’re going with hard liquor, I’d suggest something like a vodka and soda water w/ lime. Tonic water usually has sugar and doesn’t taste much different than soda water. Beer and mixed drinks like vodka cranberry/jack and coke are your worst choices because they are packed with sugar.

Hopefully this was helpful for you! If you have any questions feel free to comment or reach out! Happy traveling!

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5 Comments

  1. Woah Kate these are awesome tips! I wished I had looked at these tips before I went my three-week trip to Japan and Korea. I definitely always promise myself to eat healthy while traveling because truth be told it makes me feel a lot better, but it’s so hard. At home, I have the ingredients and the foods that I know I can enjoy and eat. However, when I’m traveling especially with others, I don’t want to make my food preferences get in the way of enjoying the trip. Thanks for sharing! I’ll definitely be using these in my next trip! xoxo Steph

    1. Glad you found them helpful! I used to feel the same way when traveling. As far as traveling with friends, I usually do the research on where I know I can get healthy and delicious food and my friends are happy to go along! No one likes standing in a group where no one make a decision on where to go so they always welcome the planned places.

      A few of my favorite places to eat are DC Harvest, The Pig, Rise Bakery (gluten-free bakery), & The Little Beet. D.C. is amazing and always has stuff going on. If you like active stuff, activelifedc.com has a ton of free active stuff to do around the city! 🙂

    2. Ahhh thank you so much! Yes, I think my friends are slowly and slowly understanding that healthy foods can actually taste great! I better try these places out before I head back to school. Thanks for the recs! xoxo Steph

  2. So heres the thing, sometimes when i go out i go crazy and just eat and drink as i please… at home im pretty disciplined but when u r at social outings, its hard to be different from the fray because you want to share in the experience… anyways what should i do the next day? Should i just go back to my normal eating routine? I was told to fast a bit but im weak ha!

    1. Hey! Great question. You definitely do not need to fast at all! Make sure you stay hydrated the next day and hop back into your normal eating. Also, I’d decide how many days are worth it to splurge, you won’t see progress if you’re splurging too often, but being so strict that you feel like you’re missing out on life is not healthy either! All about balance!

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