Updated: Jul 12, 2018
I’ve done a lot of traveling (both for business and pleasure) and one thing I can say for sure is that there are a lot variables that can throw healthy eating off track. Offerings might be slim, vendors might be closed at takeoff or landing (if you’re catching a red eye or landing on the later side), and the airline might run out of the wrap you were counting on before they hit your aisle. That’s why I plan ahead. (If you have food sensitivities or allergies, this is even more critical.) Here are my pro tips to make healthy eating easier on travel days and throughout your stay.
Pack a meal. Mine usually involves hard boiled eggs, either with a side of veggies, such as red pepper strips or atop a pre-packed salad, like spinach. I’m not a fan of soggy salads so I just use a drizzle of olive oil. I then add a squeeze of lemon (which is readily available on the plane and at the airport) to dress my salad up a bit. Other portable options (that pair well with fruit or veggies) include a packet of unsweetened oatmeal, plain Greek yogurt, a snack-pack of hummus, hard cheese, or a sandwich or wrap. Since I’m really into food safety, I pack my perishables with a light ice pack, like this one from Igloo. You can stash it in the small hotel fridge so it’s ready to keep your food cool on your return flight home.
Take plenty of snacks. I generally pack fresh fruit and veggies to get me through a travel day, plus a baggie of nuts (or roasted chickpeas, such as these from Biena) and granola bars to last through my stay. These non-perishable snacks are handy for those long days of meetings or walking through a trade show with limited healthy options—just remember to take one with you when you leave the hotel for the day.
Keeping a snack stash can also help you out at meal time (especially breakfast) if the alternative in your hotel or at a meeting is not especially healthy. Bananas, apples, and pre-cut melon are readily available at convenience stores and coffee shops so pick up some fruit to pair with your nuts or bar since produce always makes a meal better.
I’m going to cover bars in more depth in an upcoming issue, but for now, here are a few of my favorite ones: KIND Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt, KIND Healthy Grains, RXBAR (Peanut Butter is one of my faves!), and RXBAR Kids (same great taste in a smaller version, which canhttps://amzn.to/2uhiCRW be great for grown up snackers, too).
Bring a stash of tea bags. I’m a tea fanatic and I bring both herbal and green tea with me when I travel. Studies show that people find tea soothing and calming and I agree! Tea (even caffeinated varieties) can help you stay hydrated—critical during travel days—and can help you de-stress from the chaos of travel or an otherwise hectic schedule. Plus, tea is lightweight, doesn’t take up any room in your bag, and comes in a variety of delicious flavors. It’s an evening ritual for me that helps signal it’s time to unwind.
Don’t forget your sweet tooth. I’ve been known to stash some dark chocolate in my carry on. Knowing it’s there for me helps me pass on restaurant desserts while I’m away. Needless to say, those restaurant deserts are much higher in calories, carbs, and sugar than my dark chocolate. Another option is to pick up a local variety at your destination. Just a little bit of dark chocolate goes a long way, and studies suggest that dark chocolate can actually lower your cravings for other sweets.
Get to know your airport. If you frequently travel in and out of the same airport, get to know their offerings. I’ve routinely been in and out of NYC area airports as well as airports in Vancouver, San Francisco, Denver, and Chicago. Being familiar with the offerings helps the planning process because I know what I can count on (such as a decent salad) and what I need to bring along for the ride.
Pack comfortable shoes. I’ve always enjoyed a pre-work workout at the hotel gym or an early morning walk. It’s a luxury I don’t get to enjoy at home when I’m trying to get both my son and I off and running for the day. Staying active during the trip helps offset heavier restaurant meals and keeps energy levels up (as counterintuitive as that sounds).
Supplement smartly. If I’m going across multiple time zones, I’ll bring some melatonin with me. It helps me acclimate to the new time zone, ensuring I get quality sleep so I can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to focus on the day ahead.
Do you have any travel tips and tricks? I’d love to hear about them!