9 Nutrition Tips for Healthy Travel
We all travel. Some frequently, and other's on rare occasions. And diet always seems to be the thing that stumps us or stresses us out. But it shouldn't. How can you stay healthy and on track while you're on the road? I've learned over the years how to travel and make it work. If being heathy is a priority of yours (and I'm sure it is or you probably wouldn't be reading this) then I hope this list comes in handy. Whether you travel for work or pleasure and whether you're on a road trip or flying somewhere far away, having a plan is key. Convenient food is not always the best option, but when you're taken away from your kitchen and your routine, what are you expected to do?
Some of these tips may be relevant to you and some might not be. If you're an elite athlete, you may need to be more aware of exactly what you're putting in your body. And if you're a weekend warrior on an epic vacation, you might allow for more flexibility. Takeaway and implement as much as you'd like from this list. One of our clients said it best "dieting on vacation ruins diets and vacation". This is not meant to be a strict guideline to follow while traveling, especially if it's a yearly vacation. Enjoy those moments. You work hard all year, you can relax every once in a while. It's important to do that. But if you travel often, these guidelines can be helpful for staying on track.
1. Research your destination beforehand
The internet makes planning ahead really easy. Research your destination and find out what's available. Grocery stores, gyms, restaurants etc. This can impact where you decide to book accommodation and what you plan to bring with you. Read blogs posts from other travelers and use websites like Yelp, GrubHub and TripAdvisor to find healthy restaurants in the area. If choices seem limited, you'll know to pack more snacks. If you have a lot of options, you might be able to find accommodation within walking distance of a nice grocery store and a local gym.
2. Book accommodation with kitchen amenities
When you're planning your trip, try to book accommodation with a refrigerator and microwave (at the least). If you're traveling for business and a hotel has already been booked for you, call ahead and see if the hotel has them available and can have them put in your room. If you have control over where you're staying, consider booking an AirBnB or a hotel with a kitchen so you can cook your own food.
3. Pack your snacks
There's nothing worse than traveling hungry and having to resort to food you would never eat on a regular basis. Plan ahead and pack snacks that you like. If you'll be driving you can bring a cooler with perishable food. If you're flying, opt for non perishable snacks. Here's a few ideas:
- Dried fruit
- Single serve packets of nut butter
- Beef jerky
- Bars (protein, fruit and nut, granola, etc.)
- Veggies and dip (single serve guacamole and hummus)
- Canned tuna
- Hard boiled eggs
- Single serve packets of oatmeal
- Crackers, popcorn, vegetable chips, rice cakes
- Fruit and vegetable squeezes
- Turkey roll ups
*If you'll be gone for an extended period of time with limited resources, consider packing addition non perishable snacks to last through your trip.
4. Pack your supplements
Traveling can take a toll on your body. Plan ahead and bring any supplements you take on a regular basis, or any that might help with your travels. Here are a few that you may consider bringing along:
- Fish oil - Omega-3 fats are important for your immune health, cardiovascular function and help your brain grown and develop. Fish oil is also a powerful anti-inflammatory. Our bodies need a balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 rich foods. However, in our current Western diet, we get a lot of Omega-6 fats (plant oils), and often lack Omega-3s. It can be even more difficult to get enough Omega-3 in your diet when your traveling, so be sure to pack a supplement.
- Magnesium - Magnesium helps with muscle relaxation and has a calming effect that helps you sleep better (which is especially helpful during those long flights).
- Vitamin D - If you're travel destination won't have a lot of sunshine or you'll be indoors the majority of the time, be sure to bring a Vitamin D supplement.
- Greens powder - Vegetables are important, and I've found that it can be difficult to get all my greens in when I'm traveling and forced to eat out. If you won't be able to make your own meals, consider a greens powder to get you by.
- Probiotics - Travel puts a lot of stress on our immune system. Especially traveling overseas. We expose our body to bacteria it's not used to and deal with the consequences of air travel, lack of sleep, change in time zones and much more. Probiotics help with digestion and support your immune system.
- Protein powder - If you think you'll struggle to eat enough protein during your trip, pack some protein powder to use in a pinch. If you can find single serve packets they're the easiest to travel with.
5. Drink plenty of water
It's so important to stay hydrated while you travel. Especially when you're flying. Drink plenty of water and carry a water bottle with you at all times. Empty it before you go through security and refill it before you get on the plane. If you're on a long flight, ask the flight attendants to refill your water bottle when they come by.
6. Buy groceries
When you arrive at your destination and get settled in, find a grocery store. Walk or get an Uber and stock up on healthy food. If you have a kitchen, get whatever you need to make your own meals. If you only have a fridge or if you have a busy schedule planned and know you won't have a whole lot of time to cook, buy precooked food. Whole Foods and other grocery stores have a variety of options like grilled chicken breasts, pre-made salads, grilled vegetables, rice etc. Get creative! If you have a microwave in your room you can a do a lot. Microwave egg whites for breakfast with chicken sausage and top with salsa and avocado or heat up hot water for some oatmeal in the morning.
7. Bring a portable food scale
In many situations, "eyeballing" and "guesstimating" portion sizes is completely fine, however, you might be an athlete following a strict diet or someone who's new to flexible dieting and still learning portion sizes. Having a portable scale with you while you travel makes this process easy and simple. If you've bought food from the grocery store you can weigh out your portions in your hotel room. If you're going through the salad bar at Whole Foods, or a buffet at your hotel, you can use your portable scale to measure your portions. Sure you might look a little silly, but this is about you and your goals, not anyone else's.
8. Discuss your diet with waiters
Before you go out to eat or select a restaurant, do a little research. See if you can pull up a menu online. If you're tracking your macronutrients you might be able to find them on their website. You can also check the MyFitnessPal database. A lot of popular restaurants have the nutrition facts listed for their dishes. But if not that's okay too. You can still eat out and eat healthy! Just communicate with your waiter and make smart choices. If you have special dietary requirements, let your waiter know. Most of the time they can accommodate. If you're ordering meat, the menu often lists ounces, which makes it easy to track. Here are some more of my go to tips for ordering healthy while eating out:
- Order foods that are grilled, baked, broiled, roasted or braised and avoid foods that are fried or "crispy"
- Ask for steamed vegetables as a side dish
- Request all sauces on the side
- If they offer bread or chips and you don't want them, politely decline them. Then you don't have to sit there and stare at them. Or mindlessly eat them.
- Salads are always a great option. Order one with toppings you like, and ask to have any you don't removed. Ask to add grilled chicken to your salad, or double protein if needed.
9. Pack your gym gear (and a jump rope)
Find a gym nearby and drop in for a workout. Or purchase a week pass and try to get in a few workouts while your out of town. If there isn't a gym nearby utilize the hotel gym, your jump rope (which is easy to pack), or do what you can in your hotel room. I have plenty of workout anywhere ideas that require little to no equipment. And of course you can always go for a run!
Author: Ashley Beaver, Director of Nutrition, myactiveroots.com