Have past vacations filled with overeating and junk food left you wondering how to eat healthy on your next trip? It happens, and it can really make it seem hard to stick to eating healthy while traveling. However, with just a few adjustments you can stay on track to help you reach your health goals! If you’re prepping for your next trip but don’t know where to start when it comes to food, here are the top five ways to eat healthy while traveling.
- Plan Ahead
The number one rule for healthy eating while traveling is to make a game plan! Do this by figuring out exactly what you’re going to take with you, what you’ll have there, and what you need to prep for. Doing this can help make your trip much more relaxing, especially if you’re one to stress about what to eat! Make sure to plan for travel days, whether it’s on a plane, in a car, or any other mode of transportation. It’s also fun and exciting to explore some new healthy restaurants in your travel location or along the way, so do a little bit of research before you go and add some new spots to your plan.
We suggest creating a rough plan of what each day will look like, so that means asking yourself what you’ll have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. Will you need to pack anything for those meals or does the place your staying offer healthy options? Will you have access to a grocery store? What about snacks and beverages? Are there any special meals that you’ll want to plan around? (See step 5 for more details). Making this plan beforehand will help you stay in control and stick to your healthy eating goals.
- Pack Accordingly
Now that you’ve got a good game plan, all you have to do is prep for it! Make sure to prepare snacks and meals depending on your length of travel. It’s really important to avoid getting hungry before reaching your destination because that can lead to overeating once you get there. You may also want to pack easy to prep and store meals and snacks to get you through your trip. See below for some awesome recipes to pack with you!
- Choose Healthy & Filling Options
It’s not always easy to prep and bring food along with you- and that’s okay! Become a master of the gas station snack area with a few easy steps. Most gas stations will have some fruit available, or you can also go for simple grains like popcorn or whole-grain crackers. You can also grab some nuts- just keep in mind that they are very nutrient-dense, so it’s best to eat nuts along with something like fruit. Airports often have pretty good choices, like granola bars, fruit or veggie cups, and even salad or sushi restaurants are good choices.
Once you reach your destination, you can mix and match your packed foods, there may be some cultural cuisines or special meals that you’ll want to incorporate (which we talk about later on).
- Don’t Forget About Hydration
Hydration is always important to keep in mind, but especially on long flights, trips to the mountains, and warm weather vacations! Things like high altitude, hot temperatures, and drinking alcohol can be dangerous if you’re dehydrated, and the last thing you want is for that to ruin your trip. The best way to make sure you are well hydrated is to always have a water bottle on hand. Just make sure it’s empty before going through security, then you can fill it up at the gate (every airport should have a public water fountain). Make sure to keep your water bottle with you throughout your travels, whether it means by the pool, having a drink at the hotel bar, or skiing down a mountain.
- Prioritize What You Want
Once you get to your travel destination, it can be easy to fall into “vacation mode” and lose all of the progress that you’ve worked so hard for. Instead of falling into old habits, take a more 80/20 approach to your trip. That means try to make 80% of your meals healthy options, while 20% of your meals can be something special- maybe some cultural food of where you’re visiting or a rich meal with your loved ones. This way, you can have some food-related experiences on your trip while prioritizing your health along the way.
Instead of treating your 20% meals like a free for all, something to keep in mind is to eat what sounds good to you to a point that feels good in your body. Allow yourself to enjoy it and savor the flavors of that food without overstuffing yourself to the point that you feel uncomfortable. Try adding your 20% meals to your game plan so you know you’re prepared for your trip.
Our Best Travel Recipes
When you pick a snack, try to pick something that is easily packed, doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and is high in fiber and protein to tide you over throughout your travels, like these
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Protein Balls:
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup peanuts
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp maple syrup
Pulse the dates in a food processor until they’re in really small pieces. Add in peanuts, cocoa powder, and maple syrup and pulse until combined and the mixture forms a dough. Place mixture in a large bowl and divide and roll into 14 balls. Store in an airtight container and enjoy on your trip!
Nutrition (per ball): 52 calories, 2g protein, 7g carbohydrates, 2.5g fat
No-Chill Bento Boxes
Bento Boxes are the best for lunches on the go. They’re so easy to put together and they can be customized to fit your preferences. Check out some options below that you can mix and match from:
- Fruit: Apple, orange, bananas, grapes, unsweetened dried fruit
- Vegetables: Carrot sticks, cucumber, pickles
- Grain: Popcorn, whole grain crackers
- Healthy Fats: Nuts and seeds
- Protein: Dried chickpeas, protein balls (above), low sodium jerky, peanut butter
Hotel Room Meal Prep
If your destination is only a few hours away and you have access to a fridge- even a mini-fridge! – try this turkey taco salad meal prep recipe to pack along with you for a quick and easy meal (great for business trips!)
Turkey Taco Salad (makes 4 servings for meal prep)
1 lb lean ground turkey
½ tbs cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbs olive oil
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups mixed greens
1 cup canned corn, drained and rinsed
1 red onion
1 green bell pepper
½ cup diced celery
3 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped (if desired)
2 cups salsa
1 lime, in 4 wedges
In a bowl, season turkey with cumin, salt, and pepper. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, and then add turkey. Crumble and cook until browned with no pink, about 7 minutes. Add black beans to the pan and mix in to warm. Remove from heat. Layer the rest of the lettuce, corn, onion, pepper, celery, avocado, and cilantro, then top with the turkey mixture. When serving, add salsa and top with a lime wedge.
Nutrition (per serving): 520 calories, 38g protein, 61g carbohydrates, 17g fat