5 Practical Tips For Eating Healthy (ish!) While Traveling


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Welcome to episode 4 of The Health Investment Podcast!

I’m SO excited for today’s episode (I know I say that a lot, but today I REALLY am!) because I get this question a lot on social media: What are your tips for eating healthy while traveling?

This one is definitely a doozy because, to state the obvious, we’re all out of our normal routines and homes when we travel. 

So even if you’re used to eating super healthy on a regular basis, traveling can throw a real wrench into your usual habits.

Don’t worry! I’ve got some ideas for ya!

I USED TO TRAVEL A LOT

As you may know, I used to live in New York City and travel to the West Coast to visit my husband’s and my family and friends often. 

And when I say “often,” I mean OFTEN. Some years, we traveled 1-2 times each month. It got to be a lot! (Which is one of the reasons we recently relocated to Oakland, CA.)

So the tips I’m going to mention today are ones that I’ve ACTUALLY put into practice over and over again—they’re not hypotheticals!

If you learn something today, don’t forget to share this episode with your favorite traveling friend! 

Without further ado, let’s get right to it…

WHY EATING HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING IS TOUGH

It’s definitely tougher to eat healthy while traveling because most of the time you have less power over what you’re eating than usual.

For example, if you’re staying in a hotel on a business trip, you probably don’t have access to a kitchen or refrigerator, and you’re likely eating every meal at a deli, coffee shop, restaurant…or even in the hotel lobby!

Fortunately, many delis, coffee shops, restaurants, and hotel lobbies have started to offer healthier options, but we both know that’s not ALWAYS the case.

That’s why I included the term “ish” in the title of this episode. You can only do so much, and it’s not worth stressing about the things you can’t control.

DON’T STRESS

Stress is just as detrimental to your health as poor nutrition, so keep that in mind. 

That point is SO important that it’s worth repeating: stress is JUST as detrimental to your health as poor nutrition!

If a gas station is your ONLY option for sustenance and the healthiest thing you can find is Cheetos, just eat the Cheetos, enjoy the heck out ‘em—because Cheetos are delicious!—and move on with your life.

This point leads nicely into my first tip…

TIP #1: MANAGE YOUR MINDSET.

You have to maintain a pragmatic mindset while traveling because, like I said, sometimes you may eat a bag of chips for breakfast.

BUT…that ONE bag of chips doesn’t have to throw you completely off track.

I used to think that one unhealthy choice sabotaged the rest of my day—or even weekend…or week!

Eating a bag of chips for breakfast would leave me thinking, “Welp! I just ruined today, so I might as well go off the rails and eat whatever I want for lunch and dinner.”

Now, I realize that an all-or-nothing mindset doesn’t serve me.

But it’s one of the BS messages we’re often told, right? We see news shocking news headlines and tv segments about the DANGERS of processed food. And we see health influencers on Instagram who seem to have it alllll figured out. They’d NEVER eat a bag of chips for breakfast—or probably EVER—right??

So that healthy eating plan we were trying to follow just flies out the window, and we put it off until next week…or next month…or next year…or we NEVER get around to it!

If you fall into this trap of thinking that perfection is necessary, it’s going to be virtually impossible for you to eat healthier on trips and vacations. 

Throw that mindset out the window, and INSTEAD adopt a new one that allows for nuance and freedom.

And tie your mindset to the way you FEEL after eating certain foods.

I guarantee you you’re not going to have as much energy or get your jet lag under control if you’re eating ultra-processed, sugary things that make you feel gross.

My current mindset while traveling sounds something like this: “I just ate a croissant for breakfast. And it was deeeelicious! But I don’t feel full. And my stomach kinda hurts. I’m really gonna try to eat something more nutritious for my next snack or meal.”

No feelings of guilt. No sabotaging the entire day (or trip!). Just acceptance, enjoyment, and moving on!

Trust me, this works waaaaay better. And a mindset like this is absolutely necessary for all of the other tips to work!

TIP #2: BE PREPARED.

Before most trips, you’ll be at home—which is GREAT news!

At home, you can do a lot more prep than you’ll be able to do when on the road or in a hotel.

So load up on healthy snacks!

I like to pack the following for airplane and road trips:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
    • Don’t worry—I don’t stink up the plane with my eggs! The terrible odor from hard-boiled eggs comes from overcooking them. So if you make a batch ahead of time, test one out to see that you didn’t overcook ‘em. If you did, you’ll see that dreaded gray/greenish ring around the yolk…and they’ll stink! I’ve also read that older eggs can be smelly. But perfectly cooked FRESH eggs should be just fine! (Here’s my recipe for perfect, easy-peel hard-boiled eggs!) If I’m going on a long flight, I always take eggs and eat them either at the airport before my flight or right at the start of my flight. I don’t even bring a refrigerator pack because I know that I’ll be consuming them within a few hours. Pro tip: peel your eggs BEFORE you pack them and add some salt and pepper to the Tupperware or Ziploc bag. Then they’ll be seasoned and ready to go!
  • Larabars
    • Larabars are my favorites because—even though their sugar content can sometimes be high—they’re only ever sweetened with dates, not refined sugar or artificial sweeteners. You know I LOVE clean ingredients, which is why I’m a sucker for these! Sometimes, I’ll even pack 10-20 in my suitcase for longer trips. They’re great to grab in a pinch!
  • Fruit.
    • Apples are always a great portable choice, but any fruit will do!
  • Dry-roasted nuts
    • I like dry-roasted nuts because the only ingredients are nuts—and maaaaaybe salt. Since they’re “dry-roasted,” they’re usually not processed with vegetable oils. If you want to learn why I avoid vegetable oils, click here. Also, since dry-roasted nuts don’t spoil, you can also pack a bunch of these in your suitcase!!
  • Meat sticks
    • Similar to Larabars and nuts, meat sticks have a long shelf life! My favorite brand is Chomps because they only use meat that’s been 100% grass-fed, and their “original” flavored sticks have zero grams of sugar. You can also buy them on Amazon! 
  • Chopped up veggies or baby carrots.
    • I don’t know about you, but I get kinda bored on long flights…and boredom makes me wanna snack! Raw veggies are a great snack because you’re giving yourself ample nutrients…AND something to do! While watching that movie on the tiny airplane screen, you can eat them with abandon!

There are obviously HUNDREDS of healthy snacks you can bring with you on your trip. Those are just some of my favorites. 

But really, this tip is so important and goes a loooong way. When you’re prepared, you’re not tempted by the airport convenient stores.

And when a flight attendant offers you a bag of nutrient-poor pretzels or cookies, you can pass because 1) you already had a couple of hard-boiled eggs that filled you up, and 2) you have other snacks waiting and ready in your carry-on!

TIP #3: STAY HYDRATED.

This is an especially important tip if you’re going to be on a long plane flight, but it’s also important throughout your trip.

Flying is dehydrating, and when you’re dehydrated you also FEEL like you need to eat something…but really your body is just craving fluids!

I purposely book an aisle seat so that I can drink TONS of water—still AND sparkling—and not feel guilty making people get up.

Over the years, I’ve convinced my husband that an aisle seat is the best way to go, so now we book two aisle seats across from each other when traveling together. 

And we CRUSH water throughout the flight. 

Since dehydration is inevitable when flying—unless you’re on one of those fancy new planes that somehow prevents it. I’m not an aviation expert, so you may know more about this than I do!—soda and alcohol don’t do your body any favors.

Still, I’ve been known to enjoy a vodka/soda or glass of wine on flights. But when I do, I’m just EXTRA cautious to drink TONS of water.

A couple other hacks I figured out while flying back and forth across the country millions of times:

  • First, when the flight attendant comes around with the beverage cart, ask for the entire bottle of water or the entire can of seltzer. I used to feel weird doing this, but then I saw other people do it so many times that I thought, “These people are geniuses! I want to be a genius, too!”
  • The second hack: Bring electrolytes with you in your carry-on. I steer clear of Gatorade and other sugary sports drinks, which is why I ADORE Pure Vitamin Club’s Ultra Salt tablets. You may know that Pure Vitamin Club is my FAVORITE supplement company because they don’t use any of the standard binders or fillers most vitamin companies use. (I should probably do an entire episode on Pure Vitamin Club…I’m THAT obsessed!) Their Ultra Salt tablets are my absolute favorite because each pill contains the purest, most absorbable, most bioavailable forms of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, along with over 60 beneficial trace minerals. These electrolyte tablets are seriously AMAZING, especially in situations where dehydration is possible: like on long flights, super hot days, and nights after you’ve had a few cocktails. 

Okay, now that your mindset is squared away, you’re prepared for your road or plane trip with ALL of the snacks, and you’re ready to stay hydrated, let’s move on…

TIP #4: WHEN YOU HIT YOUR DESTINATION, BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR HEALTHY SNACKS SO THAT YOU CAN STOCK UP!

It’s not as easy to follow tip 1—be prepared!—on the trip back.

For example, if you’re staying in a hotel, you won’t be able to make hard-boiled eggs. 

We both know that the airport doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of healthy—and affordable!—snacks, so when you’re on your trip, be on the lookout for healthy snacks. Keep your peepers peeped!

Maybe one day you hit up the prepared food bar at larger grocery chain for lunch. Awesome! That’d be a great time to stock up on produce that won’t spoil!

Just get into the “plan ahead” mindset, which I guess is another great mindset to have on vacation!

Don’t wait until the last minute when you’re suuuuper hungry and the only options are candy, candy bars, or slushies!

And now for the final tip…

TIP #5: WHEN EATING OUT THROUGHOUT YOUR TRIP, MAKE THE BEST CHOICES!

I don’t know about you, but when I get home from traveling I often think, “Thank GOD I can finally prep something for myself!”

It can get old eating EVERY meal out when you’re on vacation because the portions are often hefty, the ingredients are subpar, and sometimes you just wanna eat dinner in your pajamas!

But generally, eating food you don’t prepare for yourself is necessary. Which is okay!

This tip really goes hand-in-hand with my previous episode.

In episode 3, I discussed “9 Practical Tips For Eating Healthy (ish!) At Restaurants”!

The 9 tips are:

  1. When possible, skip the dressing and/or sauce.
  2. Just say no to bread.
  3. In the same vein, just say no to breaded items.
  4. Enjoy bites of shared desserts.
  5. Make yellow and/or Dijon mustard your best friend.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions.
  7. Plan on getting a cocktail? Order one that’s sugar-free!
  8. When ordering appetizers, don’t forget to check out the salads and sides.
  9. Preview the menu online before you arrive at the restaurant.

For a more in-depth description of each tip, head back to episode 3!

If you follow most (or all!) of those tips while eating out on vacation, your body will thank you! Sure you may STILL feel excited to get home and eat simpler meals again, but throughout your trip or vacation you’ll be more energized, your digestion will be better, you’ll sleep well, and more when you nourish your body the best you can.

SUMMARY

Alright, to summarize the 5 tips for eating healthy (ish!) while traveling are…

  1. Manage your mindset.
  2. Be prepared.
  3. Stay hydrated.
  4. When you hit your destination, be on the lookout for healthy snacks so that you can stock up.
  5. When eating out throughout your trip, make the best choices.

But vacation is obviously a time to enjoy yourself and have FUN, so remember: don’t stress too much. The choices you make the 48 weeks of the year you’re NOT on vacation matter way more than the choices you make the 4 weeks when you’re traveling!

However, if you’re someone who travels A LOT for business or to see family and friends—like I did—these tips can make all the difference!

Once I adopted these habits into my own life—MOST, not ALL—of the time, I enjoyed traveling so much more. There’s something to be said about arriving at your destination feel nourished, hydrated, and ready to go!

Again, don’t forget to share this episode with your favorite traveler. And tag me @thehealthinvestment on Instagram when you’re traveling the world and incorporating these tips into your daily life!

See ya next time!


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