It’s summer! Travel season is in full swing. What can you do to ensure you eat healthy?
When traveling, finding healthful food choices can be challenging. However, with a little planning and preparation, there are a number of healthy food options when you are on-the-go.
Many people eat food from restaurants and businesses that sell food in locations near where they are passing through on their travels. The trouble is, most of these establishments sell the most unhealthy, processed food imaginable – full of unhealthy fats, white flour and sugar, flavorings and colorings, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and herbicide residues, and other toxic chemicals.
It may seem like eating this type of food from time-to-time is no big deal. But when you are traveling, even if you are on vacation, your normal schedule and way of life becomes interrupted. This can be a strain on your body. Eating these kinds of foods even once in awhile, especially when you are not used to eating them, can cause symptoms you’d rather not experience. Depending on the individual, the consequences of eating chemical-laden foods can be mildly irritating to disastrous; especially for those who are healing from chronic health issues or food sensitivities.
Consuming processed foods can reduce the level of enjoyment and peace on your trip, and place a tremendous strain on your body that can lead to illness and/or fatigue which can make any getaway or trip unpleasant, and cause lingering issues for the future.
So what can you do???
We just returned from a 2+week vacation driving through Nevada, California, and Oregon visiting family and friends. We have spent many years packing our own food and sourcing healthy food when we reach our destination. Making sure we are mindful about our food choices while traveling has ensured we enjoy our vacation experiences to the fullest, and avoided illness.
I’ve compiled a list of ways to eat healthy and minimize those not-feeling-so-well situations that can happpen when traveling.
Bring food from home to eat healthy and save money
If traveling by car, think yogurt, milk, cheese, fruits, vegetables, leftover meats from last night’s dinner, sprouted nuts, meat or fish jerky and other dehydrated foods, hard-cooked eggs, and almost any hot or cold dish you can prepare at home. When we travel to Las Vegas, Nevada to visit my in-laws from our home in Boise, Idaho we usually drive part of the way the first day and stay in a hotel room on the way.
For dinner, I try to pack a couple of thermoses with a hot meal I’ve made at home – examples are casseroles or one-pot meals with chicken, ground beef, or steak. I also pack a big salad in a portable container to go with dinner and include homemade salad dressing. This is usually enough food for my husband, son, and I for dinner that night.
For snacks in the car we usually bring cheese, nuts, fruit, and beef jerky. If we stay in a hotel we usually get a room with a kitchen and make breakfast the following morning. We usually bring raw milk, butter, ghee, eggs, sprouted nuts, and fruit and sometimes sausage or bacon.
Consider these healthy snack choices when on-the-go by car or plane:
via Amazon affiliation
When driving, we also bring food from home that we can prepare when we reach our destination. We visit my in-laws in Las Vegas a few times a year, so we bring as much as possible of our meat, eggs, poultry, milk, yogurt, sauerkraut and other foods we would normally prepare and eat daily. To keep foods frozen or cold, we simply place all those items in the same cooler. If needed, we add ice. Usually, frozen meat, poultry and other cold foods stay cold enough until we reach our destination and can put all items into a refrigerator and freezer until ready to use – just like when we are home.
Bringing food from home not only ensures we eat healthy, but it saves money as most of the foods we normally consume have a higher price tag in Las Vegas or don’t meet our standards. To give perspective, we pay just under $7/lb for grassfed beef from our local farmer in Boise, ID. In Las Vegas, grassfed ground beef from Whole Foods runs about $10/lb. Our pastured, soy-free chickens from our local farmer are $4.50/lb., but at Whole Foods prices are usually higher and may or may not be pasture-raised. I have yet to find soy-free chickens in Whole Foods. We bring pastured, soy-free eggs from home that cost $4.75 a dozen. At Whole Foods and some other health food stores, you can expect to pay $5 or more a dozen, but eggs are still from confinement operations. If you are able to find pastured eggs, most of them aren’t soy-free.
Use safe, convenient containers to transport food
Small coolers and cold packs can be your best friend when you are on the move; I never go anywhere without mine. Although you can use plastic bags, there are some eco-friendly alternatives to plastic I recommend via Amazon affiliation: depending on how long your travel time is: wax paper bags from Natural Value and If You Care parchment paper.
Other useful containers, depending on how much room you have, are recycled glass jars or small bottles for different types of drinks or foods. I try to reuse all glass containers that come into my house (as opposed to plastic) to save money and avoid BPA (the chemical found in plastics that can leach into food and beverages).
Here are some products I recommend via Amazon affiliation for transporting, containing, and preparing food:
ChicoBag reusable sandwich bags (BPA, phthalate, PVC & lead-free).
Lunchbots set of 3 stainless condiment containers
Lunchbots stainless Quad container
Lunchbots thermal stainless container
Bring dishes, storage containers, cookware, and utensils
for eating in and on if you know what you are eating and will need, such as bowls or small plates, flatware and knives or cutting implements. We bring stainless, glass and ceramic ware from home for whatever needs we might encounter. We also bring our large stainless stockpot for making broth, ladles, strainers, and a cast iron pan for when we reach our destination as our family members don’t always have the equipment we use.
If you want to clean your dishes, bring along some natural dish soap in a small container. If you use plastic, be sure to recycle.
I recommend this set of bamboo flatware for consuming food on-the-go via Amazon affiliation: Bambu 24-piece flatware.
If traveling by plane and you won’t have access to a nourishing meal for several or more hours, pack food in your carry-on.
Choose foods like hard-cooked eggs that you prepare in advance, peel, and place in a wax paper bag. Cut up food into bite-sized chunks for ease of eating with your hands and fingers. Leftover meats, raw cheese, sprouted nuts, and certain fruits such as grapes, apples, oranges, whole strawberries, and even dried fruits work well.
Raspberries, pears, and bananas are not a good choice unless you eat them within an hour or so because they tend to soften quickly in containers and can make a big mess in your carry-on. I normally carry a paper bag or sometimes a cold-pack lunch pail with a place for a small cold pack for food. All foods you bring on the plane should be eaten within a few hours because carrying these while flying is more difficult than in a vehicle, and your options are more limited for space and keeping your food cold.
A trick I learned while traveling to the Weston A. Price Conference one year was to take my thermos and put it in the freezer the night before my trip with the lid off. This makes the thermos cold on the inside to keep foods cold for at least few hours while you travel.
Cold packs that are not made from water are permissible on planes. Frozen foods are allowed through TSA if they are truly frozen at the security gate, and depending on the length of your flight, some may be thawed out for consumption after take-off.
If eaten within several hours, you can also carry fresh vegetables in your food packing.
Broccoli, cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and even spring greens can be good choices. If you bring greens of any kind, try to avoid packing them directly against your cold-pack or ice pack of choice, and eat them within a couple of hours. Extremely cold exposure can cause greens to blacken and become slimy.
If you want to bring jerky, you can now find organic or grass-fed meat or selections at many health food stores
Beef, fish, chicken, and turkey are now available in stores or online. You can also make your own at home with a dehydrator.
Good-quality water is difficult to come by since airlines do not permit bringing water from home
I bring my own filtered water from home if driving in glass container or stainless steel canteen. If you don’t bring a container from home, you will likely have to purchase bottled water in the terminal after you check your luggage and go through security.
When you reach your destination, look for filtered water from a local health-food store. Whole Foods has reverse osmosis water available to be dispensed into gallon jugs.
If you must eat food on the plane, try to avoid sugary or processed products
While this may be difficult since airlines don’t typically provide real food, saying no will benefit you in the end. Traveling can be stressful and you will be less tired and short-tempered because you have supported your body with the healthiest possible choices. In the airport, choose salads, cooked vegetables, and proteins as much as possible while avoiding more highly-processed foods.
If you know you won’t be able to find the usual type of food you are accustomed to eating, consider probiotics, hydrochloric acid, and digestive enzymes.
I recommend Biokult, Prescript-Assist, and Probiotics support your digestive and immune systems, and can help minimize gastro-intestinal distress and digestive issues from foods you may eat that are unfamiliar or less than optimal. Enzyme Formulations has digestive enzymes and powdered probiotics that my family takes, and which you must obtain from a health care practitioner. Visit the Enzyme Formulations web site for more information about how to contact a practitioner in your area. This is one of the best products my family has used.
More importantly, the more homemade, naturally-fermented foods you eat including lacto-fermented vegetables and naturally fermented dairy like yogurt, kefir, and raw dairy, the better your digestion will function. These foods provide natural sources of important digestive enzymes and friendly bacteria. As you are able, bring any foods you normally consume that are portable such as fermented cod liver oil and other foods that provide good essential fatty acids (i.e. coconut or olive oil), and any important items you take for health. When we drive, we bring kombucha, sauerkraut, beet kvass, yogurt, kefir, and other fermented foods in a cooler.
When you reach your destination, search for local health food stores, farmer’s markets, restaurants, and local farmers
Through the help of those you might be staying with, research local recommendations, or do an online search. Here are some resources I recommend:
Avoid eating when rushed or stressed, such as when traveling from one place to another
Unless you are on a plane or in a vehicle for long periods of time and have no other choice but to eat while traveling, eating while in transit is not ideal. Hydrochloric acid production goes down during stress and can prevent food from properly absorbing, which can make you feel less than optimal and impart digestive distress, fatigue and illness.
It’s challenging to eat as healthy when you travel as you when at home. Following these tips can save money and help ensure the highest levels of wellness and that your health survives your traveling experiences.
When you do eat out, avoid sweets and simple carbohydrates, alcoholic and sugary beverages, processed foods, and anything that might be suspect
Eat real traditional/healthy fats and proteins including animal foods, if available, and vegetables. Avoid anything prepared with vegetable oils or artificial meat products such as tofu or fake chicken or beef on menu items.
Looking for a helpful guide to navigating the menus in restaurants if you find that you cannot avoid eating out?
Look no further: Kristen Michaelis’ The Renegade Guide to Dining Out provides well-researched recommendations for when eating out during travel.
Learn how to ask about ingredients and where the food that’s being served comes from. Discover proven tricks to make menu items healthier, prioritizing food choices, and a “cheat sheet” for some of the most popular restaurant chains!