How To: Tackle TRAVELING
Updated: Sep 6, 2019
This may be a shock to some, but I'm a homebody. I’m a type-A creature of habit, I thrive off of structure, and I just really love the cozy predictability of being home. When I started meal prepping and getting into nutrition more mid-2014, I didn't travel much aside from driving to Illinois to visit my parents.
Much to my surprise, I've spent about 8 of the last 12 months traveling. With that I've managed to have all my meals, eat every 3-4 hours, drink enough water, and stay within my macros. (Of course not everyday was perfect, I’m talking overall), so HOW did I manage that? How can you successfully and realistically balance traveling and eating well?
Food + Eating
What’s around you?
Stop by local grocery stores for fresh produce or quick meals to cook
No kitchen? No problem. Get a rotisserie chicken and microwaveable rice
Are there any meal prep companies near by? Buying ALL of your meals from there could be expensive, so maybe try 1 meal per day
AroundMe app categorizes everything around you - coffee, gas stations, hotels, movies, pharmacies, taxis, weather, + more
"The most important meal of the day"
Eat breakfast! Start your day off right with a filling, balanced breakfast - you'll be more likely to eat better throughout the day
Try to limit the sugar-filled cereals, syrups, and spreads - they're simple carbs which yes, they can be used for immediate energy but they aren't full of filling fiber like complex carbs and a balanced breakfast would. Instead, opt for eggs, Greek yogurt, fat-free milk, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and 100% whole wheat toast or English muffins.
One of my favorite breakfasts to bring when I'm traveling? These Chocolate Banana Bread Muffins for sure!!
Timing + Planning
Plan to or at least try to eat every 2-4 hours; skipping meals can lead to overeating, poor choices, and feeling bad or regretting what you ate
Be mindful - it's easy to lose track of time when you're traveling and taking in new places!
Expect the unexpected when it comes to planning out your day (refer to my cooler debacle in the Travel + Stay section to see how I learned this one the hard way lolol)
Always pack extra food! Say you're going hiking or doing something that will take up a good chunk of your day but you only need 1 meal... pack 2. It's better to be safe than sorry. You could get stuck in traffic, spend longer than you expect sightseeing, get lost, ANYTHING can happen and you don't want to be dealing with that when you're hangry!
Eat your veggies! Fresh veggies will help prevent the bloated, sluggish, nasty feeling you might feel when traveling
Drink plenty of water. For me, it can be harder to drink enough when I'm traveling because I'm out of my routine. So these 3 things are what help me: 1.) on a note in your phone, keep track of how many oz. of water you drink as you go about your day so you can be aware of your intake (128 oz. = 1 gallon), 2.) bring a blender bottle or reusable water bottle and set a goal for how many you want to drink per day and 3.) save yourself some money and fill up water bottles or your reusable bottle at hotel gyms!
If you're eating out, read this first, it will be your saving grace
And don't forget to enjoy yourself! Don't stress out too much about your food, your eating habits will be there when you get baCk home. Be mindful, do the best you can, and relax :)
Travel + Stay:
So how are you getting there? Flying?
Bring your own food. It's surprising, but you CAN! Just use clear containers to make it easier for the TSA agents and make sure it's not anything liquid, creamy, or soupy!
MyTSA app lets you search specific items where you can see what is or isn't allowed in your carry-on and if there's any guidelines that you need to follow
I've flown with my normal meals - rice, ground turkey, deer meat - in my carry-on before (I was using my 6 Pack Backpack which I talk about in the Driving + coolers part)
Pack a cooler! Even if it’s a cheap $8 styrofoam one - we used one in Texas last year and it got the job done, you don't need to get a Yeti or anything super expensive!
6 Pack Backpacks they are a bit pricey but your health is an investment! I finally bought one my senior year of college- LIFE SAVER. It comes with really durable Tupperware, ice packs that stay cold for up to 16 hours, and a warranty!
Please learn from me and use ice packs and NOT ice. Ice packs are reusable, obviously last longer than ice, saves money in the long run, and they're less messy... One road trip, the ice melted, leaked into the Tupperware, and there I was left eating waterlogged chicken for a day. And no, there weren't any meal prep companies to buy food from and yes, it tasted as bad as you're imagining. Yikes, so save yourself the trouble. I got $0.99 ice packs at Walgreens that work great.
Where are you staying?
Don't assume that every hotel will have a microwave and/or mini fridge. I thought this was a staple in hotel rooms but BOY WAS I WRONG. You can call the front desk to request a mini fridge to be brought to your room though!
Think outside the box and look into Air BnBs, they can end up being a lot cheaper than hotels! I stayed in an Air BnB for the first time last year and was pleasantly surprised. It had a full kitchen, utensils, oven, and full-sized fridge to use. They make traveling feel a whole lot homier and all around less stressful. But there definitely are some not so great Air BnBs, we've had our fair share, so just be aware of that when you're picking one!
What to Pack
So what all should you pack??
Personally, I like routines so the closer I stick to my daily routine, the easier it is to stay on track with my meals + workouts. But more importantly, I am HAPPIER and more relaxed when I'm active and eating well!
I'm the kind of person that tries to pack light, but usually packs more than I need. It's okay, just embrace it especially if you're packing food + whatnot, it's hard to pack light (well for me at least)
Pack e v e r y t h i n g you think you may need, and then some. It's better to have it with you than to realize you forgot something once you get there. Some hotels offer some of these items below for free, but I'd rather be prepared and have it anyways.
A list of ideas on what you may want to pack:
Paper bowls, plates, Tupperware
Refillable water bottle(s)
Ziploc baggies (you can store silverware + small items in there and use it as a garbage bag later)
Plastic or reusable silverware
Plastic or reusable straws
Hand sanitizer or wipes
Portable toothbrush, mints, gum
Salt + pepper packets and seasonings if you plan on cooking
Protein powder - individual packets, scoops pre-measured into baggies, or a big Ziploc bag of it instead of the entire tub
Pack as much food & on-the-go snacks as you can. Pre-measure everything!
Lightly salted or salt-free nuts
Fruit - citrus and apples travels well
Low-sugar instant oatmeal (100 calorie OatFit or Quaker Weight Control is good!), grits, or cream of wheat
Healthy breakfast muffins - like the Chocolate Banana Bread ones or these 5-Step Blueberry Muffins
Beef, deer, or turkey jerky
100% whole wheat sandwiches
Rice cakes - caramel, chocolate, and white cheddar are my favorite
Whole wheat crackers
Homemade trail mix
Protein bars (make sure they aren't glorified candy bars AKA full of sugar)
Even if you aren't traveling and you're constantly on the road or bouncing around from town to town like Grant and I do, there's a full list of sweet and salty on-the-go snacks with examples of portion sizes here in my eBook.
At the end of the day, don't hold yourself to unrealistic expectations! Chances are you may not get another chance to eat at those local, one-of-a-kind diners and restaurants. It's okay and NORMAL to treat yourself, especially when you're traveling. Use traveling as an opportunity to learn and practice moderation.
Pack what you can, make a loose plan for your eating (like for a 3-day trip, have one treat per day or a longer trip, have one treat every other day), but above all, enjoy your travels and prioritize having a healthy relationship with food! Find a level of balance and moderation that works for YOU.