This may be a shock to some, but I'm a homebody. I’m type-A, a creature of habit, I thrive off of structure, and I just really love the cozy predictability of being home. Since I started meal prepping mid-2014, I didn't travel much aside from driving to visit my parents in Illinois. 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) How did I do it?
Here's how to balance traveling and your diet:
I use the term "diet" loosely. When I refer to a diet, I mean eating healthy, sticking to a meal plan, and meal prepping.
What’s around you?
Stop by local grocery stores for fresh produce or food to cook
Are there any meal prep companies near by? Buying ALL of your meals from there could be expensive, so try 1 meal per day
AroundMe app - categorizes everything around you; coffee, gas stations, hotels, movies, pharmacies, taxis, weather, + more
Plan to eat every 2-4 hours
Stay away from sugar-filled cereals, syrups, and spreads
Have complex carbs and protein to stay fuller and start your day off right where you'll be more likely to eat better throughout the day
Opt for eggs, Greek yogurt, fat-free milk, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and 100% whole wheat toast or english muffins
Eat your veggies = prevents the bloated, sluggish, nasty feeling you can get when traveling
If you're eating out, here's how to eat well at a restaurant
Expect the unexpected - *refer to the pack a cooler section to see how I learned this one the hard way*
Always, always, ALWAYS pack extra food! If 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.
WATER - to me, it’s harder to drink plenty of water when traveling, so...
Write down on a note on your phone the # of oz. you drink as you go about the day to keep track of your water (1 gallon = 128 oz.)
Blender bottles have the oz. written on the bottle (can use for on-the-go protein shakes too)
Fill up water bottles at hotel gyms & save TONS of money
TRAVEL + LODGING
Traveling by airplane? Bring food; you CAN!
MyTSA app - you can search whether or not specific items are allowed in your carry-on
Use clear containers and make sure it’s not liquid, creamy, or soupy.
The last time I flew, I brought my normal meals in my carry-on (rice, ground turkey, deer meat, etc.)
Driving? PACK A COOLER!
Even if it’s a cheap $8 styrofoam one- I used one in Texas last year; it got the job done.
6 Pack Backpack/Coolers - 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 great Tupperware and ice packs that stay cold for up to 16 HOURS!
Ice packs NOT ICE - they're reusable, last longer than ice, and will save money in the long run. Don't get ice, trust me. It could melt, leak into your Tupperware and leave you eating waterlogged chicken for a day... yikes. I got $0.99 ice packs at Walgreens that work great.
Don't assume that every hotel will have a microwave and/or mini fridge
Think outside the box and stay at an Air BnB
Can be 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.
Air BnB's make traveling feel a whole lot homier and less stressful
WHAT TO PACK
Pack EVERYTHING 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. The closer I stick to my daily routine, the easier it is to stay on track with my meals + workouts.
Refillable water bottle
Ziploc Bags (store silverware/small items and can later use for a garbage bag)
Portable toothbrush or mints/gum
Salt + pepper packets / seasonings
Hotels usually offer most of this for free, stock up on as much as you can
Pack as much food & on-the-go snacks as you can. Pre-measure everything!
Protein powder (individual or pre-measured into baggies)
Lightly salted or salt-free nuts
Fruit (citrus travels well)
Rice cakes (caramel, chocolate, and white cheddar are my favorite)
Healthy breakfast muffins
Beef or turkey jerky
100% whole wheat sandwiches
Whole wheat crackers
Homemade trail mix
Protein bars (make sure they aren't glorified candy bars AKA full of sugar)
Tea bags if you're a tea drinker like me
Don't hold yourself to unrealistic expectations, we're only human. Chances are you may not get another chance to eat at the local, one-of-a-kind diners and restaurants. It's okay to treat yourself. Have moderation and PLAN. For a 3-day trip, have one treat per day. For a longer trip, have one treat every 3 days. Find a level of balance and moderation that works for YOU. Plan ahead, make a list “to pack” list, and enjoy your travels!