Traveling is one of my favorite past-times and this year I’m doing A LOT of it. So far, I’ve been to Nashville for the Academy of Dietetics annual food and nutrition symposium (FNCE), Memphis for an RD exam prep course and Grand Rapids and Florida for fun! I also have upcoming trips planned to Portland for another nutrition conference (which I’ll hopefully be presenting at!) and California for spring break with one of my best girlfriends. Oh, and did I mention I’m leaving tomorrow to visit family in Evansville, IN 6 hours away for the holidays?
Needless to say, I’ve experienced first-hand the struggles of maintaining healthy eating and exercise habits while on the road. Sitting all day, having limited or no access to your usual gym and kitchen and relying on outside food choices can be tough. However, it is possible to stay healthy while traveling. Here are my tops five tips for you to use on your next excursion:
1.) Plan, plan, PLAN!
As with everything else, the key to success here is planning ahead. Think about how many meals and snacks you realistically need to pack. Will you be eating out for some of your meals? Does your hotel already have a complimentary breakfast? Will you have access to a microwave or mini fridge? If your flying can you check that? Answering these questions first will help you outline a successful plan of attack.
2.) Get the necessary ‘equipment’
Next, get what you need to make it happen. A mini travel cooler is my lifeline when it comes to traveling. It expands your food choices ten-fold by allowing you to pack otherwise easily perishable items such as yogurts, hummus, cheese sticks, sandwiches and more. Other things to think about packing include napkins, thermoses (if your bringing hot items) and UTENSILS. Don’t forget the utensils…
3.) Think ease & portability
Make your meals as easy as possible to eat. Although a steak dinner complete with a baked potato and healthy dose of roasted vegetables might sound nice, tackling this will in a moving care probably won’t be the easiest (or cleanest) task to take on. Instead try out some of these meal and snack ideas I’ve come to love will road tripping:
- Overnight Oats-combine ½ C oats, 1/2 cup milk or water, 2 Tbs. yogurt, dried and/or fresh fruit, nuts and cinnamon. Refrigerate overnight then enjoy the next morning
- Sandwiches- Pb & banana, turkey/ham (stuffed with veggies for extra nutrients and fiber!), hummus and veggie
- Salads- this is a great way to get a healthy dose of vegetables in, which can oftentimes be challenging when traveling. Be sure to add a protein source for extra staying power such as beans, grilled chicken/salmon, cheese, nuts or hard-boiled egg
- Eggs-an egg sandwich, scramble or omelet using whatever vegetables I have left on hand plus a little cheese.
- Grain dishes-think Chipotle burrito bowl: start with a cooked grain then add vegetables, protein, and whatever fun toppings you want. I packed leftover pizza quinoa on my recent trip to Memphis.
- Yogurt-plain, or with fresh fruit, trail mix or granola
- Muffins-try these pumpkin chocolate chip ones
- Fruit + nut butter
- Pre-chopped vegetable + hummus
- Crackers + cheese stick
- Trail mix
*Remember to keep all necessary foods refrigerated or heated to the prevent food-borne illness
4.) Choose healthy fast food options
If you end up running out of food sooner than planned, there are still plenty of healthy options for you. Check out fast food websites for their nutrition information before making your choices. In a nutshell, avoid fried items, sugar sweetened beverages (sweet tea, regular sodas, etc.), special sauces and super-sizing.
5.) Move whenever possible
Whether this means doing a lap around each gas station or hitting up the hotel gym a couple of times, make the most of what you’ve got available to you. Every little bit really does add up. Plus, it’ll give you an energy boost, which is much needed after sitting for extended periods of time!