Healthy Eating while Traveling

Healthy Eating while Traveling


Eating healthy while traveling is an ongoing challenge for me. I'm not a light packer to begin with, and my attempts to squirrel various snacks into every pocket of my suitcase and carry-on(s) are met with varying degrees of success. There is a point when my laptop trumps a 12-pack of oatmeal packets. Apparently quite a few of you have similar troubles. I know because you email me about it. For example, the following email showed up in my in-box not too long ago. Written by a hotel-hopping business traveler with no kitchen at his disposal...

Dear Heidi, I work in real estate consulting. This allows me frequent trips to foodie paradises such as Shreveport, Louisiana, and the middle of Nebraska. One can go days without seeing anything as quaint as an apple. I am searching for a healthy way to eat while traveling for business.

Cooking, the one true way to ensure healthy eating, is out for obvious reasons. Often one cannot get to a grocery store, so buying simple whole foods is out too. Even eating salad isn't an option; McDonald's surpasses all measures of common decency with salads that have more fat than Big Macs do.

At this point I'm about ready to do something weird like pack most of my food as if I were going camping. My question/challenge to you is this: what solutions are available for the health-savvy business traveler other than subsisting solely on McDonald's yogurt parfaits and apple pies?

Regards, C.S.D.

While I have a few strategies I deploy, I still have plenty to learn on this front, so I thought I'd ask you to offer up your favorite tips for eating healthy whole traveling. Try to limit yourself to your all-time favorite tip (or two). My tips...

- Good airplane food: If I start off eating poorly at the beginning of a trip, it can be downhill from there. Things are usually hectic around here the day (or two) before leaving on a trip, and sometimes I flat out don't feel like cooking. But I do like having good (substantial) food in flight, and I like to kick off a trip on the right foot. Lately I'll bake off two Amy's Indian Spinach Tofu Wraps, let them cool to room temperature, wrap them in parchment paper, and then bag them in plastic. Think Indian burrito - it's a whole wheat tortilla, a bunch of tofu, spinach and spices in one compact package - really tasty. I just eat a half a burrito whenever I'm hungry until I run out.

- BYOF: If I'm traveling domestically, I pack three apples and a pound of nuts or toasted pumpkin seeds for snacking in my carry-on, and one box of cereal in my suitcase. Herein lies the catch - I like to eat cereal with plain yogurt (not the artificially sweetened stuff offered at just about every breakfast buffet I've encountered). I can usually buy the plain yogurt at a corner grocery, BUT I've been in plenty of hotels that don't have refrigerators, so there have been times when I fill up the sink with ice to keep the yogurt cold.

- Just add water products: They're great in a pinch. Look for the ones with natural ingredients. I can always find hot water.

- If you are on a road trip, pack a camping stove: This means even if you are staying in hotels or motels. Wayne and I go on lots of road trips, and we like to pull over to various parks and beaches for lunch/dinner. We'll cook something up on our little stove and be on our way. Makes us less reliant on eating "out" for every meal.

Don't get me wrong, I love to experience local foods ingredients and inspired cooking - but anyone who travels extensively knows there can be long stretches between healthy meals. These a just a few fall-back tactics I've come to rely on.

Ok, your turn - favorite healthy travel eating tips...

Wayne took the opening photo and was nice enough to let me use it here.

 
 
 
 
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Your Comments


tiny morsels
September 12, 2008

Great Tips!
Thanks.

 

I like to look for a grocery store instead of a fast food place. Sometimes if you just ask a local, there may be store around the corner. That way I can get a banana, peanut butter, baby carrots, hummus, etc. instead of eating McDonalds.

And if I do eat at McDonalds...well...I try to think of it as a useful reminder of why I don't like to do that.

 

amy
September 12, 2008

I travel a lot and almost all of my trips are overseas (longhaul). I have several strategies:

1. MOST IMPORTANT of all, make sure you buy a BIG (1.5l or 2.0l) bottle of water for the flight. And make sure you drink the entire thing during the course of the flight. If you flight is longer than 8 hours, buy TWO bottles, if necessary.

2. Keep up the hydration levels throughout your trip.

3. Travel with sunflower seeds, flax seeds, etc. These make for excellent snacks.

4. Do not drink alcohol. Or, if you feel you must, stick to white spirits (vodka, gin). And really keep it in moderation.

5. If you're traveling on business, resist all snacks served during meetings.

6. Eat 3 apples a day (if you can), preferably unwaxed.

7. Avoid Starbucks or any place like that for breakfast. Better to have breakfast at the hotel. Go for protein, like oatmeal or a hard boiled egg or cottage cheese (or yoghurt, as long as it's real and not that fat free rubbish). Sprinkle sunflower seeds or flax seeds on your breakfast.

8. Stay away from desserts!

9. Make sure you walk at least 30 minutes every day.

10. When you check in to the hotel, tell the front desk you do NOT want a candy placed on your pillow at night!

11. Avoid fruit juices. Eat the real thing instead.

These are somewhat obvious, perhaps. I follow these rules every day and I am doubly careful when I travel. Water is the key and lots of good fiber (from apples or grapefruits).

 

Jen
September 12, 2008

Lara bars are portable, filling, and delicious. PB&J on graham crackers is also shelf-stable, easy, and yummy. Bringing an electric teakettle makes just-add-water stuff easier. And small containers of salt, pepper, and hot sauce can make quick grocery store meals much more appetizing! Even a little bottle of oil-and-vinegar dressing will make McDonald's salads much healthier.

 

Jaime
September 12, 2008

I recently took a week-long business trip (my first!), and knowing I might rarely have time to venture out for tasty, healthy, vegetarian meals (I'm a lactard, and wouldn't want to live on bagels and cheese sandwiches anyway) I packed like I was feeding a tentful of cub scouts. I was mostly concerned about protein and fruit:

trail mix - I made my own with the nuts and dried fruits I like - cheaper and tastier (and healthier - no sugar!) than the store- or airport-bought kind.

Green Plus protein bars - with whey protein so it's easily assimilated, plus natural and vitaminy things, I think these are the healthiest protein bars out there. They also are a decent sub for a small meal.

dried fruit - organic/unsweetened mango and figs

I've also been known to pack a couple of pb&j sandwiches - even my sprouted-grain bread beats the white-flour stuff for - and this was my priority - not feeling totally gross.

 

Christine
September 12, 2008

The stewards are your friends! On recent flights, I've been direct and clear with the air stewards and they are always helpful. I usually ask for lots of water (rather than a 4 oz plastic cup, often they'll bring a whole bottle) and when the snacks come around, I'll ask for several bags of the healthiest option (nuts, dried fruit, depending on the airline). And finally, when stuck in airports, ask the pilots and stewards where they eat- they'll usually point you to the freshest, tastiest option in the terminal. They've tried them all more than once, after all. Happy travels, all.

 

Ariane
September 12, 2008

My biggest thing for travelling lately (on flights) has been to bring an EMPTY bottle of water, then fill it at a fountain. This helps me be less tempted on the flight to get a soda and saves me the $3.

The other thing I do is check to see if the hotel I am staying at serves breakfast and try to find out what it is. Most of the business hotels also have some sort of fitness center, even if only a treadmill/bike and a TV, which helps stay healthier.

 

Lindsay
September 12, 2008

Just a caution about flying with a camping stove: you can't. My partner and I just flew to Oregon and planned on cooking with his stove. United made us abandon the gas as its illegal to bring it aboard.

 

Karen
September 12, 2008

I like carrying the vegan "Primal Strips" that are VERY light and small but have 6-10 grams of protein. Weight and size are a big issue when flying.

This past year I have become lactose intolerant which makes traveling even harder. I know carry powered soy milk with me so I can have milk in my tea, even if there isn't a refrigerator. Trader Joe's sells containers (in the vitamin section) that are inexpensive.
TJ also carries vacuum packed packages of brown rice that don't need refrigeration. Add that to some of the vacuum packed indian curries and you have a simple, quick meal that is easy to carry.

 

cassy
September 12, 2008

these are great ideas. i know i'm traveling a lot more for business in the next month or so, and i always end up starving in a hotel room with nothing but snickers, or the other crap they have at the mini-bar.
water is key, but i like the ideas about nuts, trail mix, and dried fruits.....i have such a small suitcase, not sure i'll have the space for pb&j but it's not a bad idea!!!!

 

Kathleen
September 12, 2008

Just a quick note about flying with water:

I am often frustrated with the fairly recent security measures that forbid passengers to bring their own water into the terminals.

I always bring an empty water bottle with me when I fly. Then I can fill it up whenever I want. I stay hydrated, save money, and help the earth by not throwing away once-used plastic bottles.

 

Katie
September 12, 2008

The coffee makers in hotel rooms are a great source for instant hot water. I run one cup through to be sure it doesn't have any coffee grinds in it, then use the next batch of hot water for oatmeal. I always travel with a box of granola bars (and one with me for in between meetings to prevent quick unhealthy snacks from vending machines), and find a market/grocery store as soon as I check into my hotel, no matter how busy I am. Stock up on healthier dressing packets (like oil and vinegar) at the salad bar next time you're at your grocery store. Also good spots for healthier food if you're in a city on the coast- fish markets down by the water. Sushi also always makes me feel better when I travel- the simplicity and freshness of it is often a relief after big meal after big meal.

 

natasha
September 12, 2008

if i have a full day of flying with me, this is what i pack -

-a couple of hard-boiled eggs (grab those little salt packets at the airport)
-a bag of those pecan nut crisps
-a chunk of cheddar, cut into a bunch of little slices (i used to bring spreadable goat cheese, but airport security always gets confused by it & i've had to throw away before)
-a bag of baby carrots
-slices of cucumber
-an empty water bottle to fill at the airport
-bag of nuts
-dried fruit

so obviously, the first thing to eat is the egg, followed by the cheese & crisps. the other things last a long time, and can get me through the rest of my trip. sometimes i also make a huge batch of healthy granola for a 5 day stay somewhere, and i'll buy those little boxes of rice milk that don't need to be refrigerated plus some bananas, so i always at least have a healthy breakfast

 

Susan
September 12, 2008

I try to stay in hotels that offer a full breakfast. I save the fruit and ceral for later.

 

Mrs.Sound
September 12, 2008

Eating healthy means living more happy years of your lives.:) Take care!
www.foodista.com

 

Pamela
September 12, 2008

I really enjoy this site for its healthy recipes, yummy pictures and great ideas from the comment section. I just got back from traveling to Houston and New Orleans. I flew and even did a little Greyhound. The snack machines are gruesomely lacking in nutrition. I pack raw almonds and dried figs for quick and sustained energy, (figs are high energy food and alkalinizing)--but my honest personal favorite are lemon-cranberry snack bars from my own Shaklee store. They also have chocolate and peanut butter, and really great protein meal bars that came in handy. I like their purity, protein and nutrient values, and convenience. When I have the time, I'm going to make the energy bars posted on this site with the brown rice syrup. Right now, it's catchup time, getting ready for winter.

 

Cyndi
September 12, 2008

Although I have been known to survive for multiple days on these things-you do tire of them. I bring small bags of Kashi cereal and various nuts, whey protien powder which can be mixed with water or any kind of milk (very high in good aminos and protien) small containers of almond or soy milk and fruit (also consider avocados and tomatoes that way if you bring bread you could have a sandwich!). Enjoy :)

 

Annie
September 12, 2008

On the plane I like to pack a small container of hummus and some carrots and/or whole wheat pita, and maybe an apple. I always bring some nuts and dried fruits and like to pack some organic natural nut butter and whole grain crackers.

 

julie
September 12, 2008

Coucous has saved the day for us many times. Even a can of tuna, served over the couscous can be real treat. (Remove the bag of couscous from the outer box to save room; you can then put all of them in a heavy duty plastic bag.) I also travel with a plastic bowl, can opener, and knife (in checked luggage). I've also found that hard cheese (eg Parmesan or cheddar) will keep for a l-o-n-g time without refrigeration.

 

Tara
September 12, 2008

Although apples and water are great, I don't know how realistic that is for the average person, and I don't think that candy on the pillow is going to put anyone over the edge....sorry Amy, that's just my personal opinion as I'm a nutritionist that despises apples: )
Being from the Bay Area we are certainly spoiled with food and you quickly realize this when you enter one of the many towns or cities in another part of the country, saturated with strip malls. Every chain restaurant you can imagine, filled with gluttonous menus and over-sized portions. Basically, it's really difficult to avoid eating out or being faced with unhealthy options when traveling. Some tips I tell my clients for eating out:

-avoid the fried food. Go for baked, broiled, roasted, grilled or anything besides fried to save yourself hundreds of calories

-This may seem unrealistic for some but seriously ask for a box when you order your food (so you can save half for later if you have storage options on the road) or literally put a napkin over what you're not going to eat or when you're beginning to feel full so you stop picking (and the server/busser takes it faster). The portions today are HUGE and unless you want to eat that 2,000+ calorie, "healthy" salad you gotta cut your portions somehow.

-Try to choose menu options that are based around vegetables like a stir-fry, salad, etc. (like many of the dishes found on Heidi's website; )

All the snack ideas that people have mentioned are perfect for holding you over when you don't have access to more food options such as in the airport or on the road. Luckily today, many of the fast food restaurants even have healthier options (portions still need work) it just comes down to the choices we make and knowing when to stop.

Slow down and don't just eat to eat. Eat to enjoy and really taste your food.

 

Kitt
September 12, 2008

Biggie over at Lunch in a Box just did an excellent post on bringing along empty bento containers to pack up restaurant leftovers.

I hate to waste good food, so I often end up toting a big clamshell container and trying to figure out how to keep it cold.

Taking along a smaller, sealable container is one way to make saving those leftovers more convenient. (Add a couple of Ziplocks and you can get some ice to go, too.) Makes for a good snack or even a meal later on!

 

Sara
September 12, 2008

When I travel, I pack single serving bags of almonds from Trader Joes and cups of no sugar added applesauce. That way I have something reasonably healthy to eat no matter the circumstances. Almonds and applesauce make a good breakfast too.

 

Nate
September 12, 2008

I like the comment about going to a grocery store in the area rather than a fast food joint. If there is a Whole Foods or other store that sells organic prepared foods, then great.

SparkPeople came up with a list of healthy, low-calorie and diet-friendly fast food choices:

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1193

 

lauren
September 12, 2008

wow - all great tips...cant wait to use some next time I travel because i always come back feeling bloated after a trip.

 

Julie
September 12, 2008

Great ideas! someone cautioned about avoiding Starbucks- I don't know for sure about the airports, but the stores now have lots of healthy options; all fruit and protein smoothies, oatmeal, and a healthy egg, fruit and bagel platter:).
I also recently spoke with a 'frequent traveler' on a flight to Denmark (as we were walking the aisles and standing and stretching as much as possible) He said he always orders the Vegetarian meal and lots of water (ok, that was my addition). I decided to try it and found it to be much easier on the digestive system, especially the day or two after the flight. I feel much less discomfort from bloating.

 

caroline
September 12, 2008

Great tips! My job often takes me to Mississippi, where they deep-fry everything. I have a 2-week trip coming up, and I will have to strategize!

 

z
September 12, 2008

I just found Eat Well Guide's travel planner, which maps out local, sustainable places along the route of your road trip.

 

Alice
September 12, 2008

I've found that what I crave most when I'm on an airplane is fresh things. In addition to fruit, I usually also pack a salad with greens in a tupperware. You can mix a little olive oil, salt, vinegar and crushed garlic in a 3 oz bottle to bring a long.

For road trips/car camping trips with a camp stove, soup is the way to go, you just toss everything in the pot and you have a full meal - bring along lentils, rice and some of your favourite spices and stop in at grocery stores for the fresh ingredients.

 

Meghan
September 12, 2008

Great topic, great ideas. For my three-day biz trips to nowhere USA, I usually go to Trader Joe's and pick up healthy convenience foods - ready to eat salad in a bag, pre-cooked brown rice, hard cheese, dense nutty german bread, canned/tetra-packed soup, etc. I also bring my own tea bags, coffee, and a camping french press. As long as I have access to a microwave, I eat well!

 

Channah
September 12, 2008

As a native of Shreveport (although now I live in St. Louis), I am slightly offended, but at the same time, I completely understand C.D.S.'s predicament. It is hard to be a vegetarian in the South, but, if you ask the right people, you can usually find good places to eat. My suggestion is to always call up the local health food store and ask for restaurant recommendations. Shreveport has several health foods stores, and many restaurants that are vegetarian friendly. If you rely solely on the yellow pages or the main streets, then, yes, the options look limited. You just need to do a bit of "research." Happy traveling in the South!

 

Misa
September 12, 2008

The musician, inspired by her own touring experiences, Dar Willliams wrote a great book called "The Tofu Tollbooth" about where to find health food stores and restaurants when you're on the road. It's a comprehensive list of places all over the country. You can find it on Amazon.

 

Erin in AK
September 12, 2008

While not necessarily the tastiest option (yet light, portable & durable) are the many options of freeze-dried meals designed for backcountry hiking & camping. We've been known to throw a couple of Mountain High entrees in our suitcase for emergency rations. Just add water, let sit, stir & eat. No dishes to carry or clean up (except the plastic utensils, which are easily cleaned in a hotel sink). There are meat, vegetarian & vegan options out there.

While I'd much prefer to cook my own, our find a fabulous local (healthy) eatery around the corner, sometimes you're stuck in a hotel surrounded by strip malls & fast food eateries, with a toddler. Under these trying circumstances freeze-dried can save the day.

 

Anna
September 12, 2008

I spent the last few months driving big rigs around America, and eating healthy was obviously a huge challenge in that setting. Because of this experience, my tips are more vehicle-friendly than plane-friendly, but I hope they help.

Meat jerky (sorry, vegetarians) has a ton of protein while being very low in fat and carbs. It's pretty much the perfect snack for times when you know it'll be hours before your next real meal.

Granola, nuts, dried fruits, and seeds all keep really well, are convenient to carry around, and make for much better and tastier snacks than anything you can get from a vending machine or snack bar.

The best $5 I've ever spent was on my little immersion heater. It's light, portable, and heats up a cup of water in under 10 minutes anytime, anywhere. (In a vehicle, it works well with an inverter hooked up to the lighter socket.)

If traveling by vehicle, plug-in heaters are a great way to keep food cool without needing to stop for ice every few hours. Most come with adapter plugs for both vehicle lighter sockets and regular indoor electrical outlets.

 

Sherry H..
September 12, 2008

echoing what Katie says about sushi, i find that i crave sushi whenever i get back home from a trip. the first place out to eat is always a sushi bar. perhaps it's a remedy for the not-always-healthy travel food!

 

Jeni
September 12, 2008

I actually pretend i'm going on a trek. I would bring a hunk of cheese, a piece of salami or baked tofu, PButter and Ahmok crackers. i brought israeli couscous with some pinenuts and veggies and ate it as a salad. I would cut up hardboiled eggs and make a sorta- egg salad sandwich on pitas w/ the extra veggies (make a mayo packet with herbs and S&P in a tiny ziploc). For meat eaters, we usually also grab a couple of tuna now packed in a little bag for the pita as well. Condiments are key- BYOB - salad dressing - at all times. I also suggesting exploring into a chinese/asian market for convienece packs (watchout for sodium) but they have great soups in packets, much like oatmeal but made of sesame and black beans.

There a wholesome biscotti i make that would help too, we have it to scoop up yogurt in camping trips. (email me if you want the recipe)
I love Heidi's Granola bars too. i've made them for hiking trips, backpackign trips, air travels, lazy lunches, several marathon breakfast/fuel for all of my running buddies. they are great! i love the variations too. i go for blueberries and flax, cherries and coco nibs, all nuts drizzed in chocolate, lime and pineapple... and it goes on.

 

Lillianne
September 12, 2008

I'm more than a little insulted with CSD's condescending comment about "foodie paradise such as Shreveport, Louisiana." I wonder if that person ever stopped to consider that there are many 101Cookbook fans from this area and we find almost all the ingredients necessary to try Heidi's recipes right here in our local shops. We have farmer's markets, roadside produce stands, and many vegetarian and vegan choice restaurants. For the life of me I can't understand how an apple would be hard to find. And yes, our stores carry more varieties than Delicious and Granny Smith.

HS: Thanks for the comment Lillianne. I decided to run the letter as I received it. I'm glad you've stepped in to offer up your perspective as a resident of one of those communities. It goes to show that if you can plan a bit ahead of time, or scratch beneath the surface a bit you can likely find wonderful alternatives to chains. Thanks again for participating in the conversation. -h

 

glutenfreeforgood
September 12, 2008

Because I have celiac disease and also like to eat healthy foods, I always travel with a separate bag full of my food necessities. That includes a "hot pot" like I had in college, 2 cans of lite coconut milk (which I use in coffee because I don't like artificial milk products and don't eat much dairy), some organic coffee and my camping French press mug, a bag of my homemade granola, assorted food bars (Lara Bars, Bumble Bars, Nectar Bars, etc.), a couple of Fuji apples, a camping style tube of almond butter, dehydrated soup (which I make myself, then all you need is the hot water from the hot pot), instant quinoa hot cereal, instant hummus and some GF crackers, a few small packets of Ultima and Emergen-C, homemade trail mix, and my little stuff sack of various kitchen necessities (a camp spoon/fork, a small can opener, my Swiss army knife, a tiny little bamboo cutting block, a plastic plate and bowl). I have a special duffle bag that I keep all my goodies in. My list of food does vary, but that's basically it. I always request a refrigerator and say I need it for medical reasons, which I do in a way. My food bag often weighs more than my clothes bag! I travel a lot and eating healthy is at the top of my list.

Oh, I almost forgot — and a bar of dark chocolate.

Melissa

 

Natalie
September 12, 2008

Hi!

I actually have been the Shreveport, Arkansas on a business trip as well, and although trying hush puppies and fried cat fish once was fun, eating regulararly at these places is just not feasible if your goal is to stay healthy. What I did when travelling to the deep down south was hunt down a Walmart, at first out of desperation, but when I discovered that you could actually find some really healthy options there I was relieved that no matter how small the town I was visiting there would always be a Walmart there.

I would always by the following:
- 4 gallon bottle of water
- baby carrots
- healthy yogurt
- Arthurs Fruit Juices
- cherry tomatoes
- dry roasted almonds.

These items helped me get to my next healthy meal.

 

Harper Smith
September 12, 2008

I carry freeze-dried fruit when weight matters. The brand I usually buy is Sensible Snacks; it's widely available and the packages don't crush badly in packing. It costs a bit less in a 24-pack from Amazon.

 

Natalie
September 12, 2008

Hi!

I actually have been the Shreveport, Arkansas on a business trip as well, and although trying hush puppies and fried cat fish once was fun, eating regulararly at these places is just not feasible if your goal is to stay healthy. What I did when travelling to the deep down south was hunt down a Walmart, at first out of desperation, but when I discovered that you could actually find some really healthy options there I was relieved that no matter how small the town I was visiting there would always be a Walmart there.

I would always by the following:
- 4 gallon bottle of water
- baby carrots
- healthy yogurt
- Arthurs Fruit Juices
- cherry tomatoes
- dry roasted almonds.

These items helped me get to my next healthy meal.

 

JWB
September 12, 2008

I travel often overseas and besides not wanting weigh down my luggage, I worry most about getting protein. It's amazing how hard it is to get a restaurant to serve you plain beans!
I travel with plastic bags filled with a protein powder (soy or whey) mixed with a 'greens' powder of some sort and flaxseeds. Each morning, I mix a scoop or so with water, or soymilk, or (if I'm lucky) yogurt. Drink it up, add some fruit, and you've got a lot of nutrition under you right away.

 

zoya
September 12, 2008

Somehow I thought this would be about international travel--maybe since Heidi was just in South America. When overseas, I find that the biggest challenge is getting enough fiber. Once you get used to a certain level and eat a high fiber breakfast, you feel rather gross after only a day or two which is not fun. I love GNU fiber bars which have about 50% of what you need in day. Dried fruit is good as the best local stuff is quite often exported. I then try to "top off" and have some legumes or vegetables that have been really well cooked especially if conditions are not sanitary. I also try to eat the local yogurt/cheese in order to get some friendly local bacteria in me to build up my immunity to unfamiliar microbes. If the tap water is bad, sometimes you have to drink coke or beer and lots of tea. I avoid like crazy Western hotel food in developing countries--just because the place is nice does mean they have a fridge. I once ate the MOST DELICIOUS calamari at a locals only type of place in Vietnam, ordered the same thing in the hotel and was so sick from the hotel food. I learned my lesson and even though I am not an early riser, I got up early for pho on the street before I had to work.

 

Zoe
September 12, 2008

I'm a vegetarian flight attendant, and packing food for 5 day pairings (shifts) can often be challenging. Here are a few things i've found useful:

-Drink plenty of water. bring a large empty bottle with you that you can fill when you've past security.
-Avoid salt before and during the flight. It will make you bloated and uncomfortable.
-Avoid food that gives you gas. Pay attention to the expansion of the air in your water bottle on take off, and think about what your intestines must look like.
-Take as much fresh food as you can carry, but avoid food that will squish in your luggage. Freeze yogurt, applesauce so it doesn't leak in transit.
-If you're packing liquidy foods in your checked luggage, use mason jars, they won't leak.
-Almost all hotels will have fridges that you can use. Ask when you check in. It's useful to have all refrigerated food in a labeled bag so it's easy for them to find when you want it back.
-the coffee maker is your best friend. use it to heat up soup, leftovers, etc... i put in some red river cereal and water in the pot as soon as i wake up, and by the time i'm showered and dressed, breakfast is ready.
-avocados are perfect. Easy to pack, soft enough to cut with a credit card (knives on a plane are a no-no), and delicious with a little lemon or tomato on a tortilla.

 

amy
September 12, 2008

One other thing. Again, for those traveling long haul -- many of the airlines offer a wide variety of special meal options. I fly British Airways a lot and I either do the vegetarian or the Muslim meal. It's MUCH healthier.

As for bringing water into an airport. No, you can't do that. But what you can do is buy a bottle or two AFTER you've gone through security.

Fair point, Tara, re: the candy on your pillow! I am thinking of my own experiences. I am in Geneva at least 5 times per year. In Switzerland they tend to give you a rather startling amount of chocolate each night! So, I take away the temptation. But, you're right. Not exactly the best tip in the world...

 

Susy
September 12, 2008

I'm a huge fan of the meager peanut butter on whole wheat. It's full of protein, and I usually add sliced apples and a few chopped nuts for added flavor.

I always have a bag of almonds & dried fruit in my purse, even when I'm just out & about around town. So these naturally are in my suitcase while traveling. I'm with Natasha on the cheese too. Hard cheese don't need to be refridgerated.

I usually look up a local health foods store when traveling so I can stock up on healthy snacks.

It really is possible to eat heathfully on the road, it's often our mindset that hols us back, not the lack of options.

 

vivian
September 12, 2008

The absolute best approach to eating healthy while traveling is NOT TO STAY IN HOTELS. When we travel, we rent apartments. They have kitchens, giving us the choice to either go out or cook in. No one wants to eat three meals out a day anyway.....so we can have a simple healthy breakfast in, grab lunch out, go to the market on the way home and have a home cooked meal....or any combination of the previous. There are any number of sites brokering apartments and/or homes of any size for vacation rentals both in the US and abroad. And FYI, they are always cheaper and far more comfortable than any hotel room!!!

 

Wayne
September 12, 2008

This is more prevention than eating health, but regarding coffee makers and the cups they provide in hotels - I saw a hidden camera news report showing hotel cleaning staff that did not replace those cups/mugs if they didn't -look- dirty, just gave them a wipe.

 

Karen
September 12, 2008

Recently got done with a 5000mi road trip myself and just in case the list isn't quite long enough...

Don't be tied to ideas of cereal/eggs for breakfast. Celery and trail mix is pretty good too.

Heidi's call on oatmeal is a fantastic one, especially for organic options. Packing a jar of your favorite nut butter is a good call too. It can accomodate most fruits and veggies, or a spoonful makes for a good hold over in a pinch.

 

Sheila | Live Well 360°
September 12, 2008

Wow, so many great ideas. Here is what I typically do while traveling.

On the plane (carry on):
- bring my SIGG water bottle for filling
- portion out 1 oz bags of trail mix or raw nuts (if I don't portion them out, I can get carried away)
- Greens Plus Protein Bar(s)
- whole grain turkey sandwich or wrap (can't wait too long to eat it though)
- homemade beef jerky
- gum

Make sure to get up and walk around as often as you can. This is why I always try for the aisle seat. Drinking lots of water = lots of trips to the bathroom for me. :-)

Then, I bring individually portioned bags of protein powder, homemade beef jerky, more nuts, etc in my suitcase. I also use grocery stores to stock up on more bottled water, yogurt, milk, Boarshead lunchmeat, etc and bring along a soft cooler to store it all in, in my room. I try to stay where I can get a full breakfast as well, and room service is probably so annoyed because I am the customer who asks for one order of 4 egg whites, no oil, no cheese, one order of oatmeal, no brown sugar or milk, one banana, etc....

I also make sure to get in a morning workout, get in lots of activity throughout the day, and drink tons of water. If I know I will be entertaining for dinner, I try to limit my calories throughout the day, sticking mostly to proteins and fats, and then limit alcohol to 1 glass of wine with dinner and pass on the bread, and just a bite of dessert...if someone offers to share. :-)

Sheila
http://www.livewell360.com

 

VeggieGirl
September 12, 2008

On-the-go snacks to pack: Larabars, fresh fruit & vegetables, pre-portioned nuts, dried fruit.

 

Anonymous
September 12, 2008

Thanks to the posters who mentioned the "tofu tollbooth" book and also the toad trip planner website. I tried it out and didn't come up with much, so let me add my tip for road trips: ChowHound.com. Admittedly most ChowHund posters are enthusiastic carnivores, but for a recent road trip in the Southeast I got a great tip on a locally-owned lunch place less than 2 miles off the highway. It's so great to avoid fast food.

 

Jenny
September 12, 2008

Dont forget you can take an empty bottle through security at the airport! That saves lots of money and guilt!

 

Lia Brewer
September 12, 2008

I like to carry a soft ice chest/lunchpail that has a shoulder strap. I can fill it with goodies and use it as a carry on. When/if it's empty I can flatten it into my suitcase or use it as a purse. I can get ice at the hotel and keep suff cold for a long time and refill with more healthy goodies if I find a store.

 

hadley
September 12, 2008

When I travel, I like to take a small rice cooker--it's great because you can plug it in and cook a portion of brown rice, quinoa, whatever other grain you want. Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

 

Maryn
September 12, 2008

Lots of excellent tips here. Here are mine; I am a journalist, spend a lot of time on the road, and almost always have to be packed for carry-on only.

1. For the plane, carry an empty water bottle (mine is a Sigg) and keep filling it; the walk up/ down the aisle will improve your circulation (no elephant ankles), To fill it, go to the galley, where there is a tap; if the flight attendants are friendly, they will probably offer you whatever bottled water they are serving instead.
2. Unless I am in first class (where the food is good as a marketing tactic), I try to pack a meal. Since you can't bring liquids, and even gels are suspect (eg peanut butter or hummus in a jar), I try to keep it simple and solid - sandwich, nuts, carrots, nonsquashable fruit.
3. I have a soft-sided shoulderbag cooler, meant for a six-pack. I fold it flat and keep it packed. Once I land, I try to find a grocery store to buy yogurt, cheese, fruit, etc. I make sure to liberate a few produce bags. In my hotel room, I put the stuff in the bottom of the cooler, fill the plastic bags at the icemaker and put them on top of the groceries (because cold travels down). Renew the ice every morning. This can carry you for up to a week. If I think my room will have a coffeemaker, I also buy 1/4lb of excellent coffee, because hotel coffee is the work of the devil.
4. Generally, I try to drink as much water and eat as many vegetables as I can find.
5. If you are going somewhere with dodgy water, and can check bags, two great things to have are a small container of bleach (tape closed AND doublebag in ziplocs) and a small camping filter, for instance to fit in a Nalgene. Filtering your own water will make it safe(r) to drink. This let me stay hydrated in India. Bleach will allow you to eat produce: capful of bleach in a sinkful of water, let the veggies soak 10 mins, rinse. This let me eat raw vegetables in Malawi.

 

katin from thesimpleme
September 12, 2008

A couple tips:
- Usually you can call ahead & ask the hotel to put a refrigerator in the room. Best bet is to call the morning of the day when you plan to arrive.
- Take an empty water bottle through airport security (be sure you put it in the tray like a laptop), then ask a cashier at any fast food restaurant to fill it with water for you. Flight attendant will usually fill it up also, if you ask nicely.

 

Andrew M.
September 12, 2008

I always take high fiber tortillas with me. My favorite brand is La Tortilla Factory. Some varieties are only 1 WW point. You don't have to worry about smashing them (as with bread) or coming up with hot water or stoves (prepping oatmeal or whole grains).

I usually buy sandwich meat or prepared tofu (non fried varieties) and make sandwiches. Small mustards are pretty cheap. If you have a microwave in your hotel room, you can also steam vegetables; many supermarkets have smaller bags of fresh veggies that are marketed for this purpose. Also, if you have a silicone (or other material) colander that folds flat, you can make a cold bean salad.

Their website (www.latortillafactory.com) has a store locator feature to pinpoint where you can find them. Their headquarters are in Sonoma County, so they are pretty easy to find in the Bay Area. If you can't find them, their products can be bought on the internet.

Here's an old tip from an old road warrior: you can always get hot water from a convenience store. You may want to invest in a soft sided cooler for transporting refrigerated items from home to hotel, hotel to hotel and/or hotel to home.

Asking for a fridge in a hotel is a good idea. I also have asked for a microwave if my room doesn't have it. Most hotels which cater to business travelers will have microwave and/or fridge.

 

Andrew M.
September 12, 2008

I always take high fiber tortillas with me. My favorite brand is La Tortilla Factory. Some varieties are only 1 WW point. You don't have to worry about smashing them (as with bread) or coming up with hot water or stoves (prepping oatmeal or whole grains).

I usually buy sandwich meat or prepared tofu (non fried varieties) and make sandwiches. Small mustards are pretty cheap. If you have a microwave in your hotel room, you can also steam vegetables; many supermarkets have smaller bags of fresh veggies that are marketed for this purpose. Also, if you have a silicone (or other material) colander that folds flat, you can make a cold bean salad.

Their website (www.latortillafactory.com) has a store locator feature to pinpoint where you can find them. Their headquarters are in Sonoma County, so they are pretty easy to find in the Bay Area. If you can't find them, their products can be bought on the internet.

Here's an old tip from an old road warrior: you can always get hot water from a convenience store. You may want to invest in a soft sided cooler for transporting refrigerated items from home to hotel, hotel to hotel and/or hotel to home.

Asking for a fridge in a hotel is a good idea. I also have asked for a microwave if my room doesn't have it. Most hotels which cater to business travelers will have microwave and/or fridge.

 

Snowmeg
September 12, 2008

Maybe you won't re-read this, but GlutenFreeForGood, what do you make your granola with? Do you eat oats? If so, where do you find ones where the crop wasn't rotated with barley?
I also make 2 small quesadillas with cheese and mashed black beans and non-watery veggies (like diced peppers, patted very dry) and pack them flat in tin foil. They slip right in your carry-on, and can even serve as a book mark. (although eat them within 5 hours of packing).

 

Inga
September 12, 2008

Some grocery stores deliver, especially local, family owned ones. You can call your hotel before you go to ask if they know of a grocery that delivers to the hotel, or find one on line and place an order to be delivered to the hotel you will be staying at. The food is there when you arrive and you don't have to go looking for anything, or bring it on the plane with you.

 

Susan
September 12, 2008

I am from the New Orleans area of Louisiana. Actually just south, a true cajun and I am certainly not offended by any comment about the south when it comes to food. I have also cooked many of the great foods and still do from the south. Not all foods from the south are fried. Surely everyone realizes this and most certainly every major dish I make is filled with fresh vegetables starting with the base such as onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, green onions, garlic, parsley, etc. My point is one can most certainly find great healthy items on most any menu in southern Louisiana. I lived there 47 years. Maybe the problem is when people pass through or visit from time to time those great specialty dishes are too hard to pass up. I can understand that but please, there are so many other choices on menus that are always offered.

 

Carolina Paul
September 12, 2008

don't think i can add to any of the wonderful suggestions above...i was just curious about the photo wayne took. is that the stars + stripes on the tip of the wing? was that in remembrance of 9/11? if so, that is really touching and a great photo. thanks for your wonderful site heidi, i just received your super natural cookbook for my birthday and my printer is thankful for the reprieve!!

 

Lisa
September 12, 2008

Snowmeg,

I'm not the one who posted about the granola but I do know that you can get gluten free oats at Whole Foods. I think the brand is Bob's Red Mill. I think they also have a website.

 

smita
September 12, 2008

Great comments - Thank you for getting this started. My staples:

- Oat bran, raisins and almonds in checked luggage
- Fruit (2 apples, 2 oranges) and trail mix in cabin baggage.
- Request the steward/ess to fill up your water bottle.

- I've used happycow.net and blogs to find veggie options.

Happy travelling!

 

Wayne
September 12, 2008
 

piccola
September 12, 2008

Like Maryn, I'm a reporter, and I'm often sent away with little notice (like, straight from the office, no packing).

So I always take some non-perishable food with me. I love fresh and dried fruit; cup-a-soup (with a travel mug); All-Bran bars (plus, the fibre helps offset some of the side effects of travel); roasted chickpeas; baggies of cereal like Kashi's shredded wheat squares or Kellogg's Corn Bran.

I also bring those single packs of Crystal Light sports drink, to mix with a water bottle.

If I have time to stop and shop but no place to cook, I'll grab bags of baby carrots and single packs of salsa or hummus, yogurt, or prepackaged salads.

Not to mention that I stash a travel toothbrush and toothpaste in every purse. :)

 

Ellen
September 12, 2008

When I travel, one of the first things I do is scout out restaurants I want to try. I decide ahead of time which meals during the trip I want to splurge on, and which can be made up of healthy fare. Part of the enjoyment I get from traveling comes from enjoying local cuisine!

I also look out for grocery stores and gourmet shops, preferably local ones that I don't have back home. I love to just go and look, as well as pick up healthy foods to eat throughout the trip. It's also nice to know from the beginning where these places are located, in case you need something.

Another thing I do is find a hotel that offers healthy breakfasts or a cafe within short walking distance that does. I always try to start my day with a substantial, but healthy, breakfast. That way, if I can't find a place with healthy lunch options, a granola bar I pack in my bag can hold me over until dinner. When I was in Boston last week, my hotel offered whole wheat pancakes, homemade granola, Stoneyfield farms yogurt (including plain!), steel cut oats, and fresh fruit. Sure, it's expensive, but I compensate for it with smaller, cheaper lunches.

I find that going out to enjoy the local food in its many forms is a huge part of traveling, and I personally wouldn't be satisfied cooking packets of oatmeal in my hotel room. What a great discussion topic!

 

Lisa
September 12, 2008

Great suggestions--you've already listed a lot of my travel habits.

One issue I've often encountered is how to deal with travel companions or hosts who may not place such a priority on eating well. It's not a problem when traveling alone or with friends, but I've been in a lot of situations when the people I'm with think BYOF is either rude or just plain weird. In the US it's totally normal to have an "individualistic" diet, but elsewhere in the world you're expected to eat the same thing everyone else is eating--and lots of it. And even at a recent conference in the US, my colleagues thought it was really strange that I brought my own breakfast to the hotel. Usually I do it anyone and don't care what people think, but sometimes it can put people off. Any thoughts?

 

vici
September 12, 2008

I always travel with apples and homemade biscotti. I make sure the biscotti contain wholesome flour, nuts, and a little chocolate. Buy one of those plastic travel cups and bring your own tea bags. You can go to Starbucks (or ask your stewardess) for hot water. They won't charge you.

http://www.grafffamily.com/chocalmondbiscotti.html

 

Taryn
September 12, 2008

Last year, while going to England, I saved a mini water bottle that I received on the flight before our stopover. It advertised that it could be reused as it was recycled and hard plastic. I saved it, not wanting to just throw away a perfectly good bottle.
Well, while going through security to get on the second flight, I was told to throw the bottle away. I asked why, since it was empty and they told me it was because it still looked wet inside. It indeed had a bit of condensation on the inside, but that would hardly be enough liquid to use as an explosive.

I was quite angry, because I knew I was right, but really there is nothing you can do. We are all at the mercy of the security people.

 

CK
September 12, 2008

I also like Trader Joe's for prepackaged salads or sandwiches to take on board a flight. I haven't had them taken away from me at security yet (like water!)

I also heard an interesting tip for travelers - Top Ramen in the coffee maker! Put the noodles in the basket and run the water through it. I know this isn't very healthy, but if you add vegetables and/or tofu it would be more nutritious.

I haven't actually tried this myself, it just sounded interesting.

 

Lynette
September 12, 2008

So many truly helpful hints in this discussion. But I should remind those who are travelling to foreign countries that a lot of those foods that they suggest are banned as bio-security risks and must be declared on your entry papers. Here in New Zealand if you fail to do so you may well encounter a large fine. It is also the same in Australia.

 

Julie VR
September 12, 2008

Hotel-room coffee machines aren't just good for making coffee - you can heat up soup in them, too. I buy the best varieties I can find (pack a can opener in your luggage, or buy tetra packs), pour them into the glass carafe, and hit 'on'. Nothing has to run through the machine, it just heats up through the bottom. And most hotel rooms have stir sticks and mugs for your coffee, so you can stretch out on the bed and sip hot soup.

 

Tam
September 12, 2008

I bring energy bars (Cliff, Luna etc.) and keep them in every bag, that way if I'm stuck in line at the rental car desk I can snack.

 

shuna fish lydon
September 12, 2008

This is a great subject to write about. Especially since I am about to take a 12 hour flight.

I like to pack nuts and golden raisins for snacking, as well. I will sometimes cooka vegetable medley with olive oil the day before a flight so I can eat something nutritious at room temperature during the flight.

Bananas are great because their energy dispenses over time.

And as a little aside: it was once suggested to me to bring treats for the in-crew staff, so I will often times bake something for them or get cookies from a favorite bakery. Their food options can be pretty awful and a little "change-up" can make them extra ordinarily grateful.

 

Pozole
September 12, 2008

One of the best meals I had on the road was a loaf of Whole Grain Rosemary Kalamata Olive Bread, a chunk of extra sharp cheddar and some fresh precut pineapple, bought at a market on the way to an out of town lecture. Simple.
Scrumptious! ! Satisfying.....

 

Anonymous
September 12, 2008

If you MUST go to McDonald's -- there are some decent options:

You can have a Caesar, Southwest, or Asian Salad, one with grilled chicken, for 220 - 320 calories. And those come with twice as much chicken as the snack wraps, so your calories are coming from protein rather than from a carby tortilla. Add a little low-fat dressing (the Newman's Own Low Fat Italian or Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette are your best bets), and you won't be tacking too many more calories onto your meal.

 

Deb
September 13, 2008

I bring chicken breast pouches and tuna (find it in the canned tuna aisle)- it's saved my tummy on a plane once. Also, I freeze berries to use as "ice" in my soft-sided cooler on the plane- to keep my lunch or dinner cold. Also I have used ice in ziplock baggies dozens of times and despite the TSA rules about it, I've never been told to throw them out. Also, before heading to the airport, I usually make a smoothie at home and put it in a disposable plastic bottle. I drink it in the security line and toss the bottle. Then I'm not starved as I board the plane.

 

Tal Stadler
September 13, 2008

It's one important post Heidi! I was just talking about my preferred food while traveling, on my blog. I usually do a research before I fly, as I want to look for the healthy vegetarian fresh food I'm expecting to enjoy on a trip.:)
I wrote about Berlin and now on Sunday I'm off to London. Yet another culinary experience...:)
Thanks!

http://www.blackandwhiteair.blogspot.com/

 

Rochelle
September 13, 2008

Some great tips here, have been trying to travel healthy also, since I do a few (very) long haul flights a year. Drinking enough water can't be over-emphasized, same with fresh fruit. What I do find is that I sometimes aren't sure where my next meal will come from, so I tend to stock up when I can, which wreaks havoc with my blood-sugar. Now I try to keep tabs on making sure I eat 3 meals with one or two snacks, or snack all day on the healtiest options available. Setting an alarn on your phone for regular meal times (especially when in a different time zone) also helps a lot!

 

Mrs Redboots
September 13, 2008

I have to admit that on the rare occasions I visit the USA, I do enjoy sampling the very wide range of fast foods available! But I wouldn't touch fast food at home, nor do I want it for every meal in the US.

I definitely second masses of water - at home, As you can't take water through security, either buy a bit 2-litre bottle when you are through, or fill one up. Then, every time the stewardess goes past with the drinks trolley, ask for water, and then keep topping up.

Nuts - the unsalted variety - are a great snack, but as you can't bring food into the USA, it's not a great idea to take much on to a flight as you just have to leave it.

 

An
September 13, 2008

I agree with Taryn and Lynette. Most of the planes don't let you bring your own water bottle onto a flight, but you're allowed to take empty bottles in your checked in luggage. I guess empty the bottle thoroughly and show the security people the bottle to see if they allow it.

Lynette - my biggest headache is the bio-check when coming back to Australia from less stringent places. Most of the foods I love (any too-loose meat jerky, any Asian herb type stuff, even vanilla beans, loosely packed) are a possible confiscation thing and I've rather not risk it. Recently I've returned from a short holiday trip and they make you declare the food taken from the plane as well! I guess any non-meat, airtight and pre-packaged food are best. For me, it's usually biscuits of sorts.

For some reason, the travelling and eating healthy isn't such a big issue with me. I guess most of my travels, we do go to markets (we travel in Asia mostly), and get fresh fruit to put into our hotel room refrigerators.

I find that even McDonalds have slightly different range of "healthy" food in different countries.
During a trip in Europe, I went to different countries for a snack, for some bizarre reason I went to McDonalds in Germany and Italy. They each had a "fruit" salad - Germany had chunky slices of apple and red grapes with seeds in a mini box. Italy had a small plastic bag with slices of apple.

I often find it hard to get hot water though, but most places will give you hot water/cold water for free if you ask nicely, and even better if you've ordered something else with it.
(Yes, I've gone to fast food places, asked for a cup of water, and they gave it to me for free :D).
Hot water is fine, but you must specify hot water, or hot water with ice for warm water, because the default is cold water with ice (not useful for those cuppa soup).

Definitely ask for heaps of water on the plane. Ask the flight attendant for a bottle of water (or two), if they haven't already.

 

Alice
September 13, 2008

Some great advice as I'm flying to New Zealand in a couple of weeks!

I've just started to blog about food. I'm at:
http://foodfindingmission.blogspot.com/

 

Katrina
September 13, 2008

For more great ideas, check out www.katheats.com
She has GREAT ideas and is a great example on how to eat well while travelling and when not!

 

Pia
September 13, 2008

Wow, that is a lot of comments to read. I would like to add my pinch of salt; Coming back from Italy this summer, my Italian friends made me a zucchini frittata for the plain ride because the believe airline food is terrible ( and they are right). It was the perfect meal, feeling enough and delicious.

 

Erin
September 13, 2008

An assortment of interesting dried fruit and nuts are my foundation for healthy eating while traveling. I usually find it pretty easy to stay healthful at mealtimes, but I need to snack or I get cranky and jetlag only intensifies that. . . and then I eat junk. I also seek our fresh fruit and veggies that don't require much prep than a wash.

While I was in Rome I was able to find a huge assortment of simply grilled veggies that were a nice change.

 

Anne
September 13, 2008

Try checking with your accomodations at your destination to see if you can send yourself packages there ahead of time. If so, try mailing clothes, stable foodstuffs, etc. to yourself at your destination -- saves on checked baggage fees, avoids some of the baggage contents restrictions, and you have less stuff to wrangle at the airport. You can also pack up and mail home items once you finish your trip.

I recently took part in a USFS (US Forest Service) PIT (Passports In Time) project in a remote locale. I knew the last leg of my airline trip would be on a very small plane, so to save baggage hassles I mailed my clothes and gear ahead. Travel foodstuffs I learned about on this trip:
Luna bars
Clif kids' bars
Emerald snack packets

a really yummy, pumpernickel-flavored gluten-free bread a USFS employee made (I have GOT to get that recipe!)

tuna or salmon packets (portable protein!)
some sort of meatless jerky -- quite yummy

and olive oil (if you can bring it along or get it there) makes most anything taste better

 

Sarah Beam
September 13, 2008

I don't think traveling is possible without a GINORMOUS bag of trail mix tucked into the carry-on. The protein is high, there is plenty of fiber for energy, and the stuff is addictive to begin with, so it's fun to eat.

When fast food is the only option, sub places (like Subway) can do fine in a pinch. I get a veggie on whole-wheat and skip the mayo for a relatively satisfying, fairly healthy sandwich.

Truly though, there is no way to stay in a hotel without hitting a grocery store. I'll pick up fruit to eat out of hand, some whole-wheat crackers and some cheese (that I too stick in a sink full of ice), and even kefir - now found in most major supermarkets - that I will ask the front desk to put into their own fridge.

And thank goodness, some convenience stores even carry products like Odwalla smoothies (boy, how times have changed).

 

sunil
September 13, 2008

Thanks, I like this article very much important, because in travel that's the main issue "food", people expect home like fresh food during travelling.

I have seen many people in travelling, that they become uneasy if they don't get a proper and delicious food as they normally expects, most of the people want a spicy and "hot-steam food", but sometime they don't get it due to the rush in trip.

:)

sunil

 

Heidi
September 13, 2008

These are GREAT! Keep them coming. I have to say, I there are a handful of these that I would have never considered. It never would have dawned on me re: alternative uses for the coffee pot. And Shuna, I love the idea of bringing treats for the flight crew. And cutting avocados with a credit card? So clever :)

-h

 

Nancy
September 13, 2008

I also travel frequently for business, and my trips are generally a week in duration (or more). Right now, I'm halfway through a two-week trip to Lansing, MI (whee!).

This isn't a healthy eating tip, but on a long trip, I -- and I'm almost embarassed to tell -- usually take a little coffee grinder, my travel french press pot and a couple of bags of Blue Bottle.

Many hotels will supply your room with a little refrigerator. The only time I had to pay extra ($10/day) was at a hotel in LA.

Before I travel, I look for grocery stores that I know carry whole and/or organic foods - TJ's, Whole Foods but I also look for local stores. I'm about to head over to Horrocks which gets rave reviews for whole foods and organic in-season produce.

For short trips, I pack dried fruits and nuts and haul a few apples with me. If you don't have a refrigerator, look for fruits that don't need refrigeration and even pre-packed carrot sticks will last a few days if sealed tightly (yes, I generally bring along a couple of ziplock-type bags).

Great article -- and great tips..

 

Deb
September 13, 2008

Remembered a couple of other things: freeze dried fruit is a new rage and quite yummy, though light as air. Also I picked up some tofu from a Japanese market that appears to be dehydrated or something- And I agree with the PRimal Strips- (vegetarian jerky...yum) Also, I got little bags of muesli once at a hotel which I hoarded- great for popping in bag for the next trip. And finally prepackaged oats and even grits (surprisingly filling!) if you can find them.

 

Sara
September 13, 2008

I love my salad container from Fit-n-Fresh. There's a spot in the lid for dressing so the salad doesn't get soggy and it comes with an ice pack in the lid. They have lots of containers: http://www.fit-fresh.com/

 

donna
September 13, 2008

I have no problem traveling and eating healthy. I pack Usana Nutrition Bars and their delicious shakes. They don't take up much room and they are a meal replacement especially when stuck in an airport . When staying at Hotels, I always have a Usana Nutrimeal Shake for breakfast then use that extra money I saved to go to a recomended local restaurant.

 

Deepa
September 13, 2008

Lovely comments......and it is certainly good to read all this and know it. But honestly when you are focused on business travel, you hardly have time to plan your food. At least I don't. And I am very conscious about what I eat. I feel the best thing to do is be adventurous and try all the local healthy restaurants. The trick is to cut the portion in half, right in the beginning and eat only HALF. This is the best way to keep your calorie intake down and yet enjoying all the different places like the locals do. I travel a lot both in the U.S. and overseas, and have realized that its better to go with the flow. We are usually in a group (4-5 people). It is not possible for me to always assert my food habits or be a loner and not join the others. Ask the hotel staff who are very understanding and helpful. I guess you have to pick your battles when you travel. Meal time should be a happy time.....so enjoy it whilst you can!

 

Amy
September 13, 2008

After working in small towns in the midwest (like NE) for two weeks and eating unhealthily, I discovered that you shouldn't discount the family-style chain restaurants, such as Perkins. They have meals where you can choose your sides and often have several vegetable choices. I had grilled fish, steamed broccoli and a baked potato and it was almost like a week-night meal at home. Sure, it's plain and simple, but steamed broccoli can seem like a luxury after a week of burgers and fries.

 

Mrs Redboots
September 13, 2008

One further comment, for those of you travelling to the UK - hotels here provide what's called a "courtesy tray", which is basically a kettle, cups and the makings for tea and/or instant coffee, so you can boil water for soups (packet soups? Really? I call those junk food - "edible food-like substances", as, even though delicious, they are very salty).

Many hotels also have what they call a mini-bar, which is basically a refrigerator filled with expensive snacks and drinks. We don't use the ones provided, but do put our own in there. I almost always travel with a mini-electric kettle, two mugs, two plates and some cutlery in my suitcase; it's so worth it for picnic lunches in the hotel room (we go to the local supermarket and buy bread, cheese, cold meat, fruit and yoghurt). Oh, and a mini-bottle of washing-up liquid and a sponge and cloth.

Part of the fun of visiting a new country is looking round the supermarkets, I find, and seeing what's the same and what's different!

 

Wanda
September 13, 2008

Remember that anything taken from the refrigerator is only good for about two hours before harmful amounts of bacteria start growing. So the carrots and cucumber you packed at 7am should be eaten by 9 am. Frozen food should last longer, but I've learned a lot about food safety about going through several power outages these last few years. Just because it's cold doesn't mean it's safe.

 

Elizabeth
September 13, 2008

To Taryn above:

If you're from the US, you might stop and think, especially so close to 9/11, that a bit of sensitivity about travel security would be in order. Do you remember that thousands of people died on that day seven years ago?
Why do you have to rant and get angry about your little water bottle?

 

Tom Marsh
September 13, 2008

My wife suggests the added carry on parcel... "THE FOOD BAG" which trumps the occasional need for crocheting or carry-on child entertainment. Better to eat well, than to have Rollie-Pollie-Olley DVD's.

The food bag has gone with us everywhere.

 

Lucy
September 13, 2008

My favorite: 2 oranges, peeled and in sections in a baggie or ziplock. A great treat in the middle of the night.

 

Aaron Kagan
September 13, 2008

A subject near and dear to my heart. See here for my complete thoughts on the subject:

http://teaandfood.blogspot.com/2008/07/queso-fresco-stuffed-apricot-taco.html

 

izzy's mama
September 13, 2008

Eating well on the road is doable but takes advanced planning. You should definitely consider byof, it makes travel infinitely tastier and easier as you don't need to worry if you can't find something decent.

Small ice packs are great and you can probably ask the hotel to store stuff in fridge if you need to.

Here is an example of a recent trip and what I packed.

http://www.izzyeats.com/2008/05/short-train-adventure-snacks-for-road.html

 

DennisSC
September 13, 2008

So, I take it subsisting on Cinnabons is NOT eating healthy while flying. :)

 

monica
September 13, 2008

Great thread! I always bring my own food on flights... nuts, fruit, maybe a sandwich for long flights. And lots of water. PLUS, plenty of raw veggies - carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, snap beans - they travel well.

When I'm on holiday, I try to do my own breakfast and lunches... bircher muesli is a great breakfast food that requires no milk or refrigeration. Lunch, I go to a supermarket and buy stuff for a sandwich (hummus and veggies, or if in france, baguettes and brie, or simply tomato/avo/cucumber).

Oh yes - and I always have a tin of "emergency beans" with me. Chickpeas. I can eat em rinsed, straight out of the can. But they can also be put only a salad or into a pita or something. It's great in a pinch when I can't find any non-cheesy protein sources.

 

Abby
September 14, 2008

* Research the hotel online ahead of time. No frig? Call and request one. Often times they're able to if you specify having "special dietary needs". Also see what in-house options you'll have re: food, gym access, etc.

* If there's no gym, or even if there is, request a dvd player if there isn't one and take an exercise video. Sometimes there is a small fee involved, same with the frig in rare cases, but it's generally worth it to me personally.

* Research the area around the hotel. Restaurants, grocery stores, gyms... I try to know it all before I get there. Helps my packing plan of food (nuts, soy milk, cereal, pb, protein powder, bars) and portable exercise equipment (bands, videos, water weights) if I know what I'm getting into.

* Call ahead and request they remove all minibar contents, save bottled water and/or any fruit. Works like a charm when you arrive jet-lagged and starving!

 

Rebecca
September 14, 2008

While an addicted reader of this blog, I'm generally unable to make most of Heidi's recipes because I'm a poor college student living in a dorm whose "kitchen" consists of a mini-fridge, a microwave, and a contraband electric tea kettle. A lot of these travel tips are also great no-cook ideas eating healthy a dormitory situation. Thanks guys!

 

Alisa
September 14, 2008

I like reading all the tips here. I always bring along an apple,grapes, or oranges when I travel.

www.foodista.com

 

Alisa
September 14, 2008

Great tips you have here! and I also like bringing my own food when I travel, but while on the plane, i bring along some fruits with me to munch on

www.foodista.com

 

Hungry Girl
September 14, 2008

Something I LOVE to do if I can - get takeout sushi to eat as my onboard meal. With their covered plastic containers they are lovely and compact, sort of like plane meals. Mind you, this was easier to do in Vancouver than in Toronto, where sushi exists on almost every block. Failing that, I like to try and pick up a really good gourmet sandwich the night or morning before my flight, or go to my new neighbourhood gourmet diner and get a couple of small containers of really good salad. If I have time, I make a quinoa -based tabouleh with broccolli, tofu, and a rice vinegar dressing - I may have derived that idea from this site! Even unrefrigerated, it will last a couple of days and delivers instant nourishment.

 

Stephany
September 14, 2008

Many wrote about using the coffee pot that's in the room for heating foods. I suggest if you plan to use it, then have detergent to wash the pot first. Once in a very nice motel I didn't feel well, so stayed in my room. When the maid came to clean I told her to just go ahead. To my surprise, she used the wet cleaning cloths that she had used in previous rooms to clean and wash EVERYTHING. Pot and all. No way will I ever use a coffee pot no matter how sparkling it looks.

 

Anastasia
September 14, 2008

Love this thread! I also take water, dried fruit and nuts, etc. On a recent plane trip with my parents (who like heartier fare), I packed individual chef salads for us in maragarine tubs--strips of lunchmeat, cheese, boiled egg on top of lettuce salad. We got a dressing packet in the airport. I also brought along whole grain muffins for each of us, and we were well fortified!

 

Sarah
September 14, 2008

I always hit the Whole Foods salad bar on the way out of town. I make a yummy salad with lettuce, shredded beets, carrots and other veggies and top it with the breast from the rotisserie chicken. I can't tell you how many times people have asked me, in jest, if I've brought enough to share as they pick through their gruesome airplane food. I also pack nuts for protein and fiber as well as some good quality dark chocolate so I have something better than candy bars to fall back on when I'm tired and my body is screaming for sugar!

Thanks for this great discussion. I've enjoyed reading everyone's tips, and it makes me wonder if there isn't a market for someone to offer truly healthy alternatives in the world's airports.

 

Maya
September 15, 2008

I take long haul flights quite often, and try to my best ability to plan the snacks etc a few days before I leave. Lara bar ( love it) organic dried fruits ( figs and apricots), some raw nuts ( or a baggie full of homemade trail mix). On a recent trip to Montreal I made Heidi's granola bars ( I intend to make it again when I leave for Asia in two weeks). While on air, I stick to water and vegetarian meals. I have been known to throw in a few bags of oatmeal and green tea in my checked luggage. I try to find local grocery stores on my first day ( if I have the time) and buy a few essential I may need.

 

Miranda
September 15, 2008

In Europe, I try to find out where the nearest grocery store or supermarket is even BEFORE I go on the trip (using internet), and there are always lots of healthy options to buy in small quantities (fruits and veg, small yoghurts, freshly packed individual portion salads with separately packed vinaigrettes, local cheese, bread, small containers of cooked beans or lentils, nuts and dried fruits, and regional specialties such as gazpacho...). Just pass by the store every day before returning to your hotel for things that won´t survive without a fridge, and store a yoghurt for the next morning in your minibar... Bring a little bowl, cutlery (not in handluggage of course) and that handy supersmall immersion heater for a hot soup or tea and there you go. A great meal in your hotel room :-). BTW, I think you can eat pretty healthy in most places as well as long as you make the right options, but sometimes you just don´t like to go out for dinner, especially when you travel alone.

 

bailey
September 15, 2008

For foreign travel: learn what you want in the language! Eg, "can I get this niçoise with the dressing on the side and without the boiled egg?"

Vegetarians visiting Spain: tortilla de patatas and parrillada de verduras are a couple of your new best friends.

 

Zach
September 15, 2008

I always make a "2D food pack."

Tortillas, cold cuts, stacked lettuce leaves, and anything else I can think of that can be gathered in flattened form. I also often steal pepper packets from the airplane meals. Keep everything in a folder or front pouch of a carryon.

Then I make wraps whenever I need a healthy meal. Naturally, the food keeps longer if there is a refrigerator at your destination, but I've never had a problem with a day or so if the food is always air conditioned.

 

Vonnie
September 15, 2008

Whenever we go on car trips, my husband and I bring the ingredients for tuna salad using avocado as a binder (mince some garlic, slice up a tomato and sandwich in bread). Can be prepared on the road and no refrigeration required!

 

Kristy
September 15, 2008

I used the book "Healthy Highways" (http://www.healthyhighways.com/) on my cross-country road trip this past fall, and it was a lifesaver. Was a great resource for finding vegan/vegetarian-friendly and natural food stores, both in cities and out in the middle of nowhere. Even if you're staying in a city for work and have limited access to transportation, odds are you'd be able to get to at least one of the places listed in the book.

 

maria
September 15, 2008

I've had to get "healthy" at a gas station before, and I assume most people could because gas stations are on every other corner. Water, unsalted or salted nuts (just shake off the salt), sunflower seeds, and you can make little sandwiches with tuna, mayo, and bread or crackers, which most gas stations stock. Trail mixes also come to mind. It's just time to get creative. Boiled eggs, roasted chicken, boiled potatoes are a signature meal for train travelers in some parts of Europe. They'll hold well!

 

Gina
September 15, 2008

I travel for business and I always bring my own oatmeal packets in zip lock bags with quick cooking oats and cinnamon. I simply get a cup of hot water at starbucks (or wherever), pour it in and cover for a minute. This saves me on trips! I have them for breakfast every day and sometimes even as snacks (better than a sugary granola bar). I also pack single servings of protein powder and greens powder just in case I'm feeling sluggish. Oranges also travel well.

 

jrundell
September 15, 2008

Edamame in the shell. Trader Joes sells them in the freezer section. They will keep your other food cold and on a long flight will eventually defrost and be the perfect way to get a little green in your diet.

 

jrundell
September 15, 2008

Edamame in the shell. Trader Joes sells them in the freezer section. They will keep your other food cold and on a long flight and will eventually defrost and be the perfect way to get a little green in your diet.

 

Florence
September 15, 2008

These are great tips, Heidi. Thanks so much for offering them up! (and I read them just in time for my roadtrip to Mississippi on Wednesday)

 

Riva
September 15, 2008

Hi all,

I am a natural nutritionist, freelance writer, and PhD student. I have been known to bring a 15 lb "food-bag" instead of carry-on luggage when flying. Over the past few years, my husband has been traveling several times a month, so I have had plenty of opportunities to refine "mobile nutrition strategies."

Breakfast -- He either eats in the hotel (eggs, oatmeal, cold cereal, whole grain toast, cheese, or fruit, but never pancakes, French toast, or pastries -- these are saved for weekends at home) OR he packs dry cereal and buys milk OR I pack him some banana muffins and a couple pieces of fruit.

Airplanes -- Pack snacks and even meals. Obviously, avoid liquids and liquid-like foods (yogurt, pudding), but feel free to bring muffins, cold pizza, sandwiches, samosas, granola bars, Lara bars, etc.

Cars -- Almost anything goes on short to medium-length road trips. Things to avoid in cars include soupy items (soup, thinner curries), soft items (pears, nectarines, peaches, plums -- unless they are cut up and packed in a small container), and smelly items (bananas, boiled eggs, anything overly garlicky).

Ultimate road food: Leftover, homemade pizza made from whole wheat dough and topped with veggies, lean protein, and a bit of cheese. When cold, it holds together surprisingly well. Plus, it can be eaten without utensils and, if made strategically, it can pack a nutritional punch.

Hydration is vital, especially when flying. Drink water, stay away from soda and alcohol.

Avoid fatty foods when you can. Order small portions (such as appetizers, soups, or salads). Visit grocery stores and even 7-11s for yogurt, fruit, fruit and vegetable juice, nuts, and crackers.

Finally...TREATS. Pack yourself at least two treats if you know you'll be walking past Starbucks and McDonalds and bad airport bakeries and greasy convenience stores. Strategic eaters don't only stock up on healthful snacks/foods before traveling, but they also bring along some healthful treats -- cookies from your local bakery (organic/healthy or just somewhere that uses butter/eggs/flour/other real-food ingredients), baked potato chips, fruit juice gummie bears, dark chocolate, etc. This way, when you're tempted to 'treat yourself' while walking through an airport or watching TV in your hotel at 12 am, you'll have a good defense.

 

Kayla
September 15, 2008

So glad this topic came up- love the idea with peanut/almond butter and jelly on grahams. I'm a big fan of granola/kashi bars for 6 hour flights. And for me, there is nothing like peeling a fresh orange on a plane- the smell is invigorating and refreshing, and you'll be surprised at how many people around you actually appreciate the smell- it totally freshens up the stale air of the plane. Oranges with a granola bar and a pint of milk - sounds like kindegarten, but it's a perfect airplane meal. Another rule- only water on the plane, and/or coffee before noon. Try not to eat a lot of salt the night before a flight either- you'll feel less bloated.

 

Dave
September 15, 2008

One of the things that works for me when I travel is to take the time to eat. I know it sounds basic, but hear me out.

Often times my business travel will result in several days with meetings scheduled back to back. Making sure that I get a good breakfast to give me the daily energy that I need (and with a healthy menu that I can control) will provide a good start to the day.

Then I try to plan a lunch meeting rather than plan for lunch between meetings. This will allow me to get out, get some exercise, and allow me to visit local restaurants that have interesting and healthy food choices rather than grabbing a burger because that is the only thing that is close.

Dinners are often with clients or with team members. Choosing a restaurant ahead of time will allow you to peruse the menu online and make healthy choices.

A couple of final tips:
- Avoid desserts
- Make time to exercise
- Protein bars or meal replacement bars can help satisfy hunger pains when you don't have time for a good meal. Make sure you wash them down with plenty of water rather than soda
- It is easy to overeat while traveling. Make good menu choices and avoid larger portions

 

Natalia
September 16, 2008

Even though I don´t travel that much, I´m thinking lately of following my friends advise and invest in vacuum sealer.

It´s not that expensive, and instead of buying ready-made, vacuum packed food, you can prepare your own wholesome, healthy and, above all, tasty meals and take them on the journey.
The most amazing thing is, that it´s possible to do it with almost every kind of food - you can even vacuum pack a soup!
It obviously stays fresh much longer, and often doesn´t require refrigeration (at least for some time).
Then all you need to do is put a bag with your sealed meal in a boiling water (which is usually easly available) so that way it heats up.

It works perfectly for some of my friends that camp a lot and I really think is worth trying during a short hotel stays, too.

Heidi, I have to try it with some of your amazing recipes:) I love your blog!

 

Completely agree with Tara, who has some nutrition background. I also studied nutrition as an undergrad and yes, portions while eating out are huge (thanks for echoing that, Deepa), and traveling or not, your body will thank you for dividing up restaurant portions and *only* eating an appropriate amount while there. If you can, save the rest for later--and if not, shame as it is, the rest going to the garbage is much better than if it were all to be inside of you.

I love the tips about the coffee pot, and thanks for those who told us about the frights of unclean coffee pots. I'll certainly be packing some soap on my next trip.

Though I often eat like one, I'm not a vegetarian, and most (non-veg) Americans get faaaaaar more protein and sugar than is healthy; so though I love the trail mixes while traveling, just remember that they are fairly calorie-laden. That's not a problem if you balance it out, but it might prevent you from taking advantage of a sudden local, higher-calorie food you spot. I am one, too, for enjoying the sights, sounds, and foods of an area, especially if I'm not returning. Just gotta remember to balance, all things in moderation. Eat that specialty cake in Belgium--just not the *whole* cake.

I do this at work, home, and while traveling--drink more water than I feel like, so it forces me to get up for those restroom trips and be active. Long flights, car trips, and the like where limbs are folded pose a risk for blood clots, and getting up and walking gives several benefits. Traveling generally leaves me with that gross feeling, so fresh food (raw produce, mostly), walking, and plenty of water stave off that feeling.

I have never carried a cooler, and it sounds like a lot of hassle for a business traveler, but it might be worth the effort.

The vegetarian meals on planes are by far the most healthy of the options (if you're on a flight that offers meals), so they are a great choice for even we omnivores.

What a great thread! Packed with clever ideas. Thanks to all!

 

Colleen
September 16, 2008

Great ideas. I'd add that string cheese or baggies of cheese you sliced can easily fit around the existing contents of a mini bar if they won't empty it for you. Freezing the cheese ahead of time buys you extra hours until refrigeration. Insulated lunch bags help too. Nile brand makes soups and couscous dishes that just need hot water. Could always empty contents into ziplock bag to save space. Also, instant black beans, hummus, and other products by Fantastic World Foods would be good if you can't get to a grocery store. Freeze dried veggies (Try "Just Corn" "Just Peas", etc) are good dry or rehydrated with hot water.

 

Heidi
September 16, 2008

I'm going to shut down the comments here for now. Thanks again to everyone who shared their insights - maybe I should compile the "best-of" in to a dedicated list of some sort. -h