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?
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.