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3 Keys to Healthy Eating While Traveling

I recently took a road trip to attend a funeral 9 hours away.  It got me thinking, what do others do when they travel to stick to their healthy eating?  Here are the 3 keys I make sure I do before I travel, whether by car or bus. It allows me not to eat too much junk, then I feel my best while I am away from home.

3 Keys to Healthy Eating While Traveling | Inner Savvy Wellness

3 Keys to Healthy Eating While Traveling

3 Keys to Healthy Eating While Traveling | Inner Savvy Wellness

Prep Before You Go

Find a Hotel That Has a Fridge  Do your research when you are booking your hotel.  What will make it easier for you to eat healthy?  Having a fridge in your room, so you can keep food cool will help.  You can store fruit, cheese and even health meats in your fridge to have at the ready. Munchies happen a lot when I am out of my normal routine, so if I am going to snack, I want to have healthy, perishable food items handy.

Search for Health Food Stores or Grocery Store Near Where You are Staying  When you know where the nearest health food store is, you don’t have to take a lot of food with you.  A health food store or grocery store is usually one of my first stops when I get to my destination. Most health food stores can be a destination and fun to visit because of their atmosphere.  If you can’t find a health food store, at least find the nearest grocery store.  You can still purchase relatively healthy, easy foods to have with you.

Search for Restaurants in City on Your Route and Where You are Staying  When you are hungry and want to stop it is rare that a gas station will have anything healthy, although I did see apples, bananas, and cheese.  I even found a healthy coconut water. Know where the restaurants are and plan your stops to eat at a restaurant that has healthier choices.  Many food co-ops have delis where you can find amazing local food and produce to enjoy for a healthy eating meal.

Edited: For more detailed tips for preparation, check out Mikki’s post, “How to Eat Healthy While Traveling”.

3 Keys to Healthy Eating While Traveling | Inner Savvy Wellness

Take Food With You

Get a Travel Cooler or insulated Bag  Always take a cooler that way you can take perishable foods with you. Freeze a couple of water bottles to help keep the rest of the food cool.  There are many cute insulated bags to purchase if you want to look stylish.

Pack Healthy Snacks  When you are on the go, it seems too easy to grab a candy bar or soda but don’t. Those will just affect your blood sugar levels, and you won’t feel as good.  They even promote bloating.  Instead, think about what you normally snack on.  Things I like to take are fruit (bananas, apples, grapes, and even blueberries in a container), vegetables (cucumbers, carrots, beans, cauliflower, peppers), grass-fed beef jerky, nuts in small bags, coconut flakes, dried mulberries, sunflower seeds, energy balls, and protein bars.  Travel always makes me feel munchy.  Also, when you stop at a rest area, it is a perfect time to stretch and have a small snack.

Take Water Bottle and Extra Water You never know what type of water you will find.  Most of the time I can’t stand the taste, let alone what chemicals are in the water. I take filtered or spring water in large containers along with glass water bottles that I can refill when I stop.  I can also have it by my bed to drink when I wake. Remember to stick with water unless you find a store that sells Kombucha, Kevita or Coconut Milk. Don’t forget to pay attention to the ingredients.  Some of the bottled brands contain high levels of sugars and extra additives.

Pack Tea and Large Mug I love to relax with a cup of tea.  I used to just drink the tea that was in the hotel room. It never fails to be caffeinated and not a very good quality.  Also, the cups are typically small. I like to make a 14-ounce cup of tea.  So I never fail to take tea bags and my mug. It allows me to relax after a long day.  Plus I can make my hot breakfast in it in the morning.

Pack a Healthy Breakfast  Healthy eating starts in the morning. The final thing I make sure I take is my breakfast.  Many hotels have free breakfast, but it usually is all carbs.  The yogurt is high sugar.  Sometimes you can find hard-boiled eggs and fruit, but that isn’t enough to keep me satisfied. Or breakfasts out can be also loaded with high carbs and bad fats. Now I take small bags with a half a cup of Hot and Nutty Cereal. Find the recipe on Carrie Brown’s sites. Most hotels have hot water available.  I just let it soak for about 20 minutes in my mug.  Not as cooked as I like at home, but it is still hot, tasty and satisfying.

Take Activated Charcoal  This isn’t healthy eating, but an important item to pack. Sometimes no matter how much you plan, you may end up eating foods you normally don’t eat. It can cause stomach distress.  I always take activated charcoal to help bind the toxins and move them out of my body quicker.

3 Keys to Healthy Eating While Traveling | Inner Savvy Wellness

Ask For What You Need at Restaurants.

Ask Yourself, What is the Healthiest Thing I Can Eat to Nourish My Body  Look through the menu while asking what is the best way to nourish yourself at this restaurant.  Remember that your body will be out of its normal routine when traveling.  Many people get constipated.  Don’t add to it by eating poorly.  Think, “I want to nourish my body when I eat this meal.” It will help you choose wisely.

Skip the Appetizer Even if It is Free  Many sit down restaurants offer free bread, popcorn or other high carb items.  Ask them not to bring it.  The appetizer menu is usually loaded with simple carbs and unhealthy items.  Skip order from that section of the menu.

When You are at a Restaurant Ask for Exactly What You Want. Most people think they have to order off the menu.  You don’t’ have to.  Almost all restaurants are willing to make substitutions.  Ask what they make things out of or cook them in. I find that most waitstaff are more than willing to help you enjoy your meal.  If you can’t find an entrée that works for you, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.  I have been known to just say, “I want a 1/4 pound hamburger, no bun, lettuce, tomato and a half an avocado, with two side veggies.”  Sometimes I have to pay just a little more, but a dollar or two is worth it to me.  I have even been known to just order healthy sides. Oh, one last note.  You probably will feel funny the first couple of times you do it, but it gets easier.  I usually make a joke about me being a difficult customer and from North Dakota. And don’t forget to leave a good tip when the waitperson goes out of their way for you.

Ask for Two Vegetable Sides  As I mentioned above, don’t be afraid to ask for two sides of healthy vegetables. At home, I will eat veggies with grass-fed butter. Most restaurants don’t have grass-fed butter.  I will ask for butter anyway. My healthy eating isn’t perfect, but I figure that is still better than what I could be eating.

If It Won’t Derail You, Allow Yourself a Splurge, but only if it is something you absolutely will enjoy. I truly love cheesecake, but I rarely eat it.  However, if I am on a trip I will allow myself to eat a slice. I usually share it with someone.  But I only do that if it is a really good restaurant known for good cheesecake that I will love. I am not going to waste my splurge on a bad cheesecake.  What is it that you love to eat, but isn’t good for you?  Make sure it is something you love. Order it and enjoy.

I would love to hear what you do in order to eat healthy while traveling.  What do you do to prep, take with, and order at restaurants?  Tell me in the comments, what did I miss?

3 Keys to Healthy Eating While Traveling | Inner Savvy Wellness

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  1. Tara says:

    Ohhh, I’m definitely going to have to try this Hot and Nutty Cereal! Sounds great for travelling. I also tend to take a couple hard boiled eggs and greek yogurt with me. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Karen says:

      It is my go to breakfast many mornings evening when I don’t travel. Eggs are a food sensitivity to me so I don’t take them but they are great for most people, so thanks for adding that. I don’t usually take greek yogurt, but I will buy it when I get there. Thanks for the additional ideas.

  2. Christy says:

    As someone who travels a lot for work these are great tips. I have to remind myself that eating out is no a treat like when I was a kid, but a normal event and I have to find the healthy options.

  3. Hi Karen, we always stay at an AirBnB when we travel. This makes healthy eating so much simpler while away. On the way, I pack a Ploughman’s Sandwich, hard boiled eggs, nuts, fresh fruit, pickles. I always check a restaurant’s menu before we go to see what options I have for healthy eating. Thank you for sharing with us at #SimplifyWednesdays. I look forward to seeing what you share next week! Pinned, Tweeted, Shared and Stumbled

    • Tara says:

      I had no idea what an AirBnB was – I had to look it up, but what a great resource! Are there any particular websites that book these that you recommend/trust?

  4. Karen says:

    What a great idea…to stay at an AirBnB. Love that idea. I saw your blog post on healthy eating while traveling just a few minutes ago. Your ideas are terrific. Hope others check it out on your blog. I pinned it.

  5. Great tips! With my intolerances, I always look for a Whole Foods in the area I travel to. I know exactly what they have and what I can eat. I prefer hotels with refrigerators so I can keep my water and breakfast cold. It works nicely.

    • Karen says:

      Yes Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s even are great places to get some healthy food, both to take with or already made to eat. Thanks, Sabrina.

  6. Tamuria says:

    Great tips to help keep you healthy when travelling, Karen. I always take extra water as, like you, I often don’t like the taste outside of my zone. I always pack a large mug too – those little ones in hotel rooms are a joke – and my own coffee and herbal teas. A little container of carrot and celery sticks is geat to munch on while in the car and helps stop you from making bad choices when you stop.

    • Karen says:

      Sounds like you have healthy traveling down. It really can make a difference in how you feel and therefore, how much you enjoy your trip.

  7. Lisa Swanson says:

    Great tips Karen. I already follow most of these, never tried activated charcoal though! I also keep my splurge for the end of a trip; it keeps me from having a second or third splurge

    • Karen says:

      I have found activated charcoal to be a great thing to take. Can easily stop an upset stomach along with a ruined trip. I like your idea to wait for the splurge toward the end of your trip.

  8. Great tips! I try to prepare as much as possible when we travel and focus on making the healthiest choices possible. We just came back from a trip to Europe and took a budget airline that only offered food for purchase, which really motivated us to bring all of our own food. I have never eaten so well on a 12+ hour flight! 🙂

  9. Joan Potter says:

    Karen – great suggestions. I never thought of the trick of carrying activated charcoal with me on vacation. I do like the idea of bringing my own tea cup – currently, I bring a knife, fork, and spoon in each of my suitcases. I learned the hard way when I once was in a Super 8 in the middle of nowhere eating potato salad with a shoehorn.

  10. Karen says:

    Well at least you have a story to tell, Joan. Made me laugh. Glad you got a new idea, take activated charcoal with. Saved a few vacations for my family.

  11. You know Karen, it really isn’t that hard.. it’s like being at home. At home, we go to the grocery store.. and we also eat out.. so we still must find the right way to survive in a healthy manner. Sure, it may be a little harder on the road, but if folks really want to eat better, they WILL find the best alternatives.

  12. These are smart and doable ideas. I love to travel but dread having to worry about what and where to eat. It does take planning ahead, but what doesn’t? Thanks for encouraging us to take healthy habits with us on the road, rather than leaving them at home.

    #cozyreading spot

    • Karen says:

      Yes, it does take planning, but most things do. Once I did it a two or three times, it now is just a part of travel. Vacation is not an excuse to throw out healthy eating. 🙂

  13. Natasha says:

    Good advice! We actually have specific microwave cookware we only use on trips. We make sure to find a hotel with a fridge, like you mentioned, and cook as much as we can for ourselves!

  14. Awesome tips & many in the comments. I did many of these when we traveled with our children. Somehow I dropped it out but always have extra water, healthy snacks, nuts, eat in good restaurants, order same as when home, dont overeat cause we are out. I like visiting new health stores in new areas .

  15. Joyce Hansen says:

    I’m getting ready to travel by air and have to think ahead of what I can get through screening and what will be available at the conference banquets. I hadn’t thought of it before, but will definitely be contacting the hotel to see if the room comes with a mini-fridge. Great advice here and using activated charcoal is new to me. Thanks Karen for offering such great suggestions for traveling on the road.

  16. Hi Karen,
    These are awesome ideas for how to eat healthy while you are away traveling 🙂 Just makes sense to bring what you normally would eat with you so that you can continue to eat well, especially because there are WAY too many ways to get side-tracked and eat junk 🙂

    Great share!!

  17. Kimberly says:

    Traveling with my family makes it more difficult… Although I am always trying to enforce healthy choices, when everyone gets hungry on the road, I sometimes lose the vote. I usually can get a 2nd stop where I want to go (which is always just a lesser evil!) I really do need to plan in advance, or at the very keast, learn more about this charcoal option!!

    • Karen says:

      Yes, planning in advance will definitely help. Even if it is figuring out where to stop that might hold healthier options for you. But having healthy food in a cooler and stopping at a rest area to play and eat healthy can be a lot of fun. When we had younger kids we always took a frisbee with.

  18. Marissa says:

    Wonderful tips… especially the water… it’s so easy to just drink crap while driving and on vacation but keeping up water intake helps immensely. Thanks for sharing with the Cozy Reading Spot

  19. We just returned from an unexpected trip on yesterday and I can say that I ate poorly from Thursday through Monday because I did not have an opportunity to plan what I would it. Combined with forgetting to take my supplements along, I feel a bit crappy today and I’m certain that is the culprit.

    • Karen says:

      Travel is hard enough on the body without eating poorly. We have all done it though. Make sure you really increase your consumption of water and get to bed early to help recover.

  20. This was an awesome post! When I’m on the courts, I eat fresh fruits and some kind of nuts. When I travel, I pack those “100 calorie” packs of almonds and cashews, and I buy bottled water since I cannot pass it through security at airports. If we drive, we buy cases and bring our filtered bottles. If one is dedicated enough, she can find fresh fruit and good groceries anywhere.

    • Karen says:

      Sounds like you eat good food, nuts and fruits/veggies. Keep it up. It does make a difference. The one thing I would caution you about is the premade packs can have a lot of salt or be roasted in bad oils. I tend to buy organic nuts in bulk and prepackage in smaller bags to avoid some of those bad ingredients.

  21. Lori English says:

    Great article on how to stay healthy and I liked where your wrote about if you are on vacation or at hotel find one with a fridge, It makes sense to take the food along, instead of eating what is there. I really enjoyed the article and the blog.
    Thank You,
    Lori English

    • Karen says:

      It is true, not just benefit your health but your bank account too. The problem is how do you make sure you have time to plan. You just have to make it a priority.

  22. Kelly says:

    Such great tips! You really have to prepare ahead of time and not by shy to speak up. I’ve had way too many upset stomachs and complete horrible energy while traveling because of horrible food available. Thanks for the ideas!!

  23. Kristi says:

    We do many of these things. The last placed our family vacationed for a week did not have a health store within hours, so we loaded up a cooler of food to cook in the condo, brought plenty of snacks, herbs and oils with us!

    We started doing this after we took a total vacation even from our normal eating and our bodies did not like us at all afterwards. Just keep it healthy and everything will be more enjoyable!

  24. Hadia says:

    I so agree with you, planning ahead is a way of overcoming unhealthy food while travelling. Karen, thank you so much for all the valuable tips you shared.

  25. Great tips! I always look for a mini refrigerator when I book a hotel to keep breakfast foods stocked. I usually eat light in the mornings and would prefer not to eat out first thing every morning. I also stock up on water!

    • Karen says:

      Good for you. You could ask for a fridge if there isn’t one. Sometimes they will bring one for you for no additional charge. I found this out when I needed to have a supplement refridgerated.

  26. I definitely struggle with eating healthy while I’m traveling so really appreciate these tips! Thanks so much for joining the Thursday Three Link-Up on LiveLifeWellBlog.com. I hope to see your post this Thursday as well 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for hosting Thursday Three Link up. Glad you were able to get some tips for traveling. It will make a difference in how you feel while traveling.

  27. I noticed on my last airplane trip that a number of the larger airports have very healthy food kiosks with real food.

    Before a long flight from Cleveland to Seattle, I was able to purchase nuts, cheese, a green drink and hard boiled eggs, which were a great help especially when I wasn’t to connect in time for my 2 hour shuttle trip home at the end, and had to wait another hour and a half for the next one. Was so glad that I found some healthy food.

    • Karen says:

      I am glad to hear that is happening in larger airports. Still not seeing it in small ones like we have here, but it will get here. Glad you were able to eat well.

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