Wondering how to eat healthy while traveling?
These days we try our best to eat better while we’re on the road, but I’ll be the first to admit that our travel snacks once seemed like letting our kids go unattended in candy with a $ 50 bill.
During our years of travel, these bad eating habits started to take a toll, so now we try to eat well on trips.
Eating healthy while on the road can be a real challenge. When you travel, your routine is eradicated, you eat more outside and have less time to plan healthy meals. There is also less time to ensure that you are correct nutritionand avoid junk food.
Of course, eating healthy means something different for everyone. When you follow these tips, decide what healthy means to you and focus your diet plan on your individual needs. For you, a healthy diet can mean sticking to a keto diet, eating vegan or vegetarian food, or simply avoiding overeating or indulging in high-calorie or sweet or fatty foods.
How to eat healthy on vacation
A healthy diet on vacation basically comes down to planning and a little willpower. It’s also a lot easier to stick to a healthy diet when making food decisions or at least narrowing down your eating options before you go.
Plan ahead with healthy travel tips makes it easier to make healthier food choices in restaurants, when you’re in your accommodation or even while traveling.
Make a meal plan before you go
Before you go on a trip, make a diet plan. Think about where you will stay, what meals and snacks you will need, how long you will be there, and the types of food you will have available.
Will you have access to a refrigerator or microwave, or even a fully equipped kitchen? Will you have a lot of restaurants nearby or is the choice really limited? Will you need food to fly or maybe a longer trip?
Your diet plan doesn’t necessarily have to be a minute-by-minute menu (although you could make it), but having a rough idea of the types of foods and where you’re going to get them goes a long way to eating healthier.
How to eat healthy while traveling: in your accommodation
Your choice of accommodation has a huge impact on your eating habits. For example, you’ll find it hard to eat well if you’re stuck in a small hotel room without a microwave or refrigerator, or if you’re away from restaurants and shops with healthy options.
I love to cook and I absolutely love to wander the local grocery stores when we travel. It’s a fun way to find local fruits and vegetables and see local ingredients first hand. I choose the healthiest options I can find and often choose some locally inspired cooking recipes.
If you are running out of time and don’t want to bother shopping or planning a menu, order a meal delivery service like HelloFresh to your rental apartment. It’s a fantastic way to balance benefits and a healthy diet. There are even some great ones meal delivery programs that can help you lose weight while on the road.
Even if you don’t have a fully equipped kitchen, a microwave and / or refrigerator can make eating a lot easier. Just stop by a supermarket or a well-stocked store and fill your fridge with healthy goodies.
Breakfast is especially easy because you can take fruit, yogurt and oatmeal almost anywhere in the world. To make life even easier, and depending on where you are in the world, you can even order Amazon Fresh or other grocery deliveries to your hotel room or suite.
Cooking and preparing meals on vacation may not be your cup of tea. I count! In that case, you might keep a few healthy snacks on hand for late night snacks and focus more on how to find healthier food in restaurants, rather than just hitting all the fast food chains.
Eating in restaurants can be a real challenge when trying to figure out how to eat healthy on the go. Restaurant portions are usually large, and dishes are often full of salt, fat, sugar, and calories.
The first step to eating healthier in restaurants is to plan in advance which restaurants to visit and try to choose restaurants with a range of healthy options.
After choosing restaurants, look at the menu (if possible online) and then choose healthier options before your visit. If you read the menu before you leave and choose food ahead of time, you are less likely to impulsively order a less healthy meal.
If you’re already out, many restaurants around the world have large signs in front of or just in the lobby with their menu. If not, ask to see the menu before you sit down and see if there are healthier options. If there’s nothing healthy for you out there, it’s probably best to keep looking for a restaurant that does.
Pre-selecting what you want to eat or selecting a few options in advance before you even sit down will help avoid those impulse commands that are often the curse of a healthy diet.
Tips for healthier eating in a restaurant:
- Eating a healthy snack before dinner can reduce the chance that you will impulsively order something unhealthy from hunger.
- Start your meal with a glass of water to get a little full, which can reduce the amount you eat.
- Don’t be afraid to (politely) ask your server for a replacement. Most restaurants will gladly substitute french fries for a salad or put a topping on the side.
- You can also share dessert to reduce calories, avoid over-portion increases, ask for half a serving, and skip sugary drinks and alcohol.
Snacks on the way
Some healthy foods are more suitable for travel than others. We try to avoid anything overly smelly or messy and focus on foods that are easy to eat by hand. Unfortunately, that means there are no sloppy burritos unless you can stop them and eat them somewhere at the picnic table.
Tip! You can bring a much larger selection of healthy food if you take a refrigerator filled with ice. We like to use ice packs in the fridge, not ice cubes, because it reduces clutter and hassle. Frozen water bottles also work well, but make sure they are not completely full when freezing, as they can crack in the freezer.
The soft refrigerator is easier to place in the car, and it is more comfortable when you sit next to it. It also folds when empty, so you can store it out of the way.
Travel snacks generally fall into two categories: snacks that you can prepare at home and snacks that you pick up along the way at stores or at gas stations.
Prepare snacks for the trip at home
If your trip is short enough and you have time before you go, preparing snacks and even meals, advance time can mean much healthier choices. Here are some of our best picks from ours packing list for summer travel:
- Water bottles
- Juice boxes (great for kids!)
- Washed and pre-cut fruits and vegetables such as peas, carrots, celery, watermelon and blueberries.
- Apples and oranges. We keep them whole and in the fridge.
- Cheese sticks (refrigerated)
- A mix of walnuts or trails
- Dried fruit or fruit rolls
- Granola or protein bars
- Hummus. You can buy fresh hummus in the delicatessen section or long-shelf hummus in the supermarket pantry section.
One thing we never do is take bananas on a trip. Let’s just say that once you drive 1,000 miles in a hot car that smells like overripe banana peel, you’ll never do it again.
Healthy snack at the bar
The average store or gas station is full of salty, sweet, caffeinated beverages. It can be a challenge to find something to eat at a gas station that isn’t full of calories and bad fats.
Here are some ideas for healthier snacks from a small store while in the car while listening the best travel audio books.
- Nuts (unsalted, preferably)
- Protein bars (but watch out for added sugars)
- Apple chips and other dried fruits
- SkinnyPop popcorn
- Hummus and pretzels
- Whole fruits (usually limited to apples, oranges and bananas)
- Greek yogurt
- String cheese
- Turkey (watch out for high salt content)
- Frozen fruit in the form of ice cream (watch out for added sugar)
- No juice no sugar
Healthy airline snack food
As for air travel, it is true that we often bring our own snacks and even small meals on our flights.
With pandemic protocols, in addition to cost-saving measures, there is no guarantee that your flight will serve snacks or even offer a meal service during the flight, so it is good to bring a few snacks to take you to the end.
In general, our snacks on the plane are almost identical to our travel snacks (see list above). I am especially careful not to pack anything with a strong smell for plane flights. Tuna sandwiches and planes don’t mix well, at least if you want to stay in conversation with the crew and other passengers.
Here’s one important tip: Gel-based snacks or creamy snacks like apple sauce count as liquids or gels when you go through airport security. Be sure to pack them in containers of less than 100 ml (or 3.4 ounces) or leave them at home. They are also counted in the limit of 1 liter bag. Look TSA rule 3-1-1 here. You see Canadian liquid and gel rule here.
You may also need to be careful when traveling with fresh vegetables and fruits, as many countries have restrictions on imports of foreign vegetables, fruits, and even dairy products.
Eating healthy while traveling is definitely in your power
If you eat healthy while traveling for work, work or play, you don’t have to be afraid of stepping on the ladder when you get home or feeling like you’ve missed something amazing to stick to a healthier diet.
It is true that although each country has its own view on healthier food, usually even the most authentic local cuisine is the healthiest for you. If you stay away from the over-processed foods you find in the joints of fast food and don’t overdo it with your amounts, eating fresh locally grown meals will not only make you healthier and give you more energy to explore, but you’ll also have a chance to taste some of the best authentic foods that the country offers.
In our opinion, this is a win-win situation that everyone should be able to lag behind.
So how do you eat healthy when you travel? Let us know in the comments!