How to travel and still stay healthy
One of my favorite things to do is travel and see the world! I love to experience new climates, cultures and of course cuisines! But the actual travel days can really throw a kink in your health plan unless you make planning a big priority. This is especially true for road trips to prevent picking up from a convenience store, fast food or other heavy, less than optimal options.
Here are some of my personal tips for creating a healthier traveling experience:
Prepping doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. I like to shop the weekend for supplies before I leave and do one thing each day, usually 3-4 days prior to traveling so I don’t feel overwhelmed the day before.
Homemade trail mix (10 minutes): so super easy as long as you have the ingredients on hand. I usually throw together whatever happens to be in the pantry if I neglected to stock up on unsulfured, unsweetened dried fruit, shredded coconut, nuts, seeds, and cacao nibs the weekend before.
Sometimes I will add Love Grown Chocolate or Strawberry Power O’s or Q’ia Cocoa Coconut Superflakes if I’m feeling like I need something cereal-based in there, but usually I prefer unprocessed, whole foods. That being said, adding chocolate chips can take it up a notch (and challenge you with proper portion sizes as well so you’ve been warned!!).
Add ingredients to a large bowl and mix up well. Measure out single serving sizes and store in snack-sized bag ziploc baggie. If you store in a large bag, you just set yourself up to overeat it. Trust me on this one, I've waayyy overeaten trail mix out of a big baggie before. You just need a little bit, remember, this is a snack, not a meal. If you are doing a nut/seed/dried fruit-based trail mix portion sizes are ¼ cup; if you add other ingredients that take up space like a cereal or popcorn, then ½ cup is appropriate.
I might pair the ¼ cup portion of trail mix with a halo tangerine or two, depending on if I need a heavy snack or something on the lighter side. In all honesty I prefer not (HNAT) to eat while flying, and it’s rare for me to eat airplane food (no offense to airlines, it’s just me, food temperatures and bacteria). I find that my body and digestive system adapts better to climate and time changes when I focus on drinking tons of water and keeping my food choices super clean. But that’s just me.
This batch: raw unsalted almonds, pecans, red walnuts (scored at Trader Joe’s), large shredded coconut flakes, dried mulberries (loaded with iron and delicious), apple-juice sweetened dried cranberries, raw cacao nibs and hemp seeds with a pinch of cinnamon. Oh no I forgot my amazing pumpkin seeds that I smuggled back from Switzerland - truly the BEST ever pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Remembering to add to next batch…
Fresh fruit (1-2 minutes): pack portable fruit that has a non-edible skin. My fav’s are easy-to-peel tangerines (Halo’s are what I have right now) and bananas but I will also wash and pack apples, pears (stored in baggie so they stay clean) and sometimes I will pack up berries or grapes in a little plastic container. It really depends on what is in season and I have available. If I have a sweet tooth I will pack up delget dates and enjoy one or two with a small handful of walnuts. I love, love this combo. I know everyone loves the medjool version and with good reason…. they are high in sugar (usually 16 grams of “natural” sugar per date!). You’ve heard of date sugar, well this is where it comes from. And you can still throw your blood sugar levels out of whack by overeating natural fruit sugar. Yes, there is fiber wrapped which will slow that blood sugar and insulin spike down, but still, you can have 1 cup of blueberries for the same amount of sugar as 1 medjool date.
Mini protein muffins (45 minutes): I like to make these about 2 days before my departure date. That way I can enjoy them for a couple of days before leaving, pack some for the trip, and freeze half so I have them when I come home. My future self is always grateful for that extra thoughtfulness and having something healthy and homemade to build a meal or snack from! I just made a batch of gluten-free banana muffins but one of my bad habits is HNAT measuring ingredients out. I know there are a lot of good protein muffin recipes out there. Dana at Minimalist Baker has a recipe for Banana Walnut muffins that looks very similar to the ones I make.
Protein power balls (15-20 minutes): Another fun treat I like to make the week before traveling, these come in handy when I need a quick pick-me up while traveling. Check out my chocolate blog for the Nutty protein power balls I made for my 11alive news segment (that didn’t make it on air, no time for a proper set up like my Halloween segment!).
Protein bars (1-2 minutes): These are my last choice but can be a lifesaver in a pinch. The 5 gram of sugar Kind bars are a decent choice (I like the chocolate mint) but from a macronutrient perspective, RX bars are an option to balance out your carbs, protein, and fat. They can also serve as a small meal if need be with plenty of water. If you need a good vegan option, Sunwarrior Sol Good Protein bars have 17-19 grams of protein per bar. While protein bars are convenient, they are tend to be expensive. With a little thought and prepping, you can recreate your own healthier version without the expense. When I make protein bars I usually make these the weekend before my travel date instead of the night before! Too much stress!
Protein powder + Shake cup (3 minutes): I always, always pack a protein powder with me because in a pinch I can shake up water + protein powder (or a nut milk if available) and pair it with a piece of fruit for a light meal or snack, in a pinch. It’s better than nothing and surprisingly this has saved me more times than I can imagine. The funny thing is that since protein powder is in a ziploc bag with a scooper inside my travel bag, I label it “PROTEIN POWDER” so it isn’t mistaken for something illegal. The world we live in...
The most important thing to do when traveling is drink a TON of water, get up and move every hour on the plane to prevent blood clots, and try to relax. Traveling can be stressful enough so set yourself up for health success on your flight days. Your body will thank you!