Traveling With Food

The key to being healthy is regular exercise and healthy food choices. This seems so easy to say, yet often so hard to put into practice, especially when your normal routine isn’t available. Many of my clients can often find ways to squeeze in exercise. However, when it comes to eating healthy, a little disruption to their day-to-day lives puts their diet in a tail spin.

For years, I have made it a point to maintain my healthy diet even when I’m out of my normal routine. I totally understand it’s hard to follow a meal plan when your routine is interrupted, but the true path to success its found in your ability to overcome obstacles.

Road trips and vacations can often feel like obstacles. Traveling with food may seem weird at first. Our society tells us that road trips demand going through the fast food drive thru. But I’m here to let you know there is another way! Once you commit to a little planning and a new way of thinking, eating healthy is really quite simple.

The first step is preparation. You will need:

  • Cooler

  • Ice packs

  • Tupperware

  • prepped meals

  • Utensils

  • Possibly dish soap, depending on the length of your trip

Once you have the right tools everything else is easy.

When I traveled to Cincinnati, I packed very simple meals. I packed three ground turkey and sweet potato meals, cut up apples, oatmeal, protein powder, nuts, and clementines. But, I have often packed more elaborate meals for multi-day trips. Salads, raw fruits and veggies, and ingredients to make picnics are wonderful options for road trips. If you are enjoying an extended road trip, you can plan stops at farmers markets along the way to restock on great snacks.

Ready-made meals are great for business trips where a microwave is available. I have often prepped steak, chicken, sweet potatoes, and green beans when I have attended conferences. If you are staying in a hotel for an extended time be sure to pack dish soap so you can clean your Tupperware and repack it for the next day.

After you plan what meals you are going to eat, don’t forget there are tons of resources along the way when you travel. If you are traveling by car, gas stations and some restaurants, such as Panera, have a microwave. Don’t feel weird purchasing a green tea at Panera and then sitting and eating your own meal! Most chain restaurants won’t mind you bringing your own food if you purchase a tea or coffee. If you are staying in a hotel, call ahead and ask if there rooms have microwaves and/or refrigerators. If a room does not offer these amenities, the hotel will typically have a microwave in the lobby. Then, to keep your food cold, simply pack zip-lock bags to fill with ice from the ice machine and pack them in the cooler.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret if you are traveling by plane — you can carry-on a small cooler with hard ice packs. As long as the cooler and items in it meet FAA regulations on size and liquid limitations respectfully you can bring it on a plane. That means everything you would normally pack in a car can also be carried on a plane. I often carried egg white cups, chicken, sweet potatoes, and salad on a flight from Puerto Rico to Cincinnati. You can also carry bags of pre-measured protein powder and an empty water bottle through security. Once you are through security you can fill up your bottle.

You can make this process your own by making it as easy or as elaborate as you’d like. I’ve traveled across the United States twice, flown numerous times from Puerto Rico, traveled to NYC, Washington, DC, Cincinnati, personal training conferences — all while carrying my own meals. Meals were often enjoyed at rest stops and scenic overlooks, instead of restaurants, and I never had to rush through an airport terminal trying to find a place to grab a bite to eat.

I think the most important necessity of traveling with food is the determination and desire to commit to a healthy lifestyle. Don’t worry if people are staring at you while you eat chicken and broccoli from a Tupperware container. Own it! Plan for it and execute. The results will speak for themselves.