Eating healthy while traveling
This week finds me traveling to Tennessee for a work conference. I used to travel a lot for my company in Los Angeles, and I really don’t mind it. I like getting to visit new places, I like meeting new people, and I love sleeping in comfy hotel beds that do not include a snoring husband. I know many people who cannot sleep when they travel, but I’m the opposite in that I sleep AMAZING in strange beds.
Hmmm, that probably sounded weird, no?
I mean when I have a quiet room to myself, sleep is lovely.
Airport and conference food is not usually the best for you, and when you’re on a route with 30 minute layovers, you’re really just stuck eating food that is available for purchase on the plane, or you can pack your own. With a little pre-planning and some space in your carry-on, you can hedge your bets against hunger and greasy burgers covered in a sweaty wrapper. Side note: does anyone remember when McDonald’s burgers came in Styrofoam clamshells? Holy crap, what in the world were they thinking?
When packing for travel, I focus on four categories:
I am the kind of person who needs protein for a meal to fill me up. When I had to give up dairy while breastfeeding because Jack had a dairy allergy, I was constantly hungry. Without dairy in my life, I was severely deficient on protein. At four months post-partum, I was the thinnest I had ever been and I looked like a bag of crap.
That period of time taught me the value of protein and finding sources for it and including it in every meal. For my trip this week, I whipped up some trail mix with stuff I had on hand already. A bag of similar stuff at Trader Joes would be at least $4. I used peanuts, almonds, raw pumpkin seeds, pistachios, dried cherries, and dark and white chocolate chips. Because if you can show me someone who claims they prefer trail mix without chocolate, I’ll show you a damned liar.
Another awesome source of protein that travels well is hummus. I like to make my own hummus cups, but the thought of having to potentially surrender my beloved little canning jars to TSA makes me sick. To be safe, for this trip, I purchased some Sabra cups at Costco. I freeze the hummus the night before, and then carry a really slim cooler bag (like the size of a big Walkman. Remember those?) with a tiny freezer pack.
Fruit and veg
Ordinarily, I love a big bag of Stacy’s pita chips just like the next person, but knowing that a lot of conference food is pretty carb heavy, I erred on the side of “veg”. Carrots and celery travel great, and are good without constant refrigeration.
I also pack at least two whole apples to snack on. They’re sweet, they are easily portable, and they come with their own wrapper.
I add chocolate to the trail mix, and also found this lovely bag of chocolate covered super foods from Trader Joes. Chocolate covered super foods…basically that is like medicine. Right?
I drink a TON of water in the course of a normal day. When I’m traveling, I tend to not drink as much, because I hate airplane bathrooms, and well, that’s about it. I like to pack tea bags while traveling for two reasons. 1) saying tea bag makes me giggle and 2) I found a chocolate mint tea that is AMAZING, and hot water is free on airplanes and at most airport shots.
I also pack an empty stainless steel water bottle (these are made in Washington State. Booyah!) in my carry on, and then fill it up after passing through airport security.
Another thing I pack is instant oatmeal. Trader Joes makes a really hardy apples and cinnamon instant oatmeal that is flipping delicious. At home, I use plain rolled oats and add stuff, but like packing my own tea, hot water is free for making instant oatmeal. I paid $2.99 for 10 packets of oatmeal, and use two for a breakfast for a cost of $.60. If you can find something healthy and delicious at the airport for $.60, please let me know.
Maintaining a healthy diet while traveling is entirely possible, as long you think ahead a bit and are willing to lug around some food in your carry on.