How to Eat Healthy While Traveling
Eating healthy while traveling is one of the hardest things to do, in my opinion, and is also the number one thing that makes me want to never travel again (how’s that for dramatic?). When I’m at home I cook for myself for almost every meal so when I’m on the road my body almost goes into shock from all the unusual things I am now putting into it.
So, not surprisingly, I’m on a constant mission to perfect my healthy eating abilities while on the road in order to feel happy, healthy, and full of energy! Here are the best tips and tricks I have currently:
Carry a reusable water bottle everywhere
People laugh at me for this on an almost daily basis (literally) but I do not care. BRING A WATER BOTTLE EVERYWHERE YOU GO! Drink from it regularly. If you are in Europe, you’ll often find fountains you can refill it in on a regular basis.
Hungry? You’re probably dehydrated. Jet lagged? Dehydrated. Just feel off? Dehydrated.
When I don’t feel well, the first thing I do without fail is chug a lot of water. More often than not I feel better in no time. Traveling especially makes you extremely dehydrated and if you don’t carry one with you you’ll just become worse and worse.
Hydrating at meals is simply not enough — you must do it all day especially while traveling.
Bring healthy snacks
It can be hard to find healthy snacks on the road, whether you’re on a road trip stopping at a gas station or looking for something decent at the airport. I always bring healthy snacks with me because there’s nothing worse than eating something bad just because it is your only option.
Things I often bring with me:
- Bars — each have their pros and cons but I like Larabar, RXBAR and Quest
- Nuts — you can buy travel sized baggies at Trader Joes or package them yourself. I like raw cashews or almonds
- Dried fruit — goji berries aren’t the most delicious thing on earth but they boost your immune system, contain antioxidants, are anti-inflammatory, and are easy to travel with!
- Popcorn — white cheddar specifically! SkinnyPop makes 100 calorie bags of it, as does Smartfood
- GG crackers — I recently learned of these via the Skinny Confidential. They taste like unsweetened bran (some people say cardboard) but can easily be spiced up with toppings (avo, hummus, etc.). They’re low cal, full of fiber, and weight almost nothing
- Liquid IV — an electrolyte powder that you mix into your water for rapid hydration! One packet allegedly is the same as drinking 2-3 bottles of water.
- Probiotic — digestion and immune system support. It’s best kept refrigerated but as long as you keep these ones below 71 degrees they should be fine
Drink lemon water
Lemon water has many benefits and is incredibly easy to make while on the road so it is a big go-to of mine. It’s said to improve energy levels, reduce inflammation, and help aid digestion — all of which are important while traveling. There are also some added benefits like it can improve your skin quality and help with anxiety!
When you first wake up, fill the largest water glass you have full of water and squeeze some lemon juice into it. It’s not only great for you but it tastes delicious, too! If that’s too boring for you, lately I’ve been loving making it with sparkling water.
Research restaurants ahead of time
Planning a trip is a ton of work but one of my highest priorities when doing so is scouting out restaurant options wherever I am going. While many people are just looking for the most popular spots with the best food in the prettiest venue, I pay very close attention to the menu.
I mainly look out for anything that describes itself as healthy and fresh. Vegan spots are often a go-to of mine because I know I can find something healthy and plant-based there. Any place that is first and foremost a pub or bar I stay far, far away from.
You’d be surprised what you can find if you search hard enough. When I visited Puglia last summer we stayed in the small town of Polignano A Mare. Once might assume the options would be limited there but I managed to find an amazing vegetarian or vegan (can’t remember which) that ended up being one of the best meals of the trip.
Visit a farmer's market (or grocery store)
I LOVE to visit farmer’s markets while traveling! You get to check out all of the fresh, local ingredients, and often learn new things about the area you might not already know.
For example, while in Split, Croatia we visited the market and noticed that almost every stall was selling figs. In California I have been to many markets but never have I seen a selection of figs so prominent in my life! There were fresh figs, dried figs, fig jam, cakes made of figs, and more. I would have never known fig season was so huge in Split had I not visited a local farmer’s market.
While farmer’s markets are my favorite, grocery stores are the second best option. To avoid eating out everyday, stop by one or the other to grab some fresh ingredients. If you aren’t staying in a place where you can cook a full meal, you can often still find better options pre-made options here than at many restaurants.
Worst case scenario, grab some fresh berries or cucumbers to snack on instead of grabbing gelato every time you need quick a bite!
Order grilled or steamed
This one is pretty self explanatory. Fried food cooked in hot fat is bad. Grilled or steamed food not cooked in hot fat is good!
When ordering at a restaurant, stick to grilled or steamed. :)
Be careful what you drink (don't drink your calories)
Calories have a way of sneaking into drinks less recognizably than in food. People are so used to putting sugar and milk in everything they drink because they’re so accustom to an overly-sweet taste.
There’s also this crazy idea that replacing dairy milk with things like almond milk or soy milk are healthy but in reality they are not. Have you ever read the ingredients on those things? Almond, coconut, etc. milk are packed full of sugar and the last thing most people need is to consume more soy.
I drink iced coffee (black, unsweetened) everyday and recommend you do, too. Tea is another great option, again without sweetener or any form of milk (dairy or non).
Liquid calories are usually less filling than solid calories so save it for the food!
Cook for yourself if possible
One of the main reasons I often book an Airbnb over a hotel is because I can cook for myself! It not only saves me a lot of money (generally), but it also helps me stay healthy.
With Airbnb I only ever book the “entire apartment” option. Because this is a full apartment (vs. just a room in someone’s house), you almost always have a kitchen of some kind. This allows me to buy fresh food at a farmer’s market or grocery store to make at home.
But still enjoy yourself!
Vacation is a special occasion and should be treated accordingly! There’s a time and a place for clean eating and holiday is certainly not one of them.
If you’re visiting Italy, eat the pasta and the pizza. In Paris it would be crazy not to try the pastries and macarons. While on the road I eat many things I would not eat at home in a million years — and that’s ok. Splurge a little!