No need to leave your clean eating behind when you hit the road. I’ve got some tips to help you bring your good habits along:
1) Get Protein Packed: Whenever possible, a few weeks before I leave on a trip, I will begin buying a little extra protein at each grocery outing to prepare and freeze in preparation for the trip. This makes the last minute rush before a trip much less frantic. That said, there are also times when I end up buying and preparing all my proteins a few days before a trip. Whenever you choose to start your packing, here’s how to get it done:
- Bag your cooked, cooled and portioned protein in Ziploc freezer bags. Ziplocs save space in your cooler, in comparison to cumbersome plastic containers. This is particularly important when you are going on long trips.
- Get all of the air out of the Ziploc before you seal it to preserve freshness and space in your cooler.
- Freeze all your bagged proteins at least 24 hours before your trip. The frozen proteins will act as ice during your trip to your destination. This is particularly important when you are flying, as you cannot bring ice or frozen ice packs through airport security.
- Compile the individually portioned small Ziplocs into larger Ziplocs for extra freezer burn protection and to organize your food by day or type.
- Two days before you leave, remove the travel day protein from the freezer and place into the refrigerator to ensure it is defrosted for your trip.
- If you are flying to your destination and want additional cooling for your food, bring two to four extra freezer (not storage) Ziplocs to make ice packs once you get through security. You pick up ice at a restaurant and fill up a few of the Ziplocs. I recommend that you double or triple bag the ice bags in case there is any leaking once the ice begins to melt.
- A Note About Traveling With Fresh Fish:Traveling with freshly cooked fish like orange roughy, tilapia, salmon, etc. is not ideal, thanks to the often offensive smell in close quarters and the tendency for it to get mushy and grow slime. However, it is often necessary when in contest prep, so we must make do. Here are a few tips:
- Overcook your fish a tad, so it is extra firm. This will keep it from getting mushy after being in your cooler for a bit.
- Place a small sliver of lemon in the bag with the fish to help manage the smell when you open the bag. The person sitting next to you on the plane with appreciate it, and it adds a delicious calorie free flavor to the fish.
- Let the fish cool completely before you bag it. This allows the fish to release extra moisture that can eventually make your fish mushy and lead to the gross fish slime.
JB’S FAVORITE TRAVEL PROTEINS: Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Tuna Pouches, MyoFusion Pro Protein Powder
2) Keep It Simple Starchy Carbohydrates: The only starch that I cook in advance and freeze are potatoes. I don’t like to travel with rice or pastas, because each is a little messy to eat on the go. However, if I do travel with these items, I don’t freeze them, as both dry out easily.
JB’S FAVORITE TRAVEL STARCHY CARBS: Gluten-free Old Fashioned Oats, Sweet Potatoes
3) Stay Firm Veggies: I cook and bag (but do not freeze) vegetables the day before I leave for a trip to ensure they are as fresh as possible for the trip. I tend to choose firm veggies for travel, as a little time in a cooler can turn a softer veggie like zucchini into mush. I usually don’t travel with lettuce or spinach, as it takes up a lot of room, doesn’t stay fresh for long and is readily available at restaurants, hotels, etc.
JB’S FAVORITE TRAVEL VEGGIES: Green Beans, Asparagus, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts
4) Just A Few Fruits: Fruit tends to be heavy and is easily damaged during travel, so it is something that I usually buy fresh while traveling. If I do decide to travel with fruit, I choose something with a hearty skin and lighter in weight or dried.
JB’S FAVORITE TRAVEL VEGGIES: Apples, Dried Fruit like Figs or Prunes
5) Carry-On Conscious Fats: Raw or oven-roasted nuts are a great choice for travel, as they are so portable. Nut butter is also excellent for travel, but if you are flying, be sure to pack it in your checked luggage. Nut butters are considered a liquid and will likely be confiscated when going through security. To make it through security with nut butter or oils (i.e., olive, flax), make sure they are packed in containers three ounces or smaller and fit into the one plastic bag of liquids you are allowed. Instead of bringing these items in my carry-on, I pack my oils in my chucked luggage. To protect the containers and my clothes, I wrap the containers in a small towel or sock and double bag them in Ziplocs.
JB’S FAVORITE TRAVEL FATS: Oven-Roasted Almonds, Walnuts, EVOO, Almond Butter
6) Other Fit Food Travel Tips:
- As soon as you book your trip, call ahead to reserve a fridge for your room. Many hotels have fridges in rooms already, but they can usually be rented for a small fee: $10 – $25 per day.
- Get a good travel cooler and carry it on, if you are flying. I don’t recommend checking perishable food items.
- Sometimes I will ship a box of non-perishables (protein powder, our favorite oats, nutritional supplements, etc.) ahead of time to help ease the amount of things I need to bring with me on a trip, especially if both my husband and I are traveling with the majority of our meals.
A Winning Thought
Years ago, I resisted bringing my fitness on the road when I was traveling weekly for work. I thought it was too complicated and inconvenient. I quickly changed my attitude and actions when I realized how this choice slowed my progress toward my goals. Inconvenience and complications will meet us almost daily in the pursuit of our best. However, we were built for challenge. So, view these inconveniences and complications as opportunities to achieve small personal triumphs rather than obstacles impeding your success.