When you commit to living a healthy lifestyle and all that comes with it, you will no doubt face some challenges— especially if your lifestyle requires traveling. At home, it is much easier to have food cooked fresh and have a gym located conveniently nearby. But when you are in an unknown area, it can be a bit more difficult.
With my career, I travel quite often. Almost every weekend, I am in a different state or country. Traveling within the U.S. is much easier because you don’t have to worry about customs throwing out your chicken, but when traveling international, food is rarely allowed across the border.
Over the years, I have become very creative when packing my meals to ensure that I stay on track. I write down what I will need each day and go from there. Here are a few tips that may help you on your next excursion.
Traveling By Car:
• This is the best way to travel. You don’t have to worry so much about ice and ice packs, liquid or gel substances.
• Call ahead to make sure the hotel or place you are staying has a refrigerator. If you are lucky, it may even have a microwave.
• Google or Yelp the nearest grocery store and stock up so you are set for a few days. If there is a Whole Foods nearby, they already have pre-cooked grilled chicken and salmon. If not, I usually pre-cook all my meats and just leave them in the fridge at the hotel if I am only there for a long weekend.
• Bring a small George Foreman Grill if you want to cook some fresh fish or chicken in your room. The small grill is very light (about 5 pounds) and is easy to travel with. It is also great for heating foods up if they are already cooked ahead of time.
Travel by Plane from State to State:
• Invest in a cooler if you haven’t already. It doesn’t matter the size of the cooler, but remember that you will be carrying it around through the airport.
• All meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, potatoes, rice and solid foods are allowed through security.
• If it is a long flight, I will freeze most of my meat, aside from what I need to eat that day.
• The foods that are not allowed unless placed in small containers less than three milliliters are:
• Ice packs are only allowed if they are frozen. Once thawed, they will confiscate it. I usually take the risk and travel with one anyway, but always pack about four gallon-sized plastic bags just in case. This way, if they take it away, I can go to one of the restaurants and ask them to put ice in the bag. Because you are already through security at this point, the ice is OK— double bag it so that it doesn’t leak when it starts to melt.
• Oatmeal is easy to cook in the hotel room— just use the coffee pot to make hot water, add to the oatmeal and BAM!
• Foods I usually bring with me:
– Protein: turkey patties, chicken, salmon, cod, MET-Rx whey protein powder measured in baggies, hard-boiled eggs, protein bars for emergency.
– Carbohydrates: dry oats measured in baggies, rice cakes, baked sweet potatoes measured in baggies, corn tortillas.
– Fats: almonds, cashews (both can be found in the airport), walnuts, avocado, nut butter packets.
– Vegetables: cut up peppers, carrots, cucumbers, green beans.
• Still bring your cooler so that when you land you can put food in it for each day.
• Call the hotel to make sure there is a refrigerator.
• Pack small George Foreman Grill.
• Pack enough food to last you until you get to customs. Remember, you can bring food through security in the states, but when you land in the other country they may make you throw out what you have left.
• In my checked luggage, I pack:
• Oats measured in baggies.
– MET-Rx whey protein powder in baggies.
– Rice cakes.
– Corn tortillas.
– Tuna in pouches (no drain).
– Almonds or other nuts and nut butter packets.
• Once you land, find a nearby grocery store and stock up on fruits, veggies and other necessities you may need.
• Don’t forget plastic containers, extra baggies and protein shaker bottles.
Ordering at a Restaurant:
There may be times when you have no choice but to eat out at a restaurant (or you just want to!). Here are some clean-eating tips:
• Opt for meat and veggie dinners.
• Ask for the vegetables to be “steamed with no butter.”
• Ask for the meat to be without sauces and grilled— avoid fried and battered.
• If you need a carbohydrate, order a dry sweet potato or white potato or rice.
• Be specific— do not be afraid to tell them exactly how you want it cooked. If necessary, tell them you are allergic.
• Salads are usually safe, but make sure to order the salad with veggies and grilled chicken and avoid bacon, cheeses, croutons and high-fat dressings.
• Lastly, be aware of portion sizes. You could ask for half the meal to go and have it for later.
Traveling when trying to eat clean can be a bit challenging, but making healthy choices at least 85 percent of the time will give you a sense of accomplishment. Being prepared is the most important part, and knowing you will come back without any extra pounds is a great source of motivation!
This information is for general purposes only. Always consult your doctor before beginning any training or diet/supplement program.