I’m leaving for vacation in a few days and staying healthy is top of mind. My healthy eating lifestyle is super easy to maintain while I’m home because I’ve set up my kitchen to make it a breeze.
Things aren’t always so simple when I leave the confines of my kitchen.
Traveling and trying to eat real food is a struggle. Most restaurants simply serve junk, even if it’s disguised in healthy appearances. Vegetable oils, preservatives, sugar… restaurant meals are full of it. Fast food, rarely an option.
So what’s a paleo momma to do? Here’s my plan and my thinking for this particular trip so you have an idea of how I plan out my travels.
First, I plan out my travel day.
I’m flying from Denver to the Bay Area, and with travel time and car rentals, I’m probably looking at about 7 hours. If I wanted to, I could simply not eat during that time period or have a quick snack… and plan for a healthy meal on arrival. But I love me some food.
So here are some of my options:
The first thing I do is I think about my options at the airport if I were to want to get food there. Denver, unlike most airports, actually has 2 really good real food options (Mod Market and Root Down if you’re wondering). I won’t bother looking into Oakland, because if I’m at my destination that means I have options OUTSIDE the airport which are much more plentiful.
My other option, and the option I’ll most likely take is to pack some food!
I could bring any of the below assorted foods, usually I just take whatever I already have so I don’t need to go to the store and make a big hubbub about the trip.
Snack type items:
- Grassfed sausage, which I would plan to eat cold
- Fruit: Anything not too messy, I usually stay clear of oranges or things that will make my hands sticky
- Veggie sticks or grape tomatoes: I rarely bring this because personally I find it boring, but it’s definitely an option for some.
- Nuts and seeds
- Bars: Lara bars or some relatively clean equivalent
- Dried fruit (high sugar but easy to snack on!)
- Cans of fish: I usually pack a fork or take one from a Fast food restaurant at the airport (something about stealing their utensils to eat my healthy food makes me feel good). Options include: sardines, tuna, oysters, whatever you can find in a can! Don’t eat this on a plane though unless you want to get the stink eye from everyone around you.
- Hard cheese: I don’t eat much dairy at home, but while traveling it opens up a lot more options so I may include some.
- Dark chocolate: No explanation needed.
- Almond butter: Sometimes I’ll buy pouches ready to squeeze on a banana or apple or just eat straight
- Jerky: Grass fed of course!
- Avocado: If not too soft, I may bring one to eat with my fish
- Hard boiled eggs: Sometimes I boil up a few eggs, keep the shell on and munch on them at the airport. This is also a no plane food – people don’t like the smell of eggs!
- Meat roll up: I may roll some sliced meat over lettuce or shredded carrots
- Paleo treats: I might make some paleo approved banana bread, muffins or something in that category. They are easy to eat and travel with.
I might just bring what I normally eat in a pyrex or perhaps a disposable container I have laying around, depending on the circumstances. I’ll just eat it cold instead of warm, and all is the same as if I were at home! Make a fresh salad, eat some leftovers, whatever floats my boat.
Next up, what am I going to eat when I get there?
Lucky for me, we’re staying just north of Berkeley, CA and getting fresh, real food shouldn’t be too difficult. Hippies love real food, right?
I’ve already staked out a natural health food store that sells organic prepared food. That’s a great option! There are some Whole Foods as well. Awesome.
I’ll typically search online for the city I’m staying in and the words: paleo, organic, farm to table, healthy food, etc. Lucky for me, Berkeley has a full scale paleo restaurant called Mission Heirloom. I’ve heard good things.
Outside of that, my favorite food in the world is Asian food. Generally, the following are relatively clean and filling if you’re ok eating white rice:
- Thai curries
- Vietnamese soups
- Indian curries (though do expect them to use vegetable oil)
- Sushi (avoid artificial crab and most sauces)
I also have a backup of chain restaurants I know sell a few things I’m ok to eat: Chipotle, Panera, Ruby Tuesday (they have a salad buffet), Wahoo Fish Taco (they have a paleo plate), and some american style restaurants have ok meat/veggie plates. I won’t have to extend this option in such a culturally diverse area as the Bay area, but sometimes when I travel that’s not the case.
Any American chains you’ve found healthy meals at?
Next up, hotel living.
If you’re staying somewhere with a fridge and microwave, you can go a long way! I will have access to both.
Some things I may be able to find at a grocery store for snacking at the hotel:
- Ready made hard boiled eggs
- A small bottle of olive oil (to put on something I make at the salad bar instead of their vegetable oil poison they call salad dressing).
- Amy’s Organic Soups. They aren’t perfect, certainly not ideal eating soup from a can, but they are relatively clean and a good snack item to have lying around. Plus, they are cheap.
- Steamables. Sometimes you can find vegetables in a steamable bag you just put in the microwave. You could buy butter to put on it or snatch some salt packets.
Part of why I make such a big deal about staying healthy while traveling is because my diet at home is clean 95+% of the time. I just can’t handle processed food anymore. My body knows best and it says poison! My main goals while traveling are to 1) be gluten free and 2) eat as few processed ingredients as possible.
I don’t want to feel like crap all vacation.
But at the same time… It’s a vacation.
I want to indulge a little.
That’s why I stick to foods that generally don’t make me feel sick but aren’t necessarily perfectly paleo. I love ethnic food and it’s a real treat, so that’s the direction I’ll likely take for many meals. If I find a gluten free bakery, I may splurge.
I also have a toddler to travel with, so it’s a whole new ballgame. I may be ok eating some vietnamese pho, but my 19 month old? It’ll be on the floor in 3 seconds flat.
Wish me luck.