How to Eat Healthy While Traveling-Expert Tips & Tricks 2023


Get to Know How To Eat Healthy While Traveling

Traveling is a fun and exciting opportunity to explore new destinations, experience different cultures, and sample new cuisines. However, maintaining healthy eating habits while on the road can prove challenging. Long days on the go, limited food options, and tempting indulgences make it easy to veer off course from your regular diet.

By planning, packing smart, choosing restaurants carefully, and implementing other savvy strategies, you can stick to wholesome, nourishing food choices while traveling. This comprehensive guide covers tips and tricks for eating healthy meals, snacks, and beverages no matter where your trips take you.

Plan Ahead For How To Eat Healthy While Traveling

Preparation sets you up for success in eating well while away from home. Here’s how to plan:

  • Research restaurant options in the area to identify healthier choices. Look for menus online.
  • Call ahead to request healthy meals if needed, like gluten-free or dairy-free options.
  • Pack non-perishable snacks to have on hand like nuts, seeds, protein bars, oatmeal packets, or nut butter.
  • Download apps like Yelp to easily locate well-reviewed healthy restaurants on the go.
  • Pre-order grocery delivery to your hotel through services like Instacart to stock up on fresh produce, yogurt, hummus, and other nutritious items.
  • Book a hotel room with a kitchenette or fridge to prep simple meals and store fresh foods.
  • Review restaurant menus and select your meal in advance when possible to prevent impulse choices.
  • Set a daily step goal on your fitness tracker to stay active and burn extra calories from indulgences.

Planning alleviates scrambling for healthy options when hunger hits or when tempting, convenient junk food lurks around every corner.

Pack Smart

how to eat healthy while traveling

Be sure to pack these handy items to maintain healthy habits on your journeys:

  • Reusable water bottle – Stay hydrated and reduce waste by filling up with filtered water during your trip.
  • Protein powder – Whip up quick shakes with the hotel room coffee maker for a nutritious breakfast or snack.
  • Trail mix or nut/seed packets – Healthy fats and fiber curb hunger between meals.
  • Fruit like apples, oranges, and bananas – Pack non-perishable produce for a wholesome snack.
  • Oatmeal packets or individual cereal boxes – Enjoy a fiber-rich hot breakfast.
  • Tea bags – Sip antioxidant-rich teas instead of excess coffee and soda.
  • Single-serve nut butter packs – Nut butter offers protein, healthy fats, and vitamins.
  • Protein bars – Curb cravings with low sugar/high protein bars.
  • Single-serve hummus – Pair with crackers, veggies, or bread for protein.
  • Jerky sticks or tuna packs – Sodium-free options provide an easy protein boost.

Having healthy options always available prevents you from relying on vending machines or fast food when hunger strikes.

Choose Restaurants Wisely

how to eat healthy while traveling

Dining out poses one of the biggest obstacles to healthy eating while traveling. Follow these tips at restaurants to learn how to eat healthy while traveling:

  • Start meals with broth-based or veggie-packed soups and salads to fill up on nutrients. Ask for dressings and toppings on the side.
  • Select grilled, baked, poached, or broiled lean proteins like fish, chicken, tofu or shrimp. Avoid breaded or fried items.
  • Ask for extra veggies instead of starchy sides like fries, potatoes, or rice.
  • Enjoy ethnic cuisines like Mexican, Indian, Japanese, and Thai for more veggie dishes and nutrient diversity.
  • Opt for brown rice or quinoa instead of white pasta or bread.
  • Order veggies- or seafood-based appetizers like edamame, sushi, or shrimp cocktails over Fried items.
  • For breakfast, choose veggie omelets, avocado toast, or Greek yogurt bowls over carb-heavy options.
  • Don’t drink your calories. Skip sugary cocktails, juices, and soda for sparkling water or unsweetened tea.

Scrutinizing menus and asking questions helps you navigate dining out healthfully. Don’t hesitate to make special requests to ensure meals align with your diet.

Choose Healthy Hotel Breakfast Options

Hotel continental breakfasts often involve piles of sugary pastries, greasy eggs, and fatty sausage. Here are better breakfast choices for how to eat healthy while traveling:

  • Plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts
  • Oatmeal with nut butter, chia seeds and honey
  • Vegetable egg white omelet or hard-boiled eggs
  • Avocado toast on whole-grain bread
  • Natural nut butter on a banana or apple
  • Cottage cheese with flax seeds and sliced tomatoes
  • Nutritionist-approved cereals like bran flakes or Cheerios with skim milk
  • Old-fashioned oats or grits prepared with water or nonfat milk
  • Peanut butter or almond butter on whole wheat toast or English muffin

Seek out plain whole food options whenever possible instead of relying on sugary continental breakfast standards while away from home.

Healthy Tips for Road Trips

Road trips make eating well difficult between long stints of driving, limited food stops, and tempting drive-thrus. Use these strategies:

  • Pack a cooler with fresh fruits/veggies, hummus, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, tuna salad, and nut butter sandwiches.
  • Get gluten-free, veggie-packed wraps, salads, bowls, or oatmeal at sandwich shops like Panera, Au Bon Pain, or Atlanta Bread Company.
  • Choose grilled chicken sandwiches or salads with vinaigrette at fast food stops. Avoid fries and fried foods.
  • Select high protein, lower sugar convenience stores snacks like turkey sticks, nuts, seeds, low-fat cheese sticks, fresh fruit, and keto-friendly bars.
  • Stop at grocery stores for nutritious grab-and-go items like sushi, salads, veggie trays, freshly made guacamole, and precooked quinoa or grain bowls.
  • Research healthy restaurants along your route or in smaller towns through apps like HappyCow to find veggie, vegan, and wholesome choices.

With smart planning and choices, you can stick to mostly nutritious foods even on long road trips. Just avoid impulsive fast food stops whenever possible.

How to Make Healthier Airport & Travel Food Choices

Airport & Travel Food

Airports and public transit hubs pose diet challenges with mostly junky fast food options. Outsmart food pitfalls while in transit with these tips:

Airport Tips:

  • Pack nutritious snacks like protein bars, fruit, nuts, and nut butter in your carry-on bag to avoid being famished.
  • Seek out salad or noodle shops for veggie plates or bowls versus pizza, burgers, and fried foods.
  • Choose veggie or turkey sandwiches on whole grains from sandwich shops. Avoid heavy creamy sauces.
  • Look for Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, hummus, fruit cups, and carrot sticks at mini markets.
  • Most airports now have hydration stations to easily refill water bottles past TSA instead of purchasing sugary drinks.
  • Train/Bus Station & Rest Stop Tips:
  • Pack non-perishable snacks like trail mix, beef jerky, energy bites, apples, protein bars, and sandwich wraps.
  • Stick to nuts, seeds, lower sugar protein, or granola bars from convenience stores and vending machines.
  • Select turkey, chicken, or roast beef sandwiches on wheat rather than fried hot foods at quick shops.
  • Scope out healthy fast-casual restaurants like Mod Pizza, Sweet green, Freshii, or Whole Foods Market at certain bus and train terminals.

You have more healthy options than ever before when traveling thanks to the rise of fast-casual, plant-based chains and grab-and-go markets emphasizing wholesome fare.

Stay Satisfied On Flights

Airplane meals notoriously skimp on portions and nutrition. Follow these flight food tips:

  • Ask for a veggie plate, fruit cup, or cheese plate as your main meal to load up on nutrients.
  • Bring your nutritious snacks like protein bars, trail mix, nut butter packets, apples, jerky sticks, and popcorn.
  • Request low-fat milk instead of sugary juice or soda with meals. Stay hydrated with plenty of water.
  • Select nuts or whole grain crackers from snack baskets to tide you over and skip the cookies and candy.
  • If traveling internationally, try new flavors through vegetable- and legume-focused cultural dishes offered versus heavy, creamy fare.

While airplane food may not be exciting or nourishing, you have more choices than ever to eat well at 35,000 feet.

How to Balance Indulgences

Vacations inevitably involve indulgences from destination-specific specialties like beignets in New Orleans or pizza in Chicago. Enjoy treats in moderation with these tips:

  • Share desserts instead of ordering individually. Take leftovers back to the hotel.
  • Savor local specialties, just have a taste instead of a full serving. Split with travel companions.
  • Maximize nutrients earlier in the day so any splurges are occasional, not the norm.
  • Add an extra 30-60 minutes of walking or activity on days with planned food indulgences.
  • Don’t label foods as “good” or “bad”. Focus on how certain choices make your body feel and aim for balance.
  • Indulge mindfully and slowly. Make special treats worth the additional calories.
  • Consider food indulgences just as important for experiencing destinations as museums and attractions!
  • Get back on track the next day. Don’t let treat meals turn into a pattern of overindulgence.

Letting loose on vacation and sampling regional specialties should be enjoyed as part of the travel experience. Just counter indulgences with nutritious choices the remainder of the time.

Practice Mindful Eating

Making healthy eating a priority while traveling prevents overdoing it on vacation calories. Stay mindful by:

  • Slowing down and savoring meals without distractions like screens. Be fully present.
  • Selecting nutritious foods first to crowd out less healthy impulse choices.
  • Listening to your body’s hunger and fullness signals. Stop when satisfied, not overly full.
  • Minimizing sugary beverages, sauces, dressings, and condiments that add excess calories.
  • Pausing before indulgent treats. Ask yourself if it’s worth the calories. Savor a few bites.
  • Balancing occasional treats with more wholesome choices like fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated at higher altitudes and on long travel days.
  • Not skipping meals since hunger leads to poor choices. Carry snacks to avoid it.

Staying mindful ensures you don’t mindlessly overconsume just because foods are novel or vacation time encourages indulgence.

Additional Tips for Success

Implement these extra strategies for sticking to healthy habits during your journeys:

  • Walk as much as possible between destinations to burn extra calories.
  • Research restaurant menus online in advance and decide your order ahead of time.
  • Don’t drink your calories through juice, soda, fancy coffee, and cocktails. Prioritize water.
  • Set daily step goals on your fitness tracker to motivate you to stay active.
  • Choose wholesome snacks to have each day like fruit, vegetables with hummus, nuts, seeds, and nonfat Greek yogurt.
  • Be flexible. Don’t stress if your eating isn’t perfect. Get back on track at the next meal.
  • Wake up early to get workouts in at hotels or take advantage of hotel gyms.
  • Ask for dressings and sauces on the side and use them sparingly. Request grilled instead of fried.
  • Pack a small cooler bag and bring healthy snacks and meals on day excursions like trail mix, sandwiches, fruits, and veggies.

With a commitment to making smart choices and advanced preparation, you can eat nourishing, satisfying meals while exploring new destinations. Don’t let travel derail healthy eating habits.

Make a point to enjoy all the delicious foods you encounter when traveling while maintaining balance and moderation. Implementing these nutritious eating strategies allows you to stick to your health goals and feel your best no matter where you roam.

About the author

Noom is a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach with a passion for helping others achieve their health and fitness goals. After struggling with her own weight loss journey, she decided to make it her mission to provide practical, supportive advice to others looking to make positive changes.

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