I’ve recently just come home from a 3 week holiday in the South Island of New Zealand. Anyone that loves hiking, adventures and hates the humidity as much as I do would understand why I wanted to stay there forever, it was glorious. People often ask me how I managed to continue eating healthy while I was away without compromising my health. To be honest, it’s as easy or as difficult as you choose to make it. Eating real food is a choice and you can always search on the internet to help you plan and research where to eat.
The good news is, whether you’re travelling for work or for a holiday there are some simple yet effective strategies that will help you continue to eat healthy while travelling, in order to maintain balance and reduce stress around your food choices.
Through much trial and error, I’ve figured out what needs to be done before leaving, how to prepare and what to do during the trip to make eating healthy, simple and easy. I know exactly what can and can’t make it through airport security and what non-negotiables are helpful to pack.
Your travel plans may look different depending on your chosen destination, so you might choose to adapt these strategies for eating healthy food while travelling based on whether you’ll be flying, road tripping, taking the bus, camping, glamping, staying in Airbnb or hotel accommodation.
How to Eat Healthy While Travelling
What To Bring
It’s easy take a variety of perishable and non-perishable items when you travel. If you’re driving they can be packed in an esky or cooler bag. If you’re travelling by plane, food can be packed in your suitcase and/or in your carry-on bag through security and onto the plane.
These are some of the travel-friendly foods and snacks we took with us on the plane:
- Vegetable sticks such as carrots, celery or cucumber with a side of pesto, guacamole, cashew cheese or nut butter
- Hard boiled eggs (pre-peeled!) and sprinkled with salt
- Pre-cooked roasted chunks of sweet potato or pumpkin
- Meats like chicken or beef pre-cut into strips, or leftover sausages or meatballs
- A mixture of Changing Habits Inca Inca Seeds, macadamias and cashews or another homemade trail mix
- Small pots of chia pudding
- Pre-made salad (with or without dressing)
- An empty water bottle, preferably with a filter in it, allowing you to fill it up after you’ve gone through security
- Homemade Sushi
- Homemade Turmeric Seedy Crackers
- Blueberry, Lime & Ginger Gummies
Foods that don’t need immediate refrigeration make great emergency meals and snacks, especially when you’re spending time overseas or working long hours away from your accommodation. You can pack large stashes of these foods in your suitcase and take what you’d like in your carry-on for immediate use. The good thing about taking these foods is that you will probably use them all, so your suitcase will be a lot lighter on the way home.
These are just some of the items I packed in my suitcase to last my partner and I for 3 weeks.
- Nuts and seeds (or pre-made trail mixes) I took Changing Habits Inca Inchi Seeds, organic macadamias and cashews (for snacks)
- Changing Habits Coconut Oil (for cooking and a moisturiser)
- Changing Habits Turmeric (for the anti-inflammatory properties)
- Changing Habits Inca Inchi Oil (for the anti-inflammatory properties, drizzling over salads/ meals and a moisturiser)
- I also took a jar of grass-fed ghee with me (I used this in my bulletproof coffee and in cooking)
- Changing Habits Dehydrated Broth (for gut health- drink on its own or add to meals)
- Changing Habits Camu Camu Powder (to boost the immune system)
- Changing Habits Supreme Green Blend (to boost energy levels and to make sure you get enough greens into your diet) or chlorella tablets (also great to aid with detoxing)
- Changing Habits Probiotics (for gut health)
- Activated Coconut Charcoal (in case of food poisoning or reactions to food such as diarrhoea etc. It also is great for aiding with detoxification)
- Cans of sardines, tuna or mackerel (sustainable)
- Tea bags (green and herbal)
- A small salt shaker with Changing Habits Seaweed Salt
Other options include:
- Nut, seed or coconut butter (in sealed jars)
- Quality paleo muesli/protein bars, paleo jerky etc (great for emergency snacks)
- You can even try dehydrating certain foods and storing it in vacuum sealed bags (this is a great option for those who want to go on 2-7 day hiking trails)
- Organic coffee
- Essential oils
- Magnesium spray (this can come in handy if you do a lot walking – rub onto sore muscles to help recover and repair faster) or a quality supplement
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Just a little sustainability tip: I recommend taking your own reusable water bottle with a filter built in (so you don’t have to worry about parasites, bacteria or chemicals in your drinking water) and a coffee travel mug to use throughout your trip. This will eliminate the cost and waste of endless amounts of plastic water bottles and cups that can add up while traveling.
Grocery Shop When You Arrive
Make sure to do your research and find grocery shops or health food shops that are in the vicinity of your accommodation. I always select accommodation that has a kitchen, so I can easily prepare healthy meals. As I bring many of my pantry staple items with me, my shopping list is small and I generally only need to get fresh produce and meat.
Eating Out at Restaurants and Cafés
It’s very easy to enjoy healthy food while eating out by following a few simple suggestions:
- If picking your own restaurants/cafe, search directly in Google or Trip Advisor for keywords like ‘grass-fed’, ‘gluten-free’, ‘farm to table’ along with ‘restaurant’ and the name of city you’re visiting.
- Before eating out, you can always look on the restaurant’s online menu to see if there is anything suitable for you to eat. Alternatively you can call them directly to see if they can cater to your needs.
- When you arrive at a restaurant or cafe, tell the waiter the foods you want to avoid eg gluten-free, dairy-free etc and would appreciate their help in making substitutions. Most of the time, they’ll make immediate recommendations and let the chef know your specific food sensitivity.
- When ordering salads, simply ask to substitute the dressing for a side of olive oil. Ask them to remove any croutons or cheeses if you’re choosing to avoid gluten and processed dairy.
- If you’re trying to avoid vegetable oils, ask if there is an option to have your meat or vegetables cooked in butter instead of the typical canola oil; sometimes it’s not always possible but there is no harm in asking.
- You can order any entrée dish that includes meats like steak, fish, or chicken and ask for ‘double the veggies’ as your side dish.
- Always be polite. If you are travelling to a country that relies on tips say something like; ‘I know I’m a high maintenance customer with my food allergies, but I’m a good tipper’. Therefore you’re pretty much guaranteed great service.
- Bonus tip! Take your own quality salt in a small shaker bottle so you don’t have to use the processed salts provided.
Eating With Others
If you’re visiting friends and family, you can always let them know in advance that you’ll be preparing most of your own meals. This may be especially important if you are on a restricted diet or have loads of food sensitivities/allergies. This way, you can still have the pleasure of eating with others although you’ll be eating different foods to them. When you sit down at the table, the others will begin to see what types of real food you’re eating. They may ask questions, you can answer them but try not to pressure them into eating the way you do. When people are ready for advice or help, they’ll let you know. You can be a quiet role model, it’s much more powerful.
Let the Guilt Go
While all of these tips can help you eat healthy food while travelling, the most important thing you can do throughout your trip is to not stress about food imperfection because we can’t always control our environment, especially if you’re travelling to a foreign country. One of the number one causes of digestive distress is STRESS.
You could be eating the most nutrient-dense food, however if you’re feeling stressed, you’re impairing the breakdown and absorption of your food, suppressing your immune system and increasing your likelihood of experiencing a reaction to a gut pathogen or food toxin. So relax, do the best that you possibly can in each situation you’re in and accept that you’re not going to be perfect.
I hope you enjoy my travel tips to ensure you’re able to eat healthy food while you’re next on holiday.