Traveling is the best way to learn more about this world and yourself in particular. You let your hair down and rush to those new adventures. But whenever we take a trip to a new place we just might forget to think beforehand about what we are going to eat or drink. This is especially true when it concerns healthy food. Is it possible to eat healthy while traveling and if yes, then how?
How Can I Eat Healthy And Cheap While Traveling?
The process of travel starts with packing a suitcase. We mull over the most important stuff we are so afraid to forget – documents, phones, chargers, etc, but do we often pay attention to the food? Rarely.
Healthy travel food is essential when moving to a new place. For example, if we eat unsafe or contaminated food during the trip we might face food poisoning which definitely kills the buzz. The good news is that eating healthy and cheap while traveling is possible. You just need to do a couple of simple steps:
1. Search For Local Grocery Stores And Restaurants
This is the first thing you ought to do in order to eat healthy while traveling – google the local grocery stores, cheap restaurants, or cafes before the trip. Check the reviews and put them in your notes. People often make one simple mistake – they research food choices only after they are already in a new country.
The problem is that after you’re in a new place you easily feel hungry and thirsty. It’s no surprise that your first action is to rush to the nearest street vendor or market without knowing anything about it. Believe me, a little research can help you find healthy food even in cheap places.
2. Buy Some Healthy Snacks In Advance
Before the trip go to any grocery store in your town and make sure you bought these healthy snacks:
- Freeze-dried vegetables
- Whole or dried fruit (check the rules if you are traveling internationally)
- Trail mix (perfect for planes)
- Nuts (keep them in snack-size bags)
- Nut butters
- Whole-grain pretzels, breadsticks, and crackers
- Snack bars. Preferably whole grains, nuts, and low-sugar fruits (8).
They will not only keep you full but also allow you to have enough energy during travel. That said, once you step on board or take your seat on the train you will be proud of yourself for having grabbed nutritious snacks.
3. Grab Your Water Bottle
You need to stay hydrated when you go somewhere. That’s why, if you put a bottle of water in your backpack, you will thank yourself afterward. By the way, sometimes we might confuse hunger with thirst. If you feel hungry, you won’t trek to a new café but rather consume some water first.
Make sure you don’t drink tap water unless you are sure it’s safe. Try to search for a local store or perhaps a safe source. You’d best opt for sealed or bottled water just for your safety.
4. Cook Yourself Whenever Possible
Instead of fancy hotels, look for a small apartment or even a hostel with a kitchen or a kitchenette.
I guarantee you that your budget won’t get hurt and you will be able to eat healthily. Once you get to your place, you can stroll to a nearby grocery store, purchase veggies, fruits, and meat, and prepare your favorite dishes. If you can’t afford cafes or restaurants every day, this tip is ideal for you.
5. Think About Occasionally Eating In Drive-Thrus
If you want to stick to a travel diet you might get scared when you see a drive-thru. But actually, they are not as bad as they seem. These places can’t propose super healthy food but if you make the right choices you won’t get into trouble.
You are better off choosing steamed, grilled, broiled, or baked food instead of fried. Switch to lean protein and vinaigrette-based dressing salads, broth-based soups, eggs with whole-grain bread, and oatmeal. If you enjoy comfort food, just consider small portions — stick to the basics such as a single burger without extra sauces, and drink water instead of soda (8).
6. Grab A Sanitizer Or Disinfectant Wipes
As kids, we were taught to wash our hands before eating. As adults, we still need to do it. If you bought food from the drive-thru or at the gas station, never forget to wash your hands or use a sanitizer.
7. Choose Markets Instead Of Street Vendors
If you’d rather buy fresh veggies and fruits, rinse them in the hostel or apartment and cook something healthy rather than devour potentially unhealthy food from a street vendor. Yeah, the aroma is tempting but at what cost?
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How Do You Eat Healthy Living On The Road?
Traveling on the road is exciting but no easy feat. It takes much more thinking and patience when it comes to healthy travel food. Here are the top-eating tips that will be helpful to spend your time on the road eating out.
Pack A Lot Of Non-Perishable Snacks
Edwina Clark, M.S., R.D., recommends non-perishable snacks like nuts, jerky, and protein bars. She explains that when you suppress hunger with these quick bites it can help you make healthier food choices throughout the rest of the trip (7).
Also, if you have those little snacks every three hours and then go to a restaurant you will devour less food and still feel energized.
Opt For Smaller Amounts
When you eat too many calories in one meal you might feel sleepy and stuffed. Have you noticed that after a huge meal all you want to do is to lie on your bed and take a nap? However, it won’t be that easy if you’re on the road, so your best option is to eat smaller portions more frequently.
Eating small amounts of healthy food throughout the day sends a signal to your brain that the food supply is plentiful, so it’s OK to burn through those calories quickly.
Local Supermarkets At The Beginning
After you’ve packed your luggage and then feel like the whole stash of healthy snacks is too heavy, go ahead and pack less of them. And when you get to the new destination, the first thing you should do is to find a local supermarket or a grocery store. There you can stuff your backpack with nutritious healthy snacks.
By the way, a lot of these stores offer veggie and meat salads which is a great choice to begin your trip with.
Never Skip Breakfast
According to Abbey Sharp, dietitian and blogger at Abbey’s Kitchen, you should always consume a healthy breakfast before you start a day on the road, whether it’s a trip by plane, boat, train train, or automobile (7).
When you start your day with a healthy nutritious breakfast you will have enough energy to enjoy the road trip. As part of breakfast, you can choose snacks from your stash or something ready-to-eat from the supermarket. Make sure it’s all fresh and stored properly.
Get Enough Protein
Protein food allows you to feel less ravenous for junk food. Protein keeps you invigorated and powerful. Plus, it enhances your concentration because it promotes satiety. Try to consume at least one protein source at every meal and snack, for example, protein-rich snacks like nuts, turkey jerky, hummus, hormone-free beef, a hard-boiled egg, or cheese (2).
Again. Stay Hydrated
When you amble around and explore sightseeing, you need to have energy. Dehydration can make you feel sluggish. Water – the best source of hydration that helps with digestion, reduces fatigue, and prevents headaches caused by dehydration (2).
Which Food Is Best While Traveling?
So, you are already in your destination feeling hungry. You have no idea which food to try because you’re afraid to get nausea or even worse. Eating healthy while traveling is beneficial to your mood and general state. It is essential to know what you need and needn’t eat.
Don’t worry, I’ve got a list of common healthy foods, especially for you.
- Trail mix – nuts, dried fruits, and crackers are a good choice for a snack. You will feel invigorated and full.
- Fruits – bananas, oranges, tangerines, or kiwis are great sources of Vitamin C and potassium. If you love apples or other fruits you don’t want to peel the skin off then make sure you rinse it well.
- Nuts – peanuts, pistachios, almonds, and other nuts will provide protein and power.
- Oatmeal – keeps you full and energized.
- Salads – mixed potatoes, cucumber, and avocado dressed with olive oil are not only healthy but very delicious.
- Vegetable/cream soups. You can find them in various restaurants and cafes.
- Fish – salmon or tuna is an omega 3 source. You can have it grilled with boiled rice or mashed potatoes + veggie salad.
- Whole-grain sandwich or wrap with vegetables and lean meat.
- Black-pepper Pop-corn – prepare pop-corn in advance and ride to new destinations without worrying about having a healthy snack on hand.
These foods can be prepared ahead of time or found in many local groceries. If you have a chance you might as well scope out restaurants with nutritious food. Always opt for baked, roasted, grilled, or steamed food. It may be better to skip something fried, since frying adds a lot of calories and fat.
Healthy fast food:
- grilled chicken
- frozen fruit yogurt
- baked low-salt chips
- chicken fajita pitas
- turkey sandwiches (6).
What Foods Should You Avoid When Traveling?
People can be unaware of what is harmful and what isn’t. When we are at home we may feel safer eating certain foods that carry inherent risk. That said, it doesn’t always work that way when we are abroad. It is important to have enough willpower to avoid some tempting food because the consequences might ruin your trip.
While traveling you’d best pass up on some meals. Eat healthy while traveling abroad and your body will appreciate that.
- Raw or undercooked meat and seafood. Raw or undercooked meat and seafood can provoke danger to your gut and ruin your trip with food poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is recommended to avoid any raw cut of meat or seafood during travels, even if it has been “cooked” with citrus juice or vinegar (4).
- Apples. Yeah, apples are healthy but you may want to avoid them while traveling because there is a lot of bacteria on the apple skin. You’re not gonna get poisoned like Snow White but you still can have stomach problems. So, if you crave an apple, please peel it or rinse it carefully.
- Unpasteurized dairy products. According to the Food and Drug Administration, these products can expose a person to such diseases as Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli, all of which can threaten your health and ruin your trip (4).
- Unpasteurized dairy products. According to the Food and Drug Administration, these products may contain diseases like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria, all of which can be life-threatening (4).
- Street food. So many street vendors seduce tourists from different parts of the world with their smell. And when you sniff it you start drooling. But, stop here. If you can’t resist the temptation, please choose the street vendor carefully:
- Look at the stall. If there are bits of food and trash in the stall, run away!
- Look at the line. If you can see kids and parents there, then this stall might be safe.
- The food may be contaminated if the meat is not covered by the cook (4).
- Avoid foods that look like they have been sitting out for a while.
- Deli meat. When traveling abroad, always look for a fully cooked hot meal. Deli and cured meats can contain harmful bacteria..
- Buffets. Even though buffets offer cheap food, at what cost? The problem is that the longer food sits out the more bacterial growth it promotes.
- Empty restaurant? Red flag! Another eating tip that will save your life is avoiding sketchy restaurants. Have you ever been to a place where the prices are very cheap and the portions are huge? And you wonder why it is empty there. It indicates that the quality of this “healthy food” is questionable
- Raw vegetables. This rule is essential when it comes to countries with water contamination problems. If you love salads with fresh vegetables but have no idea which to choose then packaged items that have not been exposed to any water are going to be good for you. Note, that purchasing fruits and vegetables that were pre-cut in the supermarket means that they had already been cleaned with local water. This water might be harmful to your health and lead to adverse effects (4). Follow the advice of the CDC or your travel clinic regarding your specific destination.
- Unhealthy fast food: If you are a huge fast food lover and can’t imagine a day without junk food then the least you can do is to choose it thoughtfully. Try to balance the meals that contain mayonnaise, fried fish, sandwiches, chips, jumbo burgers, milkshakes, or french fries with some healthier options.
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How To Stay In Shape While Traveling?
Road trips bring pleasure into our lives but sometimes they also bring extra unnecessary kilos. We usually are so fascinated by the new spots, that we totally forget what we put in our mouths. After the trip, we come back home and in bewilderment noticed we gained weight. Here are the food and action tips for you to stay in shape while you travel:
- Prepare your food for the plane. Most airline meals and snack boxes are full of empty calories. Processed junk on the plane includes a long list of potentially unhealthy ingredients (3). Bring your stash with healthy snacks instead.
- Book hotels or hostels near the walking paths or parks. The more you walk after the meals the more calories you burn. Make sure you move a lot then you won’t need to worry about gaining weight.
- Hotel gyms and more. If your hotel has fitness facilities, take advantage of them. Workouts are going to burn extra calories.
- Leave some food on the plate. When you try a new yummy dish at the restaurant you usually leave the plate immaculately clean. However, if the portion sizes are large, it might be better if you left some food on it and did not get stuffed.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks. If you consume alcohol you automatically crave a bite of some snack. Moreover, alcohol itself is full of unnecessary calories. Substitute alcohol with water and you won’t have any problem.
- Never skip meals. A key to maintaining a healthy weight is not skipping meals, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re on vacation or not (3). Try not to stay hungry for more than four-five hours. In this case, you will lack the energy you need for the trip.
What Healthy Food Can I Eat In The Hotel?
Hotel prices for the meals can cost a fortune sometimes. It doesn’t mean you need to switch to fast food. Here are some cool ideas for healthy and nutritious meals you can prepare in your hotel room:
Buy eggs at the local supermarket and feel free to indulge yourself in a nutritious meal. Usually, there are microwaves in hotel rooms. You can use a mug and a microwave to enjoy this nutritious healthy meal.
Microwaves in the room can help you create amazingly delicious baked potatoes within minutes. Once you add broccoli to it you can enjoy a healthy meal in your hotel room.
If you have a mini-fridge in the hotel you can buy fruits and vegetables and put them there. Buy avocado, veggies, and salsa, dress them with oil, and here you have a great salad for lunch.
Homemade Cups Of Noodles
Boil some water, add it to the noodle cup and your meal is ready. If you want to make it healthier, add some spinach or scallions into it.
Due to meat and vegetables, this meal is a rich source of protein and other nutrients. Purchase a bag of frozen cauliflower rice and prepare it in the microwave using the instructions listed on its packaging (1).
Eating healthy while traveling is essential and possible. The best way to do it is to pack your snacks and scope out places with nutritious healthy food before the trip. In this case, you won’t get lost in the maze of street vendors and unhealthy restaurants worrying about food poisoning, stomach pain, or nausea. Enjoy healthy food and have a great time.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 10 healthy dinner ideas you can whip up in your extended stay hotel room (2022, affordablecorporatesuites.net)
- 10 tips of eating healthy on the road trip (2022, wanderwisdom.com)
- 17 tips to stay slim while travelling (2017, www.eatthis.com)
- 20 worst foods to eat when travelling, say doctors (2021, bestlifeonline.com)
- 7 ways to eat healthy while travelling (2022, www.foodsmart.com)
- Healthy eating while dining out (2022, www.webmd.com)
- How registered dietitians eat healthy while travelling (2018, www.self.com)
- Quick guide to eating right while travelling in the USA (2018, www.eatright.org)