Whether it’s a family vacation or traveling for work, at some point we all find ourselves on the road and out of our normal routine. Fewer food choices and the hectic schedule that often comes with these trips can make it challenging to find healthy food options and avoid the unhealthy foods we’d normally skip at home. However, with a little planning ahead of time and a few helpful tips, you can make the most of your time away and keep your health goals on track.
Before You Leave
- If you can, choose a hotel room that has at least a refrigerator. Having a refrigerator makes it more likely you’ll box up those leftovers at dinner rather than overeating and regretting it later. It also gives you a place to store nutritious, filling snacks like yogurt, low-fat string cheese or fresh fruit.
- Don’t always rely on finding food along the way – bring some with you. Bringing several snacks you enjoy will help keep you full until you can find a satisfying meal and make it less likely you’ll stop at the first place you see because you haven’t eaten in hours. Opt for non-perishable foods high in protein and/or fiber, such as beef jerky, nuts or individual peanut butter packets paired with some whole wheat crackers.
- Pack a good pair of sneakers or comfortable shoes. Walking to or from meals instead of driving is a good way to sneak in some exercise during your trip. Having comfortable shoes also makes you more likely to walk a few extra blocks to better food options instead of settling for what’s right across the street.
During Your Trip
- Don’t stop at the first place you see simply because you’re hungry. Apps like Yelp and AroundMe can help you bypass that convenience store pizza sitting under a heat lamp in favor of better options just around the corner.
- Skip the fast food when possible and find a local grocery store instead. You’ll get a wider variety of foods to choose from, so you won’t have to settle for something you wouldn’t normally eat. Many grocery stores also offer prepared or made-to-order subs and sandwiches and a salad bar or hot foods bar.
- To avoid binge eating large meals when you finally have time, grab a snack every few hours, even if it’s only a handful of nuts or other food. This will also help prevent an “energy crash” in between meals.
- At buffets and other events where it’s easy to overeat, review your options before you start filling your plate. Opt for lean, high-protein meats that aren’t fried or covered in sauces and pair that with vegetables or a salad before adding other foods to your plate.
- Just because fast food is labeled as “healthy” doesn’t guarantee it’s good for you. Many of these items are low in calories but still extremely high in sodium. Read labels or the menu board and stay informed about what you’re eating.
After Your Trip
- Be honest with yourself and assess how well you stuck to your health goals. Did you avoid eating too many pre-packaged, high-fat foods? Think about what you could do differently on your next trip.
- Chances are you came back from your trip feeling a little worn down and maybe even a few pounds heavier than when you left. Instead of getting down on yourself or letting those feelings linger, focus on getting back into your routine of eating well and getting regular exercise.
With a little planning beforehand, taking the right approach during your trip and being willing to do some self-assessment afterwards, it’s possible to eat well while on the road. For more information about choosing nutritious foods to fuel your body, and pairing those foods with exercise, order the Fund’s Build a Better Body pamphlet from our online Publications Catalogue.