Traveling and Health, Part 1: Eating on the Move

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

Travel. It’s so many things depending on the situation and where you are in life. Fun, expensive, exciting, draining, educational, irritating, life-changing. And this is just scratching the surface.

This is the first in a series of articles about traveling and health. I get a lot of questions about this topic. I’m guessing that’s because for the past 10 years or so, I’ve done quite a bit of traveling, primarily with my family. However, for the 10 years prior to that, I did a lot of traveling for other reasons, such as work and just for fun by myself and/or with friends. So I guess you can say I’ve had a bit of experience with this topic.

I’ve been told by some that they’d find it helpful to get some tips and tricks about maintaining a healthy lifestyle while on the road. In this article, we’re going to talk about eating. We all eat, so this is one that we can all relate to, right?

Now, depending on where you are right now in your relationship with food, travel can bring up all kinds of challenges. For those who feel that they don’t have a lot of preferences with food, maybe you’re excited about trying new cuisine. Whether you are visiting somewhere within a few hours of you or somewhere on the other side of the world, you can pretty much always find something to eat that you’ve never tried before. Maybe you are someone with quite a few food preferences, however. Or maybe you have severe allergies. It can make traveling quite a bit more challenging when it comes to figuring out what to eat when you can’t even enter a building before making sure it doesn’t serve certain ingredients.

No matter where you are on this spectrum, I’m going to offer up 3 tips that I think everyone can benefit from:

1. Pack some food.

This goes for everyone. Why? Because you never know where you are going to be when you get hungry. Even if you are one of those folks who thinks you can eat everything, you may end up stalled in a car, airplane, or bus with no options for purchasing food nearby. If you are someone who has lots of allergies and/or intolerances, you definitely can’t count on having options you can eat, even if there are chances to buy food. If you are flying, leave space in your carry-on or personal items for things that don’t need to be refrigerated. Fresh fruits and veggies are a great choice. Sugar snap peas and tomatoes travel well, and carrots will last for a short duration without needing the cold. Even good processed food options are plentiful these days — sweet potato chips, kale chips, fruit leathers that are just fruit, etc. Spend the money at your local store and get the packaged foods that work for you even though they are more expensive. It will be worth it.

2. Try to rein in the “We’re on vacation, so why not??” mindset.

Now I’m not saying not to party it up a little. That’s part of the fun of travel, right? Even if you’re on a business trip, this happens — how about that cushy per diem? I remember this. Anytime we’re away from home we get that mindset of wanting to have some fun. You know what’s not fun? Hanging out in our hotel rooms because we have colossal stomach aches, or various other bodily responses to food our digestive systems were not as excited about as our minds were. Know your limits — Have some fun, and then get back to the good stuff that you know your body needs and wants.

3. Use a tracking tool.

This one has really helped me out in the past. When you’re at home in your daily routine, you kind of have an idea of when you are eating and snacking. While you are out of your routine everything can get thrown out of the window. Sightseeing? Spending an entire day at the beach? At a 3-day conference with back-to-back workshops and scarcely a break to use the restroom? That’s not what you are used to, and it can wreak havoc on your body. I personally like Sparkpeople. I enter in what I eat by the meal. You don’t even have to pay attention to the numbers of nutrients you are having, although if you are into that sort of thing, the functionality is there. Honestly, just the fact that you are entering in something (or not) will alert you to the fact that you might be over or under-eating (skipped two meals because you were doing something else, anyone?). The awareness it creates is worth the time it takes you to look up that steak and potatoes and record it for dinner.

If you follow these three tips, I suspect you will be glad you did. Your digestive system will thank you, and you will be able to enjoy your time away from home with less worry of feeling blah.

Have you tried any of these tricks or others while traveling? Share in the comments below!


  • Tricia Prues

    #2 was huge for me this past vacation. It was the first vacation I didn’t walk away from thinking, “Ugh, I ate so much junk.” I deliberately chose to, like you said, rein in the mindset of going wild because we were on vacation. We splurged some, sure, but for the most part, we ate in (which saved money!) and kept things simple and had healthy foods. It was great!

    • Meredith

      Tricia — That is so great to hear! I love it when people give this one a try and see how it feels. It’s possible to hit that middle ground, where you feel like you’re able to have some fun treats while still feeling good at the end of a trip. Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

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