This post was written for all my family, friends and those I who are searching the internet for ideas on how to eat healthy while traveling since this conversation is coming up a lot lately and people ask me how I do it. The foods in the picture are staples when traveling for me, I also always bring boiled egg, veggie sticks and a dip – usually a veggie “hummus”. At the end of this post I list ideas for traveling. If I missed any, please let us know what you like to do!
When I travel (and that is something I do a lot), I try to avoid eating out at all costs. When I do, I focus on protein and non starchy vegetables and leave out the rest. That is because most any carbohydrate that you’d find in a restaurant is an unhealthy one loaded with bad oils, bad salt and sugar and most likely will cause fatigue as if jet lag wasn’t enough.
Traveling by car is one of the easiest ways to have control over the food you eat since you can pack a cooler, thermos and larger amounts of liquids and foods. Traveling by airplane within the states is a bit more difficult but not as challenging as international travel, especially with kids – with a flight transfer/layover.
This post is where I give tips on what I do or plan to do as far as food goes, focusing mainly on air travel, but can apply to any form of travel. If you’re interested in ideas on how to manage kids while at the airport, on a plane or transporting through the airport, I have written a post here where you can read about my tips.
Quick Guide to Eating Out:
If you need to eat at an airport or near one, search online for restaurants in the area or that are located in the airport terminal you will get food from. If possible, look over the menu ahead of time and decide what you will be eating – Not what you want to eat. Then write it down or put it in your phone and when you go to order, you don’t get distracted by all the choices.
PLANNING IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS!!
Mexican food, order fajita meat or other grilled meat with grilled veggies over a salad and some guacamole. That way you are safe Paleo wise and gluten-free.
Thai food, they have many gluten free options, the problem with them is the oil, salt and possible MSG, the key is to try to eat fresh salads, soups, and try to stay away from the saucy foods, order grilled vegetables with no sauce. Coconut based sauces are generally safe, but can possibly have unwanted hidden ingredients.
Middle Eastern food has plenty of gluten-free or Paleo options – just don’t eat the bread! Kabobs, kafta, and any grilled meat along with grilled vegetables with a salad of fatoush – minus the toasted brad that comes with it, just ask for it without bread.
Italian Food, stay away from the pasta and focus on a nice grilled fish or grilled meat and vegetables with a salad of lemon and olive oil with a dash of salt.
Indian Food, Tandoori meat and grilled vegetables are best choice, stay away from saucy foods
“American Food”, grilled steak with roasted/grilled veggies and/or a salad with a lemon-olive oil-salt dressing is a good choice meal, hamburger wrapped in lettuce is another option. Pizza is never a good choice, it’s one of the cheaper items in any restaurant so it may be tempting, but stay away – even gluten free options are not good for you.
**There are other ethnic foods out there, the goal is to stay focused, it’s easy to be tempted with all the aromas filling the air. Plan, Plan and Plan!
Bringing Your Own Food:
If you don’t have time to actually prep/cook food, then you could easily buy ready-made foods such as jerky (organic is best), boiled eggs don’t take much time, plantain chips, fruits, veggies, fruit with a thick peel, dates, raw nuts/seeds. This may not seem sustainable to someone who is not used to eating this way, and traveling is not a good time to try and eat “healthy”. In that case, do your best to eat a healthier version of processed foods such as organic foods, Trader Joes has a large selection at a good price.
When it’s time to eat, seek out a bathroom so you can do a quick clean up before/after. I’ve even had to prep my food in a family bathroom when I had multiple little ones so I could keep them contained while I did it, then buckled them in the stroller and went out to eat in the seating area. With little ones, wipes are a necessity as well as large and small ziplocks and plastic bags to either use as a temporary trash bag or to put soiled clothes in until they can be washed.
To see current TSA rules on carry on food items click here. To see carry on liquids click here.
One thing to keep in mind and understand is that airport employees including TSA are just doing their job. They were trained that way and have set rules and guidelines for passengers. It’s important to know before you go – search the TSA website to fully understand and make your security screening quicker, oh yeah and you can “opt out” of body scans. If you do that, they will bring an employee of the same sex and pat you down. I have never been patted down though, maybe because I have kids, I don’t know? I have only seen the full body scans in the US, not in other countries such as Europe and the Middle East, unless they installed them since I’ve been there.
If your traveling with a stroller, fold it down, it will need to go through the x-ray machine. If you have a laptop, prepare to open it and have it examined.
Another thing is that when you are traveling with kids, you are priority in boarding before economy class so that is a plus when it comes to waiting in line.
Ideas on Foods To Bring With You On A Trip:
- Sardine in a can
- Tuna in a can
- Jerky – homemade or store bought (opt for organic when available with no additives and sugars)
- Hard boiled eggs
- Lentil and rice porridge
- Plantain chips
- Sweet potato chips
- Paleo crackers using this recipe for pizza crust (add garlic and herbs if you want)
- Paleo muffins
- Gluten free muffins
Fats (Homemade preferably):
- Trail mix of nuts, seeds and dried fruits
- Soaked buckwheat granola
- Any nuts or seeds (raw or crispy)
- Olive oil for salad dressing (see sides and extras below)
- Grass-fed butter (if you like spreading on crackers or muffins)
- Carrot sticks
- Celery sticks
- Any crunchy veggies for dipping
- Romaine lettuce leaves – kept whole and wrapped in a paper towel before closing in a Ziploc baggie. When it’s time to use them, tear into pieces into a container, top with a protein such as tuna/sardine and sea salt, fresh lemon and olive oil. This won’t last long, so plan to eat that quickly.
- Avocado whole
- Any whole fruit such as peach, plum, etc… – just keep it whole and in a hard container so it won’t bruise.
- Mango cut
- Pineapple cut
- Dried fruits; mango, raisins, dates, etc…
Dairy needs to be eaten in 1 day, it spoils fast (you can cook it into your food also):
- Raw hard cheese cut in cubs or slices
- Greek yogurt plain or with spices
- Brie cheese
- Hummus made of garbanzo or “veggie hummus”
- Greek yogurt plain or with spices
- Nut/Seed butters such as almond butter or sunflower butter for dipping fruit in
- Guacamole – as long as you add lime/lemon and keep the seed in it for longer keeping. Un-refrigerated it will spoil pretty quick by the end of the day so plan on eating within 6 hours of making or 2 days if you can keep it cold.
- Chia seed “pudding” mix chia seeds with water and dried fruit such as raisins and let it sit about 5 minutes before eating (of course you could jazz it up a bit more with vanilla extract and other dried fruits)
Sweets and Treats:
- Lara bars, homemade or store bought
- Homemade granola
- Tahini cookies
- Paleo/coconut or gluten free cookies (I have some recipes here, but do a quick google search to find more)
- Dark chocolate bar
Sides and Extras:
- Whole lemons
- Olive oil in a clear plastic carry on container no more than 3oz
- Sea salt or Himalayan salt in a small container
- Spices or spice mix – store in a small container with lid if you want to add it to Greek yogurt, salad, or anything else you want to spice before eating.
- Whole food powdered vitamin or protein to add to wate
- Herbal tea bags of your choice, I like to bring chamomile and peppermint for relaxing and upset stomachs
- Empty water bottles
- Plastic forks, knifes, spoons
- Disposable (or not) plastic containers with lids for eating out of
- With kids plastic snack cups or snack size baggies work well for putting nuts and raisins in
For kids, they love to “snack”, it’s best to have nuts/seeds/dried fruits on hand and ready to go, possibly in snack sized baggies. Paleo snack crackers are also a great go to snack that can be dipped in paleo “hummus”. As for drinks, I like to bring in empty water bottles and fill them in fountain water – I don’t believe expensive bottled water at the airport is any cleaner. I also like to bring powder packets that I buy from whole foods that has probiotics, veggies, super-foods and other whole foods that add to water for an extra boost of nutrients while traveling.
Kid Snacks & Drinks:
- Trail mix
- Dried fruits
- Soaked buckwheat granola with almond milk, coconut milk, or honey Greek yogurt
- Chia seed “pudding
- Paleo crackers and dip
- Whole food powder packets to add to water instead of box juice loaded with sugars
- Plain old water!
I use travel containers that are already TSA approved so I don’t have to measure out my liquids. You can buy them from any Target or other type store (even super markets carry them) for a few dollars a set. Since I am never alone while traveling, I can bring more carry on. Here is the one I use –