Ideas for Healthy Eating while Traveling

July 14, 2015 in Food Economics, Foodland Chronicles, Health by Joyce Bunderson

Today I decided to make a list of driving foods for Dr. Grandpa (Vic) and myself. Then it dawned upon me that maybe some of you would enjoy some hints for foods and ideas during driving vacations/or holidays (whichever way you describe them); or combination flying/driving trips.

The following are some bits of advice and hints:

  • If you’re flying for a long trip, remember that allowing yourself to become dehydrated; or drinking alcohol; or caffeine-containing drinks (soda pop, cocoa, tea and coffee) can all contribute to jet lag. There’s even enough caffeine in chocolate candy to affect some people. And check your pain relievers too; some have a potent dose of caffeine.
    • Drink plenty of water or milk. If you get tired of plain water, look for the little bottles of flavor drops or the little ‘straws’ of powder, that flavor water. You can add them to a bottle of water easily or even in a glass or cup. Read the labels, as some are caffeinated and some are not.
    • If you have access to a slice of lemon or lime, a squeeze can help perk the water up.
    • Also, you may want to consider skipping the big juicy steak in First Class or in the airport; have it early in the day, if you are going to indulge. Eating meat late in the day can keep your body “awake” digesting the protein and fat in meat. Until you’ve gone through jet lag a couple of times, it doesn’t sound so bad. But if your circadian rhythm gets completely messed up and you end up with an overwhelming level of fatigue and almost flu-like symptoms a couple of times, you realize that it’s worth a little prevention to avoid going through it; or at least diminishing it.
    • Milk, nuts, eggs, bananas, contain the amino acid tryptophan which may help calm you. Combine some of the mentioned foods with some carbohydrate foods like bread, crackers or cereal and maybe you will find it easier to sleep.
  • Nuts, any kind, including peanuts are a superlative travel food. They don’t leak or get crushed easily. We’ve taken them all over the world and they’ve saved us from a ravenous appetite more than once.
  • Individually packaged bars like Trio bars and Larabars offer a nice bit of variety. Trio bars are mostly nuts and Larabars have no sugar (dates are used to sweeten them.)
    • Use caution when buying energy bars; so many of them are not much more than candy bars. Even granola bars can be over the top with sugar and fat. Fortunately, they have labels; so you can decide if it will work for you.
  • Fruit’s a winner. It can be used multiple ways; snacks, dessert or to go with a hotel breakfast.
  • If you plan ahead and purchase a little fruit and nuts, it may protect you from the expensive mini-bar junk foods.
  • If you’re trying to stay on a budget, you may think that fast foods seem like a good deal while traveling. But fast foods also may trick you out of a great cultural experience. Food and its variety of flavors are certainly an important part of the different areas of our country and our world. Look for vegetables and lean protein as the main elements of the meals you choose.

Little digression: Sometimes you find yourself in a place like we did some years ago. Norway seemed to take the cake for expensive food. One day, we saw an ice cream cone in the afternoon; we did the conversion of Kroners to dollars and, in essence, they wanted about $10 for an ice cream cone. It wasn’t going to break the bank, but it did kill my appetite. Seriously? We saw some folks that decided to eat McDonald’s in Norway. For the heck of it, I just Googled McDonald’s and there’s an article about the most expensive Big Mac in the world and where do you guess it is? That’s right Norway. Clear back in 2010 it was $7.88 for a Big Mac and at that time, in the US it was $3.57. We ran into a family who just paid an astronomical price for MickyD’s. We ended up eating some traditional Norwegian fare at a restaurant. I don’t remember what we ate, but for less than double we had a lovely meal and we didn’t have to eat the Big Mac (which I like to avoid anyway.)

Now some of these are my creative thinking going a little askew, but maybe they will work for you.

  • In the past, we have purchased a small inexpensive Styrofoam ice chest a day or two after landing. Then we had water and other items that we would enjoy in our rental car. Then when the trip ended we’d leave the little ice chest. Of course, if you’re driving from home you can use a better ice chest that you’re not going to discard at the end of the trip.
  • In room breakfast could be an oatmeal breakfast made with the coffee maker’s hot water, topped with Greek yogurt and/or fresh fruit stored in the mini fridge.
  • Stock the mini-bar with baby carrots, Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, small cheeses, and so on.
  • Believe it or not, salads and wraps are perfect for traveling. You can use romaine lettuce for the wrap cover or tortillas, or pita bread, and so on. Also, you can use lettuce as a filler in the wrap, maybe a little tuna, or?
  • Fresh tomatoes are a good choice to make a quick salad or put into the wrap.
  • Avocado adds some creamy flavor; cucumbers and sweet peppers are nice for some crunch. Look around at the market and think of the variety of flavors and textures that you enjoy.
  • Salad dressing – for salads or wraps
  • Nuts or cheese on the salad or in the wrap – yum
  • Peanut butter or almond butter, great traveling foods. Pack peanut butter if that’s what you want, if you’re going to some countries in Europe. Peanut butter is not commonly available in some countries.
  • Fresh fruit just to eat or for salad topping
  • Either buy a cheap sharp knife for preparing fresh fruits and vegetables, or pack one in your checked luggage.
  • Consider packing nuts/peanuts; knife; can opener, plastic bags. Plastic or paper bowls for cereal – or use the individual boxes of cereal; a couple of plastic spoons, forks and knives.
  • Whole grain crackers and cheese, string cheese or mini Babybel cheese (I like the blue wrapper low fat style).
  • If you’re lucky enough to find hummus to dip your baby carrots and snap peas into – celebrate!
  • Of course, you can begin the trip with foods from home. Airline food does not always offer much variety.

Don’t feel stuck with my ideas; give yourself creative license to let go of traditional eating ideas. You may discover it’s fun like a game.