Are you planning a trip close or far from home this summer? Eating healthy and maintaining your Paleo lifestyle while traveling need not be as challenging as you might think.
There are, some simple, effective strategies and tips that will support your efforts to maintain balance, reduce stress and retain your sanity whether you are traveling for work, vacation, or out of the country.
1. Stock Up & Plan Ahead
Before taking off, either by car or plane, stock up on some necessities. This will look a little different for each person or family, but make sure you have what you need to be successful. It can sound like a lot of work, but does not have to be! Nowadays there are so many options to order online – do this a week prior to your trip to make sure you have all of your bases covered.
Research the area and find grocery stores that are in a reasonable distance to where you are staying and make a pitstop before arriving at your destination to stock up on anything you may need. Before you go, do research on what restaurant options are available and look over their menus online to decide where and what you are able to eat. Take screenshots, or make a list in your phone.
2. Check a Bag & Bring a Cooler
When travelling by car, take a cooler, when traveling by plane, check a bag to make sure you can easily take some things that are larger than the 4 ounces allowed in a carry on, with you. Another option is to purchase once you get to your destination by researching a grocery store or famer’s market close by to stock up on some non-perishable essentials.
Having some Paleo friendly food on hand will help you both simplify and expand your eating options. If you have a dressing or mayonnaise with you, you can easily purchase a Paleo-friendly rotisserie chicken, purchase simple salad greens and vegetables for salads or quick snacks. You can also take these with to restaurants to make eating within your Paleo guidelines an easier experience while dining out.
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3. Prep Before You Leave:
When traveling by car, you have the added convenience of making some food ahead of time. Some easy options to prepare include simple proteins that you can use a variety of ways, or that have accompanying ingredients that are easy to get. Think of ideas like taco meat that can easily be made ahead and pre-made pico de gallo, guacamole, diced onions, chopped romaine and Paleo compliant salsa can be found at virtually any grocery store. Hard cooked eggs and pulled pork or chicken can be paired with raw or steamed vegetables, pre-cooked potatoes and salads,
4. Bring Your Appliances
When staying at a hotel or holiday rental that has a small kitchen, a quick trip to the grocery store will allow you to make most of your own meals. You definitely do not need a stove, but it is always a bonus. With a microwave you can cook chicken breasts, steam vegetables, bake potatoes, heat up compliant hot dogs or chicken apple sausages.
When traveling by car, throw your slow cooker or instant pot in the trunk. This might sound crazy, but it can be an invaluable tool you may be glad you thought of. This way there is no need to worry about a kitchen stove.
Having a small appliance with you means you can now make one dish meals without much work or ingredients. It is also helpful to pack a few storage containers you can put the leftovers in to pack into the cooler or hotel fridge so you can simply warm up when needed.
Other kitchen tools that are helpful to have might include a can opener, a handheld milk frother, a small paring knife, a flexible cutting board and reusable ice packs for your cooler.
5. Food On The Go
- Grocery store protein ideas to pack before you go or buy once there:
- Tuna (in a pouch or canned) or smoked salmon
- Compliant sausages or hot dogs
- Compliant deli meat or cured meats
- Compliant grilled chicken breast strips (Applegate)
- Bacon – order yours here before you go
- Hardboiled eggs
- Peeled shrimp
- Rotisserie chicken
- Paleo friendly bars
A majority of these are all available in major grocery store chains or online.
Simple ideas to make Paleo travel life easier:
- Taco meat for taco salads
- Meatballs made and frozen ahead of time
- Breakfast sausages made ahead of time for breakfast or portable protein
- Tuna or chicken salads
- “throw-it-over-greens” meals using deli meat, sausages, chicken, hot dogs
- Use individual packs of guacamole, compliant salsa as dressings
- Pick up pre-prepped vegetables including baby carrots, broccoli, baby cucumbers, celery sticks for dipping/snacks/easy sides to meals
- Individual packets of Paleo dressings and sauces
- Add almonds or cashews to meals, or pack in individual bags for on-the-go
- Fruit that doesn’t need much preparing, like apples, bananas, grapes, berries and oranges
Simplify your meals and expectations. Sometimes you may need to eat your meals cool or room temperature, off a paper plate or paper towel, or you bought more pre-cooked options than you would if you were home. When travelling, it helps to remove the idea of what a meal is supposed to look like. There is no need for glamour or social media worthy fare, it simply has to work for YOU.
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6. Remember To Move
Staying active can be difficult while on the road, since travel often involves long periods of sitting (whether in planes, trains, or automobiles). Exercise stimulates the immune system, releases endorphins (feel-good chemicals), and keeps your brain functioning well. To stay active during travel:
- Head to the hotel fitness center. When booking your hotel, do your best to ensure it has a good fitness center or at least a connection to a nearby fitness.
- Walk as much as possible. When in a walkable city or town, walk to appointments, restaurants and the like rather than taking a cab.
- Do chair squats. Doing some chair squats to give your muscles some stimulation before.
7. Keep Things Clean
One of the biggest challenges of air travel and crowded areas, especially in our current environment, is protecting against bacteria and viruses. Being on an airplane with people who may be coughing and sneezing is a great way to get sick. This is one of those times when frequent hand washing (or use of hand sanitizer) can make a real difference and help keep you well. Keep some hand sanitizer in your bag for those times when a faucet and soap are not available.
8. Rest & Enjoy
Rest is as crucial as exercise to maintaining your Paleo lifestyle while on the road. Travel is inherently stressful, and it can be difficult to find some time to relax. Schedule periods of rest into your day, just as you would schedule any other appointment or commitment. This way, when things get busy, as they always do when travelling for work or play, you get a little reminder on your phone that tells you it may be time to make a few minutes to take a break.
Do your best to get a minimum of 7 to 8 hours of sleep on when away, just as you do when at home. This may not always be possible, but it will make a huge impact on maintaining your health.
Manage your stress. Things may fail to go as planned, like delayed or cancelled flights or hotel mix-ups and bad food experiences. Rather than struggle against things that are beyond your control use these unpredicted events as opportunities. These might be opportunities to catch up on phone calls or emails, move around a bit or explore the area you find yourself in.
Bonus Tip: Keep It Real
You want to enjoy your travels and focusing on the minutiae of your Paleo lifestyle can take away from that experience. Be okay with doing the best you can with what you have. If you find yourself starving and feel shaky and agitated because you have not eaten, and there is no 100% Paleo-friendly food available, make the best choice with what is available rather than feeling miserable until you can find the ‘perfect’ option. Most places now have options including things like a salad with some chicken on top or perhaps a burger with no bun and some lettuce and tomato. This may not be ideal, but it will make do. Similarly, while you may not have time for your full exercise routine, even doing 15–20 minutes of activity in the gym or going for a walk will often make a huge difference in how you feel that day.