It’s no secret that I travel A LOT. I am a Consultant, so it is literally in my job description. Good thing I like to travel – work or pleasure! Last month I flew 17,140 miles on Delta. That doesn’t even include my return from Italia.
Being that it’s such a big part of my life, I though I’d share some tips I’ve picked up for eating right on the road.
Top 3 Tips for Eating Right On the Road
1. Bring Airplane Snacks
Often on domestic flights pretzels or peanuts aren’t going to cut it for me. I’m notorious for having to run through airports, leaving no time to eat meals.
I like plan ahead and bring carrot, zucchini, and celery sticks on airplanes for snack. They can handle not being refrigerated for a few hours and are far better than a few peanuts (or nothing at all… I was shocked to discover that United doesn’t serve anything). That PB packet was from leftover from hotel strategy #2 below.
For early flights I like to BYOB. I’m usually scrambling to get to the airport at 7am and need to bring my own breakfast to the airport. Sorry Delta, but Biscoff does not a breakfast make.
Yogurt will make it through security. I recently enjoyed my homemade Sweet Potato Greek Yogurt on a 8a flight. Also, remember to save your old yogurt containers for perfect storage when making your own. It was soooo good.
Other BYO Ideas:
- Various bars or granola – homemade or store-bought; I like to take my Banana Nut Bars
- Fruit – apples, plums, and bananas all travel well – I find oranges are too messy and pears are too easily punctured
- Trail mix – avoid the $6 airport bags and make you own with nuts and dried fruit from grocery store bulk bins
- Sandwiches – sans meat if you can’t keep it cool; veggie wraps and PBJ travel well
- Chocolate – I always have a bite of dark chocolate in my bag for “emergencies”
2. ASK Hotels for Healthy Food
Often the only healthy option on hotel breakfast menus is oatmeal. When I order mine, I ask for banana or fresh berries as toppings in lieu of brown sugar and raisins. Even though I always have nut butter with me, I ask if to hotel has any. Many keep individual packages of peanut butter (pictured below) that I take with me for future use.
Sometimes I shake it up and order eggs. If so, I request half egg/half egg whites and that they be cooked with olive oil or cooking spray instead of slathered with butter. If there are veggies listed with other menu items (tomatoes, red pepper, spinach, etc.) I check to see if they can scramble those into my eggs. This request isn’t always met, but it’s worth a shot!
Dinner can be more of an adventure. Options are so limited in hotels! Typically I order a salad with grilled chicken – easy on the salt and dressing on the side. What is it with the over dressed, salty food?! I also check to see what the seasonal veggies are and order a side of those too, preferably steamed. With a glass of wine.
As I discovered this week on the cleanse, it’s especially hard to order dinner on a vegan diet. Without the option of my go-to grilled chicken salad I had to think outside the box to get a substantial dinner.
Again, the idea is to ask for help. Before calling down I read the menu to see what veggies they keep in-house. Then I called and asked if the kitchen had brown and/or wild rice on hand. Night one wasn’t such a success but…
The import thing is to be specific: the hotel line cooks aren’t going to be creative like you are at home. Read the menu and know what veggies you want from, specify how much rice is a serving for you (sounds picky, but it’s better than being hungry), and asked that they bring the oil and salt on the side. Know that may sacrifice on flavor, and circumvent that problem by asking for a side of red pepper flakes or herbs.
On night 2 this worked like a charm – my dinner was delicious. Though maybe not worth the $40 the Ritz charged for it.
3. Bring Hotel Snacks/Condiments
It’s a great idea to hit a grocery store once you arrive at your destination. However, most of my work trips are 1-2 days and I don’t have time or transportation (I prefer to taxi vs. rent a car). This makes it difficult, but not impossible to eat well. I’m also lucky in that I can expense food on work trips. Helloooooo room service!
All this to say I bring my own accoutrements to accompany my crazy requests mentioned in #2.
Tops on the “to bring” list is protein powder. You can check with the hotel kitchen, find a coffee shop (99.9% make smoothies now), or locate a smoothie place. They will be happy to make you a smoothie with your powder just ignore the weird looks. Before you leave home, pre-mix it with your favorite spice(s) (I always add cinnamon) for added flavor.
This trip I ordered 2 at a local St. Louis/Clayton coffee chain called Kaldi’s shop a block from my hotel – one for immediate breakfast consumption and the second one for a post-workout protein fix (sorted in the room fridge or in a bucket of ice if you don’t have a fridge).
Other must-haves on the road:
- Fruit – good snack or breakfast in a fix
- Nut Butter – to top your hotel oats or go with your fruit
- Granola or Cereal – if the hotel has yogurt, this is a great topping; I carried my Biscoff granola all over Italy
- Chia Seeds – use your fruit to make chia pudding in your room
- Stevia – my vanilla-flavored bottle is less than 3 oz, so I carried it with my on the plan in case I had to get more creative with the protein powder… and I did…
The most creative hotel creation yet occurred yesterday morning. I knew is was going to be hectic since my boss was now on the road with me and we had an early meeting and my room service oatmeal strategy wasn’t useful since oatmeal isn’t allowed on the cleanse.
I made an overnight breakfast pudding with my cinnamon-laced protein power and a banana from home. Just be sure you remember to save a fork and glass from room service to mush up the fruit.
Hotel Overnight Breakfast Pudding
- 1 banana
- 1 T chia seeds
- 1 scoop protein powder (pre-mixed with cinnamon)
- 5-7 drops Stevia
- Water, to taste
In a glass saved from room service, mush up banana with similarly obtained fork. Stir in remaining ingredients, adding water until fairly liquid (the chia will soak up the excess overnight).
Place in mini-fridge or in ice bucket overnight.
In the morning, stir and enjoy whilst patting yourself on the back for being so creative. 🙂
One more idea… if you’re taking a train in Italy, pack up some Prosciutto di San Daniele and bread sticks for the trip.
Do you bring snacks on the road?
How do you navigate not-so-healthy hotel menus and special dietary needs?