How to Eat Healthy While Traveling

How to Eat Healthy While Traveling

How many times have you been on vacation and said something along the lines of, “I’ll get back on track when I get home,” giving yourself permission to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, while disregarding any prior commitments to wellness, weight, energy, or health goals. We’ve all been there!

Here’s the thing – right now, Ross & I aren’t on vacation.  We have no current plans to return home, we are living and working from the road, and that removes the luxury of saying, “I’ll get back on track when I get home.”

Wherever I am, I am home.  

So as I travel around the world, visiting cities I am unfamiliar with, where I most often don’t speak the language, how do I still eat well?

This is exactly how:

Eat local.

The Portuguese are known for their fish, French for their cheese, Greek for their souvlaki, Japanese for their sushi, Indians for their curry, and Balinese for their rice dishes.

A quick look at Trip Advisor will highlight some of the best restaurants in the town you are visiting, and also make a note of the places that use organic ingredients.  Instead of looking for a place to eat that looks most familiar to you, be willing to try something new and eat as the locals do.

Only indulge once per day.

While in Porto, Portugal last week we had a green smoothie and sprouted toast for breakfast, some fruit throughout the day while we explored, then we’d indulge in some of the local dishes in the evening.

Porto, the home of port wine, has an absolutely stunning walkway along the water where all the wineries are housed and you can sit outside, have a glass of wine, and enjoy some local cheese and bread. I try not to eat hefty portions of cheese and bread every day, but I would have been acting against my hearts desire by not indulging – so I did.

The next morning it’s back to a healthy, greens based breakfast.

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When in doubt, opt for vegetables.

I may be really behind the times on this one, but I just discovered the app “Happy Cow” which can be used internationally, and highlights all of the vegetarian and vegan eateries wherever you are. Thanks to that app I found a health food store, a juice & smoothie shop, and 2 brilliant vegan buffets in Porto that I wouldn’t have found on Trip Advisor, a google search, or randomly wandering around town.

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Green Smoothie

Plan for air travel.

Once you get into the fluorescent light box of most airports, it often feels like the most appropriate thing to do is get an alcoholic beverage and eat something fried (I think it has something to do with the air circulation in there).

So when and where possible, eat a full meal before getting on a plane.

No matter how beautiful they make the in-flight meals look in the catalogs, they never look like that in real life.

For an in-flight meal I will often purchase or make a veggie sandwich while I’m back in the town I’m visiting, then stick it in my backpack to eat on the plane later on. 

Ask for recommendations.

Everyone knows that I’m a health-nut, so a simple Facebook post saying “Hey! Where should I eat in Rome?” will naturally lead me to a cafe with acai bowls, an authentic gluten-free pizzeria, a vegan gelato place, or an American breakfast cafe to find eggs and salad before noon (unheard of in Italian culture!).

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Vegan & organic gelato in Rome!

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Another word on Trip Advisor, did you know that you can search specifically for restaurants that are healthy, gluten-free, vegan, and/or vegetarian? When doing a search, simply click on “filter” and then “cuisine” and all 4 of those are listed as options.

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Volunteer on organic farms.

This might not be the best idea if you only have a week vacation, but if you are traveling more long term, organic farms are one place you know you’ll find the good stuff. In just a few days, Ross and I head to Tuscany for a month to volunteer on an organic farm in the country. Why? Because I don’t just want to tour a city, I want to participate in what’s going on there.

Also because I know I’ll eat well. I’ve been in touch with the volunteer host for the past few months now (of course I’ve confirmed the food situation a few times) and we’ll be eating all the veggies we could want from the land, local meat from their neighbors, simple breads, and spices.

Eating well while traveling isn’t an “oh wouldn’t that be nice,” it’s a necessity so we absolutely always find a way to make it happen.

AirBNB with a kitchen.

I’m all for an elegant hotel experience when I’m out traveling but your hands are tied when you are without a kitchen. You have to rely on the local restaurants or whatever they are serving at the hotel. I’m a huge fan of AirBNB and one of the reasons is – a kitchen!

No matter where you land around the world you can find a market and make something you know and love. Heck, maybe you even bring some quinoa from home (I’m known to travel with my own food).

I also always have Thunderbird Bars and Wildway granola with me as I travel because they’re compact and filling! When I run out, they’re always able to ship me more!

Avoid alcohol.

Since I’m on the subject of living healthfully while traveling, I want to make a note on alcohol. Americans alone consume 50 billion gallons of alcohol a year. Billion! I’m all for a glass of wine while I’m cooking in the kitchen or out for a special meal, but no one, and I mean no one, needs to be having 3,4, 5, 10+ liquor based drinks a day just because, “hey it’s vacation!”

Most of the time, alcohol is consumed not because you love how it tastes, but because it’s an escape mechanism.

So next time, take those moments when you would be pounding back shots and think about how you can create a life you don’t need to escape from.

Finding ways to stay healthy on the road is quite honestly my number one priority. All of the above have been serving us well but I know there are always more to discover.

Are there any tips or insights I missed? Please share them with us below!

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