It can be tricky to stay healthy while you’re on the move.
If you’re used to making your own healthy meals at home, eating at restaurants during travel can upset your routine, and it might be tempting to ignore your dietary and nutrition needs altogether and just let yourself indulge!
After all, you can get back to healthy eating when you get home… right? Maybe.
Before you totally treat yourself, though, consider the stress you’ll feel at the idea of having to “make up for” your travel eating with perfectly clean meals when you get home.
In the long run, it might be easier to focus on making good choices even when you’re traveling away from home to avoid that kind of pressure down the road.
If you’re dedicated to finding things to eat for your health while you travel, there are things you can do before your trip to make sure that you know what to eat and how to be healthy.
Explore these wellness tips that will help you stay on track next time you’re thinking, “What do I want to eat while traveling?”
Categorize your foods and meals.
Make a mental list of the foods that you’d absolutely like to avoid while you travel. That’s a good place to start.
While we try to avoid categorizing foods as “good” or “bad,” it never hurts to have a general sense of the meals that make you feel your best and the meals that make you feel not so hot.
And to get your ideas flowing to make this a little bit easier, Snacknation put together a comprehensive list of 50 Healthy Travel Snacks for Your Next Adventure.
Keep those in mind while you start off on your next travel adventure!
Learn about nutrients.
A big part of eating healthy is getting the nutrients you need in a variety of foods. Different foods have different vitamins and nutrients, which is why your meals should be varied.
The more you learn about vitamins and nutrients, the easier it will be to interpret food labels and nutrition-related wellness tips.
Lots of veggies, for example, have high levels of protein. With that in mind, if you want to avoid fatty meats at a restaurant, you can start thinking of your protein intake in terms of vegetables instead of heavy meat dishes.
Explore seasonal foods.
There are bound to be new health foods for you to try in the regions where you’re exploring. Learning about seasonal foods — especially in these areas — will help you anticipate your best options along the way.
They may even inspire you to bring some of these options back home with you!
Create a rough menu.
If you know where you’re going and what’s near the area, you can plan your meals ahead of time.
You may not be able to prepare your exact orders or grocery lists, but you can give yourself an idea of what you’ll eat so you can meet your dietary needs when you’re away from home.
4 Hacks for eating healthy when you travel
1) Choose restaurants carefully.
Many restaurants offer healthier alternative menu items, especially as health-conscious lifestyles gain attention. Even if restaurants don’t specifically offer healthy meals that meet your needs, you can still review their menus carefully online to find your next best option. Look for meals that you can tweak for better nutrition. If, for example, you’re dairy-free, find salads that look yummy and ask your serve to hold the cheese. If you don’t eat gluten, ask for your sandwich as a lettuce wrap.
You can also look for restaurants that meet your specific dietary needs. Specialty restaurants are only becoming more common worldwide, so there may be vegetarian/vegan, raw food, or gluten-free spots wherever you’re going!
Most people instantly think about Yelp when they’re looking to find new restaurants while traveling but check these out. Their Nowait App was recently renamed to Yelp Waitlist.
Our Favorite Free Apps to Find Restaurants When You Travel Other Than YELP
2) Find local grocery stores.
Grocery stores often carry cold pre-made meals like salads and sandwiches, along with fresh produce and hot meals that will be perfect after a quick turn in the microwave. As a general rule, deli sections can be a great place to look for ready-made healthier foods.
If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchenette, you can find everything you need with a quick trip to a local grocery store! Even without a full kitchen for preparation and cooking, there are lots of things you can make and eat in a hotel room.
That way, you can be sure that what you’re eating has everything you need and want in it. Cooking for yourself offers a bit more control than only eating in restaurants (though we encourage you to explore the local fare while on your travels!).
It may take a little planning, but it can make a big difference in staying on track with your health goals.
3) Make non-refrigerated meals and snacks.
If you don’t have a refrigerator and microwave in your hotel room, you can still take advantage of the grocery store to get things to eat for your health.
You’ll just need to be sure to get non-refrigerated meals and snacks! Get creative. Look carefully at nutrition labels for pre-packaged foods and snacks and check the ingredient lists.
There’s nothing like a good lentil salad or a scrambled chickpea pita. Mmm.. that sounds good.
For more ideas, explore these easy lunches that don’t need to be refrigerated.
Healthy non-refrigerated snacks can be paired with healthy lunch ideas at restaurants to make sure you get what you need to fuel your body while you’re traveling.
4) Keep an eye on portion sizes for indulgent meals.
Sometimes, you’re going to crave an indulgent meal while you’re traveling. That’s totally normal. You want to experience the local food, or maybe you’re celebrating with loved ones!
And if you don’t know about portion size, here’s a short, insightful video on why portion size really matter.
Go for it! Travel can be a once in a lifetime experience, and it’s okay to eat like it.
If you’re trying to stay on track with your health goals while you travel, keep those indulgent meals balanced with smaller portions or cleaner sides (like veggies instead of fries). You can also keep an eye on how you indulge by looking at your overall day’s intake.
And remember, if you have a rich, indulgent breakfast, try to find healthy lunch ideas and lighter dinner options.
Don’t neglect exercise
One of the most important wellness tips we can offer is to stay consistent with exercise, no matter how you’re choosing to eat while you travel. Achieving your health goals is about more than just nutrition.
Exercise is a key part of the process.
By exercising when you travel, you can stay on track with your progress instead of having to do extra when you get back. Even if you can’t stick to your normal exercise routine, there are lots of exercises you can incorporate while you’re traveling, and exercises that don’t need equipment so you can do them in your hotel room.
Along with bodyweight exercises, online yoga classes can be done from anywhere in the world. Since yoga is a whole-body workout, you’ll get everything you need from a good yoga session, and you can do yoga while you’re traveling, no matter where you go.
You’ve got this.
Even though traveling can change your routine and mean that you don’t eat the same things you would at home, you don’t have to abandon your diet when you travel.
Instead, you can look for healthy lunch ideas, dinners that meet your needs, and snacks you can keep without a refrigerator handy.
When you pair healthy food choices with exercise, you’ll be in good shape to keep making progress toward your health goals… no matter where in the world you are.
Be smart, but you still have to have fun trying new foods!
Ready to Plan Your Next Big Trip?