My Healthy Guide to Traveling
Summer means a lot of change and moving around. Whether you are staying in a new area or simply to just going on a vacation, summer typically means a constant state of flux. This summer in particular, I left town to study abroad for a month meaning new adventures and new foods! But, with that, comes the lack of comfort and routine that I have especially become accustomed to as someone who still goes to college in my hometown. Although I have never really been one to depend on a routine, I really did become accustomed to my Memphis summer and school year schedule and figuring out how to eat healthy and fresh foods no matter how busy I was. But, summer travels make that whole “feeling healthy” thing a bit harder.
In the past month that I was away for a study abroad program in Thailand, there were multiple instances in which I asked myself “what is the point of eating healthy when I am traveling?” Yet, I realized that without these fresh, healthy foods that I am so used to, I don’t really have the full energy to be my happiest, most energetic self - especially as a traveller! I am always that person who wants to do and see it all, but without some fresh foods, it’s not easy to have the energy to do that. So, here are some tips of about not only what I’ve learned about healthy traveling from my month in Thailand, but also what I’ve figured all of those vacations and road trips in which I do not have the comfort of a home and a routine.
Create a kind of routine for yourself.
My biggest advice for travels, especially if you are somewhere new for an extended period of time, is to create a routine for yourself. This past year, pretty much everyday started with a consistent breakfast (of either oats or granola bar) and some designated alone time for reading and writing. So, although this isn’t a strict routine, I try to carry on this with me wherever I am because it brings me a lot of peace of mind and helps me get ready to start my day. In Thailand, I typically made cereal in my room and then went to a coffee shop down the street for a coffee or smoothie and some time to read. Although this may barely seem like a routine, it really helped me adjust to the new place and ensured that I consistently had a filling breakfast, fueled for whatever activities my class had during the rest of that day. Although this idea of a routine may look different from person to person, I would highly suggest this for anytime you are in a new and uncomfortable place.
Getting there is always the hardest part of the journey. And for many, flying long distances is especially difficult. Personally, I have discovered that eating on the airplane always makes me feel icky. This is a pretty common thing too. When researching this before departing for my thirteen hour flight, I saw tons of other blog posts dedicated to different tips to make you feel your best on a long flight. Highest on these tips: try to avoid food on planes as much as possible and drink as much water as you can. In further research, I discovered that flights have been known to dehydrate you and, it is very likely that high altitudes make your digestive system not run as smoothly as it should. So, trying to avoid heavy airplane food during a long flight is really key to traveling success. In order to attempt to feel as good as I could after this flight, I ate a meal an hour before the plane departed and slept as much as I could while on the plane. While I brought a few snacks like granola bars and almonds for when I got hungry after I woke up, I tried to sleep for the duration of the flight and just got a meal when I landed at the airport. I got off of the flight feeling fresh instead of heavy as I usually do and just got a quick bite to eat as soon as I landed. In addition, I experienced barely any jet-lag on my way there and back. Obviously, however, listening to your body is necessary on planes as well as anywhere so if you feel like you need more food, then do not limit yourself from it! Also, airport food is expensive so go for the plane meal for sure if you’re wanting to save yourself that expense. My tip for eating the food provided on the airplanes is to avoid the meat options completely and try to eat some of the lighter sides before eating the more heavy parts of the provided meal.
Do your research.
For just about every trip I have been on, I am always the person who does all kinds of research to plan out tons of restaurants to try. To me, this always makes the trip so much more enjoyable when you already have some exciting restaurants picked out. In addition, picking restaurants in advance can help you by being able to look at the menu and price range in order to see what kind of options they have as well as budget for your day. Instead of just going to a restaurant hoping that they have something healthy, it is always nice to know what kind of food you are signing up for. Yelp is probably my favorite way of researching, especially within the United States. If outside of the United States, I recommend Foursquare, Trip Advisor, and, most of all, blogs. I find that blog posts of the city’s best spots are the greatest tool for finding some great local gems, oftentimes written by people who have lived in the area for an extended period of time unlike other sites like Foursquare in which reviews are typically written by short-term travelers. Doing some research in advance for different foods really helps a ton for finding some places with fresh and healthy options.
Bring lots of food and snacks.
Honestly, this is so key to having a fueled and enjoyable travel experience. Especially on a road trip, it is so important to have lots of snacks such as apples, nuts, bananas, carrots and hummus, etc. in order to avoid the inevitable “highway hangriness.” When stopping at gas stations, it always makes such a difference to my road trip mood when I choose some nuts or an apple as opposed to other more processed foods. I would also very much recommend packing a couple of meal options such as some light sandwiches just in case it is hard to find anything other than McDonalds and Burger King while on the road! In addition, if you on a trip in which you are touring museums for a lot of the day, I would definitely suggest always having a granola bar or another snack on you at all times as it can be difficult to fully enjoy your experience if you are hungry the whole time. Having a healthy snack with you in your bag will help you stay fueled while traveling and will encourage you to not grab an unhealthy food out of desperateness. I also bring granola bars on pretty much all of my shorter trips in order to save some money on meals.
Bring a reusable water bottle.
Drinking enough water is definitely my biggest struggle. Especially when I don't have Memphis tap water around, I really don’t drink enough at all. So, I would for sure recommend bringing a reusable water bottle on your road trip or flight so that you can refill it wherever you are able to, especially if the tap water isn’t great. This will also help reduce your use of plastic water bottles so that is always nice. :)
On busy travel days and touring days, it is so important to have at least a loose schedule for your day, especially for meals. If you are going to a particular museum before lunch, I would recommend researching some restaurants in the area to go to so that you are not just scrambling around trying to find somewhere to eat afterwards. Planning ahead for your meals will make the overall experience a bit more enjoyable, helping you avoid the post-museum or travel day “hangrinesss.”
No need to stress over it.
Never, ever let attempting to eat healthily while traveling taint your experience in a place in any way. While I find that eating nutritiously helps keep me energized during a trip, this does not mean that you should skip out on the amazing looking dessert or the deep-fried local delicasy. Taste is one of the best ways to fully experience while traveling, and I hope this post will help you better navigate ways to allow food and exploring to blend together in a fresh, delicious way. I hope that everyone has great summer travels!!