Balanced Eating While Traveling: 4 Tips That Can Help

Traveling for a vacation or business conference can often lead to feelings of stress or being overwhelmed over what types of food to eat and what you will have access to.

However, traveling is supposed to be exciting and food can be a memorable part of the trip! 

In this article, I will be going over some of my best quick tips as a registered dietitian to reduce your stress about food and help you better manage balanced eating while on the road!

Use these four tips below to help yourself feel prepped and ready to go with your travel nutrition before your next trip. 

1. Plan Your Food Stops Ahead of Time

Planning your food stops ahead of time can help save you both time and stress when trying to decide where to eat and find food that fits your lifestyle.

  • Markets: You can find a lot of healthy food options in markets during your travels. Look for foods like hummus, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, sandwiches, and salads.
  • Local Delis: When eating at the local delis on your trip, choose whole-grain breads, and leaner proteins (like turkey and chicken), and load up on the lettuce and tomatoes for your sandwiches! To create a more balanced meal, opt for a veggie-heavy side such as celery sticks and peanut butter. 
  • Fast Food: Does your trip location only have fast food options available? Don’t panic! You can still find healthier options to manage more balanced eating here too. Look at the menus’ nutrient analysis online ahead of time to pick foods that are lower in sodium, saturated fats, and added sugars.
    • A few ideas are: grilled chicken patties, yogurt parfaits, protein-style burgers, chili/soup with whole-grain crackers
  • Restaurants: Trust me, you don’t have to get a salad for every meal while on vacation in order to eat more balanced! There are a ton of ways to continue to choose more balanced options like: 
    • Selecting vegetables as a side item
    • Adding a side salad with dressing on the side
    • Asking the restaurant to season your food with herbs/spices instead of salt or cook with olive oil instead of butter

2. Pack the Non-Perishable Foods

Snacks are a must-have when traveling! Be prepared for any trip by packing these healthier non-perishable foods:

  • Whole fruits (apples, bananas, oranges)
  • Beef jerky and Babybel cheeses
  • Pre-portioned nuts and seeds
  • Whole-grain crackers or pretzels
  • Carrot and celery sticks
  • Nut butter (peanut, almond)
  • Protein granola bars (hint: look for bars that have at least 10 grams of protein and little to no added sugars)
  • Pre-made trail mix

Bonus tip:

  • Buying pre-portioned food options can sometimes get pricey. If you are looking to save on costs and have the extra time, buy the food in bulk at Costco or Sam’s club and portion it into baggies yourself. 

3. Choose Foods from the 5 Main Food Groups

If you’re having a hard time trying to keep your eating balanced, think through your meal choices by comparing them to the five main food groups for healthy nutrition.

If you are mindful of what you are eating and how much you are eating, chances are your meals will be more balanced. Focus on eating meals and snacks that contain at least two of these healthy food groups.

  1. Fruits (examples: strawberries, apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, blueberries)
  2. Vegetables (examples: cucumbers, celery, carrots, lettuce, spinach, bell peppers)
  3. Lean Proteins (examples: eggs, chicken, fish, turkey, beans, organic tofu)
  4. Whole Grains (examples: whole grain bread/crackers, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice)
  5. Low-Fat Dairy (examples: string cheese, greek yogurt, low fat milk)

For snacks:

As a dietitian, I typically recommend my clients pair a protein with a carb/fat source for a balanced snack that will keep you full and satisfied. 

Check out one of my most recent Instagram posts that goes over six different balanced snack ideas while traveling!

4. Identify What Food Storage You Have Access to on the Trip

Identifying what food storage you will have access to while traveling can be a huge game-changer that is often overlooked. Make sure to call your hotel or Air BnB ahead of time to figure out what options you have while on your trip!

  • Refrigerator/Mini-fridge: Do you have access to a fridge? Great! Keep quick foods on hand so that you can easily access them when you are hungry at your hotels. Stocking up on some of the foods mentioned above is a great way to add more balance to your eating habits on the go.
  • Coolers: Going on a road trip? Taking a cooler is a great way to keep snacks and drinks cool during your adventures. Stock your cooler with water bottles, smoothies, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, greek yogurt cups, and more! 
  • Storage Containers/Bags: Packing storage containers can be helpful when on a trip so that you can save your leftovers for another day to help with prepping for later and proper portion control. This will save you money and help prevent food waste, so it’s a win-win! 

Balanced Eating Takeaways

The most important thing to remember when traveling is to have fun! Don’t let yourself become too stressed about food choices that could ruin your trip. Also, don’t forget to hydrate!

Keeping these four tips in mind will help you enjoy a trip full of balanced eating and still have a good time! So make sure to save this post for later. 

If you need some additional support and help with your nutrition, reach out to me, and let’s chat! I am currently accepting clients for my nutrition coaching program

Do you have a favorite travel nutrition tip or travel snack? Comment below!