Maintaining a healthy diet can be a challenge, and the unpredictability of traveling doesn’t make it any easier. The loss of your established routine, a lack of healthy meal options, and overload of tempting junk food can all make traveling a dietary mine field. 

Fortunately, with some preparation and resourcefulness, you can preserve those healthy habits you’ve worked so hard to build.

Whether you’re traveling by plane, on a long road trip, or have an extended hotel stay in your future, these tips will make it easier to stick to a healthy diet. 

At the Airport

Bring a personal cooler

People tend to dismiss the option of bringing perishable food from home, but with a personal cooler, its easier than you might think. The TSA allows most food through security. You’re also permitted to being gel-ice packs, as long as they are frozen solid.

Stay hydrated 

Hectic travel days make it easy to forget to drink enough water. The TSA liquid restrictions make it almost impossible to carry beverages through, and the dry air onboard planes doesn’t help. Even minor dehydration can be mistaken for hunger by your body, making it harder to refuse those complimentary in-flight cookies and chips.

Try bringing a reusable water bottle (or a few) with you and filling them once past security. That way you’re doing your part in sustainability, and saving the 7 bucks you’d spend for a single bottle of water in the airport.

Pack some protein powder

High protein foods and drinks are a great and healthy way to curb your appetitive. A whey protein shake is a simple and delicious option. With a few shakes pre-packed, you’ll be able to gulp down some nutrients and feel full. That’ll keep you from snacking on unhealthy junk food.

If your jumbo tub of protein powder is too big to fit in your carry-on, make single-servings with ziplock bags. We recommend you double bag them to prevent any leakage (and don’t forget the pack your scooper!). The TSA does not restrict your ability to carry supplement powders through security. Once you’re through, just mix with water. Easy! This will also save you from buying overpriced protein drinks inside the terminal.

On a Road Trip

Pack “just add hot water” foods  

The hot water dispensers at gas stations and rest stops are convenient for making healthy snacks like instant oatmeal packets, or pre-made healthy soup mixes. If you’re embarking on a long drive, these are a great way to stock up on affordable and (hopefully) healthy snacks.

Keep a cooler in the trunk

Driving may be less convenient than air travel, but it does have the benefit of extra space. A large cooler of pre-made meals and snacks will ensure you have an ample supply of healthy on hand. This convenience will also take the hassle out of finding places to eat. 

Just be sure to keep the cooler sufficiently cold. Replace with new ice when needed. Even if you pack pre-made meals that are meant to be eaten hot, it’s best to pack them cold to reduce risk of mold, bacteria or other spoilage.

Get enough sleep

The unpredictability that makes road trips so fun, is also what makes it harder to maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Even moderate sleep deprivation can cause hormonal imbalances that result in hunger and reduced impulse control. These effects make you more likely to reach for that gas station donut or candy bar.

At a Hotel

Request a refrigerator and microwave

Instead of relying solely on non-perishable granola bars and snacks, a fridge will allow you to have your perishable food with you and create hot meals just like home. These may cost extra, but probably not as much as you’d spend ordering in or dining out. Call ahead to ask if you can request a fridge and/or microwave, and for how much. If there is a charge it’s worth a shot to ask for it to be waived.

Don’t trust the Continental Breakfast

Even if your hotel offers a continental breakfast, don’t assume it will have any healthy options. You might find yourself stuck with deciding between going hungry or eating a sugar-loaded pastry; not a great way to start the day. Stock up on granola bars and fruit, and opt for low-sugar oatmeal over the pasties.

Book near a grocery store

Most hotels are located in “food deserts”, with mostly fast food options to choose from. Before your trip, take the time to look for hotels close to grocery or health foods store where you can stock up on healthy options. 

One final tip: Don’t let worrying about your diet ruin your trip. Eating healthy is important, but so is enjoying yourself and having fun. Try to recognize when its time to be flexible and just enjoy yourself!

Thank you for reading! Knowledge is power, and learning is key to living a better life.

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