Thursday, March 10, 2011

Let's Talk Travel Food :-)

I've spent my fair share of time traveling... driving from Scottsdale AZ to Coachella CA and back twice a month for years, then the various day- and vacation trips, and more recently to Ohio for the Arnold Sports Festival. In addition, I carry my cooler daily and it typically holds everything except dinner (and sometimes that, too!). Some days I have to leave the office to photograph a property, or run a variety of errands; that cooler keeps me on track and out of the fast food line.

You've seen on my Today's Cooler page, how my daily cooler works, and what Clean Eating looks like on an every-day basis. Today I wanted to talk about travel, and how to prep for it.

When I know I'm going to be on the road for an extended time (ie the Coachella trips... they take 4 hours out there, then waiting, then 3 1/2 hours home, repeat 2 days later), I pack my cooler. Typical travel eats include apples, grapes, string cheese, jerky (low sodium, no nitrates), sandwiches (for the family, because I generally don't do bread), wraps, raw chopped/sliced veggies, hard boiled eggs, granola, yogurt (greek), protein bars, and lots of bottled water. I'm not much of a shake girl, but you can certainly add packets (baggies) of protein powder to the list and just mix with water.

Packing for a road trip is really not much different than packing up my daily cooler, except that there's more food (more people). It's all the same stuff I normally eat, just with a focus on portability (and an eye toward saving the interior of my car, lol).

Packing for a flight and subsequent trip is significantly different, and more challenging. I spent a lot of time scouring the TSA website, Southwest Airlines site, and various internet traveler's resources to learn what I could bring with me.  Whether you're strictly carry-on or you're checking bags will make a difference, too, in what's allowed. Because I was carry-on only, here's what I brought with me:
  • Baggies of breakfast: 1/2 cup oatmeal (plain), 1 scoop protein powder, 2 tbsp ground flax, 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon. One baggie for each day (5 bags)
  • 1 baggie of sliced raw peppers (for my lunch)
  • 2 baggies of sliced raw cucumber (for snacks)
  • 1 baggie with 4 oz grilled chicken breast (for my lunch)
  • 1 apple
  • 8 protein bars (for the whole trip, as needed)
  • 1 qt bag of raw almonds
This provided all my food for the hours of flying & layovers, plus my breakfasts for each day of the trip. Once in Ohio, a Trader-Joes filled in the rest of my needs... chopped salad, hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit. In my case, a refrigerator was not available in the room, but Tracey had brought a big cooler (yay!), so that worked for us. Most hotels will provide a mini fridge either automatically, or upon request, so be sure to ask. If one isn't available, go hard-core! Take that laundry bag they hang in the hotel room closet and fill it up with ice, place in sink and put your perishables in there, then wrap up/cover with a hotel towel. Check your ice often and drain/refill as needed.

We used the coffee maker in the room to boil water for our oatmeal, but plain hot tap water (or straight up coffee) will work, too.

I was able to chat with Tosca Reno about travel foods and learned that traveling domestically is radically different than internationally. Sometimes even those baggies of oatmeal aren't allowed, and fruit/veggies are absolute no-no's. It makes travel more challenging, for sure!

If you're traveling, do your due diligence... research what's allowed, and what isn't. Research local grocers where you're headed. And if you're eating out once you arrive, go online and view menus - call the restaurants if you like, and ask how foods are made. The more prepared you are, the cleaner you can eat, and the closer you are to your goals.

Travel is not a reason to eat dirty - it's just a challenge, and we're bigger and stronger than the challenge!  :-)


1 comment:

  1. you got that right! it is not a reason to eat dirty. timely advice as I am going away for three days again this month. getting my goodies together so in a moment of huger i don't make poor choices.