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Healthier Ways to Eat When Traveling

Smart Substitution: Foods for the Road


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  • This article came at the perfect time! I'm going on vacation next week and I'll be stuck at the airport for a long layover. I never thought to plan out snacks or meals, but it seems like such an obvious good idea! I plan on taking Clif bars, water mix-ins, an (empty) water bottle ;) and some fruit. Not only will I eat healthier, but my wallet will thank me for not spending $5000 on a fast food airport meal! Haha :)
  • When I travel by plane, I always take a metal water bottle which I fill up after getting through security. Always pack a few cliff bars (or the like) in my back pack because you never know if you will have a late connection or some delay that does not allow you to grab something healthy to eat at the airport.
  • Just got back from a trip to St. Louis--went to Union Station and the Arch and got in plenty of walking--but overdid the calories and sodium even in better restaurants. Got dehydrated on the road there and to some extent while walking around, standing in line. I will plan better next time.
  • We just returned from a long weekend road trip to the cabin. I did not plan snacks in advance and ended up starving by the time we got to our destination. I made some horrific food choices once we got there. I will NEVER again leave without preparing in advance. It was a lesson learned the hard way.
    Airport food doesn't have to be that bad. Subway, Au Bon Pain, Manchu Wok, etc. all have pretty healthy offerings.

    I do bring a stash of Larabars when I travel just in case I find myself getting gnarly and can't find anything healthy.
    As I am going to be traveling via air next week, this article has been very timely. I was trying to figure out how to deal with my "2-hour" feeding schedule. Especially now when airlines are going out of their way not to provide anything to eat. Thanks.
  • Well it sure is important to plan ahead when traveling. I travel over 1,000 miles to see my mom....I take my cooler, and my planned mini meals. I eat about every 90 minutes, so see to it I have alot of protein , fiber and fruit.
  • As so many people have said, water is key and a cooler is your best friend. I drive to Las Vegas and St. Louis regularly from Denver. Pack single seving snacks in snack baggies. Water mix-ins (Crystal light, that kind of thing) help avoid the water blahs. I also bring soup or something like it that doesn't need to be refrigerated and heat it up in the microwave at a truck stop. I always buy something there like low cal hard candy or a black coffee or something. Some select rest stops have microwaves, too but they are few and far between.

    Check out the menus for fast food restraunts before your trip. You can usually find one or two items that aren't horrible (Taco Bell has a fresco line that's not too bad) and if you know how many calories are in that sourdough frisco melt burger you won't even be tempted to touch it. I travel with kids so we always end up stopping somewhere.

    Be careful about "healthy" snack foods at gas stations et al. Most of them are pure junk in a slogan laden wrapper- but you probably already know that from label reading at the grocery store.

    Eat small and often.
  • MZTEE3
    I too pack a cooler when traveling. My kids are all grown-up now, but we still sometimes go on road trips back to Slidell, New Orleans, and Houston and the packed cooler and plenty of water really helps! Thanks for the tips on carrying empty water bottles to refill when flying, and ordering diabetic or veggie meals on the plane!
    I'd be careful about assuming that granola, granola bars, and energy bars are healthy foods. Some are very high in sugar and fat and kind of defeat the purpose. Sugar-free ("natural", whatever that is) peanut butter on whole wheat crackers would be just as good, cheaper, and a known quantity. You really have to read labels if you're going with the bars.
  • When I fly I also take my EMPTY water bottle with me and fill up at a water fountain. It holds 34 ounces so I know how much I am drinking.
  • If you want to save a little money on water when you fly, I just recently discovered something. You are NOT allowed to take a water bottle through security that has any liquid in it, but you CAN take an empty water bottle through. :) So my last couple flights I take my own empty water bottle. Once past security I fill it up at a water fountain and save a ton of money! I don't know why I never thought of this sooner... :)
  • My relatives live 500 miles away so we take lots of auto road trips. I always take bottled water and a small tote bag of portable snacks (nuts, fruit, granola bars, etc.) and I take a small plastic bag for the trash. At vacation time, it has become a family ritual to picnic at a rest stop on the way to our vacation spot. We also rent a condo with a full kitchen. I don't cook on vacation but at least we can store fresh fruit and veggies, milk for cereal, etc.
  • My sister and I went to Hawaii some years ago. Occasionally ate out but the instant we got in headed to a large store and picked up peanut butter, a cooler, and appropriate fstaple foods to keep us going. We treated our cooler as a picnic kitchen. Cooler is good in tropics to keep local critters from joining in, and you can donate it to goodwill or some such before you leave. Hawaii and Alaska have great fun places to eat so once in a while out is great, but expensive, indeed it can be. So... we saved money and did some portion management from our cooler.
  • I just completed a three day drive from New Jersey to New Mexico, 2000 miles, with a friend addicted to fast food restaurants. I packed healthy foods and a case of water in the truck, but never opened the food because it was so easy to eat on the road.


    At a pancake house, the cook was willing to make me two poached eggs on a Romaine lettuce salad with excellent tomatoes, cucumbers and red peppers. The eggs acted as a salad dressing.

    At a taco joint, I had several tacos; I ate the chicken, beef, lettuce, and salsa and left the rest.

    We drank plenty of water and snacked on reduced fat cheese sticks from Kraft.

    On planes, I drink only bottled water and never, ever, use the ice which has a very checkered reputation.

    Regards, Bob

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