Nutrition Articles

Healthier Ways to Eat When Traveling

Smart Substitution: Foods for the Road

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It’s hard to eat healthy on the road. You’re driving hours to your final destination and the last thing you’re worried about is what you’re eating. All too often people focus on arriving as quickly as possible and overlook taking care of their own bodies. And it leads to exhaustion before you even arrive.

There are many tactics at your disposal to ensure a refreshed and invigorated feeling when you arrive. Believe it or not, nutrition is pretty basic. Step No. 1 – drink plenty of water. Dehydration can cause fatigue and make you feel just plain lousy. Yes, this will mean more rest stops and bathroom breaks. Trust us, it will be worth it in the long run. As a special note, alcohol causes dehydration. Drinking alcohol on the plane (or even the night before your trip) is not the wisest course of action. If you do order a glass of wine or two, make sure to match every drink with an extra cup of water.

Try eating an extra-healthy meal the night before leaving. Your body will be better prepared to handle the rigors of traveling. Load up on foods you think you might be skimping on during the trip, such as fruits and vegetables. Don’t go overboard on the calories; just make sure you’re getting as much out of your meal as you can, nutrient-wise.
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About The Author

Liz Noelcke Liz Noelcke
Liz is a journalist who often writes about health and fitness topics.

Member Comments

  • Tanks. Great info for flying. Where I fly for two hours. - 9/23/2013 4:55:23 PM
  • We travel mostly by motorcycle so rules are very different. Stopping to use the bathroom takes forever (lots of gear to unpeel in a small space) and no time for restaurants, just something at the gas station while passing through. Got to keep rolling! - 12/24/2012 7:49:23 AM
  • RIGBY31
    For the first time, I bought a fruit/cheese/bagu
    ette "box" at the airport before boarding. Wonderfully fresh, and I felt terrific when I landed late at night. No fast food hunger pangs. - 8/4/2011 3:06:58 PM
  • JQUINN10
    It's important to remember that if you're leaving the country, to check to make sure what's allowed and what's not. Fresh fruit and vegetables are not likely to be allowed to be brought in to an overseas country! - 8/2/2011 2:13:20 PM
  • We have done a lot of traveling this summer (new grandbaby), and have had to think about this. A few people have already mentioned my favorite tips. I always get dehydrated on long road trips. We take Nalgene bottles with us and refill whenever we stop. The water mix-ins (Crystal Light, Lipton Green Tea, etc) are great, especially if the water isn't the best. We also pack lots of healthy snacks, pre-portioned (either packaged that way, or measured out in baggies). I have a tendency to mindlessly munch once I open a bag of something, so this helps me keep from overdoing it.
    I added a few new ideas this summer. I always take restaurant coupons with us to save on expense. This year, I looked up nutrition info ahead of time, so when we stopped, I knew what I wanted to order. Most restaurant portions are way too big, so I generally eat half and take the other half home for another meal, but not while traveling. This year, we took a cooler for leftovers so I could do that. The 2nd half of my meal could become dinner or a snack at the hotel. - 8/2/2011 1:59:16 PM
  • This article is great, and the information in the comments is super helpful! Next time I fly I will be sure to bring an empty water bottle! :) - 7/9/2011 11:09:14 AM
  • Whenever I fly, I bring AT LEAST one (usually two or three) empty water bottles through security and fill them up at the water fountains. 1) I hate buying bottled water, it's an environmental disaster and since I'm traveling by plane, I'm already putting a huge hole in my eco-footprint; 2) I got really dehydrated on a long flight once and was lethargic for days; 3) I drink a lot of water.

    Food is a little harder on flights, but fruit leather is a favorite of mine, as well as trail mix and fresh fruit.

    When driving, I drink A TON of coffee, so I drink lots of water to counteract the dehydration. When I inevitably have to make a bathroom stop, I buy some nuts, a V8 and fruit...and more coffee, heehee. V8 is great for road trips! Get your veggies while on the road! When I think far enough ahead (which is rare, let's be honest), I refill the small 12oz bottles with the low-sodium store brand to minimize packaging and keep sodium down. - 3/26/2011 10:55:50 AM
  • This article is good not only for those on roadtrips, but also those of us who (a) commute a lot, and (b) drive at work! Thanks! - 3/26/2011 8:32:52 AM
  • KRIBOSA1
    If you are flying choose fresh fruit! My husband and I travel transatlantic several times a year and on the last trip I decided to order the fruit meal because I always crave fresh fruit on the flights and feel terribly dehydrated. I know you are supposed to drink lots of water but the water on the flight tastes disgusting to me and I won't buy more than one bottle of water inside security on principle - what a markup! Anyway my husband and I felt much better when we arrived at our destination, better hydrated, less bloating and gas, even the jet lag seemed to not be as bad and also did not last as long. - 8/27/2010 12:59:17 PM
  • Want a good laugh? When DH and I are running errands and will be gone most of the day, we pack a little cooler with hard-boiled eggs, Fiber Bars, cheese sticks, grapes and other fruit, water bottles and celery or carrots. We prefer to munch as driving from place to place and then don't have that sodium laden food you get in restaurants. On longer trips we pack sandwiches and more foods.
    DH says eating smaller amounts as he drives keeps him more alert. - 8/4/2010 2:01:14 PM
  • 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 :) - 8/2/2010 11:33:03 AM
  • 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. - 8/2/2010 9:04:07 AM
  • 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. - 8/2/2010 7:56:20 AM
  • 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. - 12/14/2009 12:13:27 PM
  • GIANT-STEPS
    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. - 11/28/2009 12:47:33 PM

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