When I cook for myself at home, I stick to mainly fresh, whole, plant-based foods, but when I’m out in the restaurant world, I tend to splurge. How often do I come across house-made vegan cannolis? When on vacation, it can be tricky, because most meals are often eaten on in a restaurant. Staying healthy while traveling can be difficult, even for those who follow a healthful diet at home. It’s especially hard when visiting a vegan friendly city like Portland or Austin for the first time. With a little forethought and planning, it is possible to stay on the healthy track. Don’t deprive yourself, though – allow yourself to splurge for one or two meals while you’re out, because being a healthy vegan shouldn’t be about deprivation.
10 Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling
Pack Snacks – If you’re going to be traveling for long stretches of time in a car or airplane, make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks with you, such as fresh fruit and nuts. Sandwiches made with hummus and veggies or peanut butter and jelly are good to have on hand too, at least for the first part of your journey. I’m also a big fan of those little single-serving sized packages of nut butter as well just-add-water cups of oatmeal.
Check the Airport – If you’re going to have a long layover or you have an early morning flight in a strange city, take a look at the airport’s website before you leave. Most airports have websites that list their eateries, so you can check for healthy options before you travel. This has worked out really well for in the past when flying home super early in the morning. I’ve been able to find places in the airport with vegan options that I’ve picked up for lunch on flight.
Research and Plan Ahead – Check out what restaurants are the areas you’re traveling through and where you’re staying. If you forget to check ahead of time, there’s always the Happy Cow app., which will let you know where the nearest veggie-friendly is. It will also help you find the local health food store if you’re in a pinch.
Start with Salad – To avoid overeating and filling up on foods that might not be so healthy, start with a salad as your appetizer. Greens and raw veggies are the mainstays of a healthy diet, so you’re assured to be getting some nutrients in your meal. It will also help you feel full, so that even if you did order the totally loaded vegan pizza for your main course, you’ll be inclined to eat less it, and you may just be too full for dessert.
Load Up on Veggies – While perusing the menu, take note of the most veggie heavy dishes and order one of them. This is kind of a no brainer, but it can be easy to skip over the vegetables when eating at a never-been-to restaurant that might serve things we don’t normally see on a menu like vegan corn dogs and seitan cheesesteak sandwiches.
Just Say No – It might be tempting to go for that buffalo soy curl sandwich on the menu because you know that no place close to home can make it, but it’s not necessary to order it. If you’d really like to try it, ask someone dining with you if they’d like to split it along with a meal-sized salad. The same goes for dessert. You don’t need to buy a dozen vegan donuts just because they’re there. If you’re adventurous in the kitchen, take note of the ingredients and consider recreating a healthier version of it once you get home.
Hydrate – It can be easy to become dehydrated while traveling. No one wants to be that person who gets up to use the bathroom 5 times on a three-hour flight or have to pull over every 45 minutes and find a rest stop, but hydration is important to staying healthy and drinking water can help curb cravings. Bring your reusable water bottle with you, remember to fill it and drink from it when you can.
Stay Active – Since we do tend to overindulge while traveling, it’s a good idea to stay active to help burn the extra calories we’re consuming. Take a walk and soak in the scenery, go for a hike, or just hit the gym at your hotel.
Hit the Hay – Make sure you get plenty of rest while traveling. When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies tend crave sugar and simple carbohydrates to help fuel us through the day. Exhaustion almost always leads to overeating, so try to stick with your regular sleep schedule, if possible.
Stay Mindful – While traveling to a new, vegan-friendly city, it be tempting to go totally hedonistic and over indulge. It’s okay to sample some of the local eats, but keep in mind how you eat at home and try not to stray too far. Consider the consequences of what you’re consuming: Will you be up all night with acid reflux? (Yes, that’s happened to me in the past.) Will excessive eating lead to weight gain? Will you feel awful tomorrow? Think about what you’re eating (or ordering) and ask yourself “Is this what I really want?”
How do you stay healthy while traveling?