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Eating healthy on the road is a real struggle for many travelers – even more so during the holidays. When you’re out and about, balancing travel logistics and holiday plans, a nutritious diet is the last thing on your mind. The easiest and quickest options include fast food joints, greasy diners and snack-packed gas stations along the road or whatever’s available at the airport. Unfortunately, these choices leave you feeling bloated and sluggish. Before you know it, you’ll have a couple of extra pounds to burn off when January comes along.
In recent years, however, restaurants and grab-and-go places began offering more nutritious options for travelers. Airports now have salad and smoothie bars and more diners offer “lighter fare” menu items. Even gas stations started selling organic trail mixes, hummus and crackers and fresh fruits.
While this is great news, we still have a long way to go. Such options aren’t offered everywhere you travel, which sometimes leaves you with a choice between that sugar-laden chocolate bar and an unnaturally bright red fountain drink you picked up an hour ago at your last stop.
Travelling can be unpredictable, so it’s smart to plan what you can before heading to Grandma’s house this holiday.
1. Have a plan!
You planned your itinerary, so why not plan your meals, too?
If you have an early morning flight, for example, eat a healthy and filling breakfast at home before leaving for the airport. Pack a sandwich with you for lunch on the plane, along with some snacks, such as an apple or trail mix, in case you have a lay-over or delayed flight. Just be aware of what foods are and aren’t allowed onto planes.
Also, know ahead of time when and where you’re eating dinner so that you don’t arrive overly famished.
2. Know your airports and your routes.
Some airports, such as O’Hare International Airport, have a handful of healthy restaurant options while others, like the one in Atlanta, have next to none. If you know this ahead of time, you can be prepared and plan your meals accordingly. If you’re traveling by car, know your rest stops! Just like airports, some routes offer healthy options along the road while others do not. If all you see are fast food restaurants for miles and miles on the map, eat a healthy and satiating meal before heading out and pack nutritious snacks for the road.
3. Pack for car emergencies.
Traveling by car is logistically easier to prepare for. Some trips, however, may take longer than unexpected due to standstill traffic, the car breaking down, or accidental detours. When you and your passengers grow hungry and impatient, you’ll be glad that you planned ahead. Keeping small snacks, such as pretzels, fruits, and yogurt in a cooler in your car can come in handy whenever you’re stuck on the road.
These simple tips are easy to implement and make a habit of! You don’t have to put a halt on your healthy lifestyle when you travel. With a little planning and effort, you can eat healthy no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
Jenn Giles, R.D., C.S.S.D. is all about health and wellness. She has over 15 years’ experience, including a dual master’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University. She is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). She supplements all of this with her spin instructor certification and USATriathlon Level I Coach Certification.
Jennifer is passionate about (actually, obsessed with) the sport of triathlon. She has been personally participating in triathlons since 2000 and running road races since 1992. She is a two-time Ironman finisher and has completed countless numerous marathons. She has been a member of Power Bar Team Elite since 2006 and competed as a member of the 2006 Aquaphor/Active.com Sponsored Athlete Team. She was ranked as USAT All American Honorable mention in 2006 and 2011. Jennifer does all of this along side of her husband, Patrick, who is an equally accomplished triathlete and runner. They try as hard as they can to do all of their training and racing together.
She will tell you, however, that her most important, most rewarding and most challenging job is as a mother of four. She knows first hand the challenges of maintaining optimal fitness, overall good health and achieving goals while raising a family - of which good nutrition is the cornerstone.
Most importantly, she knows how to motivate, inspire and challenge athletes based on their own abilities, strengths and everyday lifestyles. She believes there is an athlete in everyone - no matter what their abilities are – and if those abilities are manifold, then there is an even better athlete in there!