So far this spring (semester — I’m an academic, so my life is calculated not by seasonal transitions but artificially-imposed institutional ones) I’ve traveled to / spent nights in Manchester (NH), Newark, Quebec City, LA, Montreal, Boston … I’m on my way home right now for a blessed week+ stay at home-sweet-home before things start up again for at least a few more weeks with the planes and trains and automobiles.
Eating while on the road has been, as I’m sure you can imagine, a challenge. And I definitely haven’t eaten as well as I needed to have, because from Montreal to Boston I’ve encountered my arch nemesis, the common cold. Luckily I seem to be working through it successfully without things turning into a sinus infection. The stress from LA to Montreal and then Boston (with dissertation defense on the day I was home in between the two trips) was clearly too much for me, and although I tried to eat healthily through the whole time, I definitely made some compromises that I’m now wishing I hadn’t needed to make.
I will recover. Nevertheless, I still hate colds.
Anywho, I thought I’d share a few of my strategies for eating healthily on the road (although I didn’t always follow them), as well as a few things I’ve learned over these trips.
- You can pack a whole lot of food in a carry-on lunch container without TSA bothering you about it. And it can be a separate bag from your other carry-on and personal item. You can even bring liquids, if they’re fully frozen. So I’ve taken all sorts of nutrient-dense, healthy (and non-soy-fed) animal proteins and animal fats for my trips packed into my insulated lunch bag, and once even a container of coconut water.
- Fridges in hotel rooms, hostels, friends’ homes, AirBnB homestays — these are my friends. If there’s a fridge, I can bring food, and I can buy food. Not only does this save money not eating every meal at a restaurant, but it also means that I have more control over what I’m eating. Even if I don’t have access to a kitchen, not having a fridge is the biggest obstacle to eating healthy while traveling, in my opinion. Ice and coolers would have been way too much of a hassle, with as busy as I’ve been on my trips.
- Health foods stores are also my friends. Well, sometimes. The health foods store in Quebec City, I have to admit, was a bit of a let-down, given the pretty heavy vegetarian/soy focus and the lack of much organic produce at all (oh, and no kombucha OR coconut water). Nevertheless, they did sell Caldwell’s cultured veggies, which I was pretty excited about!
- Drinking a bottle of fresh-squeezed juice (made the night before and stuck in the fridge) before a plane flight and taking a dose of spirulina afterwards seems to be a pretty effective means to combat the negative effects of flying — i.e. too many people, lots of nasty germs in stuffy air, radiation exposure, stress … I didn’t get my present illness in connection to a plane trip, I got it as part of a driving trip (and probably from one of my students, I’m guessing!) — so clearly I need to get better about this routine for all trips!
- Canadian meats, at least those served at upscale restaurants and sold at farmer’s markets, don’t seem to have been fed soy. I can’t say of course that I tried ALL the meats available. But of the ones I tried, I don’t think I had any that caused me to have my characteristic soy reaction.
- It is definitely possible to fast in order to deal with a cold/sinus infection while on the road (not the first time I’ve done this, although actually I think it was easier in Russia!). It may not be possible to juice fast (although if I’d needed to, I would have found organic lemons, maple syrup, and cayenne to do a Master Cleanse — I seem to be managing without having to do that though, luckily, because that fast is pretty brutal on the gut but helps a lot with my sinuses), but it is most definitely possible to do a raw fruit and veggie fast. I bought myself a bag of organic oranges at a local grocery store halfway between Montreal and Boston and pretty much exclusively ate those for a day when I first came down with the cold.
- Although it’s not ideal, spending the money for bottled water — especially if you can find spring-sourced mineral water — is definitely worth it in order to avoid unfiltered tap water. I find that I just feel better when I’m drinking cleaner water. Although I’m not so sure that it was worth paying for at the DFW airport while I was stuck there for a layover, considering that CocaCola seems to have a monopoly over all drinks sold in that entire airport (literally there was ONE option for water everywhere — and I looked!).
- And as a corollary to the above, try not to drink too much water (contrary to conventional wisdom), especially if you aren’t sure where it came from. I’m going to have to write a post about this at some point in time later, but in general, aside from a cup of hot water with lemon in the morning, and a few sips throughout the day, I try to limit my water consumption. I’ll even favor a glass of wine or hard cider with dinner instead of water.
- Non-perishable basics: Coconut oil, celtic sea salt, powdered (Bernard Jensen) gelatin, and Concentrace Minerals (in a 2oz bottle) always come with me on my trips — even if I can’t find edible food, I can get by for a while just on coconut oil, I can sprinkle sea salt and gelatin on vegetables (raw or steamed) to make a more complete meal (even better if I can get some actual real butter alongside, although that can be asking a lot in some locales…), and I can add the trace minerals to whatever I’m drinking (or rub it on my skin when I’m changing into my PJ’s) to keep me going (calmly and well-rested!).
What are your stay-healthy, eat-healthy traveling tips?
Photo Credit: Mike Miley on Flickr
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