I travel quite a bit for work as a sports writer/reporter. I also have friends and family that hail from different parts of the country. That means I’m faced constantly with concession stands, airport food and Southern cooking. In the past few months, I’ve traveled to California, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Texas, and I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs sticking with my routine. I’ve realized what works and what doesn’t for me when I’m on the go, whether that be on vacation, a hotel for a week, or simply a lengthy afternoon car ride. Trust me, it all adds up.
Here’s the laundry list of some quick and dirty tips:
– Pack. My favorite foods to travel with: coco nutty granola, protein powder, green tea packets, nuts, boiled eggs, cucumbers, celery, GNC protein bars, GNC Lean Shake packets, Quest bars, and fruit. As a rule of thumb, I try to only eat protein bars as a treat, when I’m traveling, or when I’m surrounded by limited options. Sometimes I’ll make protein muffins or brownies if I’m traveling in the car. Unfortunately, peanut/almond butter doesn’t go through security at airports, but an empty water bottle will. So save yourself four or five bucks and use the water fountain.
(Above: A great substitution if you crave crackers or something crunchy! Low carb and tasty, found at Whole Foods)
– Get your workout in before you head to the airport or hop in the car. You’re 10 times more likely to get it done if you set your alarm earlier than if you tell yourself you’ll workout when you get there. Plus, it will give you the motivation you need to make healthy choices for the rest of the day (and trip) as well as the added bonus of endorphins.
– W A T E R — When you wake, before meals, after meals, before bed. Aim for 2-3 L per day both while traveling and while at your destination. This is the single most important thing you can do. Hydrating days leading up to travel is important too. – Airport food: Think basic. Avoid sauces, toppings, dressings, etc. Choose protein for the obvious reason that it will fill you up. Pre-packaged salads, apples and nuts are usually my go-to options if I’m in a hurry. Usually, I can avoid airport food altogether if I plan ahead and pack right. Tip: Skip the “food court” all-together and opt to get your food at one of the convenient shops that sell magazines and everything else you need for travel. Less temptation!
– Fast-food: Subway and Wendy’s have good salad options. Starbucks has steel-cut oatmeal and fruit. Chick-fil-A now has grilled chicken. Chipotle is super fresh. While at your destination… – Plan to workout every single day. Aiming to workout every day allows leeway for spontaneous/unpredictable things that occur during travel. Work out in the morning. You’ll feel better all day after working up a sweat even if means getting up earlier than you really feel like.
– Write out your plan the night before for the next day. Having a plan makes it so much easier to stay on track. – Keep a food journal. If you normally write your food choices down in a notebook but don’t feel like carrying that with you, just jot what you eat down in the notes section of your phone. This a big one for me and really helps me stay on track. – If at a hotel, I always see if they have boiled eggs at breakfast, and I snag a few extras for the rest of the day if I’m going to be on the go for the day. Same with any fruit options.
(Above: Manhattan Beach Marriott has such fresh and nutritious breakfast options!)
– I like to look up local, healthy restaurants if I’m traveling to a new city. You can Google phrases like “grass-fed burger,” “organic breakfast,” and “raw foods.” In Chicago, I hit up the Protein Bar, Chicago Raw, and DMK Burger Bar. All three different, all three equally amazing. Last week in San Antonio for the week, I hit Whole Foods as soon as I hopped off the plane to stack up on groceries (frozen berries, apples, lemons, cucumbers, boiled eggs, protein bars, green juice and pistachios) for the week.
– I will pack my Insanity DVD’s, run outside or at the hotel treadmill, do workouts on YouTube, or hit the gym at the hotel to use their free weights.
– Look up local workout classes. In Chicago since I was staying 1.5 miles walking distance from a pure barre studio, I squeezed in a class. In LA, I did my first soul cycle class and loved it! On a cruise in December my ship offered yoga, pilates and Fly Wheel.
– Press box food consists of hot dogs, doughnuts, and cookies. On Saturdays, I’m usually in a press box for close to 10 hours, so packing healthy food is a no-brainer.
Above: Homemade cashew bread that’s to die for and the setting at the Coliseum, recipe coming soon!)
– So, I tried In-N-Out while in LA, and I don’t get the hype! Maybe it’s the east coast bias, but I’d much rather have Cook-Out (milkshakes = out of this world) or Char-Grill.
– Indulge in your carbs/sweets later in the day if possible. When I start off in a non-healthy way, I tend to use that excuse to go off the rails for the entire day. Moderation when on vacation is KEY! You’ll enjoy yourself way more if you indulge here and there instead of devoting just one day to eating all sweets in sight all day long. Below is the (absolutely delicious but unhealthy) homemade red velvet cake with buttermilk icing I made for the 4th!
– Stick to wine/vodka/gin if you’re drinking alcohol. Avoid sugary cocktails if possible. – I know this sounds weird, but when I went to the beach for two weeks vacation this summer, I packed a loaf of Ezekiel bread and a frozen bag of coconut oil in my suitcase. I knew those two options wouldn’t be available at the grocery store near where I would be staying.
– Take advantage of your surroundings. Swim, hike, bike, etc.
(Above: Wish my home gym had a rowing machine, it’s such a good full body workout)
– Finally, don’t let your way of eating affect you or others in a negative way. Especially if you’re on vacation! It’s okay to stray if the opportunity just isn’t there to eat exactly how you envisioned on one or more occasions. Otherwise, it will make yourself and everyone else around you miserable. At the same time, don’t feel guilty for wanting to be healthy. Treat yourself on foods you truly want, but it’s okay to eat healthy the rest of the time!
(Above: Can’t beat it… Southern & sea food [and a mix of healthy and not healthy] >>> corn on the cob, shrimp, grilled tuna, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, cucumber/tomato/vinegar salad, pineapple casserole and a roll)
Bottom line: It comes down to preparation and making time… Packing the right goods for your type of travel, even it means leaving the extra pair of flats out of your carry-on in order to make room for an apple and bag of nuts… And, scheduling your workouts, even if it means waking up at 5:45 a.m. to hit the treadmill… JUST DO IT!