Travel should be a time to indulge in food and drinks you don’t normally get the chance to. And no matter what your goals are, traveling often doesn’t have to be a barrier to making progress (or, as I encourage my clients to do, at least maintain the progress you've made!).
I love to travel, but I remember how stressful it used to be. I’d obsess over not having control over my food. I wasn’t present or able to enjoy experiences; preoccupied with how many calories I was consuming. My plan to stay on track and pass up the special, indulgent treats always backfired.
Now, as a registered dietitian, I teach my clients how to enjoy traveling while feeling great and staying on track to reaching their goals. I want to share five tips to feel great during any type of travel that don’t require putting any foods off limits!
1. PLAN AHEAD
This is the number-one priority when you’re getting ready for a trip that will prevent you from being stuck without any options, or even worse, getting hangry and into an unnecessary argument with your partner about where you should eat.
Plan a variety of shelf-stable, easy-to-pack snacks that are high in fiber and protein — since those are most often the nutrients that are lacking in our diet when we travel. Jerky sticks, GG Crackers, and Think 150 Calorie Fiber + Protein bars are a few of my favorites. If you’re on a road trip and can pack a cooler, or will be staying in a hotel or Airbnb with a full kitchen, you can do so much more with this first step!
2. HYDRATE Hydration is the one thing you can do that will have the greatest benefits for how you feel. If you’re flying, aim to drink 8 ounces of water for each hour you’re in the air. Did you know it takes 24 hours for our bodies to fully re-hydrate? Keep drinking H2O even after you land! I always seek out a grocery or drug store first thing and purchase a few liter bottles to keep around. You should drink at least half of your body weight in ounces per day.
3. NON-NEGOTIABLES These are VIP. Your non-negotiables are the special things you must try — often, they’re the foods you can’t get in your everyday life. I work with clients to set a goal of choosing one non-negotiable per day. This could be a meal (examples: you gotta have BBQ in Kansas, or if you’re going to an Italian restaurant that is famous for homemade bolognese); part of a meal (ex. the biscuit that comes with your breakfast); or an extra snack (ex. dessert or a fancy drink). Enjoy your non-negotiable food and/or drink! Outside of that, keep your meals balanced.
4. BALANCE Aside from your non-negotiables, everything else in the day does not have to be perfect, but be mindful of balance! Aim to include a carb, protein, fat, and fiber (preferably non-starchy vegetable) at each meal. The below image is a list of some go-to balanced “meals” when you have limited options at the airport or on the road, like Greek yogurt and a nut-based granola or a turkey and cheese wrap (swap the tortilla for GG crackers) plus fruit.
5. ENJOY YOURSELF
Don’t try to lose weight while you’re traveling. Instead, focus on maintenance and practicing good habits! Don’t stress if you have a day where nothing goes as planned — that doesn’t mean the whole trip is a wash. Remember, calories always do count, but
allow travel to be a time to focus on eating foods in the amounts that make you feel good. Take your time and enjoy every bite!
BONUS: MAKE A PLAN FOR WHEN YOU GET HOME
Don’t forget to make a plan for returning home – this step often gets overlooked. For an easy transition back to reality, I suggest keeping a few frozen options on hand, or even ordering groceries to be delivered when you return. I like to have at least one quart of frozen homemade soup or chili in my freezer at all times.
Motivate yourself to make choices based on feeling amazing, happy, healthy, confident, energized, and loving the way you look. This makes you want to stay on track during travel, not just feel like you have to.
It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling 10, 50, or even 90 percent of the time — as long as you maintain good habits at least 80 percent of the time, ALL the time. Try these tips next time you’re away, and tag me on Instagram (@olivia.ashton.nutrition) so I can be your hype girl!