how to eat healthy while traveling

Nowadays, it feels near impossible to eat healthy while traveling.

Whether driving, flying, taking a train, or riding a bus, the experience is usually exhausting. Couple it with the fact that there’s a huge lack of healthy fast food options, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to end up with a greasy hamburger and sugary coke. Or a Taco Bell burrito. Or Panda Express general Tso’s chicken.

While flying home this past week, I found myself surrounded by fast food restaurants that left something to be desired.

I’m a personal trainer and self-proclaimed fitness fanatic. So while you’d think I’d have figured out how to circumvent these unhealthy temptations, I found myself very ill-prepared.

Although I brought a snack bag of baby carrots and an apple, my lunch wound up being chicken nuggets and fries from Wendy’s.

And I couldn’t help but feel a little bad about it.

Sure, I don’t often eat that way, but my healthy eating habits have already been sliding due to the approaching holidays.

I’m a personal trainer – shouldn’t I be able to combat the convenience and temptation that is fast food while traveling?

So I’ve spent some time thinking about a game plan for my trip home.

After all, you won’t hit your healthy eating goals if you don’t have a plan of action. You need to be prepared when the barriers come your way!

So here are my tips for how to eat healthy during your next travel day!

Please note: Check with your physician before starting any exercise routine or starting any particular diet. See this Disclaimer for more details. This post may contain affiliate links. For details, please visit my Disclosure page. Thank you!

Post last updated: 5/18/21

How to Eat Healthy While Traveling

1. Pack your main meal

This may sound like a heck of a lot of work, but otherwise it’ll be your main downfall – as it was for me!

When it came time for lunch, I knew my healthy snacks weren’t enough. But as I walked around the terminal, I only found ONE healthy restaurant option – and the prices were the highest!

I just couldn’t justify spending $14 on a grilled salmon salad when I could easily spend half that amount.

So instead I went with a cheaper option that I knew would fill me up.

But you know what’s even cheaper? Packing your food!

Just like bringing your lunch to work, packing your airport meal will be loads cheaper and can be much healthier.

Here are my guidelines for pre-making your airport meals:

  • Make something that doesn’t need warming up
  • Include some vegetables
  • Use disposable packaging (which I don’t normally use, but this is so much easier for long travel days)
  • Make something you look forward to

For example, I LOVE Subway. Maybe it’s just the bread-y smell that hits your face when you walk by, but I think it’s absolutely delicious. In fact, I often go for sandwiches during airport travels. So why not pack myself a sandwich from home?

Better yet, purchase sandwich supplies a few days before travel so you can use the ingredients up. That way you won’t leave behind a bunch of food in your fridge!

Some other healthy travel meal options include:

Pasta salad

Bistro box

– Veggie salad with nuts/protein like this taco salad or this apple walnut spinach salad

2. Bring a snack variety

Of course you should also bring some snacks. There’s no easier way to justify a bag of chips than by having no snacks on you when that intense salt craving strikes.

Prepare by bringing snacks in all flavor varieties: salty, sweet, or maybe even bland. Sometimes my stomach bothers me during travel and it’s nice to have simple plain almonds or crackers to nibble on.

Some healthy snack options can be found in my healthy snack post.

And when in doubt, simply bringing fruits and vegetables is a great option for a nutritious, fiber-filled snack.

3. Drink only water and coffee

A big way I’ve improved my health and how I feel while traveling is by avoiding sugary drinks. While I used to be a big fan of the cran-apple juice in-flight, I now stick to plain ole’ water. Likewise, now instead of a flavored latte while driving, I go for simple coffee with cream.

Drinking fluids is extremely important while traveling in order to prevent dehydration – especially while flying. Sticking with water ensures you stay properly hydrated, while avoiding the high sugar levels of juices and sodas.

I’d also never tell you to give up your coffee while traveling either. But avoid getting sugary coffee drinks, as those will undo a lot of your healthy efforts.

4. Bring enough food

And of course, bring enough food!

I think that was where my eating when awry this last trip. My apple and carrots checked off the fruits and veggies categories, but I was missing protein and healthy fats – something that would fill me up and keep me satisfied.

So bring enough food covering all three macronutrients: fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

I probably could have stuck to my own food had I brought along string cheese, crackers, and some lightly salted almonds.

Make sure you have enough food to feel satisfied!

5. Bring food that will go bad

Another trick that’s worked in the past is bringing food that won’t last past the day.

For example, yogurt won’t be able to stay out more than a couple hours. This means you HAVE to eat it or it will go bad and you’ll waste it.

If you’re like me and you hate wasting food, you’ll have no choice but to eat it instead of purchasing something!

Similarly, cheese, salad, and sliced fruits will all need to be eaten on your day of travel. Try bringing some of these on your next trip and see if it changes what you eat!

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