For the budget traveler, cheap junk food is tempting: You can get so much deliciousness for so little money. But too many greasy, sugary meals will leave you feeling weighed down. You’ve invested time and money into your trip, so it’s important to eat well so you’ll feel good and be able to fully enjoy your travels. These 5 tips for eating healthy while traveling will help you enjoy the local cuisine without overdoing it.
Top tips for eating healthy while traveling
1. Plan Ahead
Whether I’m traveling or at home, I often make poor food choices when I don’t plan ahead. Spend a few minutes at the beginning of the day looking at your itinerary and thinking about where you can find quality food. If you don’t think you’ll have many options during the day, stop and pick up something healthy on the way — a sandwich and fruit doesn’t take up much room in your bag. Not only will it ensure you have a healthy meal, it can help you save money, especially in touristy areas where restaurants are expensive.
2. Bring Healthy Snacks
You never know when you’ll get stuck in an airport or a train terminal and have few or no options for a healthy snack. By carrying granola bars, instant oatmeal, and other healthy snacks, you can make sure you have something to hold you over if your trip gets unexpectedly stalled. Add healthy snacks to your packing list.
During my first trip overseas, my best friend and I got stuck on a train for over 24 hours and the canteen was closed. The only food we had was pretzels and Nutella, which is great for a snack but terrible for three meals in a row. We learned our lesson. It’s always a good idea to have a few snacks on hand in case the unexpected happens.
3. Shop at Grocery Stores
Grocery stores are great places to get food while traveling. You can stock up on healthy snacks or ingredients to make quick and easy meals in your hotel room. Plus, they offer great insight into the local culture and eating habits. You can also hit up the deli in the store for healthy meal options. They’ll often sell pre-made sandwiches and wraps that are cheaper, and usually a little healthier, than what you would find at a fast food restaurant.
4. Eat a Hearty (and Healthy) Breakfast
Even if you’re not a huge breakfast eater at home, eating a healthy breakfast while traveling will ensure you have enough energy to get through the day. Pick up some essentials at the grocery store. Most hostels have a communal fridge where you can store yogurt, cheese, and other perishable breakfast foods. Even if you don’t have a fridge, you can keep fruit in your room. Peanut butter offers protein and is great on bread or crackers for a quick breakfast (though it’s hard to find abroad, so you might want to bring some from home). Making breakfast in your room is a great way to make healthier dining choices and to save money. Plus, you’ll save some calories for splurging later in the day. If you’re staying somewhere that offers continental breakfast, steer clear of the sweets and stick to whole grains, yogurt, and fruit that will give you energy for the day. It’s fun experiencing the cuisine in other countries. We loved breakfast in Argentina.
5. Remember Moderation is Key
Splurging is allowed when traveling (it’s your vacation, after all), but make sure you splurge in moderation. A tarte tatin in France or a gorgonzola empanada in Argentina is fine, so long as you balance that with healthy foods. If you know you’ll be having a big dinner, opt to make breakfast in your room and have a sandwich and fruit for lunch. If you indulged in french toast and cinnamon rolls at your bed and breakfast, grab a salad at lunch. You can have a fantastic culinary experience without overindulging.
Eating healthy on the road has its challenges, especially with fast food beckoning… it’s tried, it’s true and it’s often cheap. But take some steps to eat local and learn more about the culture where you are visiting.
Eating healthy while traveling can definitely be a challenge. See what works best for you as the best tip is something you will actually do to stay healthy. What are some ways you eat healthy while traveling?
image credit: chad_k