Tackling your nutrition when traveling

Updated: May 21

Now that the world is starting to open back up, most people are comfortable and anxious to get out and see the world once again.

As exciting as traveling is, it can be veryyyyy stressful at times. From flight delays, running late, traffic on the road, or any other unexpected outside factor that might pose as adversity in your travel plans, 9/10 something always comes up.

Since there are SO many things outside of our control when it comes to traveling, I always find being overprepared when it comes to food, meals, and snacks ensures I have at least one less thing to worry about if things don’t go as planned.

Plus, I’m not a huge fan of airport food or fast food on the road and find that it affects my digestion for days after (no one wants an upset tummy on vacation), so I tend to weigh on the side of caution and make sure I pack enough meals and snacks to last the whole travel day.

I even save a ton of money eating my own food either in airports or on the road that I’d rather spend on all the yummy food I’ll be having while on my trip.

Food shouldn’t be an added stressor when traveling. I always want to not only be set up for success during travel but also when I come home. The more prepared I am, the easier it will be to get right back on track, stress-free.

So whether you’ve got a big work trip coming up, or have a vacation planned anytime soon, today’s blog is going to be your go-to for travel tips in helping you navigate your nutrition whether you’re flying or driving.

Tip 1 Plan Ahead

As we’ve already established, traveling can be so unpredictable at times. There have been numerous times I’ve either been caught stuck in traffic on a road trip without any snacks or food or in the airport franticly searching for a Chick-fil-A because my flight got delayed and I didn’t pack any food for the trip.

I personally find that if I pack and plan snacks and meals for at least one whole day, even if it’s only a 3-4 hour flight or a 4-5 hour drive, I’m more prepared and know I at least don’t have to worry about getting food in the airport or on the road.

Also, those who know me, know that I get hangry when I don’t eat for a while, so I’d rather not make a scene in the airport :)

If you are going to be in the car on a road trip, or long commute, make sure you go to the grocery store the day before or whenever you can before hitting the road and buy supplies you need to make various meals and grab snacks.

Odds are you’re not going to be able to eat a full meal in the car, especially if you’re driving, so I always pack easy-to-eat on-the-go meals and snacks in a cooler. You’ll also probably not be able to heat up your food unless you use a truck stop microwave, so make sure you’re okay with eating that meal cold.

If you do need to stop to get food on the road, you can look for restaurants on the route you’re taking ahead of time, or plan to stop at a grocery store for something fast and fresh.

If you’re flying, you are allowed to bring your own food on the plane. However, you might have a little bit less wiggle room to work with because you won’t be able to bring liquids over 3oz in your carry-on bag. So this leaves food that would typically melt into a liquid off limits such as, yogurt, go-go squeezes, overnight oats, etc.

Again, I like to pack food and snacks to get me through at least one whole day in case of any emergencies or delays when flying. Just make sure your food is in an easily accessible location so that you can easily pull it out if asked when going through airport security.

If you’re not planning to bring your own meals into the airport and maybe just planning to bring snacks, you can always look up the restaurants in your terminal on your airport’s map.

Some of my go-to restaurants if I’m in a pinch either on the road or in the airport are Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Jamba Juice, and Panera Bread. I can usually find something somewhat nutritious that won’t upset my stomach on the road or on my flight at one of these locations.

If your flight doesn’t leave out early or you’re not planning to start driving until later in the day, nourish yourself before you leave. Have a breakfast/lunch that is loaded with protein and veggies/fruit so you’re getting in some nutrients before you leave.

Tip 2 Hydrate

Next up, we have a tip that is often missed because it’s so easy to forget to drink water while driving or flying.

I always make sure I have water with me at all times in a visible and easily accessible location. Either in my carry-on bag or in the cup holder right next to me in the car.

If you’re on the road, you have a bit more flexibility in terms of packing liquids. I make sure I have at least a gallon jug of water that I can use to refill my water bottle and have some type of flavored electrolyte drink in the cooler as well. I love the low sugar Body Amors, LMNT electrolyte packets, or LiquidIV packs.

When I’m flying, I pack an empty refillable water bottle that’s at least 24-32oz in my personal item or carry-on bag to fill after I get through security. I sometimes even pack two refillable water bottles depending on how long the flight is and how big my water bottles are.

Since you can’t pack electrolyte drinks for the flight, I pack the powder electrolyte packs in my bag to put in my water bottle and drink on the flight. Again either the LMNT electrolyte packets, or LiquidIV packs, but I also like the FitAid powder packs as well.

I know no one likes stopping every hour to pee on a road trip, or wants to be the person crawling over the people next to you on the plane to use the bathroom, BUT it’s so important to stay hydrated while driving and flying. It’s especially easy to get dehydrated on flights if you’re not taking in fluids regularly.

Shoot to drink at least 20-30oz of water prior to getting on the plane or leaving the house for your road trip and then another 20-30oz of water once you arrive.

I’d rather be “that” person than have a headache when I land because I’m dehydrated.

Tip 3 Packing Meals and Snacks

As mentioned previously, I like to pack whole prepared meals if I can for the plane, or for the road. Since there’s more room in a cooler on the road, I can typically make meals in Tupperware containers to eat as needed.

However, to save room in my luggage while flying, I put my food in plastic bags. You can use brands like ZipTop and Stasher that are reusable if you’d like, but plastic bags make it soooo much easier and save a ton of space in my purse or book bag on the flight.

As far as what foods/meals I typically make for the trip go, I go for meals I typically eat at home that have a protein, carb, fat, and veggie/fruit source. I personally don’t mind eating meals cold but keep that in mind when you’re traveling.

Some of my go-to meals include:

  • Sandwiches (turkey breast, avocado, lettuce, tomato, cheese, mustard, and bacon if I’m feeling really fancy)

  • Taco bag with ground beef, bell pepper, zucchini, rice, avocado, a little bit of salsa, and cilantro

  • Chicken nuggets with sweet potato fries and broccoli