There’s a reason that highways and airport terminals are decked out with signs for fast, greasy food. Marketers know that our options are limited when we travel, so they capitalize on stressed out moms and dads with tired kids.
A good strategy for avoiding the pitfalls of travel eating is to have a game plan – and to recognize that the best plans can be completely undone in a matter of moments. As you make plans for one last summer trip before back-to-school time, take a look at our nine travel tips for healthier eating while traveling:
- Eat before you go. Now, maybe you’re not a morning person, and you’ve got a 6 a.m. flight. But we’re betting that a bowl of granola and yogurt at home will keep you fuller, longer, than that huge bagel at the airport. You can even pack your breakfast as long as it goes through the X-ray machine before you board your flight.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation means that we’re less focused, we have a harder time driving, and making good decisions about what we eat doesn’t come easy.
- Pack and plan your snacks. Understandably there’s some confusion about TSA guidelines. But you can absolutely bring your own snacks. Knowing you have food in hand—whether you’re on a plane or in the car—makes a big difference. Opt for high protein and fiber snacks like nuts and dried fruit. And if you’re driving who’s to say you can’t pack your own drinks? Pack some bottled water into a little cooler and you’re good to go. Feeling uninspired? Try these 32 snack ideas.
- Find out about amenities before you board the plane or get on the road. Whether it’s a concourse, an in-flight meal, or a truck stop, you have options when you travel. Just know what they are ahead of time, when you’re not hungry and fielding “are we there yet?” from the back seat. Many airlines also offer menus on their websites, so you can look up the healthy options before you’re on board.
- Keep hydrated and eat right the day before. Travel can be an exercise of patience, but it’s pretty tough on your body, too. Keeping hydrated and maintaining a balanced diet leading up to your travel—for everyone in your party—will help curb cravings and help sustain your energy.
- Be strategic. Avoid the crush of the truck stops and the food courts. Think about your food in terms of good fuel—you’ll want protein and fiber to keep you alert and full, and not sugary starches or carbohydrates that will let you crash later in the day. Don’t go for the full combo meal if you don’t have to. Save those calories for things that are worth it.
- Go for H20. Caffeinated drinks, sodas, and even fruit juices can be filled with unwanted sugars that will spike your blood sugar and leave you tired later. Plus, travel has a tendency to get you dehydrated. So grab water whenever possible. Bring your own canteen and stock up in between stops!
- Give yourself permission to splurge. Just don’t go overboard. Share that cinnamon bun, get a small fry, or consider a sugar-free variety of your favorite latte. If you plan your splurge you’ll be less likely to give up and go full junk.
- Move. Take a walk around the rest stop with your kids. Do some stretches. Explore the terminal. Being restless can make you hungrier—or think you’re hungrier—and movement helps you combat stress, too.