When you’re traveling for work, it’s not always easy to access the fresh, nutrient-rich, home-cooked foods that you can get at home. But while it can be more challenging to find healthy options at an airport, train station, or in an unfamiliar city, eating to boost your energy, power your brain, and avoid a crash is not only possible but critical to achieving your performance and health goals.
We asked our Thrive community to share the small steps they take to prioritize nutrition and make healthy food choices when they’re traveling for work. Which of these strategies will you try the next time you’re on the road?
Look up the menu in advance
“Doing my homework and getting ready before a trip are key for me. Before my trips, I allocate around 30 minutes to study the dining options at the airport, hotel, and neighborhood I’ll be visiting. This allows me to discover healthy spots and menu options so I know exactly where to go, and what to order. Plus, it helps eliminate the real-time decision-making from the process to avoid unhealthy temptations.”
—Tahmina Day, M.B.A., corporate governance expert, Washington, D.C.
Bring your own fruits and veggies
“I have done a fair bit of traveling in my career, and I always bring my own healthy foods rather than relying on the airports and planes. These include fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, jerky, and even dried veggies. I dehydrate my own for travel, but other companies make healthy versions too, just check the labels first.”
—Scott Miller, marketing director, Wilmington, DE
Try intermittent fasting
“The best way I’ve found to eat healthy while traveling through airports is to fast until I reach my destination. The hurried pace in airports and the usual lack of healthy options readily available leads me to drink more water and plain coffee or tea. If you’re trying this for the first time, take a fistful of almonds with you. It’ll help get you through the hunger pangs! Drink lots of water, too.”
—Nate H., wind energy marketing professional, Boise, ID
Pack tea bags and a lemon squeezer
“My travel essentials include a travel-sized lemon squeezer, a ginger grater, and Rooibos tea bags. I have also found a light yoga mat that I squeeze into my suitcase no matter what! Yoga in the hotel room in the morning is non-negotiable for me.”
—Ildiko Haraszi, business change consultant, London, U.K.
Bring your own water bottle
“I’ve found that the key to travel survival is hydration. Get yourself a collapsible water bottle that you can pack in your carry-on. Some are hard shells, while others are more like a bag with a cap. Both work well, are easy to clean, and are earth-friendly. Fill it up before you board.”
—Scott Miller, marketing director, Wilmington, DE
Check out the airport salad bar
“When I’m traveling. I try to book a hotel that is close to a supermarket or grocery store so I can pick up some fresh fruit and have it handy for when I feel hungry. I often travel through Newark Airport, and using their salad bar and hot bar has been a lifesaver to find healthier options.”
—Lennis Perez, engineer and wellness consultant, Austin, TX
Visit the local grocery store for produce
“Local grocery stores always sell fruit and nuts, so I have good options on hand when I’m away from home. Occasionally, I make my own bars before I travel. Most stores also sell cucumbers, carrots, and hummus, so I can reach for something savory when I want to mix it up.”
—Ildiko Haraszi, business change consultant, London, UK
Request a fridge in your hotel room
“Sticking to healthy habits while traveling is a real challenge. As a road warrior on nearly 100 flights per year, I try to book a hotel where I can have a microwave and fridge in the room. I find the closest little market and grab a few healthy things to keep with me.”
—Jane Melvin, strategy consultant, Chicago, IL
Carry a bag of assorted nuts
“As someone with IBS, maintaining good eating habits while traveling is vital. When I am on the road, I make an effort to carry with me an assortment of nuts: almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. This way, I always have something healthy to grab. Eating while you’re on the road is never the same as when you are at home, but at least this way you can sufficiently maintain your good habits.”
—Rodoula Demetriades, leadership coach, Nicosia, Cyprus
Eat light on day one
“When I am traveling for work, I aim to eat light on the first day in a new place, especially if I am in an unfamiliar country where I am unaware of the food choices.”
—Arulnathan John, copywriter, Singapore
Pack foods with fiber and protein
“The key for me has been to pack foods that I really enjoy so I don’t feel like I’m missing out when I pass by airport restaurants or shops. My go-to options are green apples since they’re tart, crisp, and filling, and tuna. These are all portable, and they have fiber and protein to help keep me full.”
—Chioma Ihekweazu, health communication specialist, Atlanta, GA
Everything in moderation
“My small step to prioritize health while I travel is all about balance. Don’t always take an elevator when stairs are an option, and don’t always get the caloric meal option when something healthier is on a menu, too. ‘Everything in moderation’ is a good motto to follow when traveling.”
—Mikkel Woodruff, travel writer, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Do you have a go-to tip that helps you make healthy eating choices while traveling? Share it with us in the comments!
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