How to eat healthy while traveling: 7 doctor-approved tips for when you're on the move (2023)

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Wondering how to eat healthy while traveling? Considering the havoc that plane, train, and road travel can have on our bodies, you certainly won't be the only one.

Taking a vacation is a great way to free our minds from the stresses of daily life but straying from routine can have side effects. Typical problems include issues with digestion, muscle pain, headaches, and fatigue, especially for those who've been traveling for hours on end.

We've asked a panel of experts - including doctors, a dietitian, a physical therapist, and a pharmacist - to reveal how to avoid the more common concerns and how they stay healthy on the move, plus how to eat healthy while traveling. From how many calories you should eat for breakfast to stay full to the best foods to snack on, this is what they recommend doing on your next trip.

How to eat healthy while traveling

1. Add fruits and vegetables to your meals

This is probably the easiest tip to follow if you want to know how to eat healthy while traveling as, wherever you're going, there will likely be somewhere to purchase fruits and vegetables. If not and if you know about this in advance, you can bring your own.

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"Adding a fruit or veggie to each of your meals will keep your fiber intake while also offering more nutrition," says Amanda Sauceda (opens in new tab), a registered dietitian and gut health specialist. "As a bonus, keep some frozen veggies and fruits in your freezer so you have something easy when you come back."

As well as being nutritious, fruits like bananas, apples, and oranges, and vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and avocado are high in dietary fiber, meaning they keep us fuller for longer without being too heavy in the stomach while we're on the move.

How to eat healthy while traveling: 7 doctor-approved tips for when you're on the move (1)

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2. Stay hydrated

"Drink water and then some," warns Sauceda, who is also the creator of The Mindful Gut (opens in new tab). "Dehydration is one of the biggest factors to having your digestion feel off, getting headaches, and just feeling overall blah on your travel days."

This is a particularly important one if you're traveling by plane as the controlled air pressure has much lower humidity than we're used to on the ground. In planes, there's about 10 - 20% humidity, instead of 35% to 65%, which we normally have. The dryness in the air, which I'm sure we've all felt before on planes (hello, dry mouth), means we're likely to become dehydrated much faster, according to research by the University of Split (opens in new tab).

Drinking water is also something that many of us tend to forget to do - or purposefully avoid when we travel, so it's something to be especially aware of. "Many people tend to cut back on their consumption of fluids on travel days to avoid needing a public restroom, which can be both hard to find and dirty. Many people are also unwilling to pay the premium that often comes with buying a beverage on the road. At airports and gas stations, an individual bottle of water can run as much as $4," says Dr Valerie Ulene, a general preventative medicine and public health specialist.

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3. Don't skip meals

If it's an early flight, the idea of eating at 4 or 5 am may not sound appealing. But traveling or not, skipping breakfast is never a good idea. Having breakfast before you leave home means you won't have to pay for expensive food at the airport or eat something you'd otherwise avoid because of lacking options.

Not only this, but a review by Mahidol University (opens in new tab) suggests that skipping breakfast altogether can lead to feelings of fatigue and tiredness throughout the day - which isn't exactly the best way to start the holiday - and a much higher likelihood of overconsuming foods high in saturated fats and sugar. Calorie-wise, while everyone will have different requirements, around 500 calories of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber should keep you full for a few hours.

If you can't stomach eating early in the morning, choose something light like a banana and a milky coffee, such as a latte.

Equally, if you're traveling in the evening, try not to skip dinner. Eating late at night can cause discomfort if you're then sat down for a few hours, but not eating at all can also cause issues like nausea and dizziness. Instead, the experts suggest aiming to eat about 30 minutes to two hours before you fly to allow for your food to digest.

4. Plan where to eat in advance

Luckily when it comes to traveling, almost all the information you'll need is online - including maps of the transport hub and surrounding areas. This means it's often easy to scope out the eating options available at your airport, train station, or even on the road before you arrive.

Take advantage of this if you have to buy your food on the move, the experts say, and plan where and what you're going to eat. This will help take another concern out of this (already stressful) day as you'll avoid wandering around looking for what you want and eventually opting for what's easiest, which is unlikely to be the most nutritious.

But superintendent pharmacist Jana Abelovska (opens in new tab) says it may also help you avoid one of the most common travel illnesses: food poisoning. "Food poisoning can be quite common when traveling. In particular, countries such as India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Peru record higher cases of food poisoning and stomach upsets in travelers. It’s a good idea to scope out a couple of dining options, rather than settling for the first one you find."

How to eat healthy while traveling: 7 doctor-approved tips for when you're on the move (2)

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5. Avoid overeating

"While eating and drinking are a big part of many vacations, it’s best to enjoy them in moderation," says Dr Ulene, who is also the founder of Boom Home Medical (opens in new tab). There are always so many food and drink options at travel hubs, it's easy to get a little carried away. Whether that's a big meal from the train's food cart or a few drinks before you board your flight, overeating or drinking can cause issues.

"For one thing, [it] usually leaves you feeling uncomfortable and sometimes even tired or sluggish, which is not what you’re after when you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself," she says.

Instead, Sauceda says, try to eat less and more often. "Smaller meals may be more beneficial if you know this is going to be a food-orientated trip anyway," she says. "Eating smaller meals more often will better allow you to get a taste of all the good food without overdoing it."

6. Pack snacks you've had before

If security will let you get away with it - and many are fine with passengers bringing food through - try to always pack your own snacks rather than shopping at the airport. Not only will this be cheaper but your body will thank you for it.

"Packs snacks that agree with your gut and can give you fuel when you need something in a pinch," says the dietitian. "Eating schedules can be hectic when traveling so having something in your bag is always a good idea."

7. Take a few deep breaths before eating

Often how we eat is an important factor in how our bodies respond to food. So, Sauceda says, if you're looking to know how to eat healthy while traveling, consider taking a moment to allow your body to recognize that it's about to consume food.

"It might seem like a small thing but it can help your gut to stay healthy because it puts your body in rest and digest mode," says Sauceda. "It's very easy to be stressed while traveling or caught up in the fun of the vacation."

7. Remember to move

When we're sat down for a while, as we often are when we're traveling, the body comes under stress. So, as much as it's important to know how to eat healthy while traveling, it's important to remember to move regularly and adjust your posture.

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"Prolonged periods of sitting can lead to both muscular and mental fatigue," explains Dr Carrie Lamb (opens in new tab), a physical therapist and Pilates instructor with qualifications in nutrition. "Taking breaks from sitting and, even better, trying to raise your heart rate can help combat these types of travel fatigue."

To do this, she suggests taking some time to walk, simple Pilates for beginners exercises, or do other easy cardio exercises when you get off the plane. "Even five to 10 minutes can help before you hop in a car, bus, or taxi to get to your final destination. If you are taking the train or subway, try to stand for a bit instead of sitting down. Your body will thank you."

This will keep your circulation going and deliver plenty of oxygen to your muscles and brain. "If you're traveling, you'll likely want to arrive with good energy to explore and engage with your destination, versus crashing in your room."

How to eat healthy while traveling: 7 doctor-approved tips for when you're on the move (3)

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What's the best food to eat while traveling?

Ideally, when you travel, your nutrition habits should apply as normal. "Your diet should include a healthy mixture of complex carbohydrates, low-fat proteins, and fruits and vegetables," says Dr Ulene.

"But it's hard to eat healthily on travel days. At least in part because the food available for sale in airports and other transport hubs tends to be highly processed. Airport concession stands, for example, sell things like candy and chips, and airport restaurants serve super-sized portions of food high in fat, calories, and salt," she says. "[This is why it's best to] try and pack your own snacks and even meals for travel days whenever possible."

With digestive issues like constipation common in those who've been traveling, thanks to the switch-up in routine, Sauceda recommends packing prunes or sourcing some soon after arrival. "Prunes can help keep you regular on your trip," she explains, "There are some prunes that are single servings too, making them easy to toss into your bags."

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Tips for staying healthy while traveling

  • Stick to your normal eating routine before you go: "One of the best things you can do to help your digestion when traveling is to stick with your normal eating routine as much as possible for a couple of days before you leave," says dietitian Sauceda.
  • Prioritize sleep: "Getting a solid night’s rest before you travel is always a good idea, but it’s particularly important if you’re changing time zones," says Dr Ulene. "Since it’s hard to get comfortable on long, overseas flights, it’s unlikely you’ll get much sleep en route to your destination and, chances are, you’ll arrive several hours behind on sleep. That’s all it takes for most people to start feeling the effects of missed sleep."
  • Move even when you're sat down: "The body seems to respond best to frequent changes of posture instead of getting stuck in one position," says Dr Lamb. "Even when you're stuck sitting longer than you'd like to be, a little fidgeting goes a long way. Move what you can. Circle your feet and ankles, lift and lower your heels, roll your shoulders, rock your pelvis, whatever you need to do just to move a little."
  • Wear comfortable clothes: "Wear clothes that allow you to move easily so you can frequently adjust your position," says Dr Lamb. This will also help you feel more comfortable after eating, especially if it was a larger meal and you've been sitting down for a while.
  • Don't forget sunscreen: If you're only traveling for a few hours within an airport, you're unlikely to need this. But if you're going to spend any time outdoors, remember to pack at least one of the best facial sunscreens in your carry bag. “Use an appropriate-strength, in-date sunscreen whenever you’re outdoors, even if the weather is cloudy," says Abelovska, who works at Click Pharmacy (opens in new tab).
  • Take a few medications with you: "Take a few over-the-counter medications with you," suggests Dr Ulene, including remedies for hay fever. "Having a few over-the-counter medications on hand can make navigating these travel setbacks easier, without the need to locate a drug store in an unfamiliar city. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen, for example, can alleviate the pain of a minor injury or bring down a low-grade fever, while diphenhydramine (also called Benadryl) can help control allergies or alleviate itching. Of course, if any serious health issue arises while you’re away from home, it’s always important to seek out proper medical attention."


How to eat healthy while traveling: 7 doctor-approved tips for when you're on the move? ›

Fresh fruit (bananas, grapes, strawberries and oranges are easy to carry along). Sliced veggies (baby carrots, cauliflower florets, bell peppers and snap peas are easy to eat). Single-serving containers of almond butter, hummus or guacamole for dipping. Dried fruit, like raisins, cranberries, bananas, apples, apricots.

What is the healthiest food while traveling? ›

Fresh fruit (bananas, grapes, strawberries and oranges are easy to carry along). Sliced veggies (baby carrots, cauliflower florets, bell peppers and snap peas are easy to eat). Single-serving containers of almond butter, hummus or guacamole for dipping. Dried fruit, like raisins, cranberries, bananas, apples, apricots.

How do I manage my diet while traveling? ›

6 Ways to Stick to Your Diet While Traveling
  1. Pack your own snacks or healthy favorites. ...
  2. Plan to cook, try local foods, or research restaurants in advance. ...
  3. Don't indulge for every single meal. ...
  4. Stay hydrated. ...
  5. Be intentional about treats. ...
  6. Don't stress—just get back on track.

What is recommended in terms of eating while traveling? ›

Tips for eating healthy while traveling

Pack travel-friendly snacks, such as unsalted nuts, applesauce cups, whole fresh fruit, single serving nut butters, and whole-grain crackers. If you have a small cooler, you could also pack string cheese, single-serve hummus, veggies, or Greek yogurt.

How do you pack healthy food for travel? ›

Pack healthy non-perishable snacks.
  1. Whole or dried fruit.
  2. Freeze-dried vegetables.
  3. Nuts (pre-portioned into snack-size bags).
  4. Nut butters (travel packs are great for planes).
  5. Whole-grain pretzels, crackers and bread sticks.
  6. Trail mix.
  7. Snack bars.
Nov 28, 2018

What foods keep well without refrigeration? ›

Canned and jarred foods are great idea to keep on hand when you don't have refrigeration because of their long shelf life.
  • Canned Soups.
  • Canned Chili.
  • Canned Vegetables.
  • Canned Fruits.
  • Canned Olives.
  • Canned or Jarred Pasta Sauce.
Nov 23, 2021

What foods to avoid while traveling? ›

Here's a list of foods and beverages that experts at the Mayo Clinic advise travellers to avoid.
  • Raw or undercooked meat and seafood. ...
  • Shellfish. ...
  • Deli meats and local game. ...
  • Berries and apples. ...
  • Raw vegetables. ...
  • Street vendors. ...
  • Unpasteurized dairy. ...
  • Buffet food.

How can I eat healthy when away from home? ›

Order baked, broiled, or grilled (not fried) lean meats including turkey, chicken, seafood, or steak. Salads and vegetables make healthier side dishes than French fries. Use a small amount of sour cream instead of butter if you order a baked potato. Choose fresh fruit instead of sugary, high-fat desserts.

How do I get enough protein on vacation? ›

Top High Protein Snacks for Air Travel
  1. Seeds and Nuts. These are excellent sources of protein, as well as healthy fats. ...
  2. Roasted Chickpea Packs. ...
  3. Protein Bars. ...
  4. Dry Oatmeal Cups. ...
  5. Peanut or Nut Butter Sandwiches. ...
  6. Peanut Butter Packets. ...
  7. Salad. ...
  8. Instant Lentil and Quinoa Salad.

What is the one food you should never order on a flight according to experts? ›

“Eating lots of heavy carbs such as pasta with thick, dense sauces, breads, muffins or cakes will leave you feeling lethargic, cranky, and not full or satisfied,” he said. “Your blood sugar levels will spike and then fall, which will negatively impact how you feel.”

Why is it hard to eat when traveling? ›

People with baseline anxiety and gastrointestinal issues are especially prone to having trouble eating while traveling, and disruption of sleep patterns, jet lag, and dehydration can also contribute to the problem. But Poppers says it can be an issue for pretty much anyone.

How do you pack snacks for travel? ›

10 Essential Tips for Packing the Best Travel Snack Bag
  1. Get the right bag. ...
  2. Choose a relatively small bag. ...
  3. Pack a spare Ziploc bag (or five). ...
  4. Always include protein. ...
  5. Embrace local snacks. ...
  6. Pocket everything. ...
  7. Avoid perishables and anything fragile. ...
  8. Don't forget to hydrate.
May 24, 2019

What are high fiber foods for traveling? ›

Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals and breads. Whenever possible, it may help to pack such foods for yourself. Fruits, high-fiber protein bars, trail mixes, cereals, and granolas all travel well.

How do you eat Whole foods while traveling? ›

So, before you set out on those road trips this summer, here are some tips that'll keep you and your family on the go!
  1. 10 ways to help eat more whole foods while traveling.
  2. Eat Local and In-Season. ...
  3. Swap Your Grains. ...
  4. Oatmeal. ...
  5. Wild forage. ...
  6. Bring a Cutting Board & Knife. ...
  7. Pack Spices. ...
  8. Keep Abeego Handy.
Mar 27, 2018

What is a low calorie food for travel? ›

Here are 14 healthy snacks that are perfect for road trips.
  • Fresh fruit and nut butter. Fresh fruit is not only highly nutritious but also easily portable. ...
  • Trail mix. ...
  • Protein and granola bars. ...
  • Energy bites. ...
  • Nuts and seeds. ...
  • Fruit and veggie chips. ...
  • Unsweetened yogurt. ...
  • Roasted chickpeas.
Feb 26, 2020

Which fruit should not be refrigerated? ›

Fruits That Should Not Be Stored in the Refrigerator

Apricots, Asian pears, avocado, bananas, guava, kiwis, mangoes, melons, nectarines, papayas, passion fruit, pawpaw, peaches, pears, persimmons, pineapples, plantain, plums, starfruit, soursop, and quince will continue to ripen if left out on the counter.

What kind of cheese doesn t need refrigeration? ›

Soft cheeses such as cream cheese, cottage cheese, shredded cheeses, and goat cheese must be refrigerated for safety. As a general rule, hard cheeses such as cheddar, processed cheeses (American), and both block and grated Parmesan do not require refrigeration for safety, but they will last longer if kept refrigerated.

How do you eat anti inflammatory while traveling? ›

8 tips for an anti-inflammatory lifestyle during vacation
  1. Bring synbiotics with you on the trip. ...
  2. Enjoy locally produced foods in season. ...
  3. Put your effort into one meal – keep the rest simple. ...
  4. Experiment with new dishes. ...
  5. Take your time when eating. ...
  6. Move every day. ...
  7. Prioritise recovery. ...
  8. Find healthy alternatives to sugar.

What is the safest food to eat on plane? ›

Safer alternatives

Opt for soups and stews, including curries, because they're usually heated multiple times at temperatures that likely kill bacteria, Dible says, and bread, rolls, crackers, packaged bakery items and the free packs of pretzels are all usually a good bet.

What is a healthy meal after travel? ›

You'll want to consume something with protein, so eggs or fish work well. A salad with good fats like avocado and nuts will also create a well-rounded meal. Avoid legumes and spices—they could irritate the gut further—and try reducing caffeine consumption through coffee or aerated drinks.

What is your favorite healthy snack? ›

Fruit. One of my favorite ways to ensure I'm eating a healthy snack is to stick with whole, nutrient-rich foods like fruit. I love pairing apples or bananas with peanut butter or almond butter to make them more filling. Yogurt and Granola.

Are Subway healthy? ›

Is Subway Healthy Or Good For Weight Loss? Subway is just like other fast foods. But yes you can make a meal at subway of your choice and according to the calories you want to consume as it serves all customized meals. You can add a variety of vegetables and for weight loss, you opt a meal without cheese and sauces.

What snacks are high on protein? ›

Here are 30 protein-loaded snacks that are healthy and portable, so you can enjoy them even when you're on the go.
  • Jerky. Jerky is meat that has been trimmed of fat, cut into strips, and dried. ...
  • Trail mix. ...
  • Turkey roll-ups. ...
  • Greek yogurt parfait. ...
  • Veggies and yogurt dip. ...
  • Tuna. ...
  • Hard-boiled eggs. ...
  • Peanut butter celery sticks.
Apr 5, 2023

What is a high protein breakfast while traveling? ›

“Protein-packed overnight oatmeal is a great option,” Abby Grimm, registered dietitian for FWDFuel, said. “Combine rolled oats, your favorite protein powder, eight ounces of almond milk, almond butter, and chia seeds, and mix together.”

What is the fastest way to get protein levels up? ›

6 easy ways to get more protein:
  1. Indulge in a little red meat. Feel free to indulge in that steak! ...
  2. Eat pork. Pork is also an excellent source of protein, providing 26 grams in a 3.5-ounce serving. ...
  3. Consume eggs and dairy. ...
  4. Eat plant-based proteins. ...
  5. Enjoy other sources of protein.
May 31, 2022

Why you should never order coffee on a plane? ›

On drinks: Only order beverages that come in a can or a bottle, Kamalani strongly suggests. That's because anything that uses boiled water—which includes coffee and tea—will be made with water stored in the plane's tanks, and those tanks, she says, are never cleaned. The water is "disgusting," she says.

Do flight attendants eat airplane food? ›

Mostly on the larger airlines, the cabin crew usually eat the crew meal and anything else is a bonus - it certainly doesn't happen all the time. Some cabin crew bring their own meals to avoid the unhealthier option of the crew meal, or sometimes they are just bored with the same food.

Can traveling mess up your gut? ›

Traveling across time zones can mess up your sleep patterns and cause jet lag. It can also mess up your digestion, which causes gut lag.

How do I prepare my stomach for travel? ›

8 Easy Tips to Avoid a Grumpy Gut While Traveling
  1. Don't overeat. Part of the fun of vacationing is eating at new restaurants and trying new foods. ...
  2. Eat plenty of fiber. ...
  3. Drink lots of water. ...
  4. Choose beverages wisely. ...
  5. Get groceries from local stores. ...
  6. Go to the bathroom. ...
  7. Wash your hands. ...
  8. Carry medications.
Jul 9, 2019

What to do if you struggle to eat? ›

Stick to bland foods like crackers, toast, potatoes, noodles, and rice. Try eating very small meals, 6-8 a day. You may be able to tolerate foods that contain a lot of water, like frozen pops, Jell-O, and broth-based soups.

Why is peanut butter not allowed on planes? ›

Think twice before packing that jar of peanut butter on your next flight. The Transportation Security Administration declared peanut butter to be a liquid substance, which now means you are now not allowed to bring large containers of it onto planes.

Can you bring homemade food on a plane? ›

Solid food items (not liquids or gels) can be transported in either your carry-on or checked bags. Liquid or gel food items larger than 3.4 oz are not allowed in carry-on bags and should be placed in your checked bags if possible.

What is the #1 food high in fiber? ›

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Legumes, nuts and seedsServing sizeTotal fiber (grams)*
Lentils, boiled1 cup15.5
Black beans, boiled1 cup15.0
Baked beans, canned1 cup10.0
Chia seeds1 ounce10.0
4 more rows

What is the No 1 food rich in fiber? ›

Chia seeds (34.4 grams)

Chia seeds may also be the single best source of fiber on the planet. Try them mixed into jam or some homemade granola bars. Fiber content: 9.75 grams per ounce of dried chia seeds, or 34.4 grams per 100 grams .

What foods are safe to eat while traveling? ›

Dry or packaged foods: Most germs require moisture to grow, so foods that are dry, such as potato chips, are usually safe. Additionally, food in factory-sealed containers, such as canned tuna or packaged crackers, are safe as long as it was not opened and handled by another person.

What food travels well in suitcase? ›

Take It With You
  • Vacuum Sealed Meats or Hard Cheeses: Since both of these items are non-liquid, they are perfectly fine to fly. ...
  • Spices: Since spices are dried, they're generally good to go. ...
  • Dried Goods: This includes pasta, dry beans, grains, and other pantry items that contain no liquid.
Oct 15, 2019

What is the 3 1 1 rule? ›

Each passenger may carry liquids, gels and aerosols in travel-size containers that are 3.4 ounces or100 milliliters. Each passenger is limited to one quart-size bag of liquids, gels and aerosols.


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