I’m writing this from a red eye flight, somewhere 40,000 feet up between LAX and O’hare airports. I’m not sure what time zone I’m currently in, but if I had to guess, it’s somewhere around 3:30 am right now. I’m flying home for the holidays, and I could not be more jazzed about it. There’s something about that feeling of going home for the holidays that just feels right.
This is one of the many trips I have planned in the next few weeks. Between December and March, I have 11 flights booked. For some people, this may be a normal schedule, but for me, THIS IS A LOT OF FREAKING FLIGHTS. From Napa to Nashville and everywhere in between, sticking to these tried and true healthy travel tips can help make those flights a little more bearable, so you can tackle the hustle and bustle like a pro.
Whether you’re a business frequent flyer, weekend getaway girl, or home-bound for the holidays, we all can relate to the struggle of finding something healthy to eat in a hectic airport terminal (especially if you’re trying to prepare for an overnight flight!). These tips take the guess work out of healthy eating while flying, so you can focus on the finer things in life, like free wifi on long distance flights and catching up on the latest episodes on Netflix. Score.
Six Tips to Healthier Jet-setting
- Pack for success: Pack snacks that you can munch on while traveling that aren’t too calorie laden and will keep well in your bags. Think air-popped popcorn, whole wheat crackers, and homemade trail mix with unsalted nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. If it’s possible to bring protein- and nutrient-dense foods (like hard boiled eggs and raw veggies with hummus) in containers that won’t leak, that takes the guess work of meal searching out of any airport debacle. Opt for fruits with peels like apples and oranges that you can toss in your bag without worrying about them getting smashed. I pack at least one fruit per day of travel. That way when hunger strikes, I reach for fruit first, paired with an individual pack of nut butter, until I can find something else that I can feel good about that will sustain me longer.
- Stay hydrated: Bring an empty water bottle to fill up once you’ve gone through security. It’s so important to stay hydrated while flying, since pressurized cabins often leave passengers feeling dehydrated due to lower humidity. Save the $10 you would have spent on a bottle of water and treat yourself to an in-flight magazine instead. Money well spent for a few minutes of R&R, plus you’re doing your part by eliminating one plastic bottle from circulation.
- Shop smart in the terminal: Trust me, I get it – sometimes planning ahead falls short, and there is no avoiding buying food in the terminal. Accept that you may have to pay a pretty penny to get the food you want in this situation. If you don’t have time to brown bag it, try to get to your gate in enough time to seek out a healthy option before your flight – think fresh green salads with lean proteins, veggie and hummus-filled wraps or sandwiches, or fresh fruits and veggies. Pre-packaged option are okay, and make it easier to eat on the fly (see what I did there?!). Avoiding high-sodium or fried options will keep you feeling good throughout your entire flight, and help stave off that pesky bloating feeling. If you’re an airplane snacker like me, pick up a string cheese and banana from the airport market on your way to your gate, or even a small piece of dark chocolate. Really go wild.
- Stock your hotel room: Hit the hotel lobby or nearby convenience store for high fiber granola bars and fresh fruits when you check into your hotel. These are great snacks to tide you over between business meetings, or throw in your bag to nibble on between excursions in a new city. If a mini fridge is in the room, throw some nonfat greek yogurt or milk with whole grain cereal in there for mornings when you’re crunched for time and can’t make it to the hotel buffet. Speaking of the buffet…
- Treat the morning buffet like home: Eating breakfast while traveling is a great way to start your day off on the right foot. When traveling, chances are you will be eating out for 1-2 meals per day. Starting your day with a breakfast just like you would at home can help regulate your day from the get go. Avoid ordering hefty dishes like french toast and skillets – there will be plenty of time to indulge later in the day! Stick to familiar breakfasts like eggs and toast, or oatmeal and fresh fruit to help fill you up for the day without weighing you down.
- Moderation is key when eating out: There is a 110% chance you will go out to eat while traveling, Whether it be weekend brunch, post-work happy hours, or late night dinners – have fun, keep it balanced and drink water! The easiest way to cut some calories is with the appetizers and beverages. If chips and salsa are bottomless, resist the urge. Munch slowly and sip your water, saving room for the entree you ordered. Remember, moderation is key: enjoy yourself, but order something that won’t give you a stomach ache all night.
And most importantly: eat well and travel often. Go get ’em, jet-setters!