My Favorite Travel Snack Ideas and Tips for Healthy Eating While Traveling
Next week is winter break for my boys AND for my husband who works in education - yay! We’ll be heading down to Florida to visit family, which is an opportunity I’m thankful for since it allows us to escape the cold for a bit. While I was shopping for our favorite travel snacks, I was thinking about how hard it can be to eat healthy while you’re on the road and traveling.
From busy airports full of fast food options to long days of sightseeing and unfamiliar restaurants and grocery stores, it can be hard to make sure you’re eating the right foods. That’s why I am dedicating this post to my top travel snack ideas and tips for healthy eating while traveling.
Now before I start - don’t get me wrong! I love vacation and we certainly indulge in all the local treats while away. However, I have learned that just a little forethought in the travel snacks we bring and restraint to what we’re ordering at restaurants will mean I feel better and can therefore enjoy my trip more! So don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you avoid the tasty ice cream treats or never go out to eat. This is all about practical advice you can use to make sure you feel your best while on vacation.
Ok, when it comes to our favorite travel snacks, it’s important to focus on real, whole foods that are packed with protein, fiber and healthy fats. I don’t want to give my boys (or myself) empty calories in the form of goldfish crackers/pretzels/chips/etc. because we’ll just be asking for more food 20 minutes later. Those types of snacks aren’t going to satiate our hunger in any real way.
I want to pack food that will sustain our energy and keep hunger at bay for a decent amount of time. So with that in mind, here are my top five travel snack options for healthy eating while traveling:
Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, making them a perfect snack for long days. Try packing a mix of almonds, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds for a tasty and nutritious snack.
Dried fruit: Dried fruit is a great way to get a dose of sweetness when you’re on the go. Try packing apples, apricots, mangoes, cranberries, or raisins for a sweet snack. Our favorite is mango! Just be sure to watch your serving sizes, as dried fruits can be higher in sugar than fresh fruits. Read your labels!
Protein bars/Granola bars: Now bars can be a little tricky because so many of them are overly processed and full of chemicals and additives we want to avoid. We don’t eat them on a regular basis but they’re great for travel, especially when you need a quick energy boost without having to deal with messy hands. Look for bars without a laundry list of ingredients that you can’t pronounce, and that are made with whole grains and natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. We tend to buy Skout Organic Bars, as well as GoMacro Bars. (No affiliation with them - just sharing which brands we personally love!)
Nut butter and jelly sandwich: Oftentimes I will make four sandwiches the night before we travel so we have something a little more substantial to eat. It feels a little more like a lunch when you have a sandwich to pull out than just a bar - at least according to a 6 and 8 year old. You can use any nut butter you prefer or we even use sunbutter if it’s on hand. The sandwiches are easy to travel with and have saved us on more than one occasion.
Treats: Yes, you read that right! One of the fun parts of travel is the fact that you usually don’t do it often. So you want to indulge and have treats. I’d much rather plan ahead, grab some “healthier” chocolates and other treats from the store before we leave to have on hand. Then when my boys (or my husband and I) are tempted by all the treats in the airport, gas stations, etc. we don’t have to feel like we’re missing out. We can turn to our snack bags and indulge without getting all the unwanted additives. We tend to gravitate toward dark chocolate and enjoy the Alter Eco and Hu brands. I may also grab some Yumearth candies or the equivalent for my boys.
So there you go! It might vary depending on the type and length of trip but in an effort to consolidate on this post, those would be my top 5 snack types to concentrate on when stocking our travel bags with healthy travel snacks. What do you think? Am I missing anything?
In addition to packing healthy snacks, we also have to deal with our meals.
Here are some of the tips I share with my clients in regards to healthy eating while traveling:
Opt for whole foods whenever possible. Processed snacks may be convenient, but they’re often high in sugar, unhealthy fats and all those chemicals/additives that may lead to bloating, discomfort and a low level of inflammation.
Bring your own water bottle. Staying hydrated is essential, so bring a reusable water bottle with you to stay hydrated throughout the day. I also hate paying for bottled water and contributing to more plastic waste. We use the Clearly Filtered brand because I feel better knowing we can fill up our water bottles no matter where we are, with any tap, and we’ll get clean, filtered water.
Take advantage of local markets. Local markets are a great way to see a new city and get a sense for how the locals live. Additionally, it’s often cheaper than the supermarket and full of more whole foods.
Try to order the “smart” options available in restaurant menus. Many restaurants will note the healthier options on their menus. See if you can order from those, if not every time, then a majority of the time. Especially if you’re eating out for almost every meal.
Cook your own meals some days (if possible). Obviously this suggestion is only plausible if your accommodations have a kitchen. Often Airbnbs or certain hotel suites are a good option to consider, especially if you’ll be traveling for a longer amount of time. Not only will you be able to eat healthier if you’re cooking your own food, but you’ll save money too! Need some ideas for quick and easy meals for the family while you're on vacation? Grab my FREE 7 Day Meal Plan to have some easy meal options on hand while on vacation.
Prioritize movement. Getting some sort of exercise or movement each day will only aid in your digestion and help you to feel better while indulging on vacation. And I’m not suggesting a 90 minute sweat sesh each morning to “punish” yourself for dinner the night before. It might mean a leisurely stroll on the beach or a relaxing yoga session. Any type of movement will benefit you!
I hope these travel snack ideas and tips help you plan for healthy eating on your next trip! As with your typical daily nutrition, your vacation nutrition should focus on balance. If you have plans to indulge in an extravagant dinner then leave time for a lighter breakfast followed by a walk. Vacation can still be fun while prioritizing your health.
And at the end of the day, don’t feel like your vacation indulgences will derail your normal nutrition routine. Remember - it’s not what you eat or how you exercise (or don’t) on vacation for 7 days out of the year that matters most, it’s what you do the other 358! 😉
Now I’m off to pack…
Wishing you health and wellness,