How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

Summer travel is almost upon us. Healthy nutrition on the go can be extremely difficult. In the rush to reach your destination, it’s easy to grab whatever is in front of you. Just as you have a healthy eating plan at home, you must also have a well-devised plan for travel.


Healthier Air Travel

Don’t let the hustle and bustle of air travel throw you off your eating and exercise regimen. Healthy air travel starts at home.

  • Avoid the temptation to consume high-calorie, high-fat foods by bringing your own healthy snacks. It takes planning, but traveling with healthy food such as dried fruit, trail mix, pretzels, rice cakes, low-fat mozzarella or nuts can save you hundreds of calories in the long run. For those who need higher calorie snacks, meal replacement bars are also an option. Whatever you choose, pack plenty of them in your purse, briefcase or carry-on luggage.

  • Stay hydrated during air travel. Pack an empty water bottle that you can fill up once you’ve passed security. When flying, the risk of dehydration increases due to the extremely low humidity at high altitudes. You should consume 1 cup of fluid per hour throughout your flight. Drinking non-alcoholic, decaffeinated liquids serves two purposes. Consuming fluid will not only prevent dehydration, but also keep you full so that you eat less.

  • Eating in the airport can be tricky. Some airport restaurants are starting to provide healthier meal options, but there is still a long way to go. Not only are the meals pricey, but they also can be high in calories and fat. If you must eat in the airport, stick to the basics like salad with plenty of vegetables or a grilled chicken sandwich with some fruit.

  • Don’t forget about your exercise. You don’t have to give it up just because you are traveling. Take the time to walk around the terminal prior to boarding your flight. Remember, something is better than nothing.


Eating Fast Food on the Road

Fast foods notoriously have large amounts of total calories, fat calories and salt. Fortunately, pressure placed on the fast food industry has led to more healthy alternatives than ever before. Items such as roasted or grilled chicken sandwiches, baked potatoes, skim milk, and salad bars can be found at many fast food and fast casual chains. Below are a few tips for making healthy nutrition choices while you’re on the road:

  • Select roasted or charbroiled sandwiches

  • Eat a hamburger instead of cheeseburger

  • Choose mustard instead of mayonnaise

  • Add plenty of veggies (lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion)

  • Stay away from the jumbo or biggie size food items

  • Limit or avoid cheese and high fat/calorie dressing to salad

  • When eating pizza, make it thin crust with cheese or added vegetables such as mushrooms, peppers and onions.


One-Handed Healthy Snack Ideas

When taking a road trip, keep healthy snacks nearby. This is especially true if you will be traveling for hours without stopping. It’s great if those snacks can be eaten with one hand, while you keep the other hand on the wheel. Foods that have complicated packages or hard-to-open wrappers take too much time and put you at risk for an accident.

  • Fruits

    • Almost all raw fruits including apples, berries, grapes and plums

    • Dried fruit and trail mix

  • Vegetables

    • Baby carrots

    • Cherry tomatoes

    • Raw broccoli

    • Raw cauliflower

  • Protein

    • String cheese

    • Turkey or salmon jerky


Take Advantage of Your Hotel Amenities

When booking a hotel, make sure that your room is loaded with amenities – in particular, a refrigerator and microwave. These appliances allow you the freedom to do a bit of grocery shopping. The refrigerator and microwave can also come in handy if you go out to eat and have leftovers. There is no reason to waste a healthy meal! Before you leave the restaurant, you may even want to consider ordering an extra side of fruit and/or vegetables to take back to your room. If your fridge is too small, ask to use the hotel’s. Most will have a staff refrigerator in the back or in their kitchen that could probably be used to store your healthy food items.


Dr. J.J. Mayo is a registered dietitian nutritionist and associate professor in nutrition at the University of Central Arkansas. Since 2008, he has offered a weight loss program called Choose to Lose, and is making it available online for the first time in order to reach more people and help them achieve their healthy weight loss goals. For more details and to receive more information about the eight-week course that begins June 5, visit  

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