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Use these tips to help you eat better on a budget when traveling, and don’t succumb to fast food joints and overpriced convenience.
Eating well when traveling can be a challenge. I traveled full-time for over three years, and finding a routine was difficult. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat good food that’s reasonably priced. These insights and tips can help you plan meals and eat smart to feel happy and energized.
Pack Your Own Snacks
Arguably, the best way to avoid overpriced food when traveling is to have your own food on hand. There are lots of choices when it comes to packable food. I’ve given suggestions below for certain types:
Some of my favorite packable snacks include:
- Kind Bars
- Natural Nut Blends
- Almond Butter
- Mixed Nuts Trail Mix
- Smoothie Packs
Snack Foods to Eat While Traveling in a Vehicle
The luxury of traveling in a vehicle rather than flying is that you have a lot more space and flexibility on what snacks and food to pack. In addition to the packable snacks, you can also bring veggies, fruit, and salad. You can pack some nutritious options, such as:
- Homemade sandwiches
- Baby carrots
- Greek Yogurt
- Quinoa black bean salad
- Hard-boiled eggs
Snack Alternatives on the Plane
Instead of buying expensive junk food onboard the plane or salty fast food at the airport, plan ahead, and take some of these options with you:
- Rice cakes with almond butter
- Whole fruit
- Protein bars
- Homemade trail mix (pumpkin seeds, raisins, almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts)
Pack ‘Liquid’ Snacks in 3.4-oz Containers
One thing that may surprise you is that certain snacks, such as apple sauce, yogurt, almond butter, and similar creamy snacks, are considered liquids when going through airport security.
You can check what foods TSA considers to be liquids on the TSA’s list of prohibited items. If the snacks you want to bring are considered ‘liquids,’ see if you can find them packed in snack-size containers smaller than 3.4 ounces. Another option is to pack your own creamy snacks in 3.4-oz leakproof containers.
Do you love cinnamon, hemp seeds, or almond butter as a topping for oatmeal or Greek yogurt? Well, instead of finding your favorite mix-ins in an airport shop, pack your own and bring them with you.
Bring an Empty Water Battle and Fill Up at the Fountain
Staying hydrated is really important to keep you energized throughout your entire trip. You can pack an empty water bottle in your travel bag and fill it with water once you pass through security. You can also pack a water filter or water purifier.
You can also pack tea bags and make your own tea while on the road. (PSA: Don’t drink the airplane coffee or tea).
Fruits like strawberries, oranges, and pears are extremely hydrating as well.
Have Lunch and Dinner in the Terminal Instead of on the Plane
Generally, the lunch and dinner options in the terminal are healthier than those on the plane. They are often more customizable, and you get foods with more nutrients such as salads, fresh fruit, and yogurt.
If you have airport lounge access, you can usually get good food options there. If your flight is longer than a couple of hours, you’ll likely have to eat the airplane meals (unless you pack some nutritious snacks).
Remember that if you have special dietary concerns or needs, you can pre-order a special meal with most airlines. Given enough advance notice, most airlines offer a variety of special meals, including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and low-calorie meals. Some airlines even offer more niche special meals, such as a fruit platter, low-salt meals, raw vegetarian, and many more.
Book an Airbnb with a Kitchen
Your place may or may not include a kitchen. Many Airbnbs and modern vacation rentals provide you with all the necessary kitchen amenities. The bonus is that it’s often a cheaper accommodation option than a hotel.
Having access to a kitchen allows you to buy and cook your own food, which, in turn, lets you make healthier choices and saves you a lot of money. Some great choices for dining that are really quick to prepare include wholegrain pasta, brown rice, steamed vegetables, egg salad, and tofu.
In your own Airbnb, you can also cook some delicious recipes, such as a whipped feta garlic dip, and serve them with celery sticks or radishes instead of pita chips for a better alternative.
Find a Supermarket near your Airbnb or Hotel
Nowadays, you can find a supermarket almost everywhere. So, find one near your Airbnb or hotel and purchase bread, milk, wholegrain cereal, and pre-cut veggies like cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, and carrots.
In some places, it’s a bit more difficult to find good fruit and veggies at the supermarket. Instead, people usually buy them from fruit and veggie stands.
This is often the case in places like Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Jeju, South Korea. The fruit and veggie stands are often cash-only, so be sure to carry some with you.
Research Restaurant Options Before Booking Your Hotel
If you’d rather stay at a hotel than at an Airbnb, do your research on local restaurants ahead of time. If you don’t have access to a kitchen or kitchenette at the hotel, try to find good restaurants near your hotel using Google Maps or Trip Advisor.
Pack or Buy Oatmeal
This is a really good go-to breakfast you can find in most places while traveling, including in Starbucks, located in many terminals. They often come with a brown sugar packet, including dried cherries and cranberries, sweetened with a little sugar.
Add the packet of nuts and a bit of cinnamon. You can also swap the dried fruit for fresh fruit, such as bananas or blueberries. You can also carry your own oatmeal packets for a quick, filling, and nutritious meal.
Travel with a Portable Blender
With a portable blender on hand, you can whip up smoothies, juices, and protein shakes using local produce with relative ease when you’re feeling hungry.
Traveling doesn’t mean you have to eat fast food and sugar-laden snacks most of the time. You can eat better, and on a budget, as long as you make a plan and stick to it.
Save and Pin for Later
Did you find this article useful and want to keep it for reference when you next travel? Save it and pin it to one of your travel planning boards.