How To Eat Healthily When Traveling (The Easy Way)

how to eat healthy while traveling

Eating healthily while traveling is easy, you just need to know what foods to look for and have a little discipline. Considering we’ve been on the move for almost a year now and stayed in great shape, we felt qualified to write this article. By the end of it, you will know exactly how you can stay healthy on the move too. We’ve done this with 0 access to kitchens, crazy motorbike road trips through mountains and more.

I don’t want to just write a boring, unhelpful steps list that gives you empty, poorly thought-out advice. So, I’m going to lay out exactly how you can follow and build a proper nutrition plan on the move, without having to count calories or miss out on the foods you love. None of the “tRY sWAPpINg oUT WHiTe rIcE for bRoWN RiCe” bulls**t you hear spewed all over the internet.

Here are a few images of us to show you we’re (I’m) qualified to write this:

I’m not in optimal, shredded shape, but I’m a good athletic build with solid veins and muscle mass showing. While traveling I’m not sure you can stay completely shredded. After all, you want to experience and enjoy new culture – food is a huge part of that. I wouldn’t want to miss my experience of a country for rock solid abs and I’m personally very happy with my body at it’s current state.

How To Eat Healthy While Traveling (Answered in 30 Seconds)

To eat healthily while traveling, stick to eating 3 meals per day with snacks in between. For your meals traveling, eat a lean protein, a slow-release carb, and some vegetables. For your snacks traveling, eat fruit, nuts, salad, or vegetables. And, finally… stick to one thing you consider a treat per day, but keep it a small portion.

You don’t need any more information than this. Just replace each step with different meats, carbs, and veg so you have variety. Don’t miss out on spices, sauces, and dressings because your meals will be miserable without them.

Eat when you feel hungry, and eat until you feel full. Wait until you’re hungry again and repeat. Eating like this will nourish you and give you the energy you need while maintaining your shape. You don’t need to count calories eating like this.

Foods That Will Keep You Full and Nourished

The number one way you’re going to be able to eat healthy on the move is by eating foods that will keep you full for longer periods of time. Really while you’re on the move, your main focus will want to be proteins, with some form of carbs and vegetables + fruit.

Stick to 3 meals per day and try to include meat (or fish), veg, carbs, and some fruit. Doing this, you will easily be able to stay in shape while feeling full, energetic, and good.

The simple trick I always use to get a decent, nourishing meal is to look for meat, carbs, veg, and fruit for dessert. 

The easiest way to eat healthy while traveling is having a meal like this:

  1. Meat/Fish (BBQ, Pan Fried, Boiled)
  2. Rice/Potato/Pasta/Bread (Fried, Steamed)
  3. Veg (Mix of green and colorful veg)
  4. Fruit (1 piece of fruit for dessert)

You can use this exact meal formula like foundations/building blocks for each meal, where you can swap out each of the items for different meats, different spices, and flavours, different carbs, veg, etc., and have a really varied, balanced diet that won’t make you go insane from eating the same stuff over and over.

In-between meals, if I’m feeling hungry, I will choose a healthy snack to keep me going. Something like dried fruit and nuts is perfect for a snack, or you can eat a small piece of fresh fruit/maybe some salad. If you’re feeling extremely hungry you can opt for some bread/starchy stuff, but I try to avoid that where possible.

Here’s a quick list of healthy food options that will keep you full and nourished:

  • Lean meat
    • Chicken
    • Beef
    • Pork
    • Turkey
    • Lamb
  • Fish
    • Salmon
    • Cod
    • Shrimp
  • Nuts & dried fruit (portions of 30g nuts + 30g fruits max)
    • Nuts
      • Peanuts
      • Almonds
      • Cashews
      • Hazelnuts
      • (pretty much any nut)
    • Dried fruit
      • Bananas
      • Dates
      • Mango
      • Kiwi
      • Raisins
      • etc.
  • Fruit
    • Apples
    • Oranges
    • Grapes
    • Bananas
    • Watermelon
  • Salad (please eat with oil salt and pepper so you don’t dislike eating)
    • Cucumber (high water-based)
    • Lettuce
    • Tomatoes with basil
    • Peppers
    • Carrots
  • Carbs
    • White rice (no eating white rice is not a sin)
    • Potatoes (normal and sweet)
    • Yams
    • Breads (preferably whole grain)
    • Noodles (rice noodles prefered)
    • Pasta (wholegrain prefered)
  • Protein shakes
    • Try to avoid whey protein, it’s not very good for you, but if you’re on the move, you’re not going to get out of shape drinking protein shakes

Now you have a bunch of food you can just use the formula above to swap out.

How Do I Stick To Eating Healthily?

Building A Proper Diet

You can have your cake and eat it.

The whole point of a diet is creating one you can stick to. So, you’re not going to do what the usual advice is and remove everything you like from your diet, but rather you’re going to build your diet around the foods you like and incorporate them as much as you can.

A simple rule that will help you stay in shape is, to have 10-20% of your calories from foods that are bad. But who wants to work out what 10-20% of your calories are? No one. 

You can do the same as I do and loosely follow this rule by having 1 nice thing per day (don’t always have that sweet thing every day and try to swap it for dried fruit or nuts instead).

So, whatever you like and consider a bad food you love, stick to the rule of only having 1 small portion per day maximum. This satisfies your craving for it, and keeps you from crashing on your diet.

This can be a chocolate bar, an ice cream a doughnut, a sausage roll, some fried chicken… whatever you want. As long as it’s not an entire fucking bucket of KFC and just a breast piece or a drumstick.

Eating Filling Foods

Some foods keep you fuller for longer, so eating foods like:

  • Lean proteins
  • Salads with high water content
  • Slow-release carbs like rice, potato, oats etc.
  • Protein shakes

Will stop you from feeling hungry.

You’re also going to want to be eating foods that fill you up. High water-based stuff like cucumber, lettuce, salads all keep you fairly full because of the water content in them. Have these with some oil, salt, and black pepper so it doesn’t taste like total shit.

Mix this with a lean cut of protein – fish, chicken, beef… whatever you want chuck it in there.

9/10 times you’ll be full after eating just this.

If you add a slow-release starchy carb in there like potato, white rice (yes white rice can be eaten), pasta, or something else, you will be very satisfied and full after this meal.

Full Example Day of Healthy Eating While Traveling

I personally like to intermittent fast. This means I don’t eat a proper meal until around 12-1pm.

I do this less and less now, but I personally used this to become more disciplined with my food intake. I love food and, before doing this, I found my eating habits were setting me back. Once I was able to stick to intermittent fasting, it completely reset my discipline with food. I am now able to follow a normal daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner diet without over-eating and failing.

If you really struggle with eating I suggest you try to do this. Start with not eating until 10 am, then 11 am, then 12 pm, then 1 pm, an try to push it to 2-3 pm. You will notice this becoming easier and easier and once you can stick to it regularly, you can return to a normal breakfast, lunch, dinner protocol.

A good way to do this is to have a protein shake (mixed with water) when you feel hungry at 10-11 am so you can push to 1-2 pm where you can eat carbohydrates, lean meats, vegetables etc. The point is to starve your body of carbs so you remain in a state called ketosis. This allows your body to burn fat, without burning muscle mass. Drinking a protein shake will keep you in ketosis, curb your hunger and allow your body to continue burning fat.

Here’s what I do to stay healthy while on the road:

  • breakfast 6 am/7 am
    • black coffee for breakfast (pinch of salt will change the game for you)
    • maybe pea protein shake at 10 am-12 pm to curve hunger, but no milk, just water, want to starve carbs for ketosis, don’t use tap water!
    • maybe some fruit instead of the pea protein, but light fruit, no banana or starchy fruit. something like watermelon or apple or citrus-style stuff.
  • lunch 1-2 pm
    • some kind of lean meat with rice and veggies, then some fruit after pretty easy-to-find street food like this
    • usually go for BBQ meats sizzled on coal you can find this pretty much everywhere in Asia, it’s decent compared to other street food and tastes banging
    • run into a convenience shop and grab some salad
    • if there’s no convenience shop and I’m on a motorbike in the middle of nowhere you can usually find a fruit stand or some kind of fruit shop
    • noodle soups are good for on the road
  • snack inbetween 4-6pm
    • nuts
    • fruit
    • sticky rice
    • depends on how i’m feeling. if i feel low energy I’ll have something starchy to pick me up a bit
  • dinner 6-8 pm
    • beef, chicken, eggs… some kind of meat for proteins, with some kind of carb, can usually find some decent noodles or mini BBQ meat sticks about, omlettes are good to find
    • pretty much the same as lunch but I’ll have some different flavouring or a different dish

How To Eat Healthy While Flying

Most airports will have convenience stores and places where you can purchase healthier options. Ideally, you want to plan ahead and bring food with you. You’re allowed to take food on your flight, just not liquids.

So, before your flight pack some things to take with you, and make sure you have enough for the entire flight.

I generally take things like: 

  • Dried fruit and nuts
    • Peanuts, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts etc.
    • Banana, mango, kiwi, strawberry, raisinscranberries etc.
    • Nut butters like almond butterpeanut butter, cashew butter
  • Some kind of carb (white breads/croissant will do on flight days, but keep these to a minimum)
    • Sandwich with some salad and meat inside is the best option here
    • If you can, take some white rice with you, it’s filling and is much better than bread
  • Some fresh fruit like an apple, or a banana – something that is easy to eat on the move and discard
    • Generally I eat as much fruit as I like unless it’s banana or something starchy
    • Fruits like apple, orange, grapes, strawberries etc. are extremely low calories and it’s hard to go over your limit with these.
    • Plus on flight days they’re great for vitamins and minerals you’ll lose from eating flight foods or canteen foods
  • Protein bars
    • Go for natural ones if you can
    • If not whey is ok and is better than nothing for flight days
  • Beef jerky
  • Cereal bars
    • Not coco pops or some chocolately, sugary cr*p
    • Opt for a granola bar with nuts in it, maybe dark chocolate etc.
    • Keep to 1-2 bars
  • Popcorn/crisps (or chips if your American)
    • Low fat, little oil, a little salt
    • Go for baked, air popped, or multi-grain brand
    • Keep to 1-2 small bags

If you don’t pack ahead, you can easily buy salads or meal deals at the airport. Additionally, you could find something passable in an airport canteen that will fit the meat, veg, and carb base formula you should be following.

Avoid temptation and fast-food restaurants like Burger King, KFC, etc., but if you must go and it’s the only option, I like to opt for KFC or Mcdonald’s and get chicken without fries and a fizzy, sugary drink. Something like chicken selects, a KFC breast bit/drumstick bit is ok.

Usually, I will get 5 chicken selects and try find salad somewhere else. Or I will get 2 piece KFC chicken and try to find salad or fruit somewhere else.

Realistically you want to avoid burgers with lots of sauce. The burger buns are trash carbs and the sauce is always so much. If you get a burger, just get the burger. No fries, no soda.

How To Eat Healthy On A Roadtrip

A Long road trip is more difficult to eat healthily during, but it’s doable. Usually, petrol/gas stations don’t have the best options, but if you look you will find some decent cereal bars, or protein bars available. Generally, on road trip days, I stick to protein bars, fruit, and nuts. You will be able to find all of these in most petrol stations.

My best advice is to take some kind of nutrition protein shake that includes vitamins, minerals etc. and you can mix + drink it with water. Take some cereal bars for carbs, some nuts for fats and protein and some water-based fruit.

Road trips are much easier to stay healthy on in some countries. For instance, Vietnam, and most of SEA you will find noodle broths, BBQ meats etc.

How To Eat Healthy On A Roadtrip

Exercise While Traveling

Make sure you stick to at least 3x 30 minutes of exercise per week while you’re traveling. This not only keeps you fit and healthy, but has additional benefits for mental health. You should incorporate strength training, cardio training, and mobility work into one workout. This all sounds very fancy, but you can do it all in one 30-minute session if you build your workout correctly.

The point of a travel exercise routine is to make sure that you can do it anywhere. This means being flexible and having exercises that you can swap out for others when you don’t have a gym nearby. For instance, If you’re in an airport, waiting for the plane, you should be able to bang out a short routine… who cares what people think, it’s beneficial for you to stay fit.

Above is an example of mixing cardio and strength training.

You don’t need any equipment or a gym to stay fit, your body is more than enough to get a full workout in, you just have to push yourself to failure on sets.

We have a full guide on how to build a vacation/travel workout plan with just body-weight exercises, but here’s an example of my own plan I follow below. When I don’t have a pull-up bar nearby, I swap pull-ups out for towel pull-ups or use my heavy backpack for arm curls. Feel free to copy this and use it for yourself.

Free travel exercise plan example:

For more information about exercising on the move, check out our guide on staying fit while traveling.

For convenience, here’s an example workout plan you could follow traveling:

  1. Select 16 bodyweight exercises that engage all your muscles
  2. Form an A&B workout, with different exercises in each
    1. Swap it around like this: week 1 – A, B, A, week 2 – B, A, B – repeat.
  3. Choose rep ranges that work to your skill level
    • do the exercise until you fail (that’s your upper rep limit)
    • rest 30s, try to failure again, this is your lower limit
    • e.g. 10 max, 3 min
  4. Find progressions of each exercise to make them harder as you get stronger
  5. Swap the exercise out to these progressions once you reach the rep limit comfortable for 3 sets
  6. Use your plan 2-3 times per week

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