In my article “Staying lean when you live a life up in the air” I give quick go-to strategies on how to cope with a travel-heavy schedule.
Examples of where to find good snacks, what to do for movement and ideas for what to eat are all listed.
I really delve into how to thrive without your kitchen and your own snack and home gym many days out of the month.
But what if you are an “Occasional Traveler?”
“Occasional Traveler” [CROF] Definition: someone who doesn’t necessarily take 72 flights in six months, but has to head of out town once a month for work via car, plane or train and must be away from their own bed, kitchen and gym for 24 hours.
That one occasion may seem even more stressful when you aren’t used to flying as much.
Now that I live in Boston I rarely travel.
I am currently on a very strict diet regime and I knew my most recent trip would be a test.
What must you pack in order to keep your nutrition in check?
What are the most important steps to take when you set off for a work trip or quick weekend trip?
How do you let time away from home (that isn’t a huge celebratory get away) not get in the way of your nutrition plan?
Do you need to pack meals in containers and bring a cooler?
Honestly, just a few things will keep you in line!
That is what my hotel rooms always looks like when I travel. Those things are staples no matter what kind of trip I’m on.
Read on to see how those items can help you stay on track with nutrition anywhere you go!
What to pack to stay on track
1) A protein filled, individually wrapped snack.
On occasional trips you are away from your kitchen. You have social dinners, a different schedule and access to lots of snack shops.
Sometimes you may not have access to a gym.
One of the hardest parts of eating at restaurant is knowing what exactly is in the food and how many calories you are actually eating.
It is also hard to eyeball portions.
Other times it is challenging to find protein sources which aren’t fried or fatty.
Therefore, if you can pack individually portioned-out snacks, store bought or homemade you will at least be able to control that part of you nutrition each day.
With these you can account for exactly how many calories you are eating and how much protein you consume.
For instance, I was recently in Vegas for four days. I decided to bring a box of Quest bars.
One Quest bar has 180 calories and 21 grams of protein.
I figured if I eat two of these a day, at least I know with 100% certainty that I have consumed 360 calories and had 42 grams of protein.
Take control of what you can.
Eating packaged food is a temporary tool.
Regardless of what you believe about processed foods, packed items help me control portions and allow me to have ownership of exactly how much I am eating.
But don’t feel like you have to eat them and abstain from going out to eat.
Allow them to help you keep more control on your total for the day.
I am not saying you need to stay in your hotel room and eat those packed items only.
For my past trip specifically I knew I had nightly social dinners but lunch and breakfast were not scheduled.
I knew I would be at a convention most hours of the day and most likely not have time to eat breakfasts at restaurants anyway. I also had no clue what I would do for lunch.
To stay on point with my own personal nutrition challenge and fully knowing that dinner would be extravagant, I decided to eat breakfast and lunch in my room each day.
I knew if I ended up going out to lunch I would have the bars as a snack later depending on how lunch went:
- workout + snack / meal in the room breakfast (20-40 grams protein 400 cals) Beef jerky package and apple
- snack #1 at convention (200 cals, 20 grams protein) Quest bar
- snack #2 after convention (200 cals, 20 grams of protein) Quest bar or Tripact shaker, beef jerky or beef jerky and apple
- big dinner (500 calories)
(~1300 calories is where I come out, leaving room for a cocktail or two if it is a high day, and if it is a low day for me, then I am right on point).
- Workout + snack/meal in the room breakfast (20-40 grams of protein, 400 calories) Quest bar and Tripact shaker or two quest bars
- large work lunch (400-600 calories) *prioritize protein
- snack #1 if I am really hungry or dinner is *late* (200 calories 20 grams protein)
- big dinner (500 calories) + OR eat light at dinner (350 calories) **and if the snack#1 was omitted, pack a snack #2 (150 calories) to eat at the hotel afterward or on the way home
*Having the snacks in the room are great in case dinner options are very unhealthy
In both cases you can see how I end up around the 1300-1500 calories range (which is appropriate for my height, bodyweight, activity level and goals) and at dinner I have ample wiggle room.
Note that these are mere examples that are tailored to my life, but I hope by showing them you can see my thought process on prioritizing protein.
Most recently when I traveled what actually happen on the first full day was Plan A: at dinner I had two drinks, shrimp cocktail and roasted mushrooms.
On the second full day I did Plan B: I ate half a piece of salmon for lunch (only ate half for portion’s sake) with spinach and artichokes and also had a bigger dinner with the company omitting the second snack.
On the third day I traveled home. Before I departed I ate an awesome breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi with egg whites, turkey, avocado, tomato and a side of mushrooms before a quick 20 minute workout.
But here’ the thing, you don’t have to pack Quest bars. They are not a magic food. They are just one thing I personally like.
For instance, when I saw Krave beef jerky in the convenience shop, I grabbed a few packages so that I could eat those with a apple (from the hotel gym) instead of buying an extravagant heavy lunch.
If I ate one whole package of (3 servings at 80 calories each) I could get 240 calories and 28 grams of protein.
Knowing I would be lifting each day I was there having protein packed snack with exact portions on hand in my room was a huge help.
Another great aspect of having the protein snacks around is that they don’t make you feel obligated to eat a huge portion of protein at dinner, or feeling out-of-luck if there isn’t good protein at dinner.
In a worst case-scenario situation, without packed snacks I would survive because apples and bananas are easy to find on-the-go and are typically located in hotel gyms for free.
However, in my experience if that’s all I eat before dinner I tend to be ravenous.
For me to stay on track with my own macros for the day and to feel a good energy balance when sitting at conventions I like front loading my protein consumption and not leaving it all up to one big dinner (when I am starving) at nighttime.
I have much better success when I bring my own protein snacks.
I am fully aware of how many calories I have consumed and how many I should consume at dinner.
Please know that you may have a different schedule than I do, be more or less active.
Also, know that nothing is perfect.
Is eating packaged food ideal?
But for one to three days with a hectic schedule, if it keeps you on track, awesome!
There is no secret fat loss snack you should be packing, but when you pack use this as a guide:
• make sure it is measured (if home-made)
• make sure it is 100-300 calories
• make sure it has 10 grams of protein per serving at least
• make sure it is something you won’t go overboard with if sitting in your room
The last point is key.
If you are someone who may not have a ton of self-control when snacks are around this may not be the best strategy for you.
2) Protein powder
Whenever I travel I always find a way to move and I lift heavy if I have access to a gym.
Along with the protein packaged snack, bringing a portion powder makes my post-workout nutrition stay consistent.
With Tripact I can rest assured that I have some post workout protein on hand at all times in my room.
Tripact is also great because it has green super foods in it and probiotics to help with digestion.
At home I use protein powder often when cooking and making other meals and shakes.
Using the protein powder helps me hit certain amounts of protein each day. Therefore I will know I will be having this in addition to, or alternating with the other packaged snack when I am traveling.
With the Quest bars and Tripact protein powder alone I can eat around 500 calories that are mainly protein and stay on track.
Without them I am at the mercy of whatever restaurants are in or around my hotel, what gas stations have to offer on the road or what snacks I can find at the airport.
And while fruits and nuts are easy to find, they don’t help me achieve the macronutrient ratio I seek as easily.
Even more, I never feel full on fruit alone.
When you are on the road you sacrifice your normal routine; bringing items you normally consume (if possible) helps you not stray too far.
You are exposed to more tempting indulgences; and while a vacation is great time to indulge, quick work trips are typically a time you want to stay on track despite the tantalizing surroundings.
If you stay on track throughout the day, one small indulgence (like a cocktail or small dessert) will feel better and more enjoyable and won’t take you off track!
How great is that?
The goal for me is to keep as much consistent while I travel as possible and having protein powder and portioned snack like Quest bars or beef jerky help me do this.
And in case you are wondering, even if you put your protein powder your carry-on and get stopped by security, you will be set free. #daretopacksnacks
3) Fitness accessories
This may seem silly, but take a second to think about what items you use throughout the week to stay on track with your nutrition goals.
Here are some that come to my mind:
• food scale
• water bottle
• fish oil/vitamins
• Athletic greens
• running shoes
• head band
If you use any of the items above on a daily basis, why not bring them with you?
By leaving them behind sometimes they leave top-of-mind space.
By bringing these items not only do they help you carry out planned daily actions but they keep you mindful.
I would not use my food scale on the road because I bring Quest bars or items where I know how much is in them already. But if you are against eating packaged food and plan on getting take- out, who knows! It could come in handy to double check portion sizes.
After my crazy 72 flight-stint in 2014 I found it completely routine and very easy to pack my pre-workout, workout clothes, fish oil and vitamins every time I set off for a trip no matter how long it was.
Each time I unpacked my fitness items, I was reminded of the fact that just because I am away from home, my goals live with me and I am motivated so much that I packed them to keep me on track.
Be your own boss! Pack and plan ahead to hold yourself accountable.
A lot of my nutrition clients set up top-of-mind reminders and strategies like hanging their goal dress in the fore-front of their closet, getting a new special water bottle to remind them of hydration, buying a new workout outfit for motivation etc.
Packing your fitness accessories makes staying on track less stressful.
You will be more likely to stay on track with more controls and less variables.
Packing these items will allow you to learn how to be able to leave home, be outside of your comfort zone but take comfort in your ability to stay not track with these tools as reminders.
Traveling is never easy no matter how quick your flight is or how awesome the hotel gym looks. And trust me, I have frequented some pretty awesome gyms!
Plan ahead and pack protein snacks pre-portioned, protein powder and fitness accessories to keep you on point!
***If you are interested in trying my favorite Tripact protein by Nutrologyonline.com use this coupon code: daretomove, when you click on the link in the article for 20% off.