I have mentioned this before but, the travel bug bit me at an early age. Even though I come from a large family, when I was a kid, we were blessed to have opportunities to travel all over this great country and abroad. Since we had such a large family, this usually meant many family road trips.
While many kids loath road trips, the hours on end in a car without TV or video games (at least that’s how road trips were way back then, LOL!), I loved it! I loved playing road trip games with my siblings, blowing through books on my lengthy summer reading list, enjoying special road trip snacks and seeing the world around me pass by.
To this day, I still love hitting the open road and seeing the beauty that surrounds us! This year especially has given us the opportunity to take a few fun and exciting trips together as a family, and I have also been busy traveling a lot for work. And while I will always thrive on the adventure traveling brings, sometimes being on the road and away from home can be hard. Not being on a normal routine, not sleeping in your own bed, and eating out a lot can make you tired and exhausted. That’s why I decided to share some of my best tips for staying balanced and eating at least a little bit healthier while traveling (because let’s, be honest, part of the fun in traveling is enjoying a special meal or treat).
5 Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling:
1. Pack Road Trip Snacks: Not only can road trips snacks and meals be very expensive when traveling, they are often not the best for you. So for road trips, I always pack a cooler and a lunch box full of snacks and meals we can conveniently enjoy on the road. This does take a little prep beforehand, but luckily I have a Randalls store right around the corner that has many convent snacks like, Quaker Popped Mini Rice Snacks, Wheat Thins Reduced Fat, Planters Peanuts and Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars, that are perfect for road trips. Other healthier snacks that also travel well, are grapes, bananas, carrot and celery sticks, hummus, cherry tomatoes and bottled water. In addition to snack foods, if we are going on really long road trips, like 6+ hours, I also pack sandwiches or salads in a jar (like the Thai Chopped Salad I am sharing below) so that we don’t have to worry about finding a place to stop for lunch on a long deserted Texas highway.
2. Stay Somewhere with a Kitchen: While I admit, that I don’t necessarily want to cook while I am traveling, renting a condo, cabin or hotel room with a full kitchen is super convenient. Having access to a kitchen, or at least a microwave or mini fridge while on vacation, gives you the option to prepare homemade meals and forgo eating out your entire vacation. When we went to the beach earlier this summer, our condo had a full kitchen, so we on cooked breakfast (fruit, yogurt, eggs) and lunch (salads, sandwiches, etc.) at our condo and then enjoyed a meal at a local restaurant at night. Even if you don’t have a full kitchen, having a place, like a cooler or mini fridge, to store healthier and convenient snacks and breakfast foods is really helpful.
3. Find the Nearest Grocery Store: Since we try to always plan to prepare at least a few of our meals or snacks while traveling, I always look up the local grocery stores while I plan our trip. This is helpful when booking our hotel so that we can choose a hotel that has a grocery store located near by. This is not only helpful to shop for groceries but in case we need to pick up any forgotten travel necessities. When looking up local groceries stores, I always try to locate stores that I am already familiar with so that shopping in a new location is less stressful. Luckily, not only does Safeway and Albertsons have a nifty store locator you can access online or via your cell phone, they have a large selection of banner stores nation wide. So while I am used to shopping Randalls when I am at home, I can find another Randalls, Tom Thumb or other Safeway store, while I am out on the open road!
4. Research Local Restaurants: So being a foodie, for me this tip has a double purpose. I am a firm believer of eating locally as much a possible when I travel. Since I love good food, and enjoy being inspired by food and flavors I get to experience all over the world, this is very important to me. Not only do I thoroughly research the local restaurants of our vacation spots, to find the absolute best restaurants possible, I also take time to look over the menu. While I do like to enjoy special treats and indulgent meals while on vacation (who doesn’t?), I try to balance these special treats with healthier options as well. For instance, when I was recently out of town for a week on business, I chose a lighter meal for lunch (like a salad or lean protein and veggies) since I knew dinner would be more indulgent with steak, pasta and maybe a dessert or two. Already having an idea of where I would eat and what I would order made me not only feel better, but allowed me to plan and enjoy a few special treats!
5. Drink Plenty of Water: We all know we should be drinking plenty of water each day, something that is much easier to do at home than on the road. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a soda or two or occasional happy hour while on vacation. Just remember to drink at least one water for every specialty drink and have plenty of bottled water on hand for outdoor vacations, like camping, the amusement park or beach, where you will be in the heat and sun all day long.
I love salads in a jar for quick, convenient and healthy on the go meals! These salads can be made 2-3 days in advance and due to the specific layering of the ingredients, don’t wilt or get soggy. Salads in a jar are great for when you want to pack a cooler full of snacks and meals to take on a long road trip, to stock in your mini fridge at your hotel, or for simply grabbing when you rush out the door for a busy day at work. I love this Thai Chopped Salad for all the crisp veggies, plump edamame, crunchy peanuts and creamy, yet spicy peanut dressing. While this salad is hearty enough without any meat, feel free to add some grilled shrimp or chicken for added protein.
Thai Chopped Salad in a Jar
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions: www.kitchen-concoctions.com
Prep Time: 20 minutes Yields: 4 jars
1 batch Thai Peanut Salad Dressing (recipe below)
1 (8-ounce) package shredded cabbage
3 large carrots, shredded
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large cucumber, diced
1 cup shelled edamame beans
1 (6-ounce) container Planters Chili Lime or Chipotle Peanuts
3 green onions, chopped
1 (5-ounce) package O Organics Baby Romaine
4 (24-ounce) glass jars with a lid
Divide the dressing between four 24-ounce jars. Divide the remaining salad ingredients into four equal portions. Loosely layer the salad ingredients into the the four jars in the order they are listed, with the lettuce and green onions at the top; leaving at least 1-inch of space at the top of the jar.
Seal the jar and refrigerate for up to 2-3 days. When ready to enjoy, shake the jar vigorously to mix the ingredients and dressing. Salad can be eaten directly in the jar, or poured into a bowl or onto a plate.
Thai Peanut Salad Dressing
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions: www.kitchen-concoctions.com
Prep Time: 10 minutes Yields: approximately 2 cups
¼ cup creamy all-natural peanut butter
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (or ¼ teaspoon dried ginger)
¼ teaspoon each black pepper and kosher salt
2 teaspoons chili or hot sauce
¼ – ½ cup olive oil
3-4 tablespoons water
Combine all ingredients, except oil and water, in a large blender. Blend for 30-40 seconds. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down sides. Turn blender on low speed and slowly drizzle in enough oil until combined. Blend in water until desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust seasonings to preference.
Dressing can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
*NOTE: For a vegan salad, substitute maple syrup for the honey.
Albertsons and all Albertsons banner stores, including Safeway, Randalls, and Tom Thumb, are hosting “The Best Road Trip Ever” sweepstakes. They want to not only help you stock up on road trip essentials, like Quaker Popped Mini Rice Snacks, Wheat Thins Reduced Fat, Planters Peanuts, and QUAKER Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars, but want to know your tips, tricks and hacks for having “The Best Road Trip Ever”. Click here to share your Best Road Trip ever for a chance to win big!