How to Eat Real Food While Traveling

28 Jan

Just after Christmas, our family went on a wonderful vacation to La Jolla, CA. What a beautiful place! The weather was so incredible. I honestly think that I would be a nicer person if I could start my morning with a walk along the coastline. When you are coming from Wisconsin’s ridiculously cold winters, it’s really something when there is no temperature change when you walk from inside to the outdoors.

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It had been a really long time since Nic and I had traveled. Since our honeymoon, actually. While we’ve always eaten pretty healthy, we hadn’t taken a substantial trip (I don’t count weekend getaways to Door County and Lake Geneva as vacations) since we really cleaned up our diet and completely focus on real, whole foods. In fact, it’s been more than 10 years since I studied abroad in Australia and I still can look back now and remember not feeling the best, gaining a few pounds, and the crazy sugar cravings while I was there. There were lots of weekend trips of eating out, eating fast food to keep costs down (hey, we were college kids on a budget!), WAY too many alcoholic beverages, and food from a dining hall. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my body was not happy. Traveling and eating out can really do a number on you.

I wanted to make sure that we were mindful of eating well on our vacation to La Jolla, without being too obsessed or getting carried away with it. I wanted to pack smart snacks, stock up on a few items for our hotel room when we arrived, and pick some great places to eat out. My favorite part of traveling is trying new, local restaurants. Here’s how we kept our eating in tip top shape while on vacation:

How to Eat Real Food While Traveling

  • Our hotel room was equipped with the perfect little fridge where we could keep things like milk, blueberries, and cheese.
  • We bought a non-homegenized, low pasteurized whole milk so Lyla could have a quality milk to drink throughout the week and I could scrape the cream off the top for my coffee. Yum.
  • We kept breakfasts simple. Scripps Inn had a very small, but wonderful area of breakfast options. Most of the options were pastries, so we stuck with the plain yogurt and granola. If you aren’t crazy about the breakfast options at your hotel, that’s the perfect meal to pick out a few healthy choices from the grocery store. I’m someone who NEEDS breakfast, but I don’t like rushing out of our hotel room in the morning to find something to eat.
  • I packed a lot of healthy snacks. Did you check out our post about real food travel snacks for kids? I chose things that traveled well, were easy to pack, light weight, and wouldn’t give you that yucky stomach feeling. You know how traveling can mess with the gut? That bloated, tired, uncomfortable feeling of eating on the road is the WORST!
  • I did a lot of research ahead of time to find some farm to table restaurants that were near to where we were staying and traveling.
  • Scope out restaurant menus ahead of time, especially if you are going somewhere you don’t think will have real food options. In social situations at restaurants, it’s easy to gloss over the menu and settle on something too quickly. Peruse the menu online and make a good decision before you even sit down to eat. But…keep your ears open for the specials…
  • Places like airports and malls with food courts can offer some surprisingly healthy options. Keep in mind, you usually have to seek out that ONE healthy kiosk or restaurant, but take your time and look for it. I found a wonderful salad place at Ohara airport. I got to pick my greens, all of my own toppings (tons to pick from!), and a dressing.
  • Drink water. When you are traipsing through airports, being served beverages on a plane, or hitting up touristy eating areas at meal times, it’s easy to grab something sugary. Just because it’s there and looks delicious/refreshing, doesn’t mean you should buy it. Think of how your body will feel after downing a fake, sugary soda (ginger ale gets me every time!). Not good. Just chose water. You won’t regret it.
  • Don’t get too hung up on organic and GMO foods while traveling. These things are important, but fresh, whole foods are more important when your options are limited.
  • For your kids and airplane travel, carry milk onto the plane. I worried about this ahead of time, but I shouldn’t have. Lyla is 2 ½, and I clearly am not breastfeeding any more. I thought I’d get hassled for bringing milk on the plane for her. Not at all. Everyone was super nice about it at security – they just tested it for explosives and sent us on our way. At least for your travel days, you can ensure quality milk for your kids.
  • A great tip I got from some of my real food blog peeps: create your own whole milk. Unfortunately, most public places only carry low fat milk. If that is the case, order milk and ask if they have half and half to add to up the fat content. Although, if you are on the flight I was on, they didn’t have milk at all. I asked for whole milk while we were in flight. I didn’t actually think they would have whole milk, but I thought I would just ask. Didn’t even have low fat.

I’m not typically someone who takes pictures of their food in restaurants, but I wanted to share some of our great meals.

Puesto La Jolla, CA | WholeGreenLove.com

Chicken al Pastor and Zucchini & Cactus Tacos from Puesto - incredible flavor and the perfect amount of spice!

Herringbone La Jolla, CA | WholeGreenLove.com

Bone marrow with a bourbon glaze and sour apple from Herringbone – perfectly done with amazing crusty bread! Also, I had the best Brussels sprouts I have ever tasted, they were fried with candied pecans. Om nom nom.

PrepKitchen La Jolla, CA | WholeGreenLove.com

Stayed in one night and got take-out from PrepKitchen – tempura broccoli, WNL Burger, slow roasted pork belly, and butternut squash gnocchi. All amazing.

Piatti La Jolla, Ca | WholeGreenLove.com

Our New Years Eve dinner was at Piatti - An endive and arugula salad with marinated beets and a lemon vinegarette, and a black mission figs, caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar, pancetta, mozzarella, basil, shaved grana padano pizza. No words to describe the deliciousness.

We had such a great trip – got to relax, soak up some sun, enjoy the fresh ocean air, and ate delicious meals. No upset stomachs, didn’t pick up any sickie bugs, and stayed regular (TMI? ha!). I’ll consider that a successful family vacation!

How do you plan ahead or make smart choices when you eat while traveling?



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One Response to “How to Eat Real Food While Traveling”

  1. Sally Black February 1, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    GREAT tips here for parents! I am a big advocate of
    “airplane picnics” for kids and parents alike. http://www.vacationkids.com/Vacations-with-kids/bid/331812/What-Can-Kids-Eat-On-A-Plane-10-Helpful-Tips-for-Parents

    If food and healthy eating are important to you and your family, it certainly needs to be a priority right from the early travel planning stages. Travel opportunities offer so many wonderful opportunities to enjoy regional favorites and seasonal farm to table options that often we can’t enjoy at home.

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