A lot of my clients travel often for work, and it can be challenging to stay on track with healthy habits. I’ve been there too, by the way—I go through phases where I feel like I live out of a suitcase, so a lot of the tips and tricks I share are things I’ve learned to put into practice in my own life.
It’s one thing if all you’ve got to do when you reach your destination is lie on the beach and drink margaritas, but when you’ve got to get off that plane (or train or bus) and go network with a bunch of strangers or present something for a group who’s paid for you to be there, you want to be on and to have a positive experience.
What we eat en route has a big impact on how we feel when we get where we’re going. Nourishing our body with a balance of protein, healthy fat, and complex carbs and keeping sodium and sugar in check can help us stay energized and upbeat while also keeping travel-related bloating to a minimum.
Of course, this doesn’t just apply to work travel—showing up as your best self is also important when you’re going to a wedding or college reunion and want to feel great or when you’re traveling to visit family and want to keep your shit together when someone brings up politics or yet another well-meaning relative asks when you’re going to get married/have kids/move home—whatever your personal WTF is. Honestly, even if you’re just going to go lie on the beach, you probably want to feel awesome while doing so.
To make your life easier, today I’m sharing ten of my top picks for carry-on snacks for those travel days. Most of these are things you can pack at home but some you may want to purchase in a terminal or convenience store.
Want a full guide to healthy eating on a travel day? You can grab it here.
The 10 Best Carry-On Snacks
To give you a loose structure to follow, I generally recommend breaking it down by food group. In general, though, I encourage prioritizing healthy fats, non-starchy veggies, and protein on a travel day for sustaining energy by helping guard against blood sugar crashes. If you’re including carbs in your day, though, avoid the simple stuff like sweets white flours, especially on an empty stomach, as your body tends to burn through these pretty quickly—not helpful if you want to get some work done on your trip and show up smiling. Tempering the breakdown of those carbs with protein and fat will keep you stable.
- I wouldn’t recommend it as an everyday thing, but on travel days, I do love the convenience of green powders since you can easily mix them up with water. I’m quoted in this mindbodygreen story talking about my go-to.
- Sliced raw veggies pack easily in a ziplock. My current favorite is cherry tomatoes. Yes, I know that these are technically a fruit, but their nutritional profile is more similar to a vegetable.
- Fresh fruit is a no-brainer. Go for stuff with a peel like an orange or banana or keep your stuff in a resealable bag or container. Apples tend to travel well, or you can do other stuff. Just keep in mind that certain things tend to bruise easily (pears, peaches, figs) or will get extra sticky and juicy (stone fruit, certain berries) and that certain berries hold up better than others (cherries, blackberries and strawberries tend to do better than raspberries, for example).
- As I mentioned in this article, I love jerky for a travel-friendly snack, and this one one is my favorite.
- Nuts, seeds, or nut or seed butter (I love sunbutter) pair great with fruit or whole-grain crackers for an energizing combo of protein, healthy fat, and complex carbs. Look for single-serving packs or portion out yourself.
- Chickpea snacks are a delicious nut-free option. Biena makes handy single-serving packs that come in a bunch of flavors. I also appreciate that the sugar and sodium content are generally pretty low compared to lots of other packaged snack foods.
- I almost always have Hodgson Mill’s Flax Chia Blend packets with me to stir into a plain yogurt, and I also adore the Chia Company’s chia shots.
- Single-serving packs of hummus and guacamole are genius with sliced raw veggies or whole grain crackers. I haven’t tried this with hummus, but I can say from experience that freezing the guacamole pack and giving it a few hours to defrost before eating helps it stay cold.
- Olives are salty but sometimes totally hit the spot and can help tide you over. There are lots of great options out now, but I’ve bought these many times over the years and love the different flavors. I even used to carry a back in my labcoat pocket when I worked in clinical.
- Whole grain crackers pack easily and can be paired with all kinds of other stuff as part of a balanced meal or snack. GG Crackers are popular, but if you don’t like them, many of my clients also like Wasa Crispbreads.
…And Some Other Stuff
- Collagen powder is super-handy to add to coffee to add a little protein if you need a little something to keep yourself going but it’s not convenient to have a meal or snack. I usually have a Vital Proteins Grass-Fed Collagen Peptide Stick with me. I probably could have put this in with the protein stuff, but I generally consider this a supplement.
- Vitality Natural Vitality Natural Calm powder packets have been a travel staple of mine for almost 10 years now. This magnesium powder dissolves magically into warm water and is awesome for things like tension headaches or if you suffer from travel-related constipation.
- Probiotics are a must when on the go to help support regular digestion and immune system function. I had the chance to try SimplyBiotix Gutsy FastMelt Sticks a few months ago and even though they’re for kids, I’ve been recommending them to my adult clients and using them myself when I’m traveling, since you don’t need any water or anything to take them with.
What are your travel essentials?
This has been another installment of the Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.
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