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Nutritional Tips for Traveling

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Nutritional Tips for Traveling

Chances are you’re among the 82% of Americans planning to travel this summer. Whether traveling for business or vacation, the break in your daily routine can throw off the best intentions for healthy eating and consistent exercise. Preparing and planning ahead and making mindful choices while traveling can help you stay on track with your health goals.

Prioritizing Your Mindset

Before going on your next big trip, reflect on your health goals, where you are on your journey and what you wish to get out of the trip relative to those goals. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will you make progress toward your goals or maintain your progress? 
  • Would you like to dedicate time and awareness to planning food choices and physical activity? 
  • How do you want to focus on the experience and the people around you? 

Setting your intentions prior to traveling will guide your choices and can help you stay consistent with your health goals.

Planning Ahead

Working toward and maintaining health requires some level of preparation and planning. This can be as easy as making a list of accessible snacks to shop for, including:

  • Apples and individual packs of nuts or nut butter (Justin’s® almond butter, RX™ Nut Butter, Once Again® Sunbutter)
  • Berries and a low-fat or nonfat Greek yogurt such as Chobani®, Oikos® or TwoGood®
  • Pre-chopped vegetables with hummus
  • String cheese with individual packets of snacks such as popcorn or SunChips®
  • Triscuits with tuna packets or hard-boiled eggs 
  • Bananas and dry roasted edamame (Seapoint Farms or The Only Bean)

If you anticipate these options won’t be available at your destination, pack your own healthy snacks or see if it’s possible to visit a grocery store near your destination and stock up for the length of your stay. Learn more about how to plan meals and snacks when you’re on the move with our On-the-go Eating article. For more snack ideas from Cooper Clinic registered dietitian nutritionists, read Healthy Road Trip Snacks.
While you are on vacation, splurges on treats or decadent meals are an important part of the experience. But before your trip, decide how often you’re going to choose them and think about ways you can enjoy food and beverages that will help you move toward your health goals. Anticipating where and when you will have your meals or snacks is also a fantastic way to plan. Have back-up options in case there are unforeseen delays due to traffic, bad weather or even schedule changes. A pro tip is to eat breakfast on a regular basis to decrease the chances of choosing unhealthy food or large portions throughout the day.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is key to making sure you stay hydrated and avoid heat exhaustion, especially during the hot summer months. Pack an empty water bottle for the trip to refill as often as you need, purchase water on the way and order water with each restaurant meal.

Not only is good nutrition important while traveling, staying active and moving is also imperative to keeping your body in its best form. Integrate physical activity into your itinerary. If you have limited time on a business trip, look for opportunities to get extra steps in at the airport or hotel. If on vacation, take advantage of sightseeing attractions that involve walking, hiking and biking. Use the hotel gym; follow up your morning cup of coffee with a walk on the treadmill or enjoy a quick weightlifting session to start the day strong. Professional Fitness Trainer Aaron Feldman, MS, discusses how to stay active and moving while traveling in this article. Read more about how to improve your fitness with additional Fitness Files articles.

Mindful Choices

Even while relaxing on vacation, we can make mindful food choices, especially when dining out. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be perfect. Try to balance large, rich meals with lighter meals. Approach your menu options with curiosity and look for creative solutions if you want a healthy meal but don’t have one available. Try eating smaller portions or ask to have your entrée modified so that it doesn’t have added cream, sauce or butter. Plan a smaller, healthier meal later and mindfully enjoy the meal in front of you by eating more slowly. Another option could be to supplement your meal with a healthy snack you packed. 

Give yourself grace when traveling, remembering you don’t have to be perfect to meet your health goals, but rather focus on making intentional choices. Choose the foods and beverages you want to enjoy and opt for moderation and healthy choices most of the time throughout your travels.

If you have questions about eating healthy while traveling, schedule a nutrition consultation with a Cooper Clinic registered dietitian nutritionist. Call 972.560.2655 or visit

Article provided by Kayla Quashie, MS, RDN, LD, and Cooper Clinic Nutrition.