by Jordan Douglas, HHC

Navigating food and nourishment while traveling can be tricky business for anyone with dietary restrictions or specific dietary preferences. One of the most exciting aspects of travel is exploring new foods and cuisine, though sometimes these can be overwhelming to the system. Depending on your dietary preferences, options may be limited while you’re the road. COVID of course adds an additional layer of complication in terms of restrictions around dining out. Whether you’re camping, traveling to a new city or town or simply visiting friends or family, it’s important to have a game plan. Here are 5 of my top tips for implementing a successful plan of action:

  1. Research before you go. Google is your best friend here. A simple search of your destination and your important key words (e.g. vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free, organic) will give you a great starting point. You can also search for cafes, juice and smoothie bars and health food stores this way as well. If you are a plant-based eater, Happy Cow is a fantastic resource.
  2. Communicate. If you’re staying with friends or family, start by having an open dialogue before you arrive. Most people want to be good hosts, which means they want to understand what you need to feel content and at home. Share a bit about your dietary restrictions or preferences, and encourage them to ask questions if they’re curious or uncertain. You might consider offering to help plan and prepare meals together, so you can ensure your needs will be covered and there will be something delicious for everyone to share. Same rules apply for any travel companions who may eat differently than you do. And if you are eating out at restaurants, call ahead and check in on any menu questions/make requests for accommodations before you dine.
  3. Be in charge of your own food. Before you plan your trip, ask yourself what tools you need to set yourself up for nourishment and success. Staying at an Airbnb? Look for one with a kitchen. Camping? Pack a Jetboil or small camp stove. Staying with friends or family? Make a run to your preferred grocery/health food store and stock up on your essentials upon arrival.
  4. Pack snacks. Planes are out of the question for most of us these days, which means a good old-fashioned road trip if we want to get out of town. I’m a big fan of packing plenty of snacks and tools so that you feel nourished on the road. For a more extreme example, I once drove across the country with my pal Blake and we made green juice and overnight oats at each overnight stop so that we would feel our best for long days of driving and adventure. A cooler is pretty essential for any road trip longer than 6-8 hours. Apples, carrots, celery and hummus are all easy to throw in. Nuts, seeds, trail mix, granola and nut butter packets are great options. Simple Mills crackers with Treeline cheese also makes for a delicious savory snack. You may also be able to pack a few actual meals, like salads or grain and veggie bowls. I’m also a big fan of bringing my own tea and thermos so that I’ve got my herbal allies with me.
  5. Support you gut. Herbal bitters and digestive enzymes are two great tools to support your gut and keep things moving while you’re away from home. Herbal digestive bitters are sprayed on the tongue before meals to help tone and optimize the efficacy of the digestive system, ensuring proper nutrient absorption and effective elimination and reducing any potential gas, bloating or digestive discomfort. Digestive enzymes are taken after meals to help break down foods that may give some trouble, such as gluten, dairy, beans and cruciferous veggies.

Perhaps the most important tip for staying nourished while traveling is knowing you can always cultivate a solid foundation to return to. If you need assistance in that regard, I’m here to support you and don’t hesitate to reach out healthcoach@ellwoodthompsons.com. If you have other favorite travel tips, I’d love to hear them!

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