How to Stay Healthy While You Travel

How to Stay Healthy While You Travel

All Tray Tables in the Upright Position


Airports can be pretty unhealthy places. At airports, you negotiate food courts packed with fast food, newsstands selling candy bars and Fritos, and Starbuck’s pastry counters. If you ate at each opportunity, you’d gain about 10 pounds before making your connecting flight.

The good news is that traveling doesn’t have to mean eating unhealthy foods. You can eat well anywhere, even in an airport, on an airplane, in a hotel room, in the car on a road trip, and at a train station. Of course, no one is saying it’s easy. The healthy choices are there; it’s making them that’s the challenge. Here are easy ways to eat healthy while traveling.


Ready for Takeoff with Energy-Boosting Foods


Food temptations are everywhere at airports, so choose only those foods that add to the travel experience and boost your health. You might savor a tasty burrito at the Albuquerque airport or a cup of chowder at the Boston airport, but is that Big Mac the energy-boosting meal you need to successfully survive three time zones?

Ask yourself, “Am I eating because I’m hungry, or because I’m stressed?” If you don’t have hunger pangs, then burn off stress hormones with a brisk walk down the concourse. An hour layover means you can log at least 40 minutes of your day’s workout by walking.

The number one rule for staying healthy, avoiding jet lag, and boosting fortitude for travel is to bring food with you. Pack your briefcase, roll-on, backpack, purse, or even a paper bag with:


∙    Unsalted nuts, fresh fruit, cut up veggies, or string cheese.

∙    Toss berries, cottage cheese, and nuts into a washed yogurt container that can be thrown away after eating.

∙    Lettuce makes a great wrap for leftover chicken, beans, and other goodies.


While in a few isolated instances you can get real food at an airport, say Rubio’s fish tacos in San Diego or Macheezmo Mouse low-fat Mexican food at Portland International, those are exceptions, not the rule. Focus on the “5 Airport Food Groups”: Fruit, lettuce, bread (whole wheat when possible), chicken, and water. Keep in mind that any of the following can serve as a take-out meal for the airplane! Here are some tips:


∙    You always can find a fruit basket with apples, oranges, or bananas.

∙    Remember grilled or baked only, from grilled chicken sandwiches and salads to a plain baked potato.

∙    Make an open-faced sandwich by throwing out the top piece of bread.

∙    Go for a fast-food salad. Toss out the croutons, thick dressing, and cheese.

∙    Go easy on salty foods that compound dehydration and traveler’s fatigue.



Curbing Cravings at Cruising Altitude


Eating right on a flight is another matter. Avoid deciding what to eat when you’re in emergency starvation mode 35,000 feet above the ground. Instead, pre-order a special meal no later than 24 hours before the flight. Most airlines offer a variety of healthy options.

If you forgot to plan ahead, then follow these last-minute rules:

∙    Water is your best friend. The humidity in the airplane is as low as 2%, which leads to major dehydration, fatigue, and jet lag. So, bring a water bottle with you, order three glasses of water every time you’re offered a drink (drink at least two glasses per hour), and skip the salty snack.

∙    Board the plane with ready-made snacks. Those same snacks you had at the airport serve you well in a pinch on the plane. Some flight attendants will even microwave your home-cooked meal, just make sure you let them know when you board

∙    Eat light on the flight. Airline portions might be small, but that doesn’t mean they’re low-cal. A smoked turkey and cheese sandwich with chips and a cookie packs up to 950 calories and 50 grams of fat!


Stretching also is critical to your flight success. Get out of your seat for at least five minutes every hour of the flight. Request an aisle seat in the middle of the plane, so it’s easy to get up and walk back and forth without over-disturbing people up and down the aisle. Stretching frequently at the back of the plane can help circulation.


What to Eat When Traveling by Rail or Road and in Hotels


Rule #1: Avoid the major pitfall of traveling: skipping meals. Eat regularly, starting with breakfast to avoid the inevitable binge that comes from being so hungry you’ll eat 100 bags of peanuts, your entree and the fellow’s next to you on the train, bus, or plane.


Rule #2: Watch out for alcohol. Combine a little alcohol with travel and hunger and it’s an all-out “throw-caution-to-the-wind” blow out by dinnertime. Make pre-dinner drinking non-alcoholic and have a glass of wine with your meal.


Rule #3: Remember to bring your vitamins! It is a sure bet you won’t eat perfectly while on vacation, so make sure to fill in the gaps with a well-balanced vitamin and mineral supplement. Place them in a convenient spot so you don’t forget.


These tips, along with a personalized vitamin regimen, could be just the ticket to help support your body when traveling. Whether you’re looking to boost energy or support digestion, Persona provides a better way to get better vitamins. Plus, we have options to fit what you want. You can take our free 3 to 5-minute assessment to get personalized vitamin recommendations based on your unique needs. If you already know what you need or would like to see popular options, try our convenient Essential pre-packs. Ready to find high-quality supplements that are right for you? Get Recommendations or See Essential Packs.


1. Przybys J: Airport dining takes off. Las Vegas Review Journal, Wednesday, September 3, 1997.

2. Nutritional analysis, Food Processor, 5-ounce blueberry muffin.

3. Nutritional analysis from Food Processor.

4. Calculated from numbers obtained from : Katch F, McArdle W: Nutrition, Weight Control, and Exercise. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977, page 354.

This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.


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