At home, you likely have an all-star lineup of good-for-you recipes and grab-and-go lunch spots that help keep your wellness intentions on track. (Pret and Chipotle FTW!) But traveling can easily throw your whole clean-eating routine out of whack—especially if you’re staying in a kitchen-less hotel room in an unfamiliar ‘hood.
What do you do when all that’s near your suite is a strip-mall Chinese restaurant and McDonald’s? Or at the airport, when your options are essentially pre-packaged sandwiches or greasy Sbarro pizza (and it’s just been announced that your flight’s been delayed…again)?
To find out, I reached out to the people who know smart travel as well as they know healthy eating: the higher-ups of health-conscious food companies. (After all, these execs rack up a lot of frequent flier miles.)
Everyone included here has built a career on making nutritious food available to the masses—so you know they’re expert label readers and discerning about how they fuel themselves. And not a single one mentioned energy bars, if you can believe it.
Here are 8 snack options that healthy food pros actually eat when traveling.
Pro travel tip courtesy of Chameleon Cold-Brew CEO Chris Campbell: Take advantage of the free oatmeal, granola, and fruit offered up at most hotels. (If yours doesn’t have it, chances are there’s a café nearby that does.) “It’s generally pretty reliable, as far as breakfast goes,” he says.
He recommends sticking some breakfast buffet items in your bag, too. “I keep a few healthy snacks with me, like organic apples and trail mix,” says Campbell. “I move around a lot during the day, so nutritious, energizing foods are a must!”
2. Caesar salad
“I rely on kale Caesar salads when I’m traveling,” says Caliwater founder Matt McKee. “You can get one pretty much anywhere.” He makes a good point: Even Burger King has Caesar salad, and good ol’ romaine is almost as vitamin-packed as the dark leafy greens. To make it even healthier, BYO salad dressing—in TSA-approved containers, of course.
3. Panera Bread anything
When Ancient Harvest‘s VP of marketing Geoff Stella is out of town with his family, he needs a place with options, since it’s rare that everyone wants to eat the same thing. For that, he usually turns to Panera Bread. “I can feel really good about what I’m feeding myself and my kids when we go there,” he says. Another bonus? From topping your salad with protein to adding kale to the mac-and-cheese, there are plenty of off-the-menu hacks that’ll make your meal even more nutritious.
4. Veggie omelette
Getting three solid, nutrient-dense meals on the go doesn’t always happen, which is why General Mills organic ambassador Katrina Hines make sure she at least gets breakfast right. “I’ve found it’s not that difficult to seek out a veggie omelette,” she says. “Most places have one!”
5. Starbucks snacks
For Hippeas founder and CEO Livio Bisterzo, all that’s needed to piece together a healthy-ish meal is a gas station and a Starbucks. “My quick meal is a bag of jerky, iced green tea, and, of course, a bag of vegan white cheddar Hippeas from Starbucks,” he says. He often buys the coffee chain’s little packets of mixed nuts, too, so he has something to nosh on while in transit.
6. Dark chocolate
When Banza CEO and co-founder Brian Rudolph is looking over a menu, he zeros in on the entrée options that offer up the most veggies. But he has a sweet hack for staying energized between salads—pun intended. “I always keep a bar of 90-100 percent dark chocolate in my bag,” he says. “It doesn’t take up much space, provides a quick pick-me-up, and it’s filling and delicious.” Hey, no one said dessert was reserved for after dinner.
7. Tricked-out Greek yogurt
Instead of eating three big meals, Hope Foods president Robbie Rech is all about having several lighter ones. “I avoid heavy meals so I can stay sharp for all my appointments,” he says. His favorite options are hummus with carrots and Greek yogurt topped with fruit and granola. Small, yet satisfying.
8. Homemade wrap
When traveling by car, Siete Family Foods president Veronica Garza always tracks down a Whole Foods to hit up the hot bar. “That’s my main go-to,” she says. “But if I’m traveling by plane, I always pack an almond flour tortilla sandwich to hold me over in flight.” It definitely beats those sad-looking wraps at the airport kiosks.
Eating while traveling is especially tricky if you’re sticking to the Whole30, but packing these surprising healthy snacks will help. And Elle Macpherson has some more pointers for how to maintain your wellness habits while on the road.
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