I’ve shared about my work travel before (see DC post). I’ve showed some of the snacks I pack when I’m on airplanes and trains. But I don’t think I’ve ever written a comprehensive post with my hacks.
On Sunday, I posted that I was packing JP some snacks for his business trip. He checked into his flight to learn that it was at 8:30, not 6:30 pm. He was traveling to Phoenix, AZ, and his landing time was estimated for 4 am EST. Arizona isn’t the only place he will see this week. Over the week, he’s going to see Minnesota, Wisconsin – a trip to Toronto, Canada might be happening on Friday. For his trip, it’s not reasonable for him to pack fresh foods, but a few protein bars and carb snacks can help him supplement when he needs it.
So my hacks for when I travel.
Like I shared in my post from February linked above, I always research where I’m going. We all have different priorities in our journey’s when we’re traveling so you need to determine how you can stick to those priorities. I was traveling during competition prep whenever I hit the road from January to April, which meant working out and sticking to my nutrition plan were equally important.
This post is just about nutrition, how do I stick to it?
Here’s a list of my favorite travel friendly snacks and brands broken out into their categories:
Protein: Quest Single Serve
Not only are these already portioned out, TSA has no reason to question them. These are carry-on and checked baggage approved. They are a whey and casein blend, so keep that in mind if one of these doesn’t make your stomach happy. If you are checking a bag, it’s not unreasonable to pack protein in ziplock bags, but make sure to label them.
Aminos: Cellucor’s Alpha Amino 5 serving bag
This is great for airplane travel because it’s a resealable bag. Many amino powders are bright white, with a serving bag like this there’s no arguing what it is. It’s also a great amount for short travel. In a week, I can consume the whole bag.
Pre-packaged non-perishable food:
- Any protein bars
- DRY oatmeal – you can get oats through TSA as long as water hasn’t been added. If it’s something you want to eat in the airport, you should be able to find a microwave at a bistro-esq stand or if you ask nicely, sometimes the people at Starbucks will heat it up for you.
- Starkist Single Serve Tuna – these don’t need to be chilled and since they’re air vacuumed, they can handle the travel.
- Fruit + Ziplock – When I travel by train to the New York I usually pack an apple or banana, a napkin, a ziplock along with travel pack of WetOnes. I can eat the fruit, wipe my hands and use the ziplock for trash and store in my bag until I find a place to dispose of it.
- Rice Cakes – I usually will wrap these in a shirt or two to prevent breakage.
- Pancakes – Yes, I have traveled with pancakes that I have already made and packaged in tupperware. Pancakes as a solid aren’t an issue and because they’re baked they last a few days without a fridge. I’ve traveled with these in both my checked and carry-on bag.
- Walden Farms Single Serve Pancake Syrup – I don’t like many of the Walden Farms products, but I do like some of the fruit and pancake syrups. It also happens that on their web site you can purchase travel packs. I usually put one of these in the tupperware along with my pancakes so it doesn’t get smashed open in my bag.
- Single Serve Peanut/Nut Butter: D’s Naturals, Justin’s, Barney Butter, Wild Friends and Buff Bake all have excellent nut butter that can be purchased in single serve/sample packets. This is a great resource for fats and protein. I have traveled with these to add to my oatmeal as well as to toast or English muffins that I have been able to get at my hotel. Also, rice cakes partner well with these.
When traveling on a train it’s easy to carry my 6Pack Bag, obviously not everyone has one, but something insulated works just as well even if it’s not as big. On a train there’s no concern about ice packs, but when flying it’s another story. The trick is that gel ice packs can get through security if they’re frozen, if you know you will be hopping from airport to airport this may not be the most reasonable to keep your food chilled. I carry MANY ziplock bags with me when I fly. Their purpose isn’t just for trash storage, but once your through TSA it doesn’t matter if you have liquids or frozen liquids on you.
I have gone to Starbucks, bought myself a latte and asked for a large cup of ice. Many places will give you a cup of ice for free. The purpose: to put in a bag to chill your food. I will have my chicken in one bag, and then rebag it with ice and then use a third bag to prevent leaking. I know that sounds kind of wasteful, but I reuse bags that haven’t touch food.
Here’s what I have packed this way:
- chicken breast + veggies
- snacking cheese
- ground turkey
- dinner sausage
If you’re limited on space in your carry-on and checked baggage, it can be hard to make room for food, but you can make up for it once you’re settled. If you call ahead to your hotel you can find out if guests have access to a mini fridge directly in the room. Some will come with the fridges available and some hotels will require you to ask for one. During the Cutler, I was able to get a fridge in my room for an additional $10. This let me keep my food overnight for the day of the show as well as food/drinks post show.
When I was in Florida for work in May, my hotel came with a fridge already and this allowed me to keep a case of water stocked – because Florida is very hot in May and dehydration in those temperatures is dangerous. I also was able to go to the store and purchase yogurt, fruit, veggies and deli meat. I had already packed some pitas in my checked bag, but I was able to assemble a wrap with what I purchased once I was settled and relaxing in my room.
Aside from knowing your hotel, you should know your surroundings ahead of time too. Sometimes I book my hotel for work travel based on what it’s near. This allows me to figure out if I can run to the store or if I need to improvise with restaurants near me. When I determine that the on site gym facility isn’t up to par, this also helps me plan a gym location in the city I will be in.
Since I travel for work and not necessarily fun, I have been know to write down restaurants with food options for each. Again, DC and Florida were both big trips during competition prep, so it was important that I pre-determined restaurants and meals. I know many of you aren’t as strict with your tracking as I am, even in my off season, but peaking at menus and making a few calls prior to your trip can help make the decision a little easier. Many chain restaurants are required by law to provide nutrition information, so even if it’s hard to find online, you can email them for it. I have been able to obtain more in-depth information from places like Starbucks by sending a quick email explaining why I am reaching out.
Again, you need to ask yourself when you’re traveling: what are your goals. When you can list them out, you will be able to determine the steps you need to take.
Don’t forget, when flying you can search TSA’s web site for things you can and cannot bring through security. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions and get clarification.