Kevin’s Definitive Guide on How to Travel Healthy

Saturday Feb 7 | BY |
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If there’s anyone who’s qualified to write a guide on traveling healthy, it’s us…

We were on the road for 2 years in our RV (and by plane) and have been through just about every state in the U.S.

For us, finding food on the go has never been a challenge.

Why?

We have a system.

We’ve never been stuck anywhere without some type of healthy food to eat, never had to compromise our diets and never felt like
there weren’t any options.

One of the most popular questions we get is about traveling and eating healthy on the road (or in the sky.)

But instead of making it a book (maybe it will happen in the future), I’ve decided to give you our system for free.

Here we go…

1. If you know where you’re going, you won’t get lost.

Before we go anywhere, we run through a loose checklist of items to figure out what we’re going to be faced with when we arrive.

As you can imagine, there will be a whole different set of circumstances if we’re headed to L.A. than if we’re on our way to Amarillo, Texas (No offense intended if you live in EITHER of those places.) 🙂

The checklist of questions that we always ask ourselves are these:

  • How long will we be there?
  • Where are the healthy food stores (if any)?
  • Are there any healthy restaurants?
  • Will we be flying or driving?
  • Will we have transportation if we are flying?

These basic questions are a good primer to give us some ideas about where we’re going to stay, what we need while we’re there and how we’ll manage our food needs during our trip.

Generally, we do our best to stay in an area where all these things are accessible.

If we’re staying in a hotel, we try to pick a place in the neighborhood with the highest concentration of healthy options. This means, whether or not we have a car, that we’ll be able to take a quick cab or preferably walk to healthy stores or restaurants.

A lot of people say to me, “we stopped in Whatevertown, USA on our road trip and there were no healthy options, so we needed to eat a salad at McDonalds.”

This, to me, seems like poor planning. This only happens when you don’t think ahead and end up in a place hungry.

Chances are within 45 minutes of Whatevertown (along your route), there will be some option for you that fits your criteria of healthy eating.

So before you leave, you need to map out your trip and determine when you’ll be hungry and how that matches up with the healthy options along your route.

2. How to find health food stores.

This is relatively easy.

The first way is a simple Google search.

“health food Jackson, Mississippi”

If there’s a health food store in the area, 95 out of 100 times it will come up in Google (the only time it won’t is if they’re really new.)

Once we find one, we bookmark the page, write down their address and take note of what times they’re open until.

Some are open until 10:00 PM, which is great particularly if our flight lands around early evening and we’re hungry (or if we’re driving in after dark.)

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve landed at the airport and went straight to the store before we’ve even dropped off our luggage (or before we parked the RV at the campground) and bought fresh produce for the first few days of our stay.

Another way to find health food stores, is to search: “food co-op Bozeman, Montana.”

Co-ops, though not in all cities and towns, will be a great place for you to get really great produce (many of them try to buy as local as possible) and probably have a really nice prepared foods section.

The last way to find great healthy options is to search for farmers markets as well. These are seasonal in most areas, but a great way to get awesome local food at great prices.

In preparation for this article, I did a search for “farmer’s market Liberal, Kansas” and came to a website that listed 69 different farmers markets in Kansas – including one in Liberal.

So, they’re there, as long as the season is right.

A couple of notes on health food stores:

Some of the small Mom and Pop stores are mainly vitamin shops, so sometimes they don’t have good (if any) produce.

You may want to call ahead and ask if they do have produce, and if they have a prepared foods area that has foods that fit your dietary needs. Just assuming these things, might leave you very disappointed and very hungry.

Also, always call ahead, since health food stores do come and go quicker than I’d like to see. You never know when you’ll end up standing in front of a store that’s since closed for good.

3. How to find the healthy restaurants.

I think we’ve mastered this one too.

We use a combination of three or four websites to determine what restaurants are healthy and which ones are worth spending money at – just because a restaurant is healthy doesn’t mean the food tastes good!

The first site we use is www.Yelp.com.

We search for these keywords separately: Vegan, Vegetarian, Raw Food, Organic, and Farm to Table. (Even if you’re a conscious omnivore, you’ll find good food under these listings!)

We look over the reviews and mark down all the restaurants that have at least 4 stars and more than 10-15 reviewers. Generally this is enough for us to try it. If it has 4 stars and more than 30 reviews, the restaurant has NEVER been bad.

We review each menu for the restaurants that fit the criteria and decide which one we’ll eat at.

This system almost never fails.

The only time it may not work so great is when you’re in a very small town that likely doesn’t have a lot of Yelp users. So you’ll have to rely on less reviews and maybe even skip the restaurant and go to the health food store.

Another thing to consider is to search Indian, Ethiopian, Thai, Vietnamese, or other ethnic cuisines since they tend to have more plant based options.

Three other sites we use are Happy Cow, Trip Advisor and Urban Spoon.

4. You can bring food on the airplane!

There were a couple of posters who stated that you can’t bring food on a plane. I don’t know where you heard this, but it is incorrect. Frederic corrected this yesterday in his article.

You can bring food on the plane and in fact, you can bring as much as you want.

We shop the day before and bring these items:

  • 10-12 pieces of fruit (hard fruits are better, since they may get mushed.)
  • Strawberries or blueberries (if available.)
  • Flax crackers, kale chips, or organic gluten-free crackers.
  • 2-3 Avocados to spread on the crackers.
  • Raw or organic (no-sugar) granola.
  • 3-4 raw or organic nutrition bars (I like the ones that aren’t so sweet.)

These are our staples, but sometimes we’ll get creative and bring different things. (We always joke that no matter how much we bring, it’s always gone by the end of the flight.)

There are some things that you can’t bring on the plane… these are nut butters and anything else that is a liquid or paste.

But even then, we’ve tried bringing hummus on the plane before and they’ve allowed it, so I think it’s up to whoever is running the scanner and if they can easily recognize what you have with you.

Should you be worried about irradiation of your food?

If you’re concerned about your food being x-rayed, you can ask for the agents to search your food by hand. It may take a little extra time, but most are required to honor your request. Just be sure to ask nicely and smile.

You also – as many of you know – can’t bring water through security, but we’ve noticed that many airports are starting to carry bottled waters like Fiji and other local spring waters in the terminals.

These are not optimal, but are good enough for your flight.

I’d rather be hydrated drinking water from a plastic bottle than dehydrated with a weakened immune system on the flight filled with coughing, sneezing and farting people.

As for airplane food, I would rather bring my own than eat the food on a plane even if it was a raw or vegan option. I just can’t bring myself to believe that it’s in the least bit fresh. That’s just me…

5. Turn your hotel room into a mini-kitchen.

If your hotel doesn’t have a kitchenette or a refrigerator, you may get a little stressed about where to put the produce that you’re going to buy to snack on during your stay.

We’ve found that even if the room doesn’t have a refrigerator, most hotels will be able to provide one for you if you ask. Sometimes it’s free and sometimes it’s an extra $10 or so rental fee.

This is priceless for us, since it allows us to stock up on greens and other perishables for as long as we’re in that location.

If this isn’t an option, next step is to run to the local supermarket or Walmart and get a Styrofoam cooler and some large trash bags.

When you get back to the hotel, go to the ice machine and fill the cooler up with ice about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way and then put the trash bag inside. You’ve just created a mini-fridge that will be able to keep your veggies cool and fresh. (You’ll need to add new ice every day or so, and make sure you keep this in the bathroom, in case it leaks.)

Another thing we do when we fly is bring the Vitamix, so we truly have a mini-kitchen where ever we go.

I know it’s heavy and bulky, but it sure does make a big difference in our health and our wallets.

We pack the container in our luggage, because you will not be allowed to bring the blades through security. We bring the motor in a carry-on, but you can pack that as well.

The reason we bring it with us is because I want to make sure it doesn’t get broken when it’s being tossed around behind the scenes in the luggage loading and unloading process. (Please note, if you do bring it as a carry on, they will pull you aside and rub those bomb, oxypad things all over it. When they’re doing it, I always wonder if the residue of one of my herbs or powders will show a false positive…)

If you’re not interested in bringing this much weight with you, you can get the Tribest Blender and use that as a smaller option for travel blending.

As for utensils and other items, you can ask the front desk and most will be able to provide you with knives, forks, bowls or any other thing you need.

I’m going to wrap up these tips for today, since this is getting a little long for my liking… Monday, I’ll have the rest of our tips in Part

6. If you’re too busy, you can always eat this way…

There have been times on the road when we’re at a conference or have a ton of meetings and there has been almost no time to prepare anything healthy.

Most people would crumble faced with this situation and end up compromising their diet, but like I said, when you have options, you usually come out on top.

In times like these, this is when pre-planning really makes or breaks your experience.

If you know you’re going to be running around like crazy, be sure to make it to the health food store (or any grocery store) when you arrive and load up on 2-3 days worth of fruit.

So for these busy conference days, I tend to eat like a fruitarian – basically, as much fruit as my body wants.

This way, I’ll be energized, won’t have to worry about preparing foods, and I’ll get the calories I need so I don’t pass out on day 3 from not eating anything of substance.

An added benefit of eating this way – short term – is that I find it keeps me pretty sharp and awake while everyone else seems to be foggy and dozing off.

It’s also a great, quick detox as well.

7. Supplement essentials for traveling.

I’m not an “everyone-needs-to-take-a-whole-boatload-of-supplements” kind of guy.

But are there some that are necessary on the road?

There are probably only two supplements that we bring with us no-fail on every trip that make it into that category.

These are a green powder and Vitamin C powder.

When we went down to Costa Rica when Frederic was living there in 2009, and he told me that we might want to bring a green powder with us since you can get pretty sick from the greens down there even if you wash them really well.

I didn’t question him, since I’ve been sick from parasites in a foreign country before.

So, we brought our Ormus Greens with us and added that to all our smoothies – instead of lettuce or other greens.

It worked out fine, obviously since we’re here to tell about it. LOL! ?

If you’re not making smoothies, you can just add your green powder to water and bring it around with you in a glass or metal bottle.

This way you can get minerals and chlorophyll and all the other goodies that greens contain without the risk of getting sick.

The two green powders we recommend are Ormus Greens and Vitamineral Green.

As for the Vitamin C, no one likes to get sick on a trip. This is why we bring a Vitamin C powder as an extra insurance policy to help boost your immune system.

If you’re traveling by plane or going to a new place, chances are you’ll be exposed to new strains of bacteria, mold or virus.

Many times your immune system can fight these off, but sometimes it can’t.

When it doesn’t, you end up in your hotel room while everyone else is out on the beach.

Vitamin C has been proven to help boost the immune system, so why not bring it with you to hedge your bets and avoid getting sick this time around…

We also take some extra Vitamin D when we travel to help boost immune system function as well.

The Vitamin C powders that we like are Truly C and Purely C. We add them to our green powder in water or in a smoothie just like the green powders.

8. Extra tips for countries with poor water supply.

I’ve traveled to countries with poor water supply and have been shocked to watch my travel companions drink water straight from the tap without any indication that the water they’re drinking is filtered or disinfected.

What’s not shocking is that in a few days, they usually end up with violent diarrhea and a high fever.

When we travel to a country where we know the water is suspect, we make sure we bring at least three of these 6-7 anti-microbial supplements:

  • Oregano Oil
  • Cinnamon
  • Cayenne
  • Wormwood
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract
  • Garlic
  • Cloves

The most important is oregano oil. In the past two years, this has completely wiped out traveler’s diarrhea in 24 hours for 100% of the people who we’ve given it to.

This is not scientific, I’m not quoting any studies – it’s just what I’ve seen with my own eyes (including myself, twice.)

At any hint of stomach unrest or bloating, I take 4-5 capsules (or droppersful) with a meal every 4 hours or so – for up to 12-18 hours.

It has worked every time we’ve recommended it (or taken it ourselves.)

You can find high quality oregano oil in the health food store, it’s called Oreganol by the North American Herb and Spice Company.

So while oregano oil is #1, the others are for anti-microbial support. Like I said before, we usually bring 2-3, depending on what we have in the cabinet just in case the oreganol oil isn’t strong enough. It’s better to be well prepared, than not at all.

Sometimes we’ll even take Dr. Shultze’s detox tea with us, because it contains a good selection of anti-microbial herbs.
I’m sure you have your favorites as well, so just be sure to bring the ones you feel most comfortable with so you can know you won’t be stuck on the toilet, when you could be enjoying your time in paradise.

9. What’s the last ditch, if there really isn’t any option?

In my experience, there’s always an option.

I’ve heard so many people tell me that they don’t have any options and have been able to turn around and find one within minutes.

When we went to Buenos Aires a few years ago, we were told that we wouldn’t find any fresh vegetables – the only thing good in Argentina is the meat.

I listened respectfully, but inside I knew I’d be able to find at least a health food store.

When we arrived, I hooked up my computer to the Internet and started searching.

What I found was amazing, there were three restaurants / stores within walking distance and there was an organic food co-op that was 1/2 a block away from us.

So much for “only” being able to eat meat.

I’ve grown up believing that you can create what you want and even when you don’t get exactly what you’re looking for you usually get what you need.

So please don’t tell me there isn’t an option.

There is, you’ll find it and you’ll be happy you did!

Worse case, you do a one day water fast and give your body a break from digestion for 24 hours.
(There’s an option right there!)

So to wrap up this series, the keys are simple…

Plan before you leave, bring your essential foods and supplements and make sure you communicate what you need with anyone involved in the process. If you do these three things, you’ll never have a problem getting what you need.

Leave your comments below…

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

6 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. Judi says:

    I would add that eating fermented foods which you can buy at health food stores in the refrigerated section is a great way to boost the immune system and help ward off traveler’s diarrhea or food poisoning. A few bites several times a day as a preventive and immediately upon starting to get that “oh-oh” feeling of Kraut or Kimchi can work miracles!

  2. Loved it! Thank you for sharing. I’m ready to travel.

  3. Zyxomma says:

    Perfect. This is how I’ve eaten on the road for years and years. I was traveling like this long before there was such a thing as internet access. When I went someplace “blind,” I’d find hip people and ask them which part of town had health food stores or restaurants; if they didn’t know, often, they knew who to call. When I was unexpectedly stuck in Rapid City, SD for a few days, I found an Italian place that made great veggies, and took the bus to the one and only health food restaurant. The bus stopped running at 6 p.m., so it was lunch only! While there, I found out I could buy organic vegetables at Safeway, and did. When I’m traveling with anyone who’s not vegan, I do my research ahead of time to choose restaurants where we’ll all like the food. A Vietnamese place in a strip mall in Louisville, KY, was good enough to merit a return visit. Health and peace.

  4. Thanks so much, Kevin and Frederic. A lot of this is just common sense, of course, but that’s just what goes out the window when we’re scared and facing a lot of ignorance in a country we don’t know.

    I would add to the list D3 50,000 and Oregamax—my favorite secret weapon when surrounded by germ factories. I do the D3 once a day for 3 days running, and Oregamax (wild oregano) capsules, 3 every 4 hours till symptoms disappear. And of course, vitamin C and a multi.

    Also, a great remedy for altitude: Liquid chlorophyll, 1TBSP morning and evening with 1-1/2 droppers of OSHA. My friend who told me about it normally sickens at 3500 feet, but had no trouble at 11,000 feet in Cusco, Peru. And I had no trouble at all at 14,200 feet (twice) on the old Inca Trail, while my medicated companions were gasping.

  5. christopher says:

    Fantastic article, informative, i found the article on bringing food on an aeroplane very interesting. look forward to reading more of your posts

  6. Sunny says:

    Thanks for posting this. Its good to be reminded and inspired that it is possible to maintain a preferred standard of health ful eating. The suggestions given are very creative and creativity is fun, so eating well while travelling can be reframed as a fun challenge!! I like the idea of searching ‘food co-op’, I would not have thought of that. And at co-ops you tend to meet the grooviest and loveliest people, maybe get invited to dinner lol!! For flights I keep it super simple: grapes and cherry tomatoes in re-used supermarket plastic containers that can be disposed of. Soaked almonds, a couple of olives. Some precooked rice and a sweet potato with steamed broccoli as a ‘main’. Apples, apples and more apples!! I would wish to be able to take 2-4 litres of water on the flight, that always catches me out longhaul as you cant take it through security. The next level is hotel room mastery, I am not at the stage of taking cooking equipment, you guys are jedis!! Joy to you!

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