Vacation Mode: How to Eat Healthy and Clean while on a Trip

Summer is finally here! (Well, just about anyway.) I can almost hear the waves crashing against the beach and birds chirping while nothing but relaxation is happening. My family heads to Hawaii next month, and as excited as I am to go, I also know that I must mentally prepare myself for the enormous amount of {unhealthy} food that will be available. Eating well while on vacation is quite the task. As a mom passionate about food who also happens to be a frequent traveler, here are five tips that have helped me eat clean while on a trip.

1. Pack your own Snacks!

Mom Truth: Never leave the house without snacks. You never know when a blood sugar meltdown will ruin your day. This is especially true when traveling. Plane rides, shuttles, taxis, car trips … the hustle and bustle of travel is stressful enough to make a grown adult cranky. (And we all know that it often does!) Add in the possibility that your regular meal times may be completely thrown off, and you have a recipe for disaster especially for small children. Save your sanity and pack healthy snacks. Some of my favorites to have on hand are bananas, nuts, turkey bacon, and grass-fed jerky. (We like Epic brand.)

2. Opt for Hotels with Kitchenettes!

This isn’t always an option, but it makes all the difference when it is. Two summers ago we took the kids to Disneyworld. We decided to stay in a villa and cook most of our meals ourselves, not just to eat healthy (although that was definitely a plus) but also to save some cash! It worked out awesome. We ate fresh, healthy meals in the comfort of our PJs without spending much more than our normal weekly grocery budget.

3. Use a Grocery Delivery Service!

To piggy back off of #9, using a grocery delivery service at Disney was perfect! I ordered all my groceries online and selected the time for them to be delivered that first afternoon that we got there. Online grocery shopping with delivery is much more popular even now than it was two years ago. Most grocery stores offer it.  If  they don’t, there are often third party personal shopping companies available in most cities which is what we used at Disney. Even if you don’t have a full kitchen in your hotel, having your own dry groceries can be super convenient.

4. Take Time to Plan your Meals!

Whether you will be cooking or eating out for every meal, it is a great idea to spend some time mentally preparing your meals. If you plan on cooking, you must plan your meals. I recommend choosing quick prep meals that don’t require a recipe like tacos or burgers. That way you maximize your vacation time and minimize your time in the kitchen. If you will be eating out, looking at restaurant menus online and making reservations at places with healthy offerings makes a huge difference.

5. Know How to Make Smart Choices!

Many people do not want to cook while on vacation. I totally get that. It is good to get a break from the norm, and let others serve you once in a while. So with that in mind, here are some tips for eating healthy while at a restaurant:

  • Ask your server for a gluten-free menu as many restaurants have one
  • Order off of the grill menu selecting Dr. Brown approved sides (i.e. sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes)
  • Opt for a salad as most can be easily modified to be Dr. Brown approved (i.e. subbing goat cheese for parmesan, olive oil and vinegar for dressing, etc.)
  • Be aware of sauces as many are full of sugar and unwanted ingredients. Sub butter or olive oil for flavor instead.
  • Think simple. You are basically looking for meat, vegetables, and healthy fats only. If it comes from the earth, it is probably something you can eat! If it is a processed man-made product, it is likely a no-no.
  • Find restaurants with quality ingredients. Look for phrases like grass-fed, pasture-raised, local and organic!
  • Listen to your body. Portion sizes at restaurants are often out-of-control, so be aware not to overeat. Stop when you are full.

Don’t Sweat it! After all, it IS Vacation!

I hope these ideas help you stay true to your wellness goals while on a trip. That being said, don’t beat yourself up too bad if you let yourself eat something out of the ordinary. Vacation is a time to let your hair down and have fun! So the moment eating clean becomes a stressor, then you are definitely missing the mark. The key is to NOT go crazy and eat a bunch of junk all vacation long. This is likely to result in you feeling pretty crummy which I’m guessing is not how you’d like to feel while vacationing. Eat to feel good and healthy and strong. Using this simple strategy plus the tips I’ve provided above should help keep you on the right track.

Happy traveling!

Kristen Barkley
Kristen Barkley
Kristen is a happily married mom to four beautiful and active children and is the co-founder of Marpé Wellness. She has a BBA in Marketing from the University of Houston and completed extensive coursework in the areas of nutrition and fitness. She is excited to be putting her education to use in an industry that she is passionate about where she can help others live a healthier and happier life.

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