How to Eat Real Food While Travelling

We are big travelers – both my partner and I get restless if we don’t travel often. We will travel for short weekend trips fairly regularly – but will always choose to travel overseas as often as we can. How to eat real food while travelling is also very important to us. Yes – we’ll eat some treats, but ultimately, we need our diet to stay pretty much the same. That is: whole foods, fruit and vegetables – minimal processing.

That being said – room service is very, very tempting. Especially with a toddler.

The real goal for us is to be consistent with what we usually eat – but to allow ourselves a couple of special treats. Convenience is important – but a picnic on the floor of the hotel can be just as convenient as buying some fast food, and is certainly far healthier!

Today I’ll share our top tips for eating real food while travelling – including how we do it with a toddler!

The Empowered Cook shares her family's tips on how to eat real food while travelling: packing snacks and enjoying the hotel buffet.

#1 – Live the 80/20 rule

Eat real food 80% of time, and for the other 20% of the time – eat what you feel like. For us, this will mean that breakfasts will be whole foods – the hotel buffet is always a good choice. There will be fresh fruit, toast, eggs, etc – and we can choose what we would like to eat.

Lunches while travelling can be just as easy – we will sometimes buy things like crackers and cheese, fruit, cut vegies, dried fruit. It can just be like a picnic – lots of little snack items.

Dinners are usually where we do our 20%. We’ll eat out at a restaurant – or we’ll order room service. I will often take the opportunity to order a good steak or something else I don’t cook very often at home. We will make sure that our little one still has something vegetable heavy too. But we won’t be too strict on this. Usually we will have had a big day – so he’ll be tired. It’s better to focus on him getting lots of vegies at breakfast and dinner – rather than trying to tackle dinner with a cranky toddler.

#2 – Pack your own transport snacks

Avoid the airline food. Avoid being hungry while on transport. You won’t be so easily enticed to buy junk if you’re not hungry.

Pack your own snack items. Try a variety of different items. Have something crunchy, something sweet, something filling. That way – you can make sure that you have a good variety to choose from.

We will pack: sultanas, carrots, fruit, crackers, dark chocolate, trail mix. We’ll also include some minimally processed items like wholefood muesli bars or maybe some homemade bliss balls.

None of these items are too messy to eat and they don’t require cutlery. I’ll pack these into snap lock bags (which I will reuse for the trip home). I will also pack a few napkins, just in case.

#3 – Drink water (sparkling for a treat)

Sparkling water is what I choose when I have a treat. It has been a long time since I’ve had any form of soft drink – and it has made such a difference to my health. It also makes such a difference when I am on holiday. If you are anything like me – the lead up to a holiday can be really exhausting. I used to get quite run down just before my holiday – and then wham! As soon as we arrived at our destination, I would get sick.

I’ve found now though that if I keep myself really hydrated – and don’t overload on sugar – I do much better.

Keeping hydrated is much easier if you carry a water bottle. I have one like this. Drinking from a glass bottle is so much nicer than plastic. And it is better for you – and the environment.

#4 – Enjoy the Buffet – but don’t go crazy

As I mentioned above, the buffet breakfast at a hotel can be really delicious. But before you go devouring a huge hot breakfast of bacon, eggs and sausages – or worse, eating muffins and croissants – try and have something healthier first.

I like to start with some fruit, yoghurt and muesli. Just a small portion. I will also have a small juice and a big glass of water.

From there  – I then have another small portion of a hot breakfast – sticking to bacon and eggs, with the occasional sausage. Skip the highly processed hash browns, and choose whole foods as your sides: mushrooms, spinach, for example.

Coffee or tea is also nice to include – but always have another big glass of water at the end of the buffet. This gives you such a good head start on your sight-seeing day.

For my little one, he enjoys the buffet too. He gets to have a taste of many different foods – and we’ll share everything we eat. Fruit, toast, bacon, sausage, juice. But he’ll also have water, just like us.

#5 – Eat in

Eating out at restaurants each night you are on holidays can be expensive – but it can also be a very easy way to over indulge on not-so-good food choices.

How about eating-in? It is possible – even in a small hotel room.

There are loads of crazy Pinterest ideas to cook in your hotel room using your kettle – but I would skip those.

We just have a little picnic on the floor. Some things we include are:

  • a baguette
  • cheese (try something a little fancy, like brie or Camembert)
  • fruit (something with little preparation – like grapes or apples)
  • sliced meat (avoid the nitrate and chemical heavy options, but a few slices of ham off the bone, or fresh chicken, is lovely)
  • nuts (raw or roasted, without salt)

All of these can be easily bought at a local supermarket. They don’t require much preparation or cutlery to eat. It is finger food, easily eaten – and easily cleaned up. And – mostly, very healthy.

It is completely possible to eat real food while travelling. Will you try these tips for your next getaway? What else do you do for your family while travelling?



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