Are you on a Paleo diet and have a trip planned? I was able to stay compliant to the Paleo diet while on a recent trip outside of the country. My trip involved long flights, long layovers, and long days away from my hotel room. I hope you find this ultimate guide to eating Paleo when you travel helpful for your next trip.
The Paleo diet relies on eating what you might have been able to hunt or forage during the Paleolithic age, a.k.a. ‘Stone Age”. This means cutting out grains, processed cheese, hydrogenated oils, and processed sugar. The Paleo diet is high in good fats and moderate in animal fat, with plenty of vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds.
A Paleo diet is an excellent option if you want to lose weight or maintain your current weight. Some people do very well on this diet and stay on the Paleo diet for health reasons. You’re no longer eating processed sugar and junk food, which can be very beneficial to your health.
When you’re at home, it’s easy to stay on track because you have a refrigerator and kitchen at your disposal. The majority of your meals are homemade with fresh meat, seafood, and vegetables. This isn’t an option when you are traveling, so you need to get creative and think a little bit outside the box.
Tips for Staying on the Paleo Diet When You Travel
Here are some tips for staying on the Paleo diet while traveling. Don’t be too hard on yourself since the general recommendation is to stick to the Paleo diet 80% of the time. It’s good to bring plenty of food on your trip, but don’t worry if 20% of your diet isn’t Paleo-approved.
If you’re going to travel while on the Paleo diet, you need to give yourself time to prepare. Packing snacks for my trips have saved me so often from finding nothing to eat. Make sure when planning your vacation, that you know what to expect and plan.
Research Your Accommodations
The first step to planning your trip is to research the type of accommodations you will have. For example, if you’re on a road trip, you may be stopping at a few hotels along the way. Instead of stopping when you get tired to stay overnight, plan where you are going to stay. This helps you find hotels with a microwave and fridge, which is nice to store and prepare food while you are there. It also helps you choose hotels that offer a nicer breakfast like bacon and eggs, or a nearby restaurant that serves food you can eat.
Look Up What is Around Your Trip Destination
You want to know what is going to be around your trip destination. Look up fast-food restaurants, delis, cafes, and sit-down restaurants in the area to find out where you can go. Look up their menus online so you can decide ahead of time what you will order. This not only takes all the guesswork out of what to order when you get there, but it lets you know how much food you need to bring with you.
Make a List of Paleo-Approved Snacks
When you are preparing for your trip, make sure you are making a list of the snacks to bring with you. You want to know what snacks need refrigeration either in the car or in the hotel room. Also, keep a list of snacks that are okay at room temperature. Make sure you have a good combination of snacks so you aren’t eating just nuts and beef jerky for the entire trip. Have a good variety of snacks that are a variation of what you would eat at home.
Start Preparing Your Snacks
Now that you know what snacks you are going to bring on the trip, you can get them prepared. If you bring a big bag of jerky, a jar of nuts, and another bag of produce, you might eat too much in the beginning of your trip, run out, and have to try and find food at a convenience store. A better option for the planning stage is to take all your snacks and put them in individual portions. This allows you to select one snack-sized baggie of whatever food you are having so that you can control how much you eat and have enough for the entire trip.
What to Look For in a Hotel
Now that you understand why the planning stage is so important for your vacation, look for a hotel with the right amenities and the right location. Your hotel choice is important when you are trying to stick to the Paleo diet. It ensures there are enough amenities in the room and places to eat around the hotel. Convenience food can be very tempting and easy, but if you plan it right, your hotel should have everything you need.
Tips for Your Hotel Stay
Look for accommodations that are near places you can eat. You can adjust menus at about every restaurant to a Paleo diet, but you don’t want to make it more difficult than you have to. Find a hotel with a lot of different restaurant choices so that you can look up all their menus online. Look for variety and different types of cuisine to keep it interesting. This allows you to enjoy your vacation while also remaining on the Paleo diet as much as possible.
Fridge and Microwave in the Room
It’s also a good idea to find a hotel with a microwave and mini-fridge in your room. The fridge lets you bring food and snacks that need to stay cold and have a place to keep leftovers from eating out. The mini-fridge is more convenient than a microwave since you can eat leftovers cold.
You might need to call the hotel instead of making reservations online because some hotels only have certain rooms with these amenities. Some hotels will provide these only upon request, but at no extra charge.
For longer trips, a place with a kitchenette is a great idea. It might cost you a little more for the special rooms, but the upgrade is well worth it when you need to have some meals in the room and want full control over what you eat.
Room Service or Continental Breakfast
Finally, don’t forget about the option of either breakfast served in the hotel or room service. Continental breakfast when there are just bagels, muffins, and cereal can be hard to find something Paleo-approved. However, do find out exactly what is offered. Some hotels have breakfast with some extras, such as fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, and breakfast meats. This does allow you to have breakfast following the Paleo diet.
It’s also good to have a hotel where room service is available. You can order up food that is approved by your Paleo diet, whether you get steak and veggies, salmon, or a burger without the bun and fries. It’s a good option when you are treating yourself to a nice vacation.
How to Keep Food Cold
There are some instances where you need to keep food cold without having access to a mini-fridge. This applies to going on a road trip, being on the train, or even being in your hotel room.
Here are some helpful ways to keep food cold in different situations:
On the Train or Bus
If you are traveling by bus or train, you are limited with your options of keeping your food cold. You will only be able to keep a small amount of food cold, and only for a short period of time. You can usually keep food cold for a few hours though, so planning ahead can really help. For this type of travel, bring along an insulated lunch bag. It should be large enough to fit anything you are trying to keep cold, such as hard-boiled eggs, salad ingredients, or a Paleo wrap. Add some soft ice packs to the bottom, add your food, then put another ice pack on top. This should be enough to keep it cold for several hours.
In Your Car
When you travel by car, it is a little bit easier to keep more food colder for a more extended period of time than if you are going by train or bus. You have more room to hold larger items, which means you can bring along an ice chest. There are three ways to keep food cold in an ice chest: with ice packs, real ice, or dry ice.
Ice is useful when you have a lot of extra room in the ice chest and can get more ice during your road trip. Every time you stop at a gas station, get another bag of ice to add to it, and your food should stay cold for most of your trip. With dry ice, it keeps food cold for up to 24 hours while in your ice chest, which is good news for a road trip.
In a Hotel Room
Finally, you can keep food in your hotel room without a mini fridge. This is also another way you can use your ice chest, and keep buying ice or dry ice to add to it, so your food stays cold. Another option is to fill the sink in the hotel room with ice, even with the ice you get from the ice machine that the hotel offers. This keeps small food or drink items cold for a short period of time. It isn’t ideal, but it definitely a good option when you are in a pinch.
Food You Can Keep at Room Temperature
Don’t want to worry about keeping everything cold? There is no need to worry! You will be able to choose a lot of Paleo foods and snacks that are easy to bring with you and can be kept out on a table or counter when you are traveling. Whether you bring them in food containers in your car, keep them in your backpack during a trip on the train, or have them set up in your hotel room, they are no-fuss foods and snacks.
Pre-packaged Paleo-Approved Snacks from Amazon (My Snacks of Choice for Travel)
Shelf-Stable Paleo Snacks
- Beef jerky
- Hardboiled eggs (for a limited time)
- Tuna or sardines in a can or foil pouch
- Nuts or seeds, preferably raw and unsalted varieties
- Kale chips and other vegetable chips
Produce You Can Keep Out
- All types of berries
- Regular and cherry tomatoes
Snacks to Bring On the Plane
The snacks you bring along on a plane are similar to what you have with other methods of transportation, except you are limited to your purse or carry-on bag only. You need to be careful with what you bring to ensure it is approved during check-in, and that it is small enough to fit in your bag with your other belongings.
Some good options for airplane snacks include kale chips in baggies, homemade fruit strips you have made ahead of time, nuts that you bring yourself, or even some homemade granola. Remember that airplane nuts may have rancid vegetable oils on them, so it is better to bring unsalted, raw nuts with you.
Road Trip Paleo Foods
If you are going on a road trip, you might get bored of the same types of snacks, like your homemade jerky and raw vegetables that you brought in containers. There are a lot of snacks you can bring on a road trip, so try to mix it up and have variety. This is going to keep you satisfied without feeling inclined to grab non-Paleo snacks at the next gas station.
Here are some snack options that are perfect for bringing with you on a road trip:
- Homemade granola – If you like to make your own granola mixture at home that only uses ingredients approved by the Paleo diet, don’t hesitate to bring some with you! You can put it all in one big freezer bag or separate it into smaller baggies or containers. It is good to munch on without needing a big meal. It is also easy to eat if you are driving.
- Paleo-friendly protein bars – You can also try making your own protein bars or getting some Paleo protein bars before you leave. Some convenience stores do carry ones that only contain natural ingredients and don’t have anything you can’t have on the paleo diet. Make sure you look closely at the ingredients list before choosing this option.
- Dried fruit – Dried fruit is always a good idea on a road trip. It lets you have some sweetness and get rid of that sugar craving without having to fuss with fruit spoiling or keeping it cold while in the car. Dried apricots and dried mango are excellent for road trips.
- Dry roasted nuts – Instead of the plain raw almonds you always snack on, mix it up by going the dry roasted route. You can still get them unsalted if you prefer, and get different types of nuts, such as cashews. These are so tasty and can feel more like a treat than anything else.
- Hard-boiled eggs – If you are keeping a lunch box or ice chest with cold packs in your car, bring along hard-boiled eggs. These will stay cold for several hours and offer a protein-filled snack that is a lot more filling than other snacks.
- Sweet potato chips – Kale chips are often recommended as a chip for the Paleo diet, but if those are getting old, don’t forget about sweet potato chips. You can make these yourself by slicing up a sweet potato into thin slices and baking it with some avocado oil or coconut oil and sea salt.
Selecting the Right Restaurants
Part of planning for your trip when you are eating Paleo is selecting restaurants you can eat from. You can always have a burger or grilled chicken sandwich with veggies and get rid of the mayonnaise, condiments, and bun. However, this can get tiring, so don’t forget about sit-down restaurants.
Most types of cuisine will offer something you can eat. For example, many people think Mexican is out of the question, but it depends what you get. Choose a dish that comes with meat and veggies, and avoid the tortillas. You can get fajitas and have the grilled chicken and vegetables, as well as the salsa.
With sushi restaurants, you can eat all the raw sashimi you want, just avoid any rolls that contain rice. Instead of a California roll, go for a roll of fresh tuna instead. Seafood and steak restaurants are ideal because you can enjoy all the seafood, steak, and veggies, and just leave behind the carb sides like rolls and potatoes.
It’s possible to keep up the Paleo lifestyle while traveling. There is more awareness of people with food sensitivities and their dietary needs. Plus, many food companies now cater to people on a Paleo diet so you don’t have to go hungry.
Have a great trip and stay healthy!