Those who follow my blog know that I work for IBM and that means traveling on business trips. This poses two challenges for me. Not only do I need to have real food I can eat while I am on my business trips but I also need to ensure my family has real food while I am away. This will be a two part series. First I will share my snack and meal ideas for traveling with real food and then I will focus on meal planning for my family while I am away on business trips.
Traveling and real food don’t often mix. Over the years I have tried many strategies to bring food with me. I remember a few years ago when I was traveling to Taiwan, I tried to bring some almond butter with me in a sealed jar in my carry-on luggage. Of course it got confiscated. Airline security rules are constantly changing but all of my carry on items ideas below are allowed.
Recently I have been traveling quite a bit internationally. Last summer, I traveled to Spain, London, Germany, the Netherlands, China, Korea and Brazil! No matter the length of the trip, it pays to bring a lot of food with you that can withstand long time periods without refrigeration. This is where fermented foods (what are fermented foods?) come in handy. If you can get a refrigerator at your hotel – do it. More often than not this is not possible so it is always good to be prepared just in case.
Real Food Carry On Ideas
- Raw cheese – cut up into bite sized pieces and store in wax paper in a zip loc bag. Include a small container to take some of the cheese with while out and about in your purse or briefcase.
- Cured, fermented and dried meats – cut up into bite sized pieces. I once bought some salami on my way to the airport and I didn’t have time to cut it up so I ended up having to gnaw on it on the airplane! That was fairly embarrassing but I didn’t care – it was dinner and it wasn’t airplane food!
- Chocolate (easy homemade chocolate or chocolate macaroons) – it is always smart to carry something sweet to help avoid the sugar bomb at business dinners with clients!
- Traveling bone broth – I make this powdered ‘traveling’ bone broth with a dehydrator and it is absolutely genius. It is really easy to find hot water pretty much anywhere so you can drink your broth in the morning and during ‘coffee breaks’ and know you are getting some nutrients while away.
- Yogurt or kefir –It is possible to bring these liquid items in a container of your own choosing. Just tell the TSA agent that it is ‘medical’. No explanation required because of privacy rights. They will test it for explosives by opening the container and waving a test strip around the opening (without touching the container). They might make you drink it depending on what country you are in (I had to open and eat a bite of yogurt in London!) but you most likely will be able to keep it.
- Coconut flour muffins – bring enough to have 1-2 per day. These are life savers as they are very filling and nourishing!
- Homemade sauerkraut in a small jar – make sure it doesn’t leak. Eat a small amount with breakfast and leave it in the room the rest of the day. Taking sauerkraut out of your purse during your business lunch will illicit some inquisitive looks!
- One full meal from home for the outbound flight – This is critical so at least you have a head start on a real meal before you set in on eating cheese and meats the rest of your trip!
Surprised not to see nuts and dried fruit on my list? I have found they aren’t filling and I can usually find a banana in an airport if I want fruit. I try to focus on bringing foods with fat when I travel because that is hard to find in our low-fat world.
Buy Local Foods When You Arrive
Depending on where you have to go, you can find some real food gems while away. I got lucky once in Chicago when I happened upon a Farmer’s Market on my way into the office. I bought a bunch of berries and cherries and was in heaven all day during my meeting. In Spain, I bought Jamon (their famous cured pork) and carried it around with me the whole trip in the sealed container. I finally opened and ate it on the plane ride home when I had run out of provisions. I had to eat it all because it is not allowed back into the US but that wasn’t a problem – it was delicious! When I am in the US, I try to find a natural foods store or a Whole Foods near where I will be working. I can then go and stock up on provisions if I run out of anything.
How to Cope With Planned Business Meals
- Breakfast – Stick with room service for breakfast consisting of eggs and bacon to ensure you can make it until lunch. This may push you over the top for your per diem for meal expense reimbursements but it is worth it to avoid the processed pastries and fat free yogurt and fruit that are usually served at breakfast meetings.
- Lunch – On all of my international trips lunch was the best meal – we always went out for a multi-course meal and the food was real and delicious. Unfortunately in the US, the situation is not as rosy. Almost always in the US lunch is a ‘working lunch’ that consists of catered sandwiches with mystery luncheon meats and a ‘lettuce’ salad with processed dressing and then usually chips and cookies. I recommend bringing meats and cheeses in your briefcase and casually adding them on top of the plain lettuce from the salad. This should satisfy you until dinner although it probably wouldn’t hurt to bring a coconut flour muffin as well for an afternoon snack.
- Dinner – no matter what restaurant you go to – focus on plain meats and vegetables, avoid anything fried and dessert and you should be alright.
- Avoid any meals at the airport if at all possible! I have found that any food I eat from an airport is a processed nightmare and my body goes haywire. The last thing I want is an episode of the tummy aches, headaches and grogginess during a meeting!
- Take herbs to help ward off illness. I use Gan Mao Ling Chinese herbs to avoid catching a cold from the airplane travel. It truly does work.
- Take vitamin B12. This helps to keep you alert when dealing with jetlag and also with early mornings, long days and late nights.
- Take probiotics! I can’t stress this one enough. Probiotics keep things in order and also ward off any stomach bugs or food poisoning that may be lurking around.
With a little planning, you can be prepared for these trips and enjoy yourself while away. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I share my tips for preparing meals for my family while I am away.
This post is featured on Sunday School, Monday Mania, Natural Living Mondays, Mothering Mondays, Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, The Mommy Club, Real Food Wednesday, Fight Back Friday, Pennywise Platter
Courtney @ The Polivka Family says
Love these ideas, Lindsey! Also, way to get your kefir past the TSA! Haven’t tried that one yet, but I like it. 🙂
Great tips! I was just traveling last week and it’s interesting to see that we had nearly the exact same ideas for what foods to bring on the plane. I was unable to have a refrigerator in my room, but I brought a small collapsable cooler in my luggage. So I was able to refill it with ice and keep my cheese and yogurt cool all week!
Lindsey Gremont says
That’s awesome! It is so worth it – our bodies are already pretty taxed with just the travel part – adding in tons of awful food and no wonder everyone gets sick when they travel! Thank you for your comment!
Barb @ A Life in Balance says
I’m sharing this post on my Frugal Local Kitchen FB page – lots of good tips. I didn’t know the tip about yogurt. I also hadn’t heard of dehydrating bone broth. I’ll have to try that.
Lindsey Gremont says
Thank you Barb!
Lea H @ Nourishing Treasures says
Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.
Check back tomorrow when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! 🙂
Amanda Klenner-Labrow says
These are some great tips! I need to follow them for my every day life! IT seems like being out and about with friends all the time, and two kids, we tend to fall into food traps easily. '
Thanks for sharing this on Natural Living Monday! I am excited to see what you have to share this week! http://www.naturallivingmamma.com/2012/10/28/natural-living-mondays-blog-hop-8/
I love this post! I am applying for a job that has an initial training period of 8 months with 100% travel during the week. I can just see my grocery budget exploding trying to keep healthy as I deal with GAPS on hotels and flying. This gives me some great ideas upon which I can build.
Here’s a link to help you find natural food stores when you travel. If you see that your favorite store is not listed, let them know they should sign up. Listings are free.
For the most part, these are great ideas. However, I take exception to the idea that anyone can bring yogurt through airport security checkpoints and just tell the TSA agents it’s for medical reasons. First, you are lying to a federal agent. I’m not federal agent, but I’m pretty sure you can be arrested and detained for lying to one. Also, as someone who actually DOES have to bring food and liquids through security checkpoints for actual, true, medical reasons, I take offense to the idea that you are abusing this medical provision for your own, personal loophole. If your brand of “loophole” abuse is discovered by the people who make the decisions, you will only make it harder for the rest of us who actually NEED to bring these things with us. We already have it hard enough… you could never even imagine. For this reason, your post actually makes me outright angry.
Lindsey @ Homemade Mommy says
This is what the TSA agent told me to do to preserve medical confidentiality. I or any one of my readers could have a medical condition. Point is TSA doesn’t need and actually isn’t permitted to know the details of said condition. They are actually not trained to provide medical advice as they may put someone in danger. I opt in to having this additional search you say is inconvenient for you. I am not sure how my opting in inconveniences you further. If you have an issue with it then I would suggest contacting TSA yourself to complain.
You completely misunderstood what I wrote. My issue is with you, not with the TSA.