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