A funny thing happens when we step food into an airport – it’s almost as if our brain shuts off, we are willing to spend an insane amount of money on pretty crappy food and even the most health conscious person finds themselves face down in a blooming onion.
To be clear, I do not expect or encourage vacation eating to mirror your normal life. Food can and should be a pleasurable and enjoyable part of vacation. BBQ in Kentucky, croissants in Paris and pizza in Naples are all amazing things that you really should never let pass by. However there is a big difference between enjoying an amazing pasta dinner and wine in Sorrento and you housing a 2 slices of pizza at Sabarro because it had the shortest line. The former is indulging because of pleasure and experience, the latter is indulging out of desperation.
The goal of this article is to find more pleasure and less desperation!
Plan for Your Travel Days
Even though airports have made a lot of strides towards healthier options, good food is still hard to find and super expensive. Moreover, travel days rarely go as planned and delayed flights and short layovers can sabotage the best of intentions and kick your stress level through the roof. I would highly recommend packing at least one meal and a few snacks for you and each member of your family.
These meals can be really simple and don’t need to take a lot of time. Some examples are:
- Almond butter and jelly sandwich ( I would avoid packing peanut butter just in case there is an allergy on the plane)
- Pre-made salad from Trader Joe’s
- Deli sandwich
- Leftovers in a container you don’t mind throwing away
I would also recommend making it fun by packing something you love. You can see in the image below, I packed a bag of chips with my meal. I was on vacation and I love chips more than anything in the world. Honestly, does anyone not love ranch? Point being, preparation doesn’t have to be rigid, it doesn’t have to be all kale all the time, it can have chips or chocolate but it should be thought through.
Figure Out Your Travel Priorities & Use Food to Enhance Them
Remember, the goal of this is to increase pleasure and decrease desperation. In order to do this it is important to decide what your priorities are so you can use your food to support them.
Perhaps you want to spend the day sightseeing. Great! Make sure to pack some snacks or even a lunch or ask a local where a good spot is with a short line so you can get some food quickly and get on with your day. I promise The Louvre will be much more enjoyable when you and your family are full of snacks rather than hot, hangry and snapping at each other.
Or you are a foodie like me and trying different cuisine is as much of the experience as speaking the language. Fantastic! Just don’t forget food isn’t nearly as good when you are starving and inhale it or when you are stuffed and have to force-feed yourself. Planning your days, having smaller snacks and not letting yourself slip into famished or stuffed is going to enhance your foodie experience, not take away from it.
Bring Enough Snacks for 2/Day
When it comes to snacks the magic number to bring 2/day. The purpose of these snacks are to fill in any long stretches throughout the day. Perhaps you know you are going to a late breakfast so you have a quick snack when you first wake up to tide you over. Or you know you are going to be sightseeing all day long so you have 2 snacks to serve as a meal so you can get to your dinner reservation on time. Again, these are meant to help enhance your vacation.
The easiest snacks to travel with that will take up the least space and survive a suit case are trail mix or bars. They are non-perishable and fit in the nooks and crannies of your bag. If you have the opportunity, please opt for fresh fruit or local options. However, I still want you to have the non-perishable options. Don’t make the mistake of relying on the fact that you will get to a grocery store or take the time to find fresh options.
Plan for Your Return
Oftentimes it’s not vacation that gets us, but rather we come home tired, never make it to the grocery store. This leads us to eat out all week and then that 1 week vacation has stretched into 2…3…or more. Make sure you have an idea of what you are going to eat when you return. For example you could freeze some leftovers that can be pulled out and quickly heated up. Or you could order Amazon Fresh to deliver some basic groceries to your house the day you get back. Or if you would rather pick up take out from your favorite restaurant on the way home, that’s fine too. Just make sure to pick up enough to get you through the following day while you get your bearings and can get to the grocery store.
Again, having an amazing vacation really is the goal of all of this. I know that when it is written out, these ideas can seem labor intensive. However, I promise you that when you do it on your own it will only take a few minutes. I also promise that these few minutes will allow you to enjoy your vacation even more and not spend the next few months paying for it! Here is an e-mail from one of my amazing clients:
If you have any other tips I would love to hear them in the comments below!
P.S. – The photos above are me wearing the amazing clothes from my friends over at Amari. Their goal is to give women the strength and shine to be their best self. Head over to their site to learn more!