Health is essential to us as a family when we are traveling to fend off illness and to prevent our children from climbing up the walls (yep, it actually happens). Sure, it is easy to get out of our normal routine when on the road, but we have found that the closer we stick to our typical diet, the healthier and happier we are when we travel. Plus, there is nothing worse then lugging extra weight around on your trek home as a souvenir to constantly remind you of what a delicious journey you had.
Hydrate – Hydration is essential. CamelBak said it perfectly when they said, “Hydrate or die,” and I love it because it is so true. If you take nothing else away from this piece, take that. Drink and drink a lot. We typically travel with a few of our Klean Kanteen (we save the CamelBaks for races) water bottles and fill – up whenever clean drinking water is available. A general rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces a day, but play with this figure to see how you feel. No rule of thumb is perfect for everyone.
Pack Snacks – Snacks on the road are mandatory to life. Yep, I said it, mandatory to life, especially when it comes to children. There is nothing worse than having a cranky kiddo because he or she is starving. And a child’s hunger is immediate, and life threatening to all parties involved, so pack the snacks! We like to pack fresh fruit, if we aren’t flying I like to carry my Swiss Army Knife with me to cut and distribute fruit slices between the family (plus it makes me feel totally rad, like I can get myself and my family out of crazy situations with that one little kick – ass tool). We also like to pack raw nuts (nuts wrapped in chocolate are good too) that are rich in healthy fats and protein. Cheese is always great to go along with wholegrain crackers and dried fruit also works well when we desire something sweet. Oh, and don’t forget the chocolate, lots and lots of chocolate, because who doesn’t love chocolate?
Make Your Own Meals Whenever Possible – Our general rule of thumb, though we do like to break rules, is to rent a flat or house if we are staying in one location for more than three days. This way, we can settle in, stretch out, clean our clothes, and cook our own meals. We keep meal times simple on these trips, whipping up omelets for dinner with fresh fruit and toast, make a quick pesto with basil, any kind of nut, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and a splash of salt and pepper. Cooking at home saves us a great deal of money, frustration over late night meltdowns in restaurants (brace yourself new parents, this is ugly, embarrassing and should be avoided at all costs) and the picky eater dilemma.
Make Breakfast the Biggest Meal of the Day – Who doesn’t love breakfast? Fresh yogurt, fruit, eggs, coffee, toast, Muesli, more coffee, juice, oh, the selection, and the staying power of packin’ it in first thing in the morning is endless. If bellies are filled up on whole foods at breakfast, it is easy to grab a lunch on the go and a small dinner later in the day/night. Plus if the hotel provides breakfast, take advantage of what you paid for and make the most of the best meal of the day.
Keep it Simple – Nut butters on apples, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fresh avocados cut in half and sprinkled with salt are both easy, packed full of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, plus kids love them, well at least our children love them. Place a great deal of emphasize on whole foods (you know the stuff that actually grows, rather than the stuff that is made in a factory) you will be grateful you did when you are older.
Let Go – You are on vacation so if you pass a Gelateria in Italy or the kids are longing for fries and nuggets, dig in. Nutrition is all about finding the balance and part of any incredible trip is sampling the cuisine that a particular city or area has to offer, just do so in moderation if you can control yourself.
Try Something New – Oh, go on, you know you want to, plus what a great story you can tell when you return home. “Oh, the octopus (polipo di pesto) I ate in Italy was simply to die for.” As long as you don’t have a moral opposition to a particular food then why not give it a try? After all, what is the likelihood that you will ever experience an authentic dish anywhere else? Encourage your children to do the same.
Go Easy on the Sauce – Yeah, drinking or shall we say sampling lots of delectable wine in Italy does make sense, as does downing Scotch in Scotland, as long as you don’t wake with your head in the clouds, stomach perched over the toilet and an entire travel itinerary that will be missed due to your over enthusiasm for the special juice. Go easy tiger, pace yourself and see what you came to see.
Go for the Green – Green foods pack a nutritional punch when it comes to your health. So, if given the opportunity to dine on a salad, go for it (just make sure it isn’t after a night of tequila shots in Mexico). Or consider adding fresh basil, cilantro or arugula to your dishes, you will be happy you did. On a final note, if you have a blender accessible while traveling (think rented house) add frozen spinach, avocados or other greens to your smoothies, the whole family will be drinking in style.
Get out and go and remember as Virginia Woolf once said, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
Oh, and about the mullet our son is sporting in the first picture (honestly we had no idea until we saw this photo), we have corrected that horrible situation and will profusely apologize to him for years to come.