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Reader’s Request: Healthy Travel Eats

July 26, 2011

While I was on vacation, I mentioned in one of my posts that I generally like to maintain my healthy eating habits when I can. There are ALWAYS exceptions to this rule: for example, I’m heading to Rhode Island in two weeks, and I am already dreaming of the food.


Rhode Island is known for a few things: its size (tiny), its beaches (gorgeous), and its food (DELICIOUS). There’s no sense in ordering salads and tofu in Rhode Island when I can be eating calzones, or clam cakes and chowder, or Brickley’s homemade ice cream.

Yes, I will go to Crazy Burger and eat an entire plate of sweet potato fries. Yes, I will go to Pastiche and drown in chocolate mousse. Of course I’ll go to Mike’s Kitchen and order the best eggplant parmesan and fried calamari I’ve ever eaten in my life. I will eat all of these things and I will savor them…because I can’t get anything like them here in Maryland (or anywhere else for that matter).

But this upcoming trip is generally the exception, not the rule. When I’m away from home, I usually like to keep my eating habits in check, and it’s not always easy. Allison agreed when she commented the following on one of my travel posts:

Speaking of travel, I’m headed to the beach this weekend too! Thought a good blog post idea might be on eating well while traveling, especially when you’re without access to refrigeration (for the plane, for the car, for the beach…) Unfortunately last week at LAX, my Greek yogurt was confiscated by TSA under the 3-ounce liquid rule – though I think the agent was just hungry…

While I unfortunately can’t help Allison combat hungry TSA agents, I was happy to grant her request for eating well while traveling, with a focus on foods that don’t need refrigeration. Here are some of my favorite travel staples and standbys:

Nut Butter Sandwiches


Nut butter (peanut, almond, sunflower, whatever floats your boat!) has to be one of the most convenient, travel-friendly foods out there. It’s versatile, loaded with protein, doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and, best of all, delicious. My usual travel sandwich is a whole wheat tortilla with 1-2 tbsp peanut butter and a smashed banana. That bad boy can keep me full and satisfied for hours, and it takes up next to no room in my purse or carry on. Winner!

Trail Mix


Sure, you can buy trail mix for $4 at an airport gift shop. Or you could make it at home for a fraction of the price. Call me cheap, but I’m a fan of saving my $4 for something more than nuts and dried fruits ; ) Trail mix is a great travel option because it travels well, and if you make it at home, you can mix it up to suit your own preference. I like to throw in a mix of healthy (and filling!) almonds and cashews, some raisins or dried cranberries, a little bit of Kashi Go Lean, and some chocolate chips. Throw in a ZipLock bag and you’re good to go!



Yes, some fruits should stay refrigerated, but there are plenty of others out there that don’t need a cooler to stay fresh. My personal favorite travel fruit is a banana, not only because it’s mess free, but because it’s super filling and easy to tote. Stone fruits (plums, nectarines, etc) and apples are also good bets.

Granola Bars


I speak from experience when I say granola bars are great travel standbys. In fact, I usually keep a granola bar in my purse at all times, just in case of a snack attack emergency. I love Kashi’s TLC bars—they’re about as healthy as a pre-made granola bar is going to get, and they’re tasty, too. I’ve also fallen for Cliff Z bars; they’re supposedly made for kids, but that doesn’t stop me from snacking on them. When choosing a “good” granola bar, I try to find one that isn’t too calorie-dense but has enough protein and fiber to get me through a couple of hours. I also try to find ones that are relatively low in sugar—in other words, I don’t want something disguised as “healthy” when I could’ve just been snacking on a Snickers all along!

Fruit Leathers


I love the Trader Joe’s Fiberful bars. They’re sweet, chewy, and surprisingly filling. I’m pretty sure they have no added sugars, to boot. Added bonus: they take up hardly any room, so you can pack a bunch to have on hand.

If you’re not flying and you do have access to a small cooler, your options are obviously much wider. Even the smallest cooler can carry some easy, healthy snacks:

  • Berries
  • Low fat cheeses or yogurts
  • Fresh veggies (cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes) and hummus
  • Lean turkey or ham sandwiches

See? Plenty of options to keep you satisfied on your journey, and almost none of them are confiscation-worthy when you’re going through airport security! And they’re all so healthy that you still have plenty of room leftover for whatever travel indulgence you have planned.

Pass the clam cakes : )

What are your favorite travel food staples? Any I left out?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Evan permalink
    July 26, 2011 6:29 pm

    The most surprising thing about this post is that The Kitch has a Yelp page. Really??

  2. July 26, 2011 6:58 pm

    Hey girl! ADORE your blog 🙂

    Those are great travel suggestions! Your nut butter wrap looks delish! I try to pack fresh fruit and veggies that are easy to eat on the go (like apples and carrot sticks), that way I am getting some whole foods.

    • July 27, 2011 9:22 am

      Thanks, Carrie! I try to do the same thing. Little packs of peanuts can only satisfy me for so long! ; )

  3. AllisonP permalink
    July 27, 2011 6:14 pm

    Love it! Thanks Hillary! The nut butters wrap is a great idea – I’ll need to do that for the next trip. I can see you and Evan have a lot in common when it comes to loving your hometown foods 🙂

    • July 27, 2011 7:37 pm

      You’re welcome, Allison! Hope you found it a little bit helpful. And yes, if there’s one thing we can agree upon re: Rhode Island, it’s that the food it out of this world. ; )

  4. July 28, 2011 6:42 am

    What a great post…I love this idea as I typically completely forget that I need to feed myself in order to get through my trip. Although, I can honestly tell you that the $8 sesame noodles that I bought at Logan Airport were the best in the world!!!

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