Sticking to an eating plan like Whole 30 when traveling can be tough. Use these tips to learn how to eat healthy on vacation no matter if you are eating gluten-free, Whole 30, paleo, or anything else! Learn how to navigate restaurant menus and plan ahead to make healthy eating while you travel a breeze!
11 Tips to Eat Healthy on Vacation
1. Stay somewhere with a kitchen.
2. Provide your own snacks and drinks.
3. Bring expensive items like oils and spices with you.
4. Look at menus before you go.
5. Research forums and posts to come up with a plan.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask your server questions.
7. Make substitutions as necessary.
8. Stick with full-service restaurants rather than fast food.
9. Avoid temptation altogether.
10. Mix things up.
11. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Whole 30 on the Go
Over the past month, my family has been doing the Whole 30 challenge – 30 days of basically only real food. No added sugar, no processed foods, no dairy, no gluten, and no legumes. It takes a lot of time but has been completely worth it since I’ve felt better in the way past month than I have in years.
Following our Whole 30 meal plan at home has been easier than I thought it would be; however, eating Whole 30 on our trips last month was NOT easy!
I learned a lot during our most recent trip to Universal Studios about sticking with an eating plan on the go. These tips can help no matter if you’re just trying to generally eat better, sticking to a plan like Whole 30, or have allergies that prevent you from eating certain things.
1. Stay Somewhere with a Kitchen
One of the biggest tips I can give is to book a hotel like Residence Inn, an Airbnb, or a vacation rental that comes with a kitchen. Go grocery shopping when you arrive and cook as many of your meals in your hotel as possible. This is not only a great way to eat healthy but also to save money you would spend eating out all the time.
2. Provide Your Own Snacks and Drinks
Upon arrival at your destination, head to the grocery store to stock up on your favorite snacks, bottled water, and other quick items you can take wherever you go. Better yet, if you have a place with a kitchen, make some of your own snacks! This is one of our favorite tips for eating healthy at Disney!
3. Bring Specific Items with You
Most kitchens don’t come with items like coconut oil and spices. You don’t want to have to purchase all of these items, so carefully pack some of them in your luggage, especially if you’re driving and have extra room. You’ll save a lot of money not having to buy those type of things when you reach your destination.
4. Look at Menus Before You Go
See if you can plan where you’re eating ahead of time then do your best to look at menus and nutrition facts before you go. It’s a lot easier to order a grilled chicken breast with steamed veggies when you have a plan ahead of time than if you’re staring at all of the other delicious sounding options on the menu. Even if you don’t know where you’ll be eating before the vacation, take a few minutes to check out the menu on the way.
5. Get Support from Others
I’m willing to bet that at some point someone has Googled a particular restaurant and a particular diet (e.g., Chipotle on Whole 30). In addition to the menus, do a quick search on Google to see what other people are saying about the restaurant and things to eat there. This can help you narrow down your menu options and see what fits into your eating plan.
For example, at Chipotle, all of the meats are cooked in soybean oil other than the carnitas. The carnitas are Whole 30 compliant while the other meats aren’t. I only know that because I did my research.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Have a question about the menu? Ask. If you want to know what type of sauce comes on something, ask. If you would like to have a baked potato substituted for the cheddar mashed potatoes, ask. Be polite and servers will be happy to answer your questions the best they can. With all of the eating plans and allergies these days, this is not their first rodeo. If you’re worried about sugar or a particular type of oil, ask for foods to be cooked dry, plain, and/or without butter.
7. Make Substitutions as Necessary
Most full-service restaurants are able to make substitutions, especially when it comes to sides. Make use of your substitutions and replace things like french fries and calorie heavy sides with steamed veggies, fresh fruit, or something else that fits in your eating plan. Just know that sometimes substitutions come with a small upcharge if the side you’re requesting is more expensive or more complicated item to cook.
8. Stick with Full-Service Restaurants
I’ll be the first to admit that it is really hard to eat healthy at fast food or quick service restaurants. More often than not the food is already pre-cooked or mass produced, making it hard to fit your eating plan. Try your best to stick with full-service restaurants where food is cooked to order, ingredients are fresh, not frozen, and your server won’t look at you like a crazy person when you ask if there’s butter in the potatoes.
9. Avoid Temptation Altogether
If you know that you’re tempted by things like bread or chips, ask your host or server not to bring those as soon as you sit down at the table. Get rid of the dessert menu that’s likely staring you down from the side of the table. You’ll be way more likely to enjoy your delicious and healthy meal without feeling like you’re missing out on a warm roll with honey butter.
10. Mix Things Up
One thing I noticed while at Universal last week was that I could only handle eating so much grilled chicken. It’s normally a good failsafe healthy option, so I ordered it a lot. By the end of the weekend, I couldn’t even look at my plate of chicken.
Mix things up so again you don’t feel like you’re missing out. Have a grilled chicken salad for one meal, a shrimp and veggie skewer for your next, and a filet mignon medallion with no butter on top for another. You won’t feel like you’re being cheated if you’re actually enjoying the food.
11. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
This is my last tip but definitely not the least important. Like with everything, you’re going to make a mistake, even some things unintentionally. You might go home and find out that the veggie skewer you ate was actually cooked in canola oil rather than olive oil. Or that the dressing you used was totally loaded with sugar. Do your best and give yourself a break when things don’t go perfectly.
Need more tips? Read these 7 ideas for eating healthy on the road!