Traveling Healthy- How to stay on track while you’re on the go

traveling on a diet

Traveling. Traveling on a diet. Packing food for endless hours.

Sounds fun, huh? Yeah not so much… and I’ve definitely been there. You’re probably thinking this post is going to talk about shoving little baggies of cold chicken in your purse (yes I’ve done that and my instagram account is proof)… the memory is less than thrilling. BUT don’t despair, I’m going to show you how to spice up your meals while traveling so you can stay on plan and avoid the chicken-in-a-bag scenario. Sound like a plan?

Look familiar? 😉

For most people, trying to stick to a meal plan while traveling can seem like a complicated and burdensome task. But, with a little bit of preparation, you can stay on track and continue progressing towards your health & fitness goals. It’s not nearly as hard as you think- promise!

Here are some of my best tips that I’ve learned over the years when traveling on a diet. (As a side note, I use the term diet loosely. Most hear the the word and assume caloric restriction, weight loss etc. My “diet” is an everyday healthy balance and varies depending on my current goals.) Ok, on to the tips:

  • Pre-portion your meals using ziplock bags– Not only will your meals be prepared and ready to go (meaning you’ll be less likely to raid the mini fridge), they will take up less space. While I prefer to use Pyrex at home, traveling with it would result in a heavy bag and unnecessary bulk.
  • Freeze your portioned meals before hand– You get a two-for-one bonus here- no need for extra ice bags AND your meals will stay fresher longer. Freezing will also allow you to prepare meals further in advance, versus the night before you leave. If you’re anything like me and save all your packing for the last minute, the last thing you want to be doing is a bunch of last minute cooking.


  • Pack plastic utensils, paper plates,bowls etc: Depending on where you are going, you may be able to stock up at various pit stops (Starbucks, gas stations etc.), but I’ve found it always comes in handy to bring a handful of knifes/forks/spoons, as well as paper bowls and plates. This way you’ll be ready go, whether you’re mid car ride or having breakfast in your hotel room.


  • Have a few ziplock bags of snacks ready to go: My go-to healthy snacks typically involve non-perishable foods that I can easily stuff in my pack for the day. Some of my favorites include:
    • Almonds
    • Fruit (apples, bananas, blueberries)
    • Rice cakes
    • Veggies (mini bell peppers, cucumber)
    • String cheese
    • Tuna packets
    • Hard boiled eggs (if you plan on carrying an insulated lunch bag)
    • Protein bars
  • Use your hotel room coffee maker for oatmeal: Thankfully, I can continue to enjoy my much loved protein oatmeal every morning with a little help from Mr. Coffee Maker. You’ll have hot water for your oats in no time.. just pour in some water, skip the coffee pod and boom! Protein oats! And, if you followed my step above and brought your own paper bowls, then no cleanup! If not, most hotels stock the room with a couple glasses, which can easily be used to house your oats. Room service might not love you, but I’m sure they’ve seen worse 😉
  • Buy individual serving sizes of almond/peanut butter: ok maybe this didn’t need its own bullet point, but I can’t live without my almond and peanut butter so these are a must! If I’m in a real rush and can’t grab any of these at the store, I will use a tiny Tupperware for my nut butter (remember to make sure it’s under the allowable liquid volume, as the TSA considers peanut butter a liquid).

Traveling Healthy- How to stay on track while you're on the go

  • Pack extra packets of stevia or flavored liquid stevia: These are easy to stick in your purse and I use them in everything from my morning to my oatmeal, greek yogurt etc.
  • Be sure to request a mini-fridge: These don’t always come standard, so make sure to request one before hand.
  • Take advantage of salad bars when possible: Most areas you travel will offer some sort of a salad bar. These are a good place to stock up on on protein and veggies (because nobody like a salad without volume). Just remember to avoid the fatty dressings- I usually go for balsamic vinegar with lemon and some salt/pepper.

Traveling Healthy- How to stay on track while you’re on the go

  • Stock up on larger/perishable items at the local grocery store: I usually pick up my larger items (or those over the FDA approved liquid volume), at the locally grocery store. Things like greek yogurt, eggs whites, veggies tend to be easier to buy when you arrive versus packing. Just ask for the closest store at the front desk and you’re set.
  • Dont be afraid to ask for substitutions: Most places these days are used to odd requests so don’t be shy! Even if all you want is grilled chicken and steamed veggies 🙂
Traveling Healthy- How to stay on track while you’re on the go
Ever feel like this when asking for substitutions at restaurants? Dont be shy 😉

Lastly, remember to have fun and enjoy yourself! You shouldn’t be stressing the entire vacation about what you will eat… and hopefully if you follow my tricks above you won’t be. If you can, enjoy a couple treats or a healthy meal out. Sometimes we forget to think “big picture” and act as if the occasional treat is the end of the world. You only live once. Everything in moderation allows for a much more enjoyable lifestyle. Ten years from now you wont remember the cookie you had that “wasn’t on plan” but,  you will remember the memories you made with friends and loved ones. Just my opinion 🙂

I’d much rather be the type that allows myself to enjoy that perfect chocolate chip from the bakery every now and then, versus the person who eats an entire bag of crappy grocery store cookies because they had labeled them as “off limits” for so long that they just couldn’t help themselves.

Healthy mindset = Happy (and healthier) you!

As always thanks for reading! What are your best tips from remaining healthy while traveling? I’d love to hear them, so don’t be shy… Leave a comment!


About Melissa

Melissa Wilson is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through NSCA and received her Bachelor’s degree from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo. In addition to in-person training, Melissa is the founder of ProShape Fitness -- a healthy living company, which specializes in online fitness and nutrition coaching for individuals who want to get back into shape and adopt healthier lifestyle habits.

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