When I go on vacation my healthy whole food plant based diet goes with me. At first that can seem daunting because most restaurants are not set up to support a healthy whole foods plant based diet. With some planning, cooking ahead, a good cooler and a few other essentials I am hear to tell you it can be done! Since going plant based 2 1/2 years ago we have gone on a few road trips and each time I learn a few new tricks that make it easier to eat healthy on the road.
First we try to book hotel rooms that have a kitchenette or at the very least a microwave and mini fridge. Many hotels that don’t have these in every room will rent you a microwave and mini fridge for $10-20 a night. In vacation destinations many hotels, cabins and cottages offer suites that have a kitchen furnished with dishes and cookware. Having said all that I have even managed food prep in the smallest hotel room that had no amenities at all!
Having a sink and a little counter space for food prep is so nice. A mini fridge and microwave were also handy to have. Since we were staying a few nights here we moved some groceries out of the cooler into the fridge.
This suite was even better with a full fridge and more counter space and a nice size table to eat at. It also came equipped with dishes and cooking utensils. We took advantage of the freezer to refreeze the ice bags for the cooler.
A couple days prior to leaving on vacation I shop for fresh produce and batch cook for the trip. On our last road trip I took veggie burgers, Black and Red Lentil Chili, baked potatoes – Yukon gold and sweet potatoes, oven roasted squash, lentil salad, roasted Brussel sprouts, Engine 2 hummus, Donna’s Vegan Cheeze Sauce, raw veggies, fruit including fresh berries, grapes, watermelon, bananas and apples, lettuce greens for salads. Beans in aseptic containers, vegan soup in aseptic containers, hummus in aseptic containers, unsweetened almond milk in shelf stable cartons and vegan cheeze sauce in individual packets.
Once the veggie burgers were cool I wrapped them in parchment paper and then foil and froze them inside plastic containers. They helped keep the cooler cold and they slowly thawed out over a few days.
I found these at Costco and they came in handy for quick pre-hiking nourishment, breakfast or a snack with almond milk and fruit. They are also sold on Amazon.
Another Costco find that is so handy for vacation and at home. Fully cooked brown rice – just heat and eat. You can add beans, corn, cilantro and salsa. Use as a base with hot soup poured over the top and then some baby greens. Use on a salad with some beans to make it heartier. Similar products can be found at other stores like Whole Foods, grocery stores, Target and health food stores.
Shelf stable hummus dip is perfect for hiking. We take them along with carrot sticks for dipping.I found these at Whole Foods in the chip aisle on the top shelf above the salsa. The ingredients are chickpeas,sesame paste, water, sea salt, roasted garlic, spices and citric acid. Just 63 calories per container. You can add this to a salad, use as a topping for a veggie burger or add to a bowl of rice, beans and greens.
Nacheez is a vegan nacho cheese product that is made locally in Sacramento by Ilsa Hess. She just started to offer these convenient little individual travel packets of her amazing vegan non dairy nacho cheese sauce. In fact I was the first person to place an order for them from her website Nacheez. She mailed them out to me right away so I would have them in time for our vacation! We ran out of my home made vegan cheeze sauce so we were happy to have these travel packs. They are delicious on baked potatoes, beans, rice and veggies!
INGREDIENTS: Water, Red Bell Peppers, Raw Cashews [tree nut], Roasted Green Chiles (green anahiem chiles, water, citric acid, salt), Jalapeno Peppers (jalapeno peppers, water, salt, citric acid, calcium chloride), Lemon Juice, Organic Corn Starch, Red Star Yeast (dried yeast, niacin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, thiamin hydrochloride, folic acid, cobalamin), Sea Salt, Lactic Acid (vegan source), Xanthan Gum
Each packet is just 20 calories and 1 gram of fat and 170mg sodium. If you follow a no salt food plan these may not be something you want to eat. I don’t have any problems using them. They don’t prevent me from losing weight and I figure when I am hiking and sweating the extra sodium in my diet isn’t a bad thing!
Fruit – That’s It! These all fruit bars are sweet and chewy with no added sugar. Kids and adults alike enjoy them. I love them for hiking, bike riding and to have in the car as a back up if I have forgotten to pack some fresh fruit or veggies to take with me. Sold at Whole Foods, health food stores, Costco had them for a while but I haven’t seen them there lately.
Quite a few vegan dehydrated meals are available at REI or other sporting goods type stores that have hiking supplies. The ones we have tried have been delicious. I try to get ones that are two servings. They require boiling water added to the pouch, a quick stir, close the top and let it sit for 10-12 minutes. We usually add extra beans or rice to make them more filling. Perfect on the trail and can even come in handy when you are traveling. You can stop at a rest area and set up for lunch on a picnic table or if you are in a city find a local city park and have lunch.
We use a Jet Boil to heat up water on the trail. It’s quick and easy. These type of devices can be purchased at REI or any sporting goods stores that sell hiking gear.
After hiking miles on a coastal trail we came across a little covered are with benches out in the middle of nowhere! It was the perfect lunch spot.
I saw this Road Pro Portable Stove on Plant Fueled Trucker’s Facebook page. He cooks healthy plant based meals everyday while driving down the highway. Check out his facebook page for inspiration. Now back to the Road Pro stove. Its about the size of a lunch box and runs on 12 volts and plugs directly into your vehicles power port. You can cook a meal in it or keep food hot until you are ready to eat. It holds an aluminum foil bread pan so you can make something that will serve two people as a meal. You can be driving down the road while dinner is cooking! How cool is that? We used it and I am happy to report that it works really well. You can find it on Amazon. In my next post I will show you what I made using this device.
In addition to all the food products there are some other essentials I took along. A cutting board, sharp knife, serving utensils, paper towels, paper plates, paper bowls, plastic cups, napkins, ziplock bags in gallon, quart and sandwich size. Kitchen towels, dish cloths, dish soap. Salt free seasonings and other spices and balsamic vinegar. Extra food containers for packing lunches and snacks for the car and hiking. Aluminum foil and extra plastic grocery bags to use for trash and such.
In my next post I will show you how we made meals out of what we took with us and how I managed food prep in the tiniest hotel room! I wouldn’t say it’s easy to eat healthy while traveling – it does require extra work, prep and thought but its so worth it. Every time we ate a meal from our cooler hubby Tom said, “Well we just saved $35!” So not only did we eat healthier than we would have in a restaurant but we saved money too!
Wishing you safe and healthy travels.
Some great ideas, here! I am looking forward to seeing what you cooked in the RoadPro.
Thank you Sabine – I am learning how to make it work and each time we take a road trip it gets better! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Happy Travels!
Staying compliant while vacationing is my goal, I am glad to see how you achieved compliance! I can’t wait to see how you used the portable stove in your next post!
Hi Janice! It’s very doable to stay compliant while on vacation. I lost 3 pounds during our 12 day vacation – I was very happy with that.
I think the portable stove is a great invention. Stay tuned for more!
You always inspire me. Thanks so much for all that you share.
That is so sweet of you to say Sandi! Thank you – your comment made my day!
Tami this is such helpful information! Thank you for sharing such practical resources for making travel easier on a WFPB diet. Great to know these products are oil-free also!
Hi Sheri Lee – We can learn from one another how to manage staying true to our Whole Food Plant based diets when away from home. It really can be done! A few pre-packaged food products make it easier when you travel.
These are great tips. What do you do if you are traveling by plane?
Traveling by plane presents some different challenges. I have shipped things ahead to my destination so I would have things I needed when I arrived. I have taken lots of food in my suit case. I look on the internet ahead of time and locate the nearest grocery store, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, health food store or Food Co-Op. Then that is the first stop to get healthy food.
For the day of travel you can take a lot of food with you in your carry on. Do some research ahead of time on the internet to locate vegan options at the airports you will be at. You will know ahead of time where the restaurnats are located at the airport which really saves time if you have a short layover.
On our most recent trip after the first week on the road we went into Canada and couldn’t take any fresh produce with us so we had to eat up all the food that I had prepped at home prior to our trip. Then as soon as we got into Canada we headed to a grocery store and stocked up on produce again.
I also look on the internet ahead of time to locate vegan restaurant options. I use Yelp , Happy Cow and Trip Advisor as well as looking for Vegan Groups in the city I will be visiting. If they have a blog or website they often list local restaurants that are vegan friendly. Hotel desk clerks can also be helpful with ideas of where to eat that have vegan options.If you are on Instagram there is a large group of vegan/whole food plant based followers that are happy to help with restaurant ideas for just about any part of the world you decide to visit.
For me when I am traveling I know that I won’t be 100% Ultimate Weight Loss compliant. if you eat out you can avoid oil and sugar but there is going to be some salt on that food. I do my best to be specific when I order food and if it comes with oil I don’t hesitate to send it back because I know it will cause me lower GI issues if I eat it and I don’t want to eat oil. If I can only get a bowl of lettuce that is what I get and then I supplement from something I carry in my purse or wait until I get back to the hotel to eat something healthy that will fill me up.
I hope these tips are helpful for you! Happy Travels!
Thank you so much. I travel for work, but it is usually only three or four days. I have been making my first stop a grocery store. Lately, I have been going to the same areas, so I know where I can eat and what restaurants I can get meals with no oil. Great tips.
It sounds like you have figured out a good plan for your business travel. Once we get a plan it becomes second nature. I am glad you enjoyed the post. If you have any tips to add please feel free to leave them in the comments.
Tami, thanks for the fabulous tips! You make it look easy.
I am glad it looks easy – it does take a lot of prep but it is so worth it! Your cheeze sauce traveled well in the cooler too!
Jody - Fit at 57
What a great post Tami!!! This helps even non plant based people!!!! Now if I could afford a vacation! 🙂
Thanks Jody – yes plant based or not the same concept works for everyone!
Is that an Extended Stay Hotel? Tony stayed there for days on end last summer and last fall on our trips to Mayo. I basically meal prepped before leaving and I don’t think we ever had to eat out at all – not that he could have because he was sick, but it was nice not to have to resort to fast food!
Yes it was Biz! I loved having that kitchen and not having to eat out!
Read these travel posts awhile back and now that I have a two week business trip coming up, your information is invaluable. I am flying so not taking pressure cooker, but will pack a mini slow-cooker with bags of lentils, etc in my suitcase. Scoped out the nearest grocery store and have ordered my Nacheez, hummus packs and steel cut oats! Will have mini fridge and microwave in the room. I don’t usually travel (or even plan much), so your lists, suggested meals, etc. have been a bonus. When I called the hotel to inquire re: amenities, they said “don’t worry, there is a Chick Fil A and McDonalds nearby” Wish me luck!! I’ll report back how things went.
Thank you so very much, Bonnie
I am delighted that my travel posts helped you plan for this trip. LOL at what the hotel told you! I love the idea of taking a mini slow cooker with you and lentils – they cook quicker than beans – brilliant idea. Please do report back and let me know how it went. I am always eager to learn new tips and tricks that make travel easier when eating plant based.
Happy healthy travels.
Really enjoyed this article and adding some of the ideas to my list I have already. We just finished a 3 week trip to California from Illinois with our vegetarian granddaughter and meal prepped all of the food till we arrived. It worked out so well. We had one day turnaround and then headed to Pennsylvania where I restocked from the freezer. Thanks for the additional suggestions.
It sounds like you have figured out how to navigate being whole food plant based while traveling. It just takes a little planning and is so workable.
Once you have done it successfully it just keeps getting easier.
Enjoy your plant based travels and if you have any tips for me be sure to share!