This guest post was written by Robyn from the Girl on Raw blog. Robyn is a raw chef and former Australian International Flight Attendant who is studying Clinical Nutrition and specializing in Raw & Vegan Food. She shares her healthy eating tips through her website.
A lot of people ask me how I maintain my healthy diet with the amount of travel I do. Let me tell you, it wasn’t always easy. As a flight attendant for both commercial and private airlines, living in hotels, on planes and out of suitcases for the majority of the year, you begin to learn tricks to keep healthy and stay on track. Believe it or not, it actually becomes quite fun and even second nature after a while.
It doesn’t have to be a chore! There are some hints and or tips you can use to stick to a high raw vegan diet while on the road, wherever in the world you are. And I’m here to share a few of the things I’ve learned over the years.
1. Pack a Travel Blender
If you are going to be spending a great deal of time on the road, I would consider investing in a portable blender. I use a Tribest Personal Blender but there are plenty of others on the market (Magic Bullet/Bella Cucina etc).
You can use your travel blender to make ‘hotel room smoothies’ which is where you collect the fruit from your breakfast buffet, head back to your hotel room, and mix it with water and any other supplements you have packed with you. I usually have some form of green powder (spirulina/Vitamineral green) or a protein powder (hemp, Vega, etc.) to add. This served me really well on a holiday to Cuba where greens were just so hard to get. For two weeks, I had fruit smoothies with spirulina for breakfast and as a morning snack. Portable blenders are also good for making nut milks and dips or even grinding down seeds and nuts.
2. Ask for Plates & Cutlery
Don’t be afraid to ask hotel staff for plates, bowls or cutlery to make your own food in your hotel room. Avocados, lemons, tahini, bananas and lettuce are great quick snacks you can keep in your bar fridge to make a wrap or salad dressing.
3. Make your Own Fridge
Pack sandwich bags and a collapsible cooler bag in case you don’t have a fridge in your room. Sandwich bags can be filled with ice to keep food cold.
4. Order a Special Vegan Meal
If you are travelling by plane, some airlines now offer a raw vegan option (I know Gulf and Singapore Airlines do for sure). However, they are quite bland and do sometimes include non raw ingredients – but 10 points to them for trying! Try to plan ahead and call the airline to order your ‘special’ meal. These days, most airlines offer vegan meals and some of them offer Asian vegan meals – usually the tastier option. But be warned, usually they serve white rice and white bread with these meals, and I don’t believe there is a place for this food in any diet. Which leads me to my next point.
5. Pack Snacks for Air Travel
Don’t rely on airline food! Pack your own. Staples in my carry-on would be homemade snacks like Banana & Spirulina Crackers, Macaroons and raw cookies. I also like to make my own trail mixes using soaked goji berries, raw nuts, cacao nibs, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, raisins and other dried fruit. If you run out of time, prunes and packaged dried fruit are a great ‘grab on the run’ snack to take along with you (and they help keep you regular).
Apples, capsicums (peppers), carrots and cucumbers travel really well, so why not pack these along with some dip options like almond butter, hummus or guacamole to snack on throughout the flight. These dips can be bought prepackaged at most stores. Herbal Teas, stevia and or honey are my inflight drinks. I also use my Bobble water bottle, which filters regular water, to keep hydrated.
When it comes to taking fresh fruit or vegetables on the plane, be sure you know the quarantine regulations of the country you are visiting. For example, Australia will make you hand over any fresh fruit and vegetable items you try to bring into the country.
6. Consider Fasting While in the Sky
Contrary to belief, you really don’t need to eat much on your flights anyway, as your job is to remain seated for the period of the flight (well, so the flight attendants think anyway :-]). According to Harvard Medical School, they have claimed to have come up with a strategy to beat jet lag: don’t eat during the flight! I find this quite easy to do if I keep myself occupied with movies or sleeping, but let’s face it, we eat mainly on a plane out of pure boredom. So if you can fast, it might actually help you in the long run.
7. Research Before you Go
Using Google maps is a great way to find supermarkets or health food stores close to where you are staying. The Happy Cow website and their iPhone app VegOut are great resources for finding international restaurants and health food store locations before and during your travel. Check out blogs to connect with people who might be in your area of travel and talk to them to get the lowdown on places to buy your own food or dine out. I have never been to New York but already know ALL the places I just have to dine at because of the many blogs I frequent!!
8. Learn A Few Words
In countries where English is the second language, understand that your diet may be extremely foreign to locals. For example, China is a very difficult place to eat as a vegan (despite the book the China Study.) I think this is mainly due to communication. Try and learn a few of the local words for ‘allergic’, ‘intolerant’, ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ if those words exist in their language. Also, expect you may need to pack plenty of your own snacks from home (lara bars, trail mix, etc.). You may have to visit a supermarket on arrival or you may have to just eat a load of wholefoods i.e. fruit! This is not a problem when I was travelling in Thailand. I could live off papaya, coconuts, watermelon and pineapple forever!!!
9. Embrace Travel, Be Flexible
Remember that you are having an amazing travel experience and sometimes the food may not be what you want or expect but you may not get back there again. In Paris, I just had to have a croissant under the Eiffel tower, but for dinner I ensured that my fried garlic potato salad had NO bacon nor foie gras. Use travel as an an opportunity to try new local fare. Thailand has amazing, unusual fruit. China has some incredible herbs and tea. Italy has some delicious fresh salad ingredients.
10. Get Stocked Up
If staying for a period of time in a hotel, consider stocking up on items to make food in your room. On a month long trip in New Zealand last year, I had a chopping board, mixing bowls, knife, julienne peeler (makes noodles like a spiraliser) and nut milk bag. I alternated between eating out (and checking out some fine vegan restaurants) and making my food in my room. I swear the room cleaners probably thought I was crazy but I ate really well that month!