I’m a competitive West Coast Swing dancer. I spend many weekends per year in hotel rooms to pursue my dancing goals (click the link for a little video). My destinations are usually along the east coast – so they’re a road trip away, not a flight. Road tripping is a matter of cost and convenience – but it also makes packing snacks much easier. And I *must* pack snacks – otherwise I could end up in a major “food desert” hotel, with very limited and mostly unhealthy options, or a touristy spot where everything is at least $8. And trust me, an $8 – $13 sandwich you buy in a hotel, gas station/rest stop or airport just doesn’t taste as good as one you made yourself.
Here are my go-to snack foods for weekend getaways:
1. Boiled Eggs. I buy pasture-raised, organic or at least local eggs. The yolks on these are so rich in minerals and vitamins that they’re usually a little orange – chickens that have the freedom to peck at pesture will consume extra nutrition, and then they can pass it onto you. Every egg is a complete “cell,” rich in Vitamin A, Zinc, Iron and protein. And they are super easy to carry. Just boil at least 12 for the weekend, and here’s the pro tip: keep them in the shells. Don’t peel them (it’s okay if they get a little cracked when you’re packing them into small containers). This helps them stay fresh just a little longer. (I’m also known to be that weirdo on a train or in public who chooses to snack by hitting my egg on some hard surface before I eat it like an apple, but I digress.) When you arrive at your destination, make sure they go into the mini-fridge OR get them surrounded by ice quickly. Boiled eggs don’t keep at room temperature well. They do, however, make the perfect snack, especially if you’re dancing all day.
2. Canned Wild Fish (salmon and sardines). I really value getting my omega-3s and DHA – it’s so important for brain health and a million other things in your body. And when you can can it (see what I did there?), it’s easy to travel and keep up this healthy habit. I know, I know, sardines don’t smell great – whatever, eat them alone, brush your teeth, and call it a day. They’ll make a quick salad really yummy, and they require zero prep. And they’re super cheap at your local Trader Joe’s.
3. Rice. Fill a tupperware or stainless steel (let’s face it, less plastic is better – check out http://lifewithoutplastic.com) with cooked brown rice or wild rice, and this is an easy and healthy starch to keep your energy up all weekend. Pro tip: find condiments like mayo or salad dressing from the hotel restaurant or a quick call to (pretend you’re purchasing) room service, and pour that on your rice. Add boiled eggs or fish, and bam, dinner is served.
4. Sweet potatoes or potatoes. This is the more paleo choice, and it’s easy to pack. Boil potatoes and don’t cut them – like eggs, they’ll keep a little better on your roadtrip or weekend getaway if they’re whole and usually packed in foil.
5. Organic Popcorn. This is quite filling and easy to pack/store. It’s one of my favorite snacks. It’s always good to have a pantry snack item – like popcorn, crackers, chips, etc. Choose a healthy one that you like to eat (and try to avoid excess salt).
6. Single-Serve Yogurts. I like grass-fed, organic, whole milk yogurts for a dose of protein and probiotics. At home I buy large containers – but the little ones pack very easily, and that’s why they work for travel.
7. Hit the local grocery store when you arrive. I try to eat in the same “style” – mostly vegetarian, organic and paleo – when I travel. I occasionally make broccoli, salad mixes, or other plant-based meals “to-go” if the trip is short (less than 3 or 4 hours), but generally I can’t ensure that everything keeps as well as I would like. Let’s say you need things like spinach, avocado, and more – but you want to make sure they are fresh. Just get them at the local grocery store when you arrive, and they will combine well with the above suggestions.
The great thing about the above snack choices is that you can make whole food meals using a quick combination of those items and some basic condiments or salt. Most hotels have a little café where you can find yogurt parfaits, bread items (if that’s your thing or you want to get more calories that way), and coffee/tea. I also travel with plenty of fruit (apples, grapefruit, etc.), liquid stevia, throat coat tea, goji berries (what a snack!), and emergen-C packs. Oh and cucumbers! They’re so easy to pack, and so refreshing – they’re actually my favorite food.
Being healthy on the road is a never-ending process of planning, with thinking ahead and food prep always being a key skill. Keep trying new things, and see what you discover.
What food do you pack on a weekend getaway? Are you crafty and cooking in your hotel room? Let me know with a comment!