Vacation season is upon us, yay! If you're traveling anywhere this summer, especially if you're taking your kids, you'll want to make the time a week or two ahead to research your destination spot, and I'll tell you how. Learning a little about eating healthy on vacation will help you avoid the worst of the worst, like gas station food or fast food joints, ewwwww… That stuff just makes you feel sick anyway, and who wants to feel like crap on vacation?!
Scary Hotel Options
On our last family vacation I took pictures — the photo above shows the kinds of offerings the hotel complimentary breakfast included. They also had the popular bagged muffins, and other nasty snacks. Keep in mind that our kids don't get breakfast cereal at home, so they weren't happy when we only let them eat that junk on one of the mornings. (Read more: Why Not to Eat Breakfast Cereals. There are organic options out there for a once-in-a-while treat, but they're so expensive for very little nutrition!)
At one point our oldest asked our youngest if he wanted to go with him to get some cereal, and he answered, “Well, it will give me a stomachache, but it sure does taste good, let's go!” LOL. Another morning our daughter went down and later said that their 2% milks tasted sour, even though the use-by date wasn't until a few days later. I loved it!
How much should you let loose and not fret over what you're eating on vacation?
Since it is called a vacation after all, yes, you'll probably want to chill out a little, but for us, I knew I didn't want to do that for a whole week.
4 Tips for Eating Healthy on Vacation
1. Your best resource, and what has worked well for us, is to get in touch ahead of time with the Weston A. Price chapter leader in your destination city.
Ask them where the farmers markets are, where the health food stores are, and where the best restaurants are — ask about the family-run joints where they make food from scratch.
You could also search online for health food stores in that city, and call them for more information — they are a great resource as well. (I recently called three different health food stores in one city when I was on a search to find a good holistic practitioner for someone, because there was no chapter leader in that area — I got the same name from two of the three, bingo!)
2. Get my friend Kristen's book: Food Renegade's Guide to Eating Out!
3. Stay somewhere that has a kitchen.
Our family of 6 needs something bigger than a standard hotel room anyway, but it was worth the extra money to get a full kitchen! The two bedrooms, plus the living area, was nice too, so we could spread out a bit after all that togetherness in the van as we did all our site-seeing!
4. Make a trip to stock up from the farmers market and health food store.
Once we arrived, we dropped the kids off at our room to chill out (because our kids are old enough to leave alone now!), and ran a couple errands…
- Eggs and breakfast sausage or bacon, plus potatoes, onions, and plenty of pastured butter, of course, so you can make something everyone loves, like this Breakfast Skillet Recipe or just a big breakfast some morning. If you have room in your suitcase or if you're driving, take the best pan ever with you. 🙂
- Organic corn chips and salsa for snacks.
- Organic whole milk yogurts.
- Pastured ground beef for burgers, plus greens, tomatoes, buns, and condiments to go on top, organic if possible. BTW, the best mayo I could find was still rotten, as you've heard me complain about many times, take your own homemade mayo if possible. Update: these days you can usually find this kind at the health food store or maybe even the regular grocery store!
- Organic bread and some healthy lunch meats if you can find some without a bunch of freaky ingredients.
- Cheese slices — check the label and be sure you're not getting “cheese product”-sick! Use these on the burgers, and another day make some grilled cheese sandwiches. Everyone likes those.
- A bunch of water, in glass bottles if you can find it.
- Stuff for PBJ's for another quick lunch, also could be morning toast stuff.
- Organic veggies just to clean and have on hand to snack on or serve with the burgers or the lunches.
- Beer and wine, because, you know, it's vacation for us, too!
- We went to a cheap box store to get things like kleenex, wipes, paper plates, TP, and baggies or whatever wrap for leftovers.
With that list we had one dinner, lunch options (or more dinners), some breakfast ideas, and a few snacks covered.
For the other meals we ate out at the restaurants we could find that weren't too bad, and a few were awesome and loaded with real food options!
Thankfully this is getting a little easier and there are some better fast-food options now.
Chipotle now has a completely GMO-free menu! Panera is taking out artificial ingredients! Does that mean everything there is perfect? Nope. But if you're on vacation, at least it's a better option than the other fast-food places and it makes me soooooo happy that the tide is turning.
What did I miss? Share your best tips for eating healthy on vacation!
- Counteracting the effects of junk food — how to fill them back up with the good stuff after they've had lots of junk.
- In case you missed it above: Why Not to Eat Breakfast Cereals
- Don't forget to get Kristen's book: Food Renegade's Guide to Eating Out
- If your family is into camping (we're NOT!), you'll want Katie's Family Camping Handbook for help with taking real food with you!