“Going Paleo” doesn’t happen naturally in today’s society. It’s a conscious decision. It takes commitment to stay away from processed foods, a sedentary lifestyle, and all the other obstacles that stand between you and good health.
When you choose to be healthy, there’s hardly anything more useful than routines to steer you in the right direction. Things like going to the gym right after work… or going home every night to prepare meals with high-quality food.
But what happens when you have to leave home? What happens when those routines you’ve spent months or years developing get thrown out the window?
Traveling can make things stressful. But with the right strategies, you can maintain your Paleo lifestyle no matter where you go. Keep reading to find out how.
Traveling Throws Your Routines out the Window
Nothing messes with your routines like travel. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving a few hours or flying halfway around the world; removing yourself from the Paleo-friendly environment you’ve created at home makes everything more complicated.
Standing in line at immigration for hours on end will test your patience. And when you’re scrambling to get something in your belly before your connecting flight takes off, it’s easy to slip back into bad habits that negatively impact your health.
That doesn’t have to happen to you, though. With the right approach, you can enjoy travel without compromising on the lifestyle that gives you so much energy and health.
A Lack of Planning, Not Discipline, Causes Travelers to Struggle
Most people following a Paleo lifestyle know about the potential pitfalls travel can bring when it comes to their food choices, exercise routines, and getting enough sleep…
So how come so many of them struggle to overcome those pitfalls again and again?
There’s no shortage of willpower or good intentions. But relying on those alone — without a plan in place to support them — is a recipe for failure. Willpower and good intentions are limited. Something during your travels will probably overpower them.
Without a strategy, it’s easy to end up face-first in a Big Mac with a milkshake in your hand. Then a lot of people beat themselves up for not having enough discipline…when what they really needed was a plan.
New Strategies to Stay Paleo… Wherever You Go
Traveling is challenging because it removes a good deal of the control you have at home. You’re in an unfamiliar place, probably stressed out and on someone else’s time schedule…
But you don’t have to throw your hands in the air and just “wing it.” Focus on the following strategies. You’ll regain crucial control over your environment, which makes it easier to do what’s right and healthy — even in all the chaos of travel.
Here are a few things you can try that make it easier to stay Paleo while traveling:
Sticking to a Healthy Diet
Of all the challenges that travel brings, sticking to a good diet is probably the toughest. Things like traffic and flight delays can throw monkey wrenches in your normal eating schedule. And finding food isn’t as simple as opening your stocked refrigerator.
Travel creates two challenges when it comes to sticking to Paleo foods: 1) eating right while you’re in transit, and 2) eating right once you get there.
Getting it right while you’re in transit is more challenging, so let’s start there. You’ve probably had an experience where you were exhausted from lugging bags around, your stomach was grumbling, and the only thing in sight at the airport was McDonald’s…
Relying on whatever is available at the airport, train station, or side of the road (if you’re going by car) makes things unpredictable. You never know what they’re going to have, and most of it isn’t Paleo.
Some Paleo travelers swear by taking a cooler and packing it with food to have along the way. Great things to bring include:
- Canned seafood (tuna, salmon, sardines, etc.)
- Canned olives
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Nut butter (almond butter is great)
- Beef jerky
- Olive oil (for vegetables and salads)
Packing your own food works well if you’re driving, but it might raise some eyebrows if you’re trying to get through airport security. Sometimes the only option is to make the best of what’s available. That might mean ordering a sandwich and taking off the bun… or skipping the macaroni that comes as a side during your in-flight meal.
You might not be 100% Paleo while you travel (keep reading to see why you shouldn’t freak out about that), but once you get through it, you’ve made it through the hardest part.
Once you get to wherever you’re going, your options start to open up. You can hit up the hotel breakfast for Paleo-friendly options like bacon, eggs, and fruit. Or you could find a local grocery store and stock up on Paleo foods that don’t require preparation to eat.
You probably won’t be preparing all of your meals if you’re traveling for business or pleasure. Steakhouses, seafood places, and anywhere that serves salads are all good options. You might have to avoid some of the sides, and not everything will be cooked in coconut oil or grass-fed butter. Don’t be afraid to ask your server if they can substitute sides or make other accommodations!
One of the reasons traveling is so stressful is you’re just… stuck. It’s easy to get restless when you’re trapped in a car, train, or plane when all you want to do is get out and move.
Just like sedentary office work, our bodies aren’t suited for modern travel. There’s usually a lot of sitting around and waiting; it can be hard to handle if you’re used to getting regular exercise.
To make things even tougher? You can’t pack free weights or bring your CrossFit box with you. Some hotels have gyms, but many are nothing more than a few treadmills.
So there are plenty of challenges… but nothing too difficult to keep you from continuing to exercise while you’re on the road.
The key is to get as much movement as you can. Stop every hour or two while you’re driving to stretch, walk around, and maybe do some calisthenics. If you’re stuck at an airport, you can take a quick walk around the terminal. And at least stand up and stretch your legs every once in awhile on long flights!
Once you arrive at your destination, take advantage of the gym if you have access to one. Bodyweight workouts are always an option; most can be done in a small hotel room without any issues. You could even do some yoga or a quick 5-minute workout.
Your travel routines probably won’t be as organized as your regular exercise at home. And you might not have access to your favorite equipment. But there’s nothing stopping you from moving around, stretching, and getting your heart pumping wherever you go.
Killing the Perfectionist Inside
Traveling is stressful. Even if you’re meticulous about packing all the right things and getting started on time, the unexpected happens. Luggage disappears. Snowstorms shut down the entire airport. Your car breaks down. And on and on.
The last thing you need to do in these situations is pile on even more stress. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what a lot of people do. They drive themselves crazy worrying about not being 100% Paleo while they’re away.
That’s why it’s crucial to kill the idea that you have to stay 100% Paleo while you travel. Sometimes you just won’t be able to manage your lifestyle as strictly as you normally do. Holding yourself to a standard of perfection — when getting it right just isn’t possible—creates a ton of unnecessary stress.
It’s better to travel knowing you might not be perfectly Paleo, but still pushing yourself to get 80 or 90% of the way there. That’s a lot better than most people are doing, and giving yourself a little wiggle room to try a pasta dish in Italy or a baguette with brie in France can also help you make the most of your travel experience.
Traveling — flying in particular — dries you out.
Most people don’t drink enough water to replenish their bodies. This causes all kind of problems like headaches, nausea, exhaustion, and more stress. Fortunately, this is an easy issue to address. You can pack a reusable water bottle — Nalgene and Klean Kanteen are great options — and take water with you wherever you go.
Some airport security — like the TSA — won’t allow passengers to bring liquids through security checkpoints. If that’s the case, you can just bring the empty bottle in your luggage and fill it from an airport water fountain after you get through the checkpoint.
You can’t control a lot of things while you travel, but you can control the fluids you put into body. Stay away from sodas, juices, and other sugary drinks. Get the water your body needs to reach your destination healthy and energized.
Getting Quality Sleep
Travel also threatens to interfere with your sleep schedule. It’s hard to get your eight hours in if you’re stuck on a redeye with a screaming baby. Or if your hotel mattress feels like a pile of cinder blocks.
You can’t control those things, but there are a few things you can control to stack the deck in your favor. Bring a sleep mask and a pair of earplugs. They won’t replace your cozy bed, but they’ll help you create a better sleep environment wherever your travels take you.
(Related: 4 Tips for Better, More Satisfying Sleep)
Travel Doesn’t Have to Compromise Your Health
Traveling can be stressful, exhausting, and expensive…
But it can also be the gateway to incredible opportunities and unforgettable experiences. Most people aren’t willing to give that up. They think they have to choose between that and the healthy Paleo lifestyle they’ve worked so hard to create at home.
But you don’t have to let travel compromise your health. Apply the strategies in this post, and you’ll navigate the unexpected and maintain your health. You’ll arrive at your destination happy, energized, and less stressed… the perfect opportunity to enjoy every moment away from home to the fullest.
(Related: 6 Tips for Staying Paleo When at Restaurants)