5 Ways To Eat Healthy When Traveling

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Dublin is the starting point for a lot of my travel stories. And when it comes to learning how to eat right, as a traveler, it’s no different. Before last year I had stumbled around the globe, trying to guess how to check off my food pyramid while traveling. But it wasn’t until I was staying at a hostel in Dublin, that I found out the secret of doing so. One of the things that I’ve always loved about staying at hostels is the exchange of ideas and stories. And amidst the buzz of knowledge I met some pretty awesome people, last spring.

Last year I spent a full two weeks in Dublin, and I learned a lot about cooking in a hostel setting from some of the pro-hostel guests (those who live in the hostel) – starting when a friend came out of the kitchen with a full on salmon dinner and vegetables. Australians.

But it wasn’t until this morning, while I was reading a Facebook post from one of my friends that I realized what a global (pun. ha. ha) a problem this is. Eating healthy while traveling in HARD! So, I thought I would share some ideas and tips that have personally helped me to travel a whole lot healthier.

1.Research Beforehand: Here’s the deal. If you’re staying in a hostel, or couchsurfing – check out what cooking resources you’ll have accessible to you. Some of the best memories I have from Couchsurfing have been around making meals with my host. Don’t shy away from asking to cook a meal (even if it’s simple)! Hostels should tell you online whether they’re equipped with a full, partial, or no kitchen. Plan accordingly. The key is to not be surprised when showing up. If you know what you’ll have accessible, you can make the most of those resources. If you’re staying in a hotel, don’t think you’re off the hook, either. Usually hotels will have refrigerators that allow you to preserve your grocery finds, and you can still plan out healthy non perishable foods to have on hand.

2.Go To Grocery Stores: This was some of the first advice I received when I set off on my first backpacking adventure. Not only is it important for eating healthy, but it will also save you a LOT of cash, in the end. Eating out is expensive, and while it’s definitely fun sometimes you should also be aware that the local grocery probably has some great healthy options that will save you money and keep you on the path to healthy travel. *Pro Tip: Leave your non-perishable food in “shared food” spaces, rather than throwing it out when you leave. Help out the next hostel traveller!

My General Shopping List:

Fresh fruit/veggies
Meat bought on a daily basis
Soup
Salad in bulk
Oatmeal
Bread bought daily (rather than buying a whole loaf, which I know I would eat, I buy rolls etc.)
Eggs
Pasta/Pasta Sauce
Some kind of preserved meat like salami
Nuts (Almonds, most of the time)
Granola Bars
Butter (not to go crazy, but because I like a little with my breakfast)

3.Cook For Yourself: Look up some recipes, and find some favorites that will work well without a ton of ingredients. A lot of hostels will have basics (oil, salt, pepper, sugar) but I wouldn’t count on anything else. Something great is recipes that include throwing all ingredients in a wrap of foil and putting it in the over. Easy clean up, easy eating and usually they don’t require a whole lot of seasoning (but are oh, so yummy!). Try some of these tasty options, next time you travel.

4. Invest In Some Tupperware And Ziplock bags: Here’s the deal. From the time you step on the plane, you’re going to have people pushing terrible food options in your face (think airplane food – don’t do it). The key is to have a better, yummier and healthier option, instead. I usually take 3-4 ziplocked snacks on the plane with me including cut up veggies, pretzels, dried fruit (or natural fruit leather), turkey jerky, almonds and a bottle of water (fill it up after security). I also always take a water bottle and some bags of healthy snacks with me while I’m walking around or on tours. The biggest temptations happen when you’re FAMISHED and not thinking straight.

5. Change Your Mindset: Here’s the thing. You’re never going to be able to do something you constantly tell yourself you’re no good at doing. So change it up! Realize that you’re entitled to eat right, and that just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you’re entitled to “break the rules.” Healthy living isn’t a punishment, it’s a privilege. And eating healthy while you’re traveling is a reward you’re entitled to.

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10 Ways To Get Ready For A Weekend Backpacking Trip

San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, CA

Early tomorrow morning (We’re talking 4am, early) I’m going to be headed out on the second of, what I have a feeling will be, many weekend vacations while I’m living in Europe. As I was getting ready tonight, I thought I would share some thoughts on what I do when getting ready for one of these mini vacations. Packing definitely isn’t as extreme as going on a two week long backpacking trip, and the more I travel the more I get my own routine of knowing what I’ll actually need vs. what I just want for whatever reason. Here are my top 10 packing tips for when I’m getting ready to go on a weekend adventure!

Fully charge all electronic devises: If you don’t use your electronics a TON, you might even avoid having to pack cords at all, by doing this. I always bring my phone cord with me, of course, but I really try to only have that. My tablet has an 8 hour battery life, and my camera has more than that, so usually I’m good without 12 cords in my bag.

Print out all boarding passes/tickets IN ADVANCE: Save time and stress by printing boarding passes and any tickets – or really anything that you can print beforehand. This is especially great when you’re running late and have to jump straight on your plane/bus before it leaves. Not that I’ve ever had to do that *cough*.

Take a shower before you leave your house: Whether it’s the night before, or the morning of (depending on how early your flight is/how much sleep you want). I usually opt for the shower the night before, because I like to sleep in until the absolute last minute possible, and I fly out at ungodly hours because it’s cheaper. The basic rule is just to take a shower before you leave the house. You’ll feel better traveling clean, and you never know when the next shower will be.

Go to bed early: This is the hardest rule for me, but it’s so important. And also the reason I’m going to bed now, even though I’m usually a late night owl. It’s so important to get some sleep before you travel. It cuts down on stress, and helps you enjoy your trip, rather than feeling like you’re going to pass out. Believe me, I’ve tried the “pull an all nighter” before an early flight – it has NEVER been a good idea.

Pack snacks/water: I’m such a huge snacker. When it comes to being lost, delayed or just sitting in a strange country/city, having a familiar snack really does a world of good. Also chocolate – just always pack a chocolate bar. This was probably the best travel advice I ever received. My snack favorites? “Naked” blueberry juice, Pringles, apples.

Grab the “little things”: I also always check over the little things that make or break a trip for me. For instance: I’m super light/sound sensitive when I sleep, so I always travel with an eye mask (also good for plane sleeping) and earplugs (also good for plane sleeping) which both are really important for me getting a good night’s rest in a strange place.

Pack a book to read/journal: I love taking a book to finish when I’m traveling. I absolutely love reading while I travel, especially when I’m in airports etc. so I always try to find an interesting read beforehand. For this trip I’m hoping to finish “Journey To The Center Of The Earth.”

Lay out your travel plans: I like to set out all of my travel plans (making sure I have maps etc. for where to catch buses) all set out so I don’t have to wonder where I’m going when I’m tiredly trying to navigate in the morning.

Sticky note anything you might forget in the morning: Whether it’s something charging overnight, or something you want to grab in the fridge – write it down! When it comes down to it, you don’t need/want the extra stress of trying to remember things that you’re going to be really sad forgetting to pack, just because your brain was on overload in the rush of the minute.

Download music appropriate to the place:  I do this just for fun. An example is that I downloaded the “Sound of the sea” soundtrack tonight in “preparation” for my Ireland trip!

J’étais un étranger, et vous m’avez invité dans votre maison.

 

Missoula, MT
Missoula, MT

By every standard of normality, *Couchsurfers are insane.

I can say this because I’ve Couchsurfed before and, if you know me, you know I only believe in insulting things you’ve tried. Honestly, the  potential negatives of couch surfing are pretty transparent; all primal instincts scream that finding a complete stranger over the internet and staying with them/letting them stay with you is ridiculous. And, in a way, they’re right. But ridiculous is not always a bad thing.

The first time I Couchsurfed, I had approximately everyone tell me I was going to die/be abducted. After all, how DO  you avoid ending up on the “Missing Persons” page of the Times? Or, better yet, how on earth do you sleep soundly curled up on the couch of a complete stranger?!? Well, beyond the logical safety measures (3 C’s: Communication, Comments, and Contact) I would say it comes down to one thing – trust.

Reality: everyone you’re friends with now was once a stranger. Maybe you met them at work, in high school, or maybe your parents semi-forced you to be friends by having playdates every weekend of your childhood. But regardless, there was a time when you knew absolutely nothing about them. And whatever the circumstances, you had to start from nothing and build trust with that person.

Or, if you want to get more cozy – let’s talk dating. Because everybody likes blog posts about dating. When you first start dating someone, how much do you know about that person? If they were a friend before you started dating,  probably more than most. But, more than likely, you met at some kind of event/location and then ended up going out with this complete stranger until the two of you either decided to get more serious or one/both of you bolted.

By these standards, Couchsurfing is actually an upgrade. You get to look at reviews, talk with the person beforehand (via Skype, email or text), you see pictures of the place you’ll be staying, read bios and gather information. AND THEN, and only then, do you choose to stay with them – or continue to peruse the thousands of other profiles. If you’ve done your research (which was practically laid out in front of you) then you’re more than likely  in the clear.

For me, when I first started Couchsurfing, I did it because I needed a place to stay, wanted to explore and didn’t want money (or, rather, the lack thereof) to be a reason I couldn’t visit a place I wanted to (the other half of the reason is because I absolutely love shocking people).

My first trip I didn’t really know what to expect. I was picked up at the Greyhound bus station by my host and her pug and driven to her house, which was not too far away. I didn’t really know what the protocol was, so I just decided to act like we’d known each other for forever and were just meeting up again after not seeing each other in ages (#storyteller).

This, as it turns out, was actually one of the best things I could have done. That, and bringing pumpkin chocolate chip cookies I had baked the night before. After munching and searching through the newspaper for things to do, I quickly decided that she and I were going to be friends. Anyone who offers to teach me how to make books, and has a giant ginger cat, is fine by me. During my time there (Montana), we ate, we danced and we laid out under the November night sky for hours looking for shooting stars. It was sublime.

After that trip I knew I had to Couchsurf again, and every time I do I walk away with new friends and beautiful stories. I’ve gone line, Cuban salsa, and traditional Scottish dancing and I’ve loved every minute. I’ve eaten sheep intestines, seen Les Miserables in London, stared at originals by Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Monet and had cooking lessons on how to properly make a “raw”/vegan meal.

I feel so enriched by all of my experiences as a Couchsurfer, because throughout them all, there is the overwhelming sense of (get ready for the cheese) love. As a Christian, I’m told to love my neighbor as myself, but it wasn’t until I showed up on the doorstep of a complete stranger, and she insisted on me taking her bed, while she slept on the couch, that I understood why.

“For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.” Matt. 25:35

When we place others before ourselves, it’s not just an act of courtesy. It literally changes a little piece of that person and with them, the world. It makes others feel valued, loved and accepted when they might not, otherwise. And, my favorite part, it allows them to then take that love and pass it on.

You might not have the means to make huge gestures for changing the world around you. You might feel stuck where you live, or not know exactly how to make a positive impact.

But, here’s a tip from one friend to another – value a stranger. Let them hang out on your couch. Listen to their stories and show them around your town. It might seem small, like a mustard seed, but sometimes that’s all it takes to plant a tree of hope, and change the life of a stranger.

*N O T E: Couchsurfing.org : Travel like a local, stay in someone’s home; fostering cultural exchange and mutual respect, and experiencing the world in a way money can’t buy.

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Missoula, MT
Missoula, MT
Missoula, MT
Missoula, MT