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Paleo on the Fly, A Flight Attendant’s Perspective

By avelyne | In Nutrition, Travel | on April 19, 2013

Mike’s 54″ Box jump

Travel and Paleo.  Two words that don’t always mix well together unless you are familiar with two more words that will easily rectify your dilemma of eating clean on the road, PREP WORK!  Ahh yes, here we go with the lecture…Earlier on in the Nutrition Challenge, I heard a few complaints from folks in the gym about eating clean while traveling, claiming ‘it’s so hard to find Paleo friendly restaurants’ or ‘airports have terrible food options’ or ‘there was nothing around my hotel’.  I say again PREP WORK!  It makes a huge impact on eating clean which in turn will boost your energy levels and also boost your mood because we all know travel can be quite unpleasant and tiresome.  So how do you do this PREP WORK, you say?

Planning ahead

When I have a work trip coming up, the first thing I look at is how many meals I will need to prepare.  I’ll also  research the hotel if I haven’t been there already to see if breakfast is included during my stay (SCORE!).  While researching the hotel, I’ll also look up nearby restaurants and grocery stores so that I have additional options.  Yelp is really helpful here!  Once I’ve gathered all my intel, I’ll start cooking.  Usually, I’ll do all of my cooking the day before my trip and pack everything up in sturdy tupperware or ziploc bags.

In general, I’ve found clean protein sources on the road are harder to find and are more expensive.  More than likely a hotel burger won’t be grass fed and will cost you upwards of $15 without all the extras (bacon, avocado, bacon, fried egg, bacon, pineapple, bacon) whereas if you’ve done a little PREP WORK at home and used your J&J grass fed ground beef, you could make a few patties and cut up your fixings and pack them up.

With regards to nutrient dense carbs and good fats, my go to’s have been faux-tatoes (mashed cauliflower), sweet potatoes, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, garlicky spinach/greens, guacamole, pico de gallo, olives, and whole cashews.  I won’t pack fresh greens because they tend to wilt nor fruit because they bruise easily and become mush during my travels.  I can almost always find a grocery store nearby where I can pick up fruit or fresh veggies, if I so choose.

Keeping things cool

Ok so you aren’t the lazy type and actually do the prep work before your trip, how the heck do you prevent your food from spoiling? Well, you’ve got a few TSA friendly options here:

– Grab a freezer safe ziploc and neatly fold and place a couple of drenched paper towels (or even a small, drenched face towel) inside the bag and freeze overnight.  It’s compact and fits perfectly in between your tupperware or along the sides of your lunch pack.  Bonus: it’s reusable just by placing it back in the freezer when you get to your hotel.

– You can purchase a reusable ice bag (the typically blue ones that have a screw-on top, found in the first aid aisle of any drug store) but leave it empty until you clear airport security.  Once past, hit up the nearest airport food joint.  Most have the self serve ice dispensers.  Fill.  More than likely your hotel will have an ice machine and you can refill your ice bag as often as necessary.  I’ve yet been to a hotel that didn’t have an ice machine and i’ve travelled to some of the po-dunkiest little towns across America.

– On the subject of hotels, when making your reservations, check to see if they have mini fridges.  If they aren’t already installed, ask to have one set up in your room.  Typically they’re free.  Though on occasion, I’ve seen hotels charge $15 for a mini fridge.  If you’d rather not pay their fee, take to their ice machine and fill your bathroom sink to keep your perishables cool.

Fast tips

– Yelp restaurants, markets, and other food options around the area you will be staying

– If you aren’t going far, and you do bring a salad, you can pre-mix your olive oil and balsamic vinegar in your salad.  A good salad that holds up well and won’t get soggy is the broccoli slaw mix from Trader Joe’s.  Just add cut up chicken, plum tomatoes, and sliced avocado for a complete meal.  Protein, carbs, fat…done!

– Guac holds up better than whole avocados as avocados bruise easily

– Most hotel bars/restaurants have cut up lemons to squeeze over a fresh salad as an alternative to salad dressing

– Hard boiled eggs, canned/individual packet sized fish, salmon patties, cut up chicken breast, sliced skirt steak, chicken tenders wrapped in bacon, pork chops, steak – all hold up well while traveling

– You can also freeze grapes and 1) use as a cooling element in your lunch bag and 2) eat as they thaw

Additionally, here a few tips from a couple of Intrepid Travellers who have had some successful recent trips while on the Nutrition Challenge.

From Mike K.:

I did a few things to keep it interesting and manageable:
1. I prepared food for my travels and also took left overs with me in containers that were travel friendly. Brian’s bowls travel well also.
2. Grocery stores are a great way to get your fix of veggies. I would regularly grab a veggie platter (broccoli, carrots, celery) to compliment my protein. Often I would grab guac to dip the veggies to add a fat to my meal.
3. Find paleo (paleo friendly) restaurants. I used a BBQ spot and chipotle as places I could go to when and if I got tired of my own food.

From Mike H.:

PPP – Pre Proper Planning  Know what’s available and plan around that.

I scoped out what was available at the hotel, so I knew I’d have a microwave and fridge. I also knew my eat and snack schedule so I brought just enough to cover those time slots.

I was on the same boat with Mike K., I ended up making hamburger patties and veggies and froze them, knowing my flight wasn’t that long it stayed frozen while enroute. Finding the co-op was by chance, so I struck gold there so I was able to mix up my meals a bit. I bought fruit and veggies there to have as a snack at the hotel.

Some tricks I learned with the limited tools.

– I would take a hand towel, soak it in water, then wrap it over a sweet potato and pop it in the microwave.
– Use Zip lock bags, they take less space and can be disposed. Nothing wrong with eating out of a zip lock bag
– I always have staple items in my back pack. 2 Lara Bars, Almonds (Trader Joes sells almonds in small packets)
– I always carry a water bladder, it’s portable.

This Ragnar Race that I’m doing this weekend. I’ve been planning this whole week on what I’m going to bring to keep me fueled up and doesn’t require much heating.

By Thursday, I’ll have a dozen hard boiled eggs, 2lbs of meatballs, 1lb of bacon, 6 avocados, 6 sweet potatoes, a bag of baby carrots, bag of almonds this will hold me over post run, and I’ve scoped out restaurants along our path that’s paleo friendly to stop off to have my lunch and dinner.

So do you see the recurring theme here???  PLAN AHEAD and PREPARE.  You CAN successfully eat Paleo while traveling if you do the leg work beforehand.  Do you have other travel tips to share with your fellow Intrepids?  Please post your tips to comments.

Shout out to Mike H. and his team Couch Lappers running in the Ragnar Relay Race starting today through tomorrow!  His team will be running 192.9 miles from Huntington Beach to Embarcadero Marina Park South!  Good luck Mike!  Can’t wait to hear the details!  

WOD 04.19.2013

Press 3 x 5

5 Rounds for time:

  • 5 Heavy Deadlifts
  • 30 Double unders
  • 10 Burpees


2 Comments to "Paleo on the Fly, A Flight Attendant’s Perspective"

  • Tom D. says:

    April 19, 2013 at 8:19 AM -


    Good luck with the race. Have fun, be safe and get plenty of rest in-between your runs.

  • Amanda says:

    April 19, 2013 at 8:47 AM -

    Mike, good luck with the race.

    Avelyne and Mike^2, thanks for the advice. I definitely did a lot of grocery shopping, pre-flight planning, and restaurant hunting. You brought up other great ideas I will use in my future travels.

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