It’s October and I’ve already flown nearly 90,000 miles aboard 75+ flights – and the travel isn’t letting up anytime soon. When I’m on the road that much, eating out every meal really isn’t sustainable. It’s hard to guesstimate my macros and my sodium intake soars. Traveling with my own food from home has become part of my routine – and how I do it is one of the most common questions I get. So, let’s break down your options for getting your food from point A to point B, from good to better to best.
GOOD // Shelf-stable foods in your suitcase. Flat tuna packets and crackers, microwavable rice cups, and oatmeal packets can be used in a pinch and can be packed into your suitcase with protein powder and protein bars. Are they the most exciting meals you can eat? Definitely not. Will they do the trick if you just don’t want to eat out? Of course. Keep TSA’s 3-1-1 rule in mind when packing and leave the jars of peanut butter at home unless you’re checking a bag.
BETTER // A lunch box or insulated bag. The basic bags that you might use to bring groceries home in the heat of the summer will work for flights too. These bags, with a few ice packs in the bottom, are best for shorter flights because they often won’t keep food cold for more than 3-4 hours – or whenever the ice packs melt. Consider packing foods that are best chilled, but unlikely to spoil if they warm up a big before you eat them. Make a veggie-packed pasta salad or pack a few wraps with sliced turkey for healthy meals on the go. Expert tip: Call ahead and ensure the hotel puts a refrigerator in your room and shift you food there upon arrival.
BEST // A meal prep bag. Y’all, these are SO worth the investment if you travel often. I love my Renee tote by 6 Pack Bags for 1-2 day trips when I only need a few meals. I carry a six meal IsoBag for longer trips. The Renee keeps food cold for about 12 hours with 3 frozen ice packs, while the IsoBag holds the cold for 18-20.
Pro tip: Most gel ice packs do violate TSA’s 3-1-1 rule when defrosted. Isolator Fitness, the company behind IsoBag, sells the Isobrick, an ice pack with a foam core. I’ve never had one of these confiscated, even when completely defrosted, because they aren’t considered a liquid. Alternatively, you could freeze your food before putting it in your bag and skip the ice packs entirely.
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