Primal Travel

I’m a person who doesn’t sit still very well and that often translates into a travel bug. Between my desire to see new places, visit family and travel for work, I’m generally on a plane once a month. I love experiencing new places, cultures and food but when I went primal 5 months ago I was presented with a whole new challenge.

How does one stay primal when on the road? Now, if you’re taking a road trip, things are generally a little bit easier. You can pack a cooler. At the very least you have a car to help you get to the nearest grocery store. But what if you’re stepping on to a plane and only bringing along what will fit in your carry-on? This is how I tend to travel so here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

Be prepared. Like any good boy scout, think of what you’ll need to be prepared. Plan on what snacks you’ll need to make it through your trip. I’ll pack some hard boiled eggs, celery and other veggies, almond butter, apples, larabars, trail mix and lettuce wraps with lunch meat and cheese. This will get me through my flight and leave me with some reserves for the rest of my trip. Since I don’t pack any luggage, I’ve found these packets of Justin’s almond butter to be clutch in my travels. They are under the 3oz rule so you can carry them on – just be sure to put them in a ziplock bag. You want to pull them out to be scanned separately since almond butter can be considered a liquid (and I’ve had one of them leak on me).

Do your research. I’m a librarian so this comes as second nature to me but I can’t stress it enough. Take an hour or two and look up some info on where you’re going. Do you have a long layover in an airport? What restaurants do they have? More airports are carrying higher quality food – have you scoped out a place that might work? Or should you pack extra food just in case? Does your hotel offer a mini-fridge and/or microwave? Is there a grocery store close by? During work trips I wind up eating out most of the time. I take some time to scope out what restaurants are within walking distance of my hotel and have a list of ones I think are more primal-friendly. So when someone asks “where should we eat?”, don’t just say “whatever”. Pick one off your trusted list and head over there. I recently traveled to Budapest and had marked a restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet that served game meats. I dined on pigeon, hare, beef cheek and scallops that night while avoiding foods that aren’t primal-friendly. It was one of the best meals of my life and am grateful I took the time to research my options.

Don’t stay in a hotel. If you’re traveling in the US, try renting a house or condo. They’re usually cheaper than the cost of a hotel room per night and you get more room, a fully functional kitchen and more control. Or look into smaller hotels or a bed and breakfast. I’ve found that these places are more likely to accommodate dietary restrictions, especially if you ask nicely.

Be creative. I recently traveled to the land of beingets, jambalaya, bananas foster, and red beans and rice (aka New Orleans) for work. I didn’t have a car and I was nervous about my dining options. I went prepared with snacks and in doing my research found lots of places that offered fresh seafood dishes. I knew I had to be careful that menu items weren’t made with a roux. But I asked nicely and most waitstaff were knowledgeable and accommodating. I was able to get substitutions when necessary and sometimes had to cobble together a meal based on side dishes. But I made it work.

Be forgiving & be kind. Will you always be able to locate grass-fed beef or pasture butter while traveling? Hell no. You might have to make some concessions but try to have an idea as to what you’re willing to compromise on. I feel the benefits of traveling to new places far outweighs the cons of not having my home kitchen routine. And I can’t stress enough to be kind. Ask nicely and you’ll be amazed at what people will do for you. I think Nom Nom Paleo says it best: “Just be a big caveboy or cavegal, and ask nicely to substitute with something else. They’ll be happy to do so long as you aren’t acting like a demanding, pushy, and entitled bee with an itch.”

Happy travels. I’d love to hear where you’ve gone and how you’ve handled your paleo/primal lifestyle while on the road.

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2 Responses to “Primal Travel”

  1. Yep. I can’t wait to pick your brain for more details and ideas. This is a great post. I could learn from you about prep and plannign!

  2. Fabulous tips. I’ll bet your fellow passengers also look at your snack kit with total envy.

    I will use these when we’re on our way to Hawai’i, land of fish, pineapple, avocado and FISH (clearly, I’m menu planning already!).

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