Living Naturally :: Vacations and Traditional Foods: Healthy Eating While Travelling

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Two weeks ago,  Cassandra shared some great tips for flying and travelling long distances with kids.  This week, we are going to talk about day-trips and family vacations while maintaining a healthy diet, managing kiddos and not losing your sanity…!


oh fellow Moms, you know that there is nothing more tempting and glamorous for us than the thought of a serene (read: kid-free) tropical beach, the gentle breeze off the ocean, and a good book, complete with a drink with those little twirly umbrellas.

Unfortunately, many of us will be road-tripping it, or better yet, enjoying a staycation this year!  A vacation is like the prize at the end of the monotonous marathon, but as the vacation dates draw nearer and nearer, we moms come to realize something quite…shall we say...eye opening?

Vacations for Mom = a change in venue, tossed in with some extra work, planning and tired kids, which leaves you longing for a vacation…

Now, I don’t want to burst your vacation-bubble, but once those cute little boogers enter the world, vacations don’t usually involve those exotic umbrella drinks.  Rather, it’s a sippy cup stuck under Junior’s seat in the very back of the mini van that he can’t reach, so you have to pull over on the highway to retrieve it.   Add to that specific dietary needs, and it’s enough to make a momma go crazy!

As our family gets ready for vacation this year, I know full-well what lies ahead.  Now that we have 3 kids, we are starting to set into a travelling routine, and although I don’t look forward to the post-trip melt-downs, I don’t dread the travelling experience (at least, not completely!).  I’ve learned how to pack and plan for our dietary needs and we’ve found ways to enjoy our vacations with little ones and still keep a budget!

Here are a few things we’ve learned about maintaining a frugal vacation with specific dietary needs…

1. Stay somewhere with kitchen access.  Now, I don’t want to discourage you campers, but we’ll cover you in another post!  For now, we’re talking to those of you looking into cabins, condos, hotels, house rentals and the like. Having kitchen access with electricity is IDEAL and is a pre-requisite for our family for trips longer than overnight.  We eat a whole-foods based diet (definition: no processed foods or “fake” foods, and recipes that we make from scratch from whole, unrefined ingredients) and we have recently gone gluten-free, so that adds a new twist to our trip planning.  Regardless of what your specific dietary needs are, having a kitchen is the key to maintaining a healthy meal plan, as well as to cutting down on otherwise exorbitant food costs of eating out for each meal.

2. Don’t be afraid to bring along your kitchen “tools”.  This year, every inch of storage space will be accounted for in our van, but it will be worth the hassle.  Here are the gadgets and doo-dads I’ll be packing to take to our little house on the lake:

  • Portable grill
  • Blender (for smoothies – a great summer-time breakfast, lunch or snack)
  • Crock-pot – there are days that we’ll spend out shopping, sight-seeing or at a neighboring beach, but I will be able to throw on a small beef roast, a chicken, or a pot of soup for those cool evenings.
  • This year, our house will be stocked with dishes and pans, but depending on where you are staying, plan to bring your favorite soup pot, sauce pan, griddle/fry pan, and casserole dish.
  • Several empty Mason jars with lids.  Odd, I know.  However, since I’m bringing my crock pot, we will most likely make a batch of yogurt for the week that we are gone, as well as kefir, and maybe I’ll feel inspired to ferment some of the fruit we’ll be picking at the local orchards.  If nothing else, these come in handy for the storage of leftovers.
  • A good (large) cooler.  We’ll be bringing a lot of our own groceries, frozen meats and some produce along with us, so having a good cooler for travelling is a must.  Plus, it comes in handy for packing picnics for those days that we spend at the beach.
  • This sounds simple, but we are making sure that we have one water bottle per person.  This cuts down on the costs of drinks while on the road.

3. Freezer Meals.  We will have access to a full kitchen, so we are taking advantage of the freezer and I’ll be bringing ready-made meals so that I don’t have to worry about cooking for at least a few nights.

4. Easy portable snacks.  These are helpful when on the road travelling to and from our destination, as well as for day trips.  Bring more than you think you’ll need, because you’ll need them.  We’ll be covering some great vacation-friendly recipes in following posts.

5. Dairy kefir grains, water kefir grains, and our raw dairy products.  These are going to be a hassle to transport, I’m not gonna lie.  However, for the pro-biotic health benefit (and because we LOVE them and quite frankly are SO spoiled by our raw/cultured dairies, we can’t go back to commercial-dairy…at least not if we can avoid it!) – it’s worth it to us to bring them along.

6. We arrange our travel around grocery stores.  We are those people.  At all costs, we avoid fast food restaurants when travelling, and so if we DO need food on the road, we stop at grocery stores or local health food stores in lieu of burger joints.  This is a MUCH cheaper way to eat when travelling, plus it allows us to eat healthier foods on the run.

7. Shop locally while away!  Meaning, scout out some local sources of whole foods while you’re away.  Look online for local butchers, farmer’s markets, health food stores, or u-pick orchards.  Sample the local harvest and enjoy some different flavors or products!

8.  If you do eat out, look for local, fresh restaurants, not greasy-spoon diners.   You can get deep-fried food at home, so if you’re going to splurge and eat out, make it count.  Look for delis and sidewalk bistros that feature fresh ingredients.  Also, if you have a taste for exotic cuisine, you may have some luck at Indian or Asian Fusion restaurants that tend to use whole dairy products, ghee, yogurts and flavorful spices rather than sugars and MSG to spruce up their dishes.

9. And finally, plan ahead and plan early!  Travelling while maintaining a Traditional Foods diet (or any kind of restricted diet) takes strategy and planning.  Think through your normal cooking routine and make lists of the things that you’ll need while travelling.  Plan ahead and write down everything – even the little things!  You’ll have so much to think about as you pack for the family, that it’s easy to over-look kitchen/food related items.  It is possible to eat a healthy diet while travelling, so don’t be intimidated to try.  Even if you only plan to eat one or two “home-cooked” meals while vacationing, that’s a huge step – both nutritionally and financially!

What tips have you found for travelling when on a Traditional Foods Diet?  What has worked for you? What hasn’t?



This post is linked to  Homesteader Blog Carnival at The Morristribe, Traditional Tuesdays at Cooking TF, Fat Tuesdays at Real Food Forager, Titus 2 Tuesdays at Cornerstone Confessions, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable, Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly The Kitchen Kop, WLWW at Women Living Well, Whole Food Wednesdays’s Recipe Swap at Whole Lifestyle Nutrition, Simple Lives Thursday at Gnowfglins, It’s a Keeper Thursday at Every Day Tastes, Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead, The Homesteader Blog Carnival at The Morristribe, Welcome Home Link Up at Raising Arrows, Better Mom Mondays at The Better Mom, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, Fresh Bites Friday at Real Food Whole Health

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8 Responses to “Living Naturally :: Vacations and Traditional Foods: Healthy Eating While Travelling”
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  1. Thanks for sharing! Great tips and reminders that it is doable to keep to a healthy eating plan while on vacation. I find that planning ahead is the biggest help in this area and you have provided many useful tips on just that! Thanks so much!

    Popping in from cornerstone confessions

  2. Great tips! I always take my blender and coffee grinder when we travel!

  3. The hardest thing is when you’re staying with someone else. A few days of not eating as healthy as I normally do really makes me feel sick. I try to pack healthy snacks, like fruit, and I may just happen to bring along some of my homemade, whole-grain bread.

  4. Thank you for this post! It is so timely for me, I was just getting on myself for not being vigilant as we’ve been away. Shared on my blog’s FB page. =) xoxo Kimber

  5. Great tips! I am definitely pinning this for future reference. We definitely feel like we need to shift to renting houses when we vacation instead of stay at bed and breakfastes until our little one is bigger. It would certainly help us keep our costs down. I love the idea of taking the crockpot along while you are out for the day. Thanks for sharing this!

  6. I was about to write a post on the same thing! We can’t stay anywhere without a fridge. At the very least we pack our own snacks and lunches to keep our tummies happy while out and about. It keeps the costs down that way too which is the added bonus!

  7. Excellent ideas – thanks for posting! It never occurred to me to bring our smoothie blender and buttermilk for a quick snack, nor the little crockpot. I love the idea of pulling in to a grocery store instead of a drive-thru!