From long haul flights to camping, I’ve done it all while following the Paleo diet. This series will provide practical tips on how to meet your Paleo needs when faced with the dilemma of being out of the comfort zone of your own kitchen and network of resources.
The pre-travel phase is researching, planning, and booking your holiday, as well as preparation in the days leading up to travel. While not obvious transportation and accommodation will play a very important role in your Paleo holiday. The key to success is to be organised – and if you’re already Paleo, you should be. Meal planning and preparation for the week is an integral part of making everyday Paleo work, as is being resourceful in finding Paleo-friendly ingredients in your area. While going away takes you out of your comfort zone it is simply a matter of some extra thought and transferring of skills you already possess.
Your destination has been decided – now time to research accommodation, transportation, and activities.
If you’re staying in paid accommodation consider self-catering. While a hotel, B & B, or even hostel may include complimentary breakfast it’s always full of grain-based, sugary, processed foods, of which you’ll need to pick your way through. Save yourself the hassle. Self-catering provides the luxury of having your own kitchen with basic equipment allowing you to cook and prepare Paleo food. It has the added bonus of possibly staying amongst locals who can give you tips on what to do, where to eat, and where to shop for food. I use Air BnB for unique self-catering options.
Another research point is restaurants – you may be lucky enough to be going to a city with a paleo restaurant! Berlin and Copenhagen boast establishments catering to the Paleo template. Australia and America too. They may be pricey but the cost is well worth not having to compromise and make special requests. Just be sure to make a reservation. And at these restaurants you can order dessert too!
Suggested additional research – food markets, grocery stores, local delicacies, cooking classes, farms to visit.
Hopefully you’ll have found a self-catering option but what about your mode of transportation?
When booking a long haul flight with meal service select the ‘gluten-free’ option. Gluten-free isn’t Paleo, but it’s less likely to contain the non-Paleo foods you’re trying to avoid, like pasta – a favourite amongst airlines. Don’t choose ‘diabetic’ because conventional medicine still prescribes a low-fat approach for diabetics which means high carb, high sugar. Avoid at all costs.
Traveling by train, car, or ferry means you have complete control over what you eat enroute to your destination. Use the tips below.
I strongly recommend meal preparation for your holiday no matter where you’re staying or how you’re traveling, even if you’re camping.
Your mode of transportation will decide what to prepare.
I always take my own food when traveling in planes through many airports because options can be limited and expensive.
I’ve made Paleo quiche, frittata, or The Domestic Man’s Soft-Boiled Scotch Eggs for protein. You could also hard boil eggs or grill meat. I also prep plenty of raw vegetables. You could pack cured meats, nuts, seeds, chopped fruit (even coconut!), dark chocolate, or Paleo convenience foods like bars. Olives and other vegetables or fish in olive oil are a great option but the stated weight on the packaging may get questioned going through airport security. Don’t take anything that is more liquid than solid – like dips, dressings, and puddings because they will be taken away. Pack all this food in plastic disposable bags so you can bin your rubbish as you go. Take plastic cutlery and napkins with you and pack all food in a reusable lunch bag, stored in your carry-on.
Regarding fruit and vegetables, take the stickers or packaging that state the variety and country of origin. In my experience, countries like America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are very wary about produce from elsewhere. Even if the information is clear, it could be taken away. This isn’t a concern if traveling through Europe.
Car, Train, and Ferry
These same tips apply although you can be more lax with regards to liquids and cutlery. Through experience it’s best to prep ahead of time because your food options are even more limited than airports.
For cars and ferries consider packing these items in a cool box. For the train, again, take everything in a lunch bag with disposable packaging. Even consider hot soup, stew, or curry in a flask.
And don’t forget a water bottle.
The holiday-ing that requires the most thought. Make sure you have the proper equipment to cook your food, or at least book a campground with kitchen facility.
For meal prep cook up batches of Paleo stew, chili, soup, or curry ahead of time and then freeze them. On your travel day these frozen meals act as ice packs in your cool box to help keep perishable food cold. When you arrive at your destination, if these items are still frozen, put them in the freezer in your campground’s kitchen clearly labelled with your name and the date. If the food has thawed heat for your first meal camping, and chill any leftovers. Buy bags of ice if you need to. Once the food is consumed the containers will be great for preparing subsequent meals or storing other food. I would also recommend freezing any meat you take.
Consider buying must-have Paleo ingredients at home in case they’re not readily available at your destination. Don’t assume your destination will have every Paleo item you need. If they do it’s a pleasant surprise.
By plane take only non-perishable items and pack them safely in your checked luggage. When my husband and I went skiing in Italy I packed coconut oil and xylitol because we were staying in an alpine town, with restricted access to Paleo-friendly staples.
Don’t forget to take your vitamins and supplements with you! Take them in their packaging just in case you get searched and questioned at immigration.
Stay tuned for my next post on tips for your travel day!