Staying Well When You’re On the Road: 5 Tips for Traveling on a Restricted Diet

Whether you’re traveling to Austin City Limits or searching for fall foliage, follow these tips for maintaining your wellness while on the road.

Fall is the perfect time to hit the road and see something new. But if you maintain a restricted diet, jetting off to a new locale or hopping in the car for a new view can wreak havoc on your routine. Between the temptation of gas station snacks, festival food truck offerings and family dinners, a stress-free trip can quickly become something else entirely. Before you embark on your next adventure, be sure to check out our tips for maintaining your wellness, wherever you are.

Communicate with hosts: Last week I kicked off a five-day road trip with a stopover at a close friend’s house in upstate New York. She’s a vegan. I’ve been following a strict Whole 30 for the month in an effort to get back to the Paleo diet that makes me feel best. You can see where there might lie a problem. Though I felt anxious about communicating my restrictions with her — she was generously letting me stay and I didn’t want to come across as picky or an inconvenience — I knew that if I didn’t, I’d be a walking faux-pas, possibly inconveniencing my host even more and making a grave etiquette mistake in the process. I shot her a quick text to let her know what was up and to see if I could bring anything or pick up something from the store before I arrived. While we ultimately decided to go out to dinner — a no-fail way to ensure everyone gets what they want — communicating ahead of time takes away any surprises, allows your host or hosts to plan ahead, and gives you time to whip something up to share with the table. If you’re feeling shy, just put yourself in the host’s shoes — wouldn’t you want to know in advance?

Stock up: Confession: I love snacks. Especially when I’m traveling. But snacks, while awesome, are not always the healthiest and it can be difficult to find options that are compliant for a restricted diet at rest areas, gas stations and some airports. Rather than grabbing a bag of chips or a soda while I’m on the road, I’ll hit the grocery store the night before a road trip and stock up on grapes, bananas, a couple of apples, Lara Bars, and raw nuts and seeds. I’ll also fill a couple of water bottles with lemon water or grab a big bottle of seltzer. If you’re flying, keep in mind that the TSA does not allow filled water bottles through security, but they will permit empty bottles, as well as fruit and food brought from home (just be sure to double-check the TSA website). Throw a lemon wedge in an empty water bottle and fill it at a drinking fountain before takeoff. Having easily accessible and healthy options on hand not only quells the desire to spend money on unhealthy and unnecessary roadside or airport terminal options, it also saves you money.


Plan ahead: If you’re headed into a festival, check out their FAQ page to find out what you can and cannot bring onto festival grounds. Many will allow an empty water bottle and some allow outside food. If this is the case, stock up ahead of time on fresh, whole foods like fruit and homemade granola bars and protein bites to snack on throughout the day and stash an empty water bottle in your bag to fill up once you’re through the gate. Likewise, if you’re headed out to dinner with friends or visiting someplace new, do your research. Find out what will be available and bring “emergency snacks” just in case. If you’re unable to bring food onto festival grounds, find out what vendors will be there and create a plan ahead of time. Knowing what you can eat guarantees you won’t be left feeling hangry and desperate and reaching for the cheese fries that look so good but will make you feel oh so terrible.

I’ve found that planning ahead is clutch when visiting family as well. When visiting home, I almost always bring a can of full-fat coconut milk with me to stash in my mother’s fridge for my morning coffee and I’ll typically throw a jar of coconut oil in my bag, too. Anticipating what you might need to ahead of time saves energy and makes for a smooth stay.

Be flexible: Obviously the amount of flexibility will vary depending on your needs and reasons for following a restricted diet, but allowing room for flexibility cuts down on stress while traveling and keeps you open to experiencing the unexpected. An impromptu dinner with family with homemade dessert, a really great local beer at an after-hours show, a dish specific to that particular state or country…being mindful of what you choose to indulge in will make those unexpected treats that much more enjoyable.


Reach out: Before departing on your trip, reach out to people you may be connected to in the area to discover local spots that cater to your particular needs. Instagram is an amazing tool for connecting with friends, friends-of-friends, and friends-of-friends-of-friends! There may be an amazing vegan restaurant or food truck that you have to check out, or a bakeshop that specializes in gluten-free treats. If you can’t afford flexibility in your restrictions, find a truly amazing restaurant in the area that serves the type of food you eat and treat yourself to an incredible meal (even if you can be flexible, I recommend this).



+ Please share your travel tips in the comments!

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  1. Lovely photos!
    I recently went on a long weekend/mini-vacation to Norway. It was a hiking trip, so I stocked up on walnuts, dates, oat cookies and vegan dark chocolate. One, because I needed healthy snacks to keep my energy up during the hikes. Two, because food in Norway is expensive! And three, because I’m on the way to becoming vegan and trying to avoid dairy foods.
    In short, stocking up on these simple snacks made my trip so much better! And they all passed through airport security with no problem :)
    The lemon water is a great idea though (if you don’t have to fly), I will def try it on my next hike!


  2. This is actually really helpful as I’m always concerned about sticking to my diet on road trips/journeys. Anything to keep me from reaching for the Butterfingers and Chex Mix is gladly welcome advice!


  3. panela (sugar cane cubes) + hot water – a colombian tradition for colds/flu.

    or hot water, lemon and honey!

  4. love those sunglasses and the bracelet in the first picture! where are they from? all these photos are so nice :))

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