Living a healthy fit lifestyle is not easy. It requires time and effort and a lot of planning – if you’re doing it right. Settling into a routine you follow everyday makes it much easier and after a while it doesn’t feel as hard as it used to. What happens when that routine gets interrupted, such as a business trip out of town for a few days, or a 2 week vacation to Hawaii?

Do you have to just bite the bullet and take a break from your diet and exercise? Vacation rules right? Well some may treat it that way, but you have goals and you want to reach them.

So what do you do? This is where planning becomes key. When you’re in the comfort of your own home you have your kitchen, your bed, and your gym nearby. On the road you often have to improvise and plan for your circumstances.

Whether you’re flying or driving, or even cruising, you can stay on track and keep moving towards your goal…I’ve done it! Traveling within the U.S. takes the customs challenge away. Explaining what the multiple ziplocks full of different colored powders to a foreign customs agent isn’t all that easy! Fresh or frozen food usually isn’t allowed across the border – so check first before your prep all your food and have to throw it out.

Over the years, I’ve have had to find creative ways to pack our food for travel. First you want to pull out your meal plan and see what you will need each day and go from there. Here are a few tips that may help you on your next excursion.

TRAVELING BY CAR:
This is the easiest way to make sure you have everything you need because you usually aren’t restricted to 2 bags. You also don’t have to worry so much about ice and ice packs, liquid or gel substances.

Jeff and I always look for a hotel with a kitchenette or at least a microwave. Call ahead to make sure the hotel or place you are staying has a refrigerator. If you are lucky, it may even have a microwave. If not, plan on taking a cooler big enough to store your meals.

Google or Yelp the nearest grocery store and stock up so you are set for a few days. If there is a Whole Foods nearby, they already have pre-cooked grilled chicken and fish. If not, we usually pre-cook all our meats, freeze them and just leave them in the fridge or cooler at the hotel if we’re there for a long weekend.

Bring a small George Foreman Grill if you want to cook some fresh fish or chicken in your room. The small grill is very light (about 5 pounds) and is easy to travel with. It is also great for heating foods up if they are already cooked ahead of time. (Most hotels do not like you to have cook tops or grills in the room so you will want to be a little discrete)

Call ahead or google gyms at or near the place you are staying if the gym at the hotel is limited to a few broken treadmills and a shake weight.

Remember to bring a heartrate monitor for your cardio, and a food scale if you plan on cooking.

If there are no gym options then you can improvise and get a great workout done in your room with exercise bands. They are easy to pack and very versatile.

TRAVEL BY PLANE FROM STATE TO STATE:

If you don’t already have a soft cooler then get one! Six Pack bags, Isolator Bags, Fitmark bags are great, but pricey. You can store more food in some larger coolers out there that have travel wheels, and can be carried on. We have a Coleman one, just $35 at Walmart.

All meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, potatoes, rice and solid foods are allowed through security. They do like everything labeled, but it’s not necessary.

If it is a long flight, we will freeze most of our meat, aside from what we need to eat that day. Dry ice or anything frozen solid is allowed through security, even for carry-on bags.

Remember that liquids and gels need to be in containers of 3 fl oz or less.  Keep this in mind when packing your salad dressings, bottles of mustard, nut butters (although a brand called Justin’s has nut butters in small, 2-tablespoon packets that are accepted through security).

Ice packs are only allowed if they are frozen. Once thawed, they will confiscate it. You can take the risk and travel with one anyway, but you can also pack some gallon-sized plastic bags just in case. This way, if they take it away, you can go to one of the restaurants and ask them to put ice in the bag. Because you are already through security at this point, the ice is OK— double bag it so that it doesn’t leak when it starts to melt.

Oatmeal is easy to cook in the hotel room— just use the coffee pot to make hot water, add to the oatmeal – done.

WHAT FOODS TO BRING

Protein: turkey patties, chicken, tilapia, protein powder measured in baggies, hard-boiled eggs, and a few protein bars for emergency.
Carbohydrates: dry oats measured in baggies, rice cakes, baked sweet potatoes measured in baggies, rice, or Ezekiel bread or tortillas.
Fats: Almonds, cashews (both can be found in the airport), walnuts, avocado, nut butter packets.
Vegetables: sugar snap peas, spinach and cucumbers.

You can also mail a package filled with anything you cannot travel with and have it delivered the day you arrive!

TRAVELING INTERNATIONALLY:

Bring your cooler, even if you can’t bring it full of food, use it as luggage and when you land you can put food in it for each day.
Remember, to call the hotel to make sure there is a refrigerator.
Pack small George Foreman Grill.
Pack enough food to last you until you get to customs. Remember, you can bring food through security in the states, but when you land in the other country they may make you throw out what you have left.
In your checked luggage, you can pack:
– Oats measured in baggies.
– Protein powder in baggies.
– Rice cakes.
– Ezekiel bread or tortillas
– Tuna in pouches (no drain).
– Almonds or other nuts and nut butter packets

Once you land, find a nearby grocery store and stock up on fruits, veggies and other necessities you may need. Don’t forget plastic containers, extra baggies and protein blender bottles.

ORDERING AT A RESTAURANT:
There may be times when you have no choice but to eat out at a restaurant (or you just want to!). Here are some clean-eating tips:

Opt for meat and veggie dinners.
Ask for the vegetables to be “steamed with no butter.”
Ask for the meat to be without sauces and grilled— avoid fried and battered.
If you need a carbohydrate, order a dry sweet potato or white potato or rice.
 Be specific— do not be afraid to tell them exactly how you want it cooked. If necessary, tell them you are allergic or for health reasons.
Salads are usually safe, but make sure to order the salad with veggies and grilled chicken and avoid bacon, cheeses, croutons and high-fat dressings. Dressing your salad with lime or balsamic vinigar is a good option.
Lastly, be aware of portion sizes. You could ask for half the meal to go and have it for later.

Traveling when trying to eat clean can be a bit challenging, but making healthy choices at least 85 percent of the time will keep you on track. Planning and preparation are absolutely necessary, and if you do it right you won’t skip a beat.