Traveling on the Paleo diet

I loooove traveling and managed to stay Paleo in over 20+ countries! :)

I loooove traveling and managed to stay Paleo in over 20+ countries! 🙂

Whether you’re going to your cottage for the weekend or traveling overseas, the types of food you eat while away from home can make the difference between having a memorable time or needing vacations to recover from your vacations… The Paleo diet is a lifestyle and incorporating it into your life wherever you go can help you get the most out of your time off this summer. All you need is a little bit of planning. It can be done! I traveled to over 20+ countries since I went Paleo in 2010 and managed to stick to it 100%. And I enjoyed it and felt good the whole time. 🙂

What about the 80/20 rule?

Doesn’t the 80/20 rule apply when you go on vacations (eating right 80% of the time and enjoying treats the remaining 20% of the time? Well, it depends on what your goals are. If you’re overall healthy, you probably have more flexibility compared to someone with digestive, autoimmune or hormonal problems.

Independently of your current health status, avoiding gluten and other ingredients affecting your health and well-being is always a smart thing to do. What’s the fun in having beer and pizza if it takes you a couple of days to recover? But perhaps you would be able to enjoy good-quality cheese, ice cream or French macarons without any adverse effects. How strict you want (or need) to be is up to you.

Travel-friendly foods and snacks

Whether you’re going on a road trip or are flying to your destination, planning ahead and bringing Paleo-friendly foods is the best way to help you stay on track while traveling. You can see many examples of snacks that you can take with you and keep at room temperature in the table below. If you can bring a cooler, you also have the option of packing a greater variety of snacks and ready-to-eat meals that you’ll be able to eat on the way. Just make sure you pack meals that you don’t mind eating cold if you won’t have access to a kitchen to heat up your food.

Road trip

(keep cold)

Travel-friendly Paleo foods

(can be kept at room temperature)

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Smoked salmon
  • Prosciutto or other gluten-free deli meat
  • Cooked meat, sausages or chicken
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Cooked frittata muffins
  • Baked sweet potato
  • Salad (pack the vinaigrette separately)
  • Butter and other healthy fats
  • Combine with the travel-friendly Paleo foods that keep at room temperature
  • Jerky or pemmican (gluten-free)
  • Coconut chips
  • Fruits (fresh or dried)
  • Coconut butter
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Canned fish (bring a can opener!)
  • Healthy fats (coconut oil, olive oil, ghee)
  • Homemade fruit and nut bars
  • Coconut milk
  • Avocado
  • Jarred olives and pickles
  • Seasonings (herbs, spices, vinegar)
  • Dark chocolate

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Easy meal: fresh raw salmon with an avocado. 😉 [eaten in Sydney, Australia]

If you’re flying to your destination, you can usually request a gluten-free and dairy-free meal to your airline company (if your flight is long enough to include a meal of course). It’s probably the closest you can get to a Paleo meal, but it’s definitely not great. Pack some food with you just in case. Make sure the food you pack is solid and keep liquids (vinaigrette, olive oil and coconut oil for example) in containers smaller than 3 oz to avoid problems when going through security. Or just use this as an easy opportunity to practice intermittent fasting.

Eating out

When eating out, Chinese buffets and bakeries are best to be avoided but you should be able to get a Paleo-friendly meal at any other restaurants. Whatever restaurant you’re going to, look for the grill or salad menu and try to get a combination of fish or meat. Ask to have vegetables and/or sweet potatoes as your side dish. Most restaurants are pretty accommodating.

A typical gluten-free breakfast in Guatemala (yes I'm aware corn is Paleo but why not if it doesn't bother you?)

A typical gluten-free breakfast in Guatemala (yes I’m aware that corn isn’t really  Paleo but why not if it doesn’t bother you? and is not GMO ideally)

If you have serious food intolerances, make sure you mention it to the staff and ask as many questions as you need to know each and every ingredients used in your meal. Remember that gluten and MSG (monosodium glutamate) can sneak their way into many sauces, salad dressings and seasoning blends. Steakhouses are probably your easiest option. Finding restaurants offering gluten-free menus or catering to the Paleo crowd can make it even easier for you, especially if you’re very sensitive. And yes, there are apps for that.

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Delicious breakfast. This wasn’t on the menu but I asked the restaurant what I wanted… and they made it! [eggs + roasted tomatoes + avocado + veggies]

Accommodation

Some types of accommodations can make it easier for you to prepare and cook your own Paleo meals. You can rent a cabin, room or apartment with a private or shared kitchen. Airbnb.com and hostelbookers.com are great websites to help you find budget-friendly stay options other than a typical room, often including either a shared or private kitchen. A fire, camp stove or barbecue also work fine to prepare Paleo-friendly meals on a cinch if these options are available. Airbnb.com is my favorite website to find budget-friendly places to stay with a kitchen.

Super easy meal combination in Nicaragua. And please don't tell me that white rice isn't Paleo. It still is a REAL food that's pretty easy to digest if you're otherwise healthy. ;)

Super easy meal combination in Nicaragua. And please don’t tell me that white rice isn’t Paleo. It still is a REAL food that’s pretty easy to digest if you’re otherwise healthy. 😉

If you’re stock in a hotel room, ask if you can have access to a fridge or microwave to do some basic cooking. If you can’t, stock up on food you can easily keep at room temperature, try one of the Paleo picnic meals or find Paleo-friendly items on the menu of local restaurants.

 

Paleo picnic

Instructions
  1. Go to any grocery store and grab a combination of cooked or ready-to-eat protein (canned fish, deli meat, cooked roast beef), healthy fats and plant matters (vegetables, fruits, nuts)
  2. Pack a small plate/bowl and a fork
  3. Combine these ingredients together and enjoy wherever you are!
Examples
  • Smoked salmon rolled with avocado slices and dark chocolate for dessert
  • Prosciutto or gluten-free deli meat rolled with butter, along with cherry tomatoes, pickles and carrot sticks
  • Canned tuna mixed with a ready-to-eat salad, olive oil and lemon juice
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Easy Paleo/Primal picnic in Salzburg, Austria (cherry tomatoes + goat cheese + prosciutto)

Overseas

If you’re traveling abroad, you can bring a little bit of food with you but make sure it complies with the rules of the country you’re visiting to avoid any problems. If you don’t want to take any chances, just bring what you need to survive until you get there and stock up once at your destination. You can probably find many of the travel-friendly Paleo food options in most grocery or health food stores.

This is a meal we cooked on the BBQ on the balcony of our room on a road trip (Rainbow Beach, Australia). [local fish + salad + avocado + lime + olive oil... there was probably some chocolate after ;) ]

This is a meal we cooked on the BBQ on the balcony of our room on a road trip (Rainbow Beach, Australia). [local fish + salad + avocado + lime + olive oil… there was probably some chocolate after 😉 ]

If eating out, be mindful of the fact that gluten is not a concept that everyone is familiar with. Australia offers many gluten-free options, but it is not necessarily the case in Peru or Morocco for example. Do your homework beforehand and make sure you translate important words like gluten, wheat, food allergies, replace and please for example to help you better communicate when going to the restaurants to ensure that you get exactly what you need and don’t have a bad food reaction that could spoil your trip.

Easy snack options costing about 1 Euro each found at all drugstores in Germany! :)

Easy organic snack options costing about 1 Euro each found at all drugstores in Germany! 🙂

Recovering from your vacations

Traveling during your time off is a good way to change your routine and discover new places. Whether or not you manage to eat Paleo during your time away from home, the stress of being away from home and changes in your sleep patterns alone are often enough to warrant some form of recovery once you return. Take care of yourself by eating the most nutrient-dense Paleo foods, supplementing with super foods like bone broth, liver, fermented cod liver oil, and fermented foods (i.e. sauerkraut) and making sleep a priority to speed up the process.

Paleo is not just another diet, it’s a lifestyle. Find ways to incorporate it into your life wherever you go to help you be at your best at all times.

Ready for your Paleo vacations?

* Article originally published in Paleo Magazine.

 

PrintIf you want even more tips, check out my ebook “Traveling and eating out on the Paleo diet and with multiple food intolerances“.