Plane Smart – Tips To Maintain a Healthy Diet When Traveling


Does your life resemble the movie “Up in the Air?” If so, you might be a road warrior and this article is for you. If you’ve never seen the movie starring George Clooney then here’s a test to determine if you too, are a road warrior:

  1. Are you skilled at packing a week’s worth of clothes into a carry-on (including workout clothes and gym shoes)?
  2. Can you recite the flight attendant’s speech word-for-word?
  3. Do you pre-pack your carry-on luggage with an extra cell phone charger and/or laptop charger?
  4. Do you board the plane on the left via the special red carpet?

If you answered yes to one or more questions above, then you are a road warrior (and should continue reading).

Like many of you, I spend a great deal of time up in the air. In fact, my suitcase has taken up permanent residence near my bedroom door because I travel 2-3 times per month and refuse to put it away only to take it out days later. I am actually typing this article thousands of feet in the air on a flight from Minnesota to Fort Lauderdale.

During these frequent trips, I encounter people who inquire about my diet. Often times it’s the person sitting next to me on the plane or the room service staff at the hotel. The most recent inquiry came from a co-worker of sorts that was about to begin a diet shortly before embarking on a two-week trip to New York. During our discussion I rattled off a couple of tips that I employ to ensure that I’m staying consistent with my diet while traveling. After a little thought, I decided to convert this impromptu discussion into an article to help my fellow road warriors.

Tip 1: Eat before leaving home (or the hotel) – I eat every 2-3 hours so I try to consume my last meal before walking out the door to the airport. Thankfully, I live a short distance from the airport so my drive time doesn’t really cut into my 2-3 hour window. By consuming your last meal prior to leaving home you’re less likely to make poor food decisions as you hunt for “health food options” in the food court.

plane-smart-diet-tipsTip 2: Pack food for the plane – I am a big fan of the Ziploc Twist ‘n Loc Containers. In addition to being secure, they’re small but can hold a lot of food. Depending upon the time of my flight I’ll pack dry oatmeal (obtain hot water from the flight attendant) or chicken and vegetables. Regardless of your diet these little containers come in handy.

Tip 3: Pack extra food – A handful of almonds or raw veggies in a Ziploc bag can come in handy if your flight is delayed or if you’re stuck on the tarmac. By having a backup stash you won’t have to resort to eating the biscotti cookies or the pretzel snack pack.

Tip 4: Protein powder is essential – I always carry a shaker with 2 scoops of dry protein power on the plane, sometimes as a back-up or to pair with my oatmeal. I like the small SmartShake shakers because they have the anti-leak tops and they pack well in my luggage. If space is an issue you can always put a few days worth of protein powder in a Ziploc Twist ‘n Loc container.

Tip 5: Don’t forget the utensils – Trying to cut chicken with disposable cutlery borrowed from the food court is a real chore. Instead, you should check out the Klipo Cutlery Set from The Container Store. This set of utensils, made from sturdy plastic, comes in a handy case and takes up very little room in your carry-on. Here are six additional tips that will help once you arrive at your destination.

Tip 6: Order off the door hanger – Breakfast is the most important and enjoyable meal of the day. For this reason, filling out my breakfast order on the door hanger takes first priority when I arrive at a hotel. I zero in on the “special orders” section of the menu and write out my order in my best penmanship to avoid incorrect orders being delivered at 6 in the morning. I prefer having breakfast in my room versus the hotel restaurant.

Tip 7: Find a local grocery store – My second priority is to locate a local grocery store where I can purchase a few of the essentials including oatmeal, Ezekiel bread and gallons of water just to name a few.

Tip 8: Skip room service (other than breakfast) – More often than not, room service gets my order incorrect so I prefer to place my order in the hotel’s restaurant. This isn’t as convenient as room service but it avoids the frustration of an incorrect order and those crazy room service fees that only serve to eat away at my per diem.

Tip 9: Plan ahead – When placing my order I typically order more than one meal at a time. Instead of just getting two chicken breasts, I’ll order four with vegetables.

Tip 10: Request a refrigerator – Many hotels have refrigerators as standard pieces of equipment in the room, but if you find that your room doesn’t have one be sure to request that one be provided. Most hotels have mini refrigerators on-hand but you should plan to request one in advance as the number can be limited.

Tip 11: Find a Starbucks – In addition to having great coffee they also serve oatmeal so if you can’t get to a grocery store or if you have a long layover, the accessibility of Starbucks can come in handy. Depending upon your diet they also have fruit and cheese trays but by all means you should stay away from the lemon loaf and other goodies contained in the upper portion of the display case.

All of the tips above are techniques that I’ve honed over the years and I hope that they can help you in some small way.

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About Author

My name is Regie Simmons and I am an NPC Men's Physique athlete and aspiring fitness writer and model. I have been training consistently for the last three years and competing for one. I obtained a BA in communications from Howard University and an MBA in Pharmaceutical Marketing from Saint Joseph's University. See my fitness model page for more information!

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