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As I prepare to hop on a plane tomorrow to New Mexico, I thought I would leave you all with some tips I have found helpful for traveling while staying on the paleo autoimmune protocol. The first trip I took at the end of last summer while eating this way caused me a lot of stress, and since then I have refined my practice to the point where travel is tricky, but doesn’t cause me to panic.
Rent a place with a kitchen
When looking for a place to rent, if you have the option, stay in an apartment or house instead of a hotel. Air BnB, VRBO, and Home Away are where I look for places to stay. I have found that it is the same price or cheaper than staying in a hotel, especially if you have a group. If you go this route, make sure to contact the owner to see how well the kitchen is equipped for cooking. I have stayed at places with one pot and one pan and those that are fully stocked with every tool needed, including a blender. I can’t stress enough how much easier traveling is having a kitchen!
Opt to drive instead of fly
Driving makes so many things easier, and I always prefer it to flying when it is possible. I have a large cooler that I stock with bone broth, fermented veggies, kombucha, and home-made salads for the road. I will admit that I have even taken my Vitamix on a road trip before! My favorite way to vacation is to rent a cabin with a kitchen a couple hours away and drive there with a few day’s worth of groceries and have a relaxing weekend. Unfortunately every travel situation can’t be as ideal, but when I do have control I try to make it easier for myself.
If you will be someone’s guest, give them a thorough heads-up
If you accept someone’s offer to host you, make sure they are fully aware of your needs. Use your judgement and don’t stay with people who do not understand this. I suggest having them leave some pots and pans just for you to cook your meals with and clean with a separate sponge to avoid contamination with foods you don’t eat. This can be really tricky and offensive to some people, so sometimes it makes it easier to rent your own place.
Bring food with you as backup
I like to assume that I am not going to be able to find much suitable protein and bring enough with me for the whole time on my trip. Things like smoked salmon and beef-jerky that I find locally and are AIP-friendly are harder to find elsewhere, so I stock up and bring a lot just in case. Most of my trips I end up not eating everything I have brought, but it really helps me relax knowing that I have a backup of food and won’t be forced to eat something I don’t feel good about. For flights, I bring a small cooler bag with me for the first travel day, with a couple of hearty home-cooked meals and lots of goodies, because I am surely not finding anything to eat in an airport! Here are some ideas of what I bring:
- BPA-free sardines
- BPA-free canned salmon
- Grass-fed beef jerkey
- Smoked salmon
- Fresh fruit (apples, pears, kiwis, etc)
- Dried fruit (raisins, apples, bananas, etc)
- Coconut flakes
- Coconut oil
- Dehydrated coconut water crystals (can be brought through security and then add water to reconstitute if you are flying)
Hit up a grocery store as soon as you reach your destination
The best place to shop would be a co-op or local health food store, although they cannot be found everywhere. Next choice would be a Whole Foods. At the very least a Trader Joe’s or regular grocery will do, as more and more offer organic options (although you would be pretty hard-pressed to find good meat). Use this stop to load up on fresh stuff – fruits and vegetables to make quick meals at your rental, kombucha or coconut kefir, fermented vegetables, and fresh meat if you need it. Some places like Whole Foods have a salad bar where you can make a couple of salads in to-go containers with olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing.
Do your research before you go
Don’t wait until you are in an unfamiliar place and hungry to start your search for where to buy food. There is a lot of research that can be done before you leave. Scope out your grocery store first. If you plan on trying to make restaurants work, start with those that are familiar with gluten-free or vegan diets. Don’t be afraid to give them a call to see if they can accommodate you. The chance of getting a complete meal at a restaurant is pretty slim, so don’t be afraid to have a big snack before you go and then playing it safe with a salad at the restaurant.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you let things slide
As I noted in my last post about trying to stay on the autoimmune protocol during the holidays – same thing goes here. If it isn’t doable and you slip up, be gentle on yourself while doing everything you can to get back on track.
If anyone is interested in my travel meals I will be posting them to my facebook page!
How do you travel on a restricted diet? I would love to hear your tips in the comments!