Travelling paleo – challenges and tips7 min read

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A little while ago I was coming up to yet another three weeks away from home…for work. I love the travel. I love the work. I love the people I work with. But there are challenges in all areas of paleo living.

Eating  – It’s always a challenge when I am living and working in a place where I am not shopping for, or preparing my own meals. Nor are there shop close by. I can pass on `dietary requirements’ to the catering people, but that often doesn’t equate to having paleo food available.

Sleep – Sometimes this is a shared room. I think most of us sleep better in our own bed and I often find that there’s lots of artificial lighting that makes it hard to create darkness in a room.

Think – It always seems to be busy, busy, busy during these times when a group of us are  working, eating, meeting, and living together. My challenge is to turn off, take time out to recharge myself – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Movement – I had a week of a seminar (sitting), a week of meetings (sitting) and a week of teaching (more freedom to move). The long hours of sitting are far from helpful!!! My chiropractor commented that when I’ve been away I always seem to come home `beaten up’.

Sitting all day, late nights, ordering in pizza and working over the `meal’ is not exactly something that energises me! So, the week before that trip I found myself preparing – putting some things in place to help me keep on track during the time.

If I get a good breakfast it sets me up for the rest of the day. That’s pretty easy to do at home, but I knew that while I was away there’d be plenty of `healthy whole grain’ and low fat options available. And not much real food!! Blah!!!

So I got busy making a three week supply of grain free, nutty `granola’. Lots of nuts, seeds, coconut, and dried fruits. I’d pick up some canned coconut milk and some coconut yogurt to have with this each morning. I find that it really does sustain me until lunch time. I also knew that meals would be light on in the protein and good fat categories so needed to think about these. In fact it would probably be mainly processed meats and those so-called `healthy’ vegetable oils.

Plan – plan – plan

The important thing for me is to have a plan in place – not just get to meal times and wonder what I’m going to do when faced with things that don’t fit my dietary template.

I knew it meant taking things with me. These three weeks were in Melbourne so it was cold – meaning taking lots of warm clothes and having to be aware of airline weight limits.

Things fell into two main categories:

  • Things to take – the ones that are either light and easy to pack, or hard to find in a place you don’t know well
  • Things to get on arrival – the ones that are heavier, or easy to get.

Here’s how it looked:

Things to take:

  • Probiotics – daily probiotics – making sure I do everything I can to maintain gut health in the midst of the extra challenges. I use USANA probiotics when travelling as they don’t need refrigeration.
  • Changing Habits Supreme Green Blend – to supplement for the times when green leafy vegetables were not available (ie. many times!!)
  • Gelatin & Probiotic Yogurt starter – this might sound a bit over the top, but I figured that I may just be able to make my own coconut milk yogurt rather than have to find somewhere to buy it. And, yes, I succeeded with this one. I was able to make up a batch each week, thus saving quite a lot of dollars.
  • Dried coconut meat – we dry our own so it was easy to take some of this. It proved to be great when I reeeeelly wanted something to nibble.
  • Coconut oil – this was the only heavy thing I decided to take. I wanted to be sure that I had a supply of my favourite Niulife Coconut oil,  rather than get caught with something horrible and then not use it. I add coconut oil to drinks, smoothies etc so that I was getting enough of the good fats.
  • A little bottle of my homemade elderberry/echinacea syrup – this is a great immune booster.
  • Chai tea mix – chai tea made with coconut milk is one of my favourite cold weather drinks at the moment so I took a bag of my own mix. I find it’s good to have this with me as it means I am not looking for some other hot drink that may not be so good. Yes, there’s always those sachets of hot chocolate, chai, mocha etc available, but they’re filled with nasties like hydrogenated vegetable oil.
  • Jerky – I took a small supply of home made beef jerky to have when the protein content of meals was lacking. Fantastic!!! It proved to be a real life saver.
  • My little pack of essential oils
  • Magnesium spray
  • My favourite travel mug – one with a strainer so that you can brew tea, and keep it hot.

Things to get on arrival:

  • Coconut milk – I went to the supermarket and stocked up on cans of my favourite coconut milk to have in hot drinks, smoothies, and to make some coconut milk yogurt.
  • Coconut juice
  • Chocolate – everyone needs some 85% Lindt chocolate for times when they just have to have chocolate!!!
  • Fresh ginger – I know that when I am travelling there are lots of things that contribute to inflammation in the body. Not just food, but all the things of life `on the road’…or should I say `in the air’. Ginger has great anti-inflammatory properties, and it makes a great tea. With this and my chai I was set.
  • Cans of sardines – I don’t really like canned sardines all that much, but I know that they are good protein, with good fats. So I thought it would be wise to grab a few cans to have…just in case.

When I look at these list I think it seems a lot, and can sound very high maintenance. But when you’re travelling as much as I do it’s not hard. It just becomes part of the routine. Of course, each place has it’s unique challenges, but I’ve found that having a basic plan means that I can manage to stay on track for the most part.

The great thing about the Melbourne trip was that one of my friends/colleagues (from my office) was asked to cater for the week of meetings in the middle of the time. It was  a case of `have Thermomix – will travel’…and will cater paleo/primal style!! It turned out to be the easiest week of travel/meetings I have had since going paleo a couple of years ago. Everyone loved the food and were amazed that they weren’t having the usual grains, sugars and processed foods.

I know that I have talked primarily about the food aspect of paleo while travelling. That’s because it is usually the hardest thing for us.  (There’s plenty of `food’ available but it’s certainly far from paleo.) The other things, for me at least, are things that I just have to be mindful of, plan ahead a bit and make right choices.

So there’s my plan…with some ideas that I think can help anyone who is wanting to maintain their paleo/primal lifestyle while travelling. I’m very aware that tis applies to me – an adult travelling alone. There are many other things to consider when travelling with children. Perhaps you have some tips that could help us all. We invite you to share them in the comments below.

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