This information is based on my personal experience and is not for everyone. I intend to give broad guidelines which can be personalized by individuals based on their unique compositions and situations.
The key to success in eating well while traveling the globe: moderation.
A few top tricks:
–HOT vegetables (sorry, not salad)
I eat 1-2 salads per day at home so this is hard. Thing is, stomach bugs can’t be cooked off of something uncooked so when indulging in, say, street food I avoid uncooked veggies like the plague (pun intended) If you are craving a fresh salad, looking for reviewed places on Trip Advisor/Yelp/foodie blogs or making your own is a safer option.
Note: watch for uncooked garnishes and ice cubes too!
I bring activated charcoal in case things seem questionable.
–ALWAYS BUY THE WATER
Ideally you will bring a reusable bottle & remember to fill it… but do not penalize yourself for forgetting/being in a place without available drinking water by dehydrating yourself. Your body is going through a lot when you are on the road so don’t dehydrate it out of spite! Buy the water, always buy the water.
“Asian Vegetarian” meals on Delta airlines are my favorite! While in flight I make sure to drink one glass of water for every coffee or wine.
You are what you eat.
Food can be such a wonderful entry point into new cultures. It can mean feeling healthy and bright or feeling heavy and slow. I have found that by paying attention to my diet while traveling I can find a lot more enjoyment in the overall experience.
Prepping for a trip can be stressful and stress can impact eating habits. I just try to be aware of this and stick to a healthy diet at home as much as possible. Set good habits at home so you can continue them on the road.
Pack snacks before you go! It is both cheaper and healthier. I love to pack nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.) because they are light + filling. Grab things in sealed packages for crossing borders. I also bring my own instant coffee (because I hate watery airplane coffee and grainy hostel instant coffee) and tea bags (I love herbal varieties for relaxing en route). Boost immunity with vitamin C drinks/tabs or grab Nuun tablets for an extra hydrating all natural sports drink. Bringing a reusable water bottle saves $$$. You can bring fruit or sandwiches on planes too! Just liquids are limited so take advantage and have a much yummier sandwich from home/the deli on the way to the airport.
Protein powder/bars? … I have mixed feelings. Sometimes I bring them, sometimes I don’t. It’s usually a matter of how remote I plan to be. I do really like keeping a Probar meal bar in my purse just in case (although they’re sugary- drink lots of water!)
So… you’ve arrived.
The first thing I do upon arrival at my destination is sit down and have a beverage. Sometimes I want to relax so I grab a beer, sometimes I have a long walk ahead of me so I energize with a coffee. Taking a few moments to regroup in a comfortable place with your luggage set down and some time to look at your map and plan your next move is key in my eyes. This rule is a major stress-reducer and often a time-saver since it’s so easy to get lost when your scrambling off of a bus/train/red-eye flight. Take a moment to have a tea and catch your breath. Regroup then step out into your new environment.
Here’s my traveling-on-a-shoestring hack: cut back to 2 meals per day.
As I began traveling, I started to realize that as an American I was used to eating three “square” meals to the point where I felt dependent on it. Funny thing was, looking around at the eating habits in many other places I visited, that’s a lot more food than one might actually NEED to survive (especially assuming you are on a temporary trip). Eliminating one meal seriously helped my budget and my energy level and just works really well for me. Maybe it is out of the question for you. I understand! Can you supplement your third meal with snacks? Can you sacrifice some booze money for food? You are exploring the world so by all means enjoy yourself but I encourage observation of how much you feel you NEED and to go from there.
Breakfast is important. Whatever leftover coffee/tea you have from the plane supply + instant oatmeal packets make for great breakfast options. I am unable to function without breakfast so I usually travel with these just in case. Always take advantage of free breakfast. I add cheap extras like bananas to hostel cereal to make it a bit healthier + tastier. It’s silly to skip free breakfast so set that alarm clock- worth it.
For me, lunch is the biggest meal of my day. After a morning exploring, a big lunch is perfection. Lunch is usually much cheaper than dinner. Make it a leisurely meal followed by late afternoon relaxing.
I love a light dinner. This can be apps and drinks out or a bit of veggies in- whatever you feel! If you are going out late/drinking, don’t forget a falafel!
I will admit that I can be a bit of a “foodie.” I research the best food ahead of time and care to make the time and budget to visit certain places. I try to limit myself to one place per day but rules are meant to be broken under certain circumstances… this is where that word moderation comes into play. By keeping my diet pretty healthy+cheap/DIY most of the time I can afford to treat myself and really appreciate it when I do. I can still remember the best meals I’ve had all over the world- please don’t get so worried about health/budget that you miss the good stuff!
Some of the BEST food in the world (in my opinion) above: friend fish, plantains and coconut rice in the Colombian caribbean, Spicy veggies and prawns on rice and mango sticky rice in Thailand and toasts with bacalao (salted dried cod) in Spain.
Want an amazing experience + a souvenir which you can carry with you always? Take a cooking class! This is one of my favorite travel discoveries. I happen to like cooking… so in my eyes, learning to cook the dishes you are experiencing in a place is learning to enrich the rest of your life. Another great part is cooking for friends once you get home/are reunited. I want to take many, many more cooking classes in many, many more places for the rest of my life. If you have some local friends you can exchange cooking how-to. I taught friends in Colombia how to make hamburgers and a friend from Macedonia showed me how to make the yummiest chestnut dessert. Sharing food is sharing culture. I’m passionate about this one 😉