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How to Eat Healthy on Vacation

It’s easy to eat healthy at home when you’ve got a full kitchen of pots, pans, and utensils at your disposal. Eating real food away from home is a little more complicated. Read on to get my best tips for how to eat healthy on vacation.

Pin This Article for Later Where to Find Real Food on Vacation

Finding Healthy Food Options Has Gotten Easier

When I first wrote this article in 2012 there were fewer real food options in restaurants around the US. It was easier to find real food options in other countries (especially Europe), of course. Vacations at home in America usually meant eating fast food or paying a hefty price at a restaurant that didn’t have a relaxed atmosphere that was suitable for families with children.

Be sure to do a search for real food in the city you’ll be visiting before you leave.

Don’t Forget the 80/20 Rule of Real Food

Let’s be honest. Trying to eat 100% healthy, real food 100% of the time is impossible. We want health, not perfection.

The first thing to keep in mind about eating real food is the 80/20 rule.  Following the 80/20 rule means that 80% of your diet is real, healthy food.

If you’re eating well 80% of the time, your body can recover from a diet that includes 20% of less healthy foods.

Don’t Spend Your Vacation Obsessing Over What You Eat

I don’t know about you, but as a mom of three my days kinda revolve around meals.  Not so much eating meals, but meal planning and food preparation.

I’m planning and prepping for five people every day.  When I get a vacation, I don’t want to plan and prep the entire time.

Take the 80/20 rule seriously while on vacation and enjoy yourself.  That means not obsessing over food that isn’t grass-fed, organic perfection.

Of course,   I’m not saying you should eat crappy food just because you can, but while on vacation, I’m an advocate of making things easier even if you sacrifice health for a day or two.  Because you are so vigilant the rest of the time, it is not catastrophic.

Now, let’s get to my tips for how to eat healthy food on vacation!

5 Tips for Eating Real Food on Vacation

 Plan Ahead

This step is essential.  You can’t use any of my other tips without first planning ahead.  If you regularly prepare real foods at home, you’re already in the mindset of planning ahead when it comes to food.

Visit, search the city you’re visiting for healthy restaurants and grocery stores before you leave on vacation.

 Make or Buy Foods to Take With You on Vacation

This tip isn’t for everyone, but if you’re traveling by car you can pack food from home. Most hotel rooms have a refrigerator, so if your destination isn’t more than a couple of days away by car, this is a workable option.

You can make breakfast foods ahead of time.  Soaked waffles, for instance, travel well and can be heated in a toaster.

Bring your own maple syrup for the waffles and for sweetening coffee.

Sourdough bread also travels well and makes a great breakfast or snack.  Pack your favorite non-refrigerated foods like apples, bananas, soaked nuts and other snacks to keep your energy up between meals.  Bring along your favorite cheeses.

Here are my picks for packaged real food snacks.

Eat out at the grocery store

A great way to eat real food while on vacation is to buy your meals at a grocery store.  While you are planning your trip, do some research on local health food stores you can visit to shop for real food.  Most major cities in the US have a chain health food store, as well.

Eat several meals from the deli/restaurant at these grocers.  You may not find grass-fed beef, raw milk, or properly prepared grains, but you will find cleaner food than many chain restaurants offer.

Find local farmers in your vacation destination area

Again, do some research as you plan your vacation.  While you may not be able to buy and prepare meat for eating in your hotel room, you might find a source of raw milk, organic fruits and vegetables, or properly prepared grains.

Finding those items could push you closer to your 80% goal.  Check out Local Harvest for local farmers and farmer’s market listings in the area where you will be vacationing.


Okay, so this tip is kind of a repeat of my bit about keeping it 80/20. It’s an important one, though!

Don’t get so obsessed with eating real food that you spend your vacation worrying about where and what you’ll eat.

Have fun!  This is the time to indulge.  You’ve been good to your body, feeding it optimally nutritious and nourishing foods.  Your body is in good shape to handle foods that are a little less than perfect for a short amount of time.

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