Apologies for not posting yesterday. I am currently at a conference in Louisville and then on Friday afternoon heading to Austin, Texas for a three-day weekend with my super awesome girlfriend, Aden (so excited!). Since I am traveling I will address a problem that I find myself facing every single time I go out-of-town – what will I eat.
Travel for leisure is usually pretty easy as I can google area joints that boast vegan food or sensitivities to food allergies. I can also sit at the table and be that über particular allergy girl and request a special meal while flashing my EPI pen. Not my favorite way to handle things, but a hungry gal’s gotta do what a hungry gal needs to do to get a meal!
Business trips and conferences are a little more difficult. First, you are often held hostage in a convention center for 8 or more hours a day. You are provided the typical continental breakfast that often only offers you fruit, and rarely nice, fresh, non mooshy fruit (can’t stand super soft fruit!). Lunch rolls around and your stomach is rebelling from the lack of breakfast just to find that your “vegan meal” is topped with butter and the server does not know what vegan is. After lunch your coworkers gorge themselves on heavenly smelling cookies while you sip your cold, black coffee as soy milk does not exist in this conference center. Finally dinner rolls around and you are hopeful your coworkers will pick a spot everyone can dine at. Much to your dismay, they all vote to go to a steak house. You consider the pros and cons of skipping dinner all together, and then realize that would defeat the purpose of this “team building” conference and decide to be a “team player” and tag along.
Does this sound familiar? A little too dramatic? In the deep south I have found that more often than not I am faced with this very scenario. I often joke that I am the only person I know who goes on a business trip and actually looses weight.
In order to avoid these embarrassing and uncomfortable situations, and keep my stomach from growing so loudly that it overpowers the keynote speaker, I have perfected bringing my own food that, are you ready for this, I can even carry on a plane with NO ISSUES from the TSA (“Excuse me young lady, you can’t carry this gallon of soy milk on the plane… you are going to have to check it in your bag of REALLY expensive designer shoes.” I. Don’t. Think. So.)
So today I will share what I pack in a small carry-on bag to help sustain me for a five-day trip that includes both business and leisure time:
Powdered soy milk: This is my first time bringing soy milk in powdered form. I ordered it from Amazon in the vanilla flavor to use in my coffee, oatmeal and as a quick protein fix. Shockingly, it is not bad. I find the recommended 2.75 teaspoons to 8 oz. of water to be a tad weak for my liking so I add a bit extra. I shake it up in my Camel back water bottle (which you carry on the plane empty and no one harasses you) and then add to coffee throughout the day and sip on it when my tummy starts to fuss.
Oatmeal: I used to bring instant oatmeal that I would make using the coffeemaker and a coffee cup in my hotel room. This trip, though, I wanted something a little more nutritious and less processed so I picked up a box of Mom’s Best Organic Better Oats Oatmeal in “Cinnamon Plum.” This stuff requires a microwave, which can be tricky when your room does not offer one (like the hotel I”m currently at). So I walk downstairs in the morning, armed with the packet and my container of freshly mixed soy milk and explain I have special needs and can they please direct me to where I can find a bowl and microwave.
Snack Bars: These guys ROCK! I only eat snack bars when traveling due to the portability factor and now find myself looking forward to taking trips and getting too munch them. These little guys are healthy, delicious, 100% allergy-free and vegan. Heaven.
Dried Cranberries and Raisins: While my colleagues are chowing down on cookies I whip out a bag of dried fruit to munch. Healthier and safe, it helps me feel satisfied and also provides something to do to stay awake during particularly dry sessions.
Dried soup cups: These cups take about 10 minutes to make with the coffee maker in your room. At lunch time I excuse myself for 5 minutes, visit my room to fill with hot water from the coffee maker (just stick the cup under and let it drip right in), and then close it up to work its rehydrating magic while I head back to the conference. If your hotel room is not in the convention center, take your cup to the coffee shop or kitchen and ask that they fill it with boiling water. In my experience they are always happy to assist. A note about these cups – they are rather high in sodium. Not something I eat when at home, but they beat the alternative of hungry while on business.
Mini Pita Breads: These are nice with your soup. Whole grain and nutritious, they do not get squished as easily as a loaf of bread, nor do they take up much space in your food bag.
Dark Chocolate: Dairy and nut-free, these are perfect for when you need something a little sweet.
This takes care of breakfast, lunch and snacks. But what about dinner? You could always have another cup of soup, but there is that whole “team building” thing again. I have found that even the most carnivore-centric restaurants have some sort of salad that you can order w/o cheese and meat. Be creative and ask that they add some extra veggies (like bell pepper and mushrooms) in place of the meat. I also tuck a couple mini pita breads in my purse to eat along with my salad since wait staff are typically clueless when it comes to whether or not their bread is vegan.
What do you bring when you travel? Any great discoveries?