10 Travel tips for Nutritarian vacationers

August 03, 2022 by Joel Fuhrman, MD

Taking a road trip or flying to some distant destination? You don’t have to leave your healthy eating habits at home.  With a little advance planning and thinking outside the box, you can enjoy your adventures, secure in the knowledge that you’re fueling your body with the healthiest, most protective (and delicious) foods on the planet. Now that’s something to write home about!

1. Road Trips

American highways are lined with a near-infinite number of fast food chains. However, the number of Nutritarian-friendly food choices is disturbingly low. To avoid the frustration of searching for healthy meal options on the road, turn your car trunk into your personal restaurant-on-wheels. 

First, invest in a large cooler, and fill it with plenty of ice packs. Next, stock a supply of salads, cut up raw veggies and fruit, whole-grain wraps, raw nut butters, unsalted raw nuts and seeds. After that: Enjoy. 

The benefits: 
1.    Pack meals that your family enjoys – especially important when traveling with children
2.    Saves time – no more worrying about finding a restaurant that everyone agrees on
3.    Customize your healthful meals to suit your tastes
4.    Cost effective

2. Food from the source: farms

If you are on the road for several days, stop at local farmers markets or grocery stores along the way to restock. It’s a great way to learn about a new area. I like to search for local farms that sell to the public, because I enjoy driving directly to the farm, and talking to the farmer about the fruits of his labor. And who doesn’t love going to a farmer’s market? To find out where and when they occur local to your stay, do a web search. They are sure to pop up. Besides being an adventure, there’s nothing more delectable than fresh berries, melons, cherries, peaches, apples, tomatoes, corn, okra and carrots.

Visit a pick-your-own farm. Look for farms in the area and call ahead about your visit. Fast food or chain restaurants are the same wherever you go in the world, but farms and farmers markets showcase the uniqueness of their locale and offer the freshest produce a location has to offer. They are abundant in the summertime and can be a memorable adventure. This is especially true when visiting a different part of the United States or travelling internationally.

3. Prep for success

At night, refreeze your ice packs if you have a fridge with a freezer in your hotel room or travel with plastic bags and fill them up with ice from the hotel icemaker. You can also ask the hotel to put your ice packs in their kitchen freezer. 

4. Bring some kitchen essentials

Life on the road doesn’t have to mean wrestling with plastic dinnerware and dull hotel-room kitchen tools. Travel with real silverware, and bring one big sharp knife for cutting melons and other chopping. When traveling by plane, you can pack a metal fork and spoon in your carry-on, but make sure the knife is in the checked baggage. It is also handy to bring a large bowl for washing veggies and prepping food in your room. And skip the environmentally unfriendly plastic bottles – bring your insulated water bottles, which can be filled with ice and water when needed.

5. Flying

If you are flying within the United States, pack everyone’s carry-on bag with healthy food that travels well. Some good choices are: 

Contact your airline to ask about vegetarian or vegan options for in-flight meals, but don’t count on it being healthy. Nutritarians know that meals made without animal products can still be loaded with salt, oil and sugar. In almost all cases, you’ll still need to bring your own food to play it safe.

6. Staying in a rental home

If you’re staying in an Airbnb or home with a full kitchen, great! That will make eating Nutritarian a breeze. Find a local grocery store or health food store and stock up for these simple meals.  

  • Easy breakfast: Oatmeal or overnight oats with fresh berries and seeds, or sprouted grain breads with raw nut butters and fresh berries.
  • Salads for lunch at your home base: Salad supplies like lettuce, red cabbage, arugula, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and no-salt-added canned beans are readily available at most supermarkets. You may not have the equipment to make a nut and seed-based salad dressing, but you can use balsamic, white balsamic, or fruit flavored vinegars and top your salad with hemp seeds, walnuts, or other nuts and seeds. Dr. Fuhrman prepared salad dressings are a good option for travel too.  
  • Lunch on the go for hiking or other outdoor activities: Spread a whole grain wrap with nut butter or hummus, and fill with lettuce, shredded cabbage, sprouts, tomatoes and avocado and other raw veggies. Or simply bring raw veggies and a dip – either hummus or guacamole that’s low in sodium with no oil added. I also roast peppers and mushrooms in the oven to use on sandwiches and wraps. 
  • I always eat lots of defrosted frozen food while traveling: frozen peas, asparagus, broccoli florets, artichoke hearts, berries, and even frozen peaches and mango  

7. Staying in a hotel

Even if all you have is a mini-fridge in your hotel room, you can still put together a Nutritarian meal:

  • Pack a set of travel or camp cutlery, or simply bring a spoon for your oats and a spreader for your nut butter. You can also ask the front desk or restaurant at the hotel for plates and silverware. 
  • Breakfast: Overnight oats are a great option. Pack a couple of bowls with lids, and soak your oats in water or unsweetened plant milk overnight. Top with fresh berries and seeds in the morning. For an even easier option, Doctor’s Daughters Overnight Oats are ready to go with fruits, nuts, seeds, and spices. Also, sprouted grain breads and nut butters don’t need refrigeration or cooking.
  • In-room lunch is a breeze: Buy pre-cut or no-need-to-cut raw vegetables (carrots, celery, mini cucumbers, snow peas, snap peas, cherry tomatoes) and no-oil, low-sodium hummus or guacamole for lunch and snacks. Dr. Fuhrman’s sauces also make good dips.  Add a slice of Ezekiel (or other sprouted grain) bread with mashed banana, some nut butter and some lettuce and you have a delicious open sandwich. And don’t forget the frozen veggies and frozen fruits with your lunch. I love partially defrosted frozen cherries, strawberries or mango. 
  • Lunch out and about: Study the map before you go. Find the local natural grocery store; often, it will have a deli where you’ll find green juices, smoothies, and to-go wraps and salads made to order. Also find nearby restaurants or supermarkets that have a salad bar. 

8. Restaurants

For many of us, dining out is part of being on vacation. The good news is: You don’t have to give up restaurant dining completely. I make it a point to look for restaurants that have healthy choices. Some tips: 

  • Check restaurant web sites – many make their menus available online. 
  • Call ahead: Many places will make special accommodations if you ask for them. 
  • Eat dinner at a nearby Whole Foods Market or other healthy market that has a salad bar. Many of the WFMs also have cooked options, like steamed vegetables and veggie soups.
  • The trick to getting a custom plant-based meal at a restaurant is to call ahead with your request and come very early, when they are not busy, so the chef is not harassed during rush hours. Don’t plan on eating out during peak hours on Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights.  

It is easy to find oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. For lunch or dinner, look for restaurants that offer an interesting assortment of creative salads or have a salad bar.

9. How to order (healthfully)

I always say, “Make your salad the main dish.” To put it into practice: 

  • Order a double-sized salad (and let them charge you double). 
  • Ask for your salad dressing on the side and use it sparingly.
  • Or – ask for vinegar. Balsamic or red wine vinegars are great on salads.
  • Avoid the soup: restaurant soups are always high in salt.
  • Tell the waiter to skip the bread basket – out of sight, out of mind!
  • Request an extra side of steamed vegetables instead of pasta, potato or white rice.
  • Ask for your veggies to be made without butter, oil or salt. 
  • Consider requesting a double serving of vegetables as your entrée.

If you order a conventional entrée, choose simple broiled fish or chicken items, and share it with someone you are dining with so neither of you consumes an excessive amount of animal products. Asian restaurants are also good choices because you can order vegetable dishes that are steamed or water sautéed with the sauce on the side.

10. A slip up doesn’t have to derail you

On vacation, you may not eat perfectly at every single meal, but the goal is to eat very well most of the time. If you eat some conventional foods, don’t despair – just start eating healthfully again at your next meal, and continue for the entire next few days until the vacation is over. 

Try to avoid foods that trigger any addictive food behaviors you might have. And if you pick one or two meals, where you might eat something off your regular diet, such as an animal product, make sure it’s no more than one or two meals during your entire week away.

And remember: Stay active while you’re on the road. Do more and more exercise when you are away from home, structuring your fun around physically demanding activities. Your aim is to go to bed physically tired every day. It’s a great way to build muscles, maintain your fitness level – and create some memorable moments that are better than any souvenir. 

It’s always better to come home feeling great—and you’ll be thankful you did!



Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, seven-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe his longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.
For over 30 years, Dr. Fuhrman has shown that it is possible to achieve sustainable weight loss and reverse heart disease, diabetes and many other illnesses using smart nutrition. In his medical practice, and through his books and PBS television specials, he continues to bring this life-saving message to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.


Comments (0):



08/18/2022 03:46 PM

Leaving next Monday on a four-week road trip.  Have already packed a bag with plate,knife,spoon, fork, bowl, can opener, even a colander. I am ready!!!


08/18/2022 07:02 PM

Great tips! Thanks for all the information and also reminding me that I don't HAVE to be perfect because it IS hard if you're on vacation with others! Loveidea of whole grain wraps with hummus and veggies! My aim is to eat fresh as much as I can and not eat meat or dairy. Most times it goes pretty well. Thanks for encouraging me that if I fall off to just get back on!


08/19/2022 08:50 AM

Great article with helpful tips. Someone on the internet coined the term 'suitcase pantry' which I love for packing an extra bag just for food items!! Some people also take their instapot on the road.