How to eat healthy and workout consistently while traveling full time

I’ve been on the road for about 21 weeks and it’s kind of amazing. I started in Jersey and visited Massachusetts (yes it was a little backwards), Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and now Portland. I have no definite plan for where I’ll go next but the possibilities are whatever I choose.

Kind of badass.

This whole adventure was started so I could clear my head and as I have stated over and over again that it’s been very very VERY cathartic. I’m in a whole new place mentally.

I can see how easy it can be to travel and surrender to a non structured life but I’m not built that way. I always need some form of constant. In this case it’s my health because it’s literally the only thing I can control every day.

I started living healthy a few years back when I joined a CrossFit and started eating Paleo. I created a routine of cooking healthy and going to the box a few days a week. So how was I going to do this on the road? How would I be able to live healthy without my own kitchen to cook food or having the same gym to go to every single week?

If you must know, I figured it out. I asked people on my Facebook page if this would be a good topic to write about and the response was “Yes”.

Well, what baby wants baby gets.

I don’t know the demographic that reads my blog so all I can do is provide how my day to day is structure and you can determine how to relate it to yourself. Deal?

Great!

My new way of living looks like this:

  • Driving long distances for days at a time
  • Residing in a city for weeks to months at a time utilizing Airbnb or subletting

Why is this important to know?

Long drives = no kitchen/no set gym. This means food prep and getting creative on the road with working out is vital.

Being stationary at a place I rent = kitchen and a gym close by.

So how do I do it? To start you must travel with what you need to make it happen.

Disclaimer – Before you read this just be honest with yourself if you are going to do this or not. You can research the shit out of living healthy but at the end of the day, if you don’t apply what you know then it’s all a waste of time. So this post is literally worthless if you don’t at least take action steps and try the things that I am talking about. I’m not saying that what I do is 100% what everyone should do but it’s helped me lose weight and eat well. A lot of this stuff takes effort so if you are REALLY going to take the step into leading a healthy life then get ready to put in effort. 

COOKING AND WEEKLY FOOD PREP

Cooking Tools

I couldn’t bare leaving all of my cooking tools behind so I gave away a small percentage of them and kept the main items (NOTE, the links below are through my Amazon affiliate program. This is how I make money while traveling but you can buy any of these however you would like):

Through the months I’ve shed some cooking tool weight and am down to just a few items. I’ve learned the majority of kitchens have a lot of this stuff but the knives can be pretty dull. If I had to choose only 4 items I would keep my chef’s knife, food containers, metal mixing bowl and plastic cutting board. These are the main things I use daily.

Weekly Food Prep

I started food shopping on Sundays back in 2011 and haven’t stopped since. I mentioned that I like my routines and buying groceries for the week is something I will never give up.

Once I establish where I will be living I open Google Maps and put in my address to see what markets are close by. When I lived in Morristown I used to go to Whole foods in Madison, NJ for meat and Morris Farmer’s Market (30 Lafayette Ave Morristown, NJ 07960) for my produce. The reason I did this is because Whole Foods advertises it’s meat as being grass fed and chemical free. Am I 100% sure that they are telling the truth? Not really but AnP’s selection is complete shit and if I pay $3.99 for a 12 pack of chicken thighs it seems a little suspect. The moral of the story is I like to shop for quality when I can.

Whole Foods veggies are a bit over priced for my taste so that’s why I found a separate market to get produce. Hence the market on Lafayette.

I decided to take this weekly process on the road with me.

While in Austin I discovered an awesome market called Sprouts. I also found it in Arizona and California BUT I can’t find one in Portland which makes me very sad. Sprouts is like a cheaper version of Whole Foods and I could get my meat and produce there in one shot. Woo hoo!

Fortunately, there are a shit ton of farmers markets in Portland which I have yet to shop at. Currently I’ve gone to Zupan’s Market in the SW and Whole Foods up on Burnside and 28th. This has turned out to be quite pricey considering I was spending $40 – $50 weekly at Sprouts and this past Sunday I dropped $120 on groceries. I need to do a little more research on where the best deals are. I’ll keep you posted.

The advice I have here is to find a market that suits your budget and either buy it all in one place or split it up into meat at one and produce at the other. I stay away from the center food aisles because everything there exists in a box which means that it’s processed WHICH ALSO MEANS that it’s not real food. That’s just how I see it. If you buy food like that then knock yourself out.

Here’s a simple map I created on how I see a grocery store.

paleoriot grocery sections

Another tip is to leave your reusable grocery bags in your car so you never forget them. I hate plastic bags.

paleoriot_plasticbags

 

What do my healthy meals look like?

I do my best to eat protein, carbs and fats in each meal which sometimes I fail at. I also aim for 4-5 meals daily.

A sample day of eating every 2 to 3 hours looks like this:

  • Half Banana then workout
  • Post workout banana and SFH protein shake
  • Breakfast – 2 eggs, 2 bacon, 1 avocado, 1 cup kale, 1/4 cup red onion, 1/2 sweet potato all cooked in 1-2 tbsp coconut oil plus an iced coffee (again, cold brew is the shit!)
  • Snack – 1/2 apple, 2 tbsp almond butter, protein shake with chocolate SFH protein
  • Lunch – 1/2 sweet potato, 4 ounce chicken thigh or breast, 1/2 sausage link (I need to add green veggies to this more often)
  • Lunch #2 – Try to repeat the sweet potato/chicken/veggie meal if I can (this is if I am strength training of doing CrossFit)
  • Dinner -4 ounces protein, ton of veggies, some fat

To see how I structure my week for meal planning and making a grocery list just CLICK HERE to watch a video I made about it.

I can’t stress enough the importance of being prepared if you are going to eat healthy during the week. However, if I am in a situation where I buy food while I am out then I stick to the basic rule of protein (meats), carbs (veggies and fruits) and good fat (healthy oils, avocado, almond butter).

For example, this past Saturday I went around town with a friend and we stopped at some food truck area in SE Portland. All options were fried foods so I was basically fucked. Then I saw the salad one.

Score!

I ordered a build your own salad with spinach, red onion, peppers, chicken breast, avocado, and typically I would have gotten olive oil and balsamic vin for dressing but I got the avocado ranch because I felt like it. I also got a bottled water and a coconut water.

How I apply this for long drives

First off, I always start a new destination on Mondays. This gives me time to shop on Sunday, prep my meals for the drive, and less people are on the road Monday morning between 1o and 11am when I head out.

Things that are helpful to have traveling with food:

  • Glass or Plastic Food containers (Prep your meals and place them in these)
  • Cooler (Mine is kind of shit so I would suggest investing in a decent one that can keep cold for a while)
  • Ice Packs (Better to use then ice bags because nothing’s worse then a pool of water after an 8 hour drive)
  • Fork (If you forget to bring one just grab it at a truck stop)

Great options for meals on the road:

  • Cooked chicken breasts
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Cooked sweet potatoes cut up into squares, mashed or cut in half if they’re baked
  • Blueberries
  • Apples sliced up or whole
  • Banana bunches
  • Almonds
  • Almond butter
  • Cucumber, avocado and tomato salad (cube them up and place in a container with sea salt, ground pepper, 1,tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil)
  • Cut up bell peppers
  • Raw broccoli (if this is too much then you can make your own mayo to dip it in)
  • Make your own jerky if you’re hardcore and own a food dehydrator

I’ve gotten used to eating food cold so I have no advice for how to heat it up. Although, hotels have microwaves so you can utilize those.

What to do if you are not a food prep kind of individual

I’ve found that truck stops and gas stations are starting to create a “healthy” section which is usually located facing the register. Some things I have purchased when I didn’t make time to prep are:

  • Dried food snacks
  • Almonds
  • Dark chocolate that’s 90% cacao
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Bottled water
  • Coconut water instead of soda
  • Original Beef Jerky (stay away from the flavored ones)
  • Seaweed snacks
  • Bananas at the counter
  • Fruit

Again, these aren’t great options but way better than Coke, Doritos, any candy, etc. If you have to question what you are eating then it’s probably not good for you.

Meals I purchase at restaurants 

This is actually easier than you think but it’s way better to do this at a restaurant than a fast food place. When in doubt I do the following when I look at a menu:

  • Take out any dairy
  • Take out any grains or pastas
  • Tell them to hold the bread
  • Don’t add salad dressing (unless I feel like “cheating”)
  • Just make sure my plate has meat and veggies

Here are some things I have done at restaurants along the way:

HOTEL BREAKFAST

I’ve found this to be super hard for sticking to Paleo. In that case I’ll break from the routine and get a cup of oatmeal and add honey, raisins and other fruit if available. I’ll stay away from pastries and the “make your own waffle” bar.

IHOP

Omelettes. Just load on the veggies, nix the cheese and add avocado if possible. Granted they probably add milk to the mix so if anything just ask them not to.

If you get an iced coffee tell them the following:

  1. Get a togo cup
  2. Put ice in it
  3. Slowly add hot coffee
  4. Then don’t add sugar or milk

I did this when I was in Mobile, AL. I ordered an ice coffee asking for no milk or sugar. The nice woman brought it to me and it was light brown so I took a sip and low and behold there was milk and sugar. She let me know that it just comes like that because it comes out of a machine. Yay America!

She wasn’t sure how to give me a regular black iced coffee so I explained the instructions above.

paleoriot mind blown

 

Chipotle, Qdoba or any Mexican restaurant 

Just get a burrito in a bowl minus the tortilla, rice, beans, cheese and sour cream.

I’ll get meat, veggies, guac and salsa. Done.

Bars

Build your own burgers are perfect. Order a burger, hold the bun, cheese, and fries. Add bacon, guac, tomato, lettuce, red onion, pickles and place it on top of a side salad with no dressing. Seltzer water with lime and lemon is always a great substitute especially since I’ve given up alcohol for 20 weeks. That’s a whole other article I have yet to write…

 

WORKING OUT WHILE ON THE ROAD

I love CrossFit, strength training (squats, bench, strict press, deadlifts), yoga and spinning. There are gyms everywhere and now I’ve noticed there are a shit ton of CrossFits all over the country. So much so that there’s usually one within a 5-10 minute drive of everywhere I’ve stayed. No joke.

The following is what I do to workout.

CROSSFIT ($$)

Once I find where I am staying I open Google Maps and put in the address. Then I clear the address so Google shows my area and type in CrossFit. This video explains it better if you are more visual.

 

Once I find a couple boxes I’ll email them saying I’m in town for a few weeks due to traveling the country, have been doing CrossFit for over 4 years and would like to stop by to speak with someone about pricing.

Once I get a reply I’ll stop in when I know someone will be there who does memberships and ask them if I can get some kind of rate for the month. This usually works in my favor and I get a nice discount. I like to return the favor by leaving a testimonial on their facebook page, yelp or give them a shot out on my blog or personal facebook page.

There’s been a few times when I stopped into town for just a few days and the box I dropped into waved the fee altogether.

Thanks again BTB Fitness in Atlanta, GA and CrossFit Murrieta in Murrieta, CA!

You can also find travel wods. CrossFit Austin has a whole page dedicated to this which you can find HERE.

REGULAR GYM ($)

I decided that I need to focus on upping my strength which is hard if I just do metcons so I did some research and found a 5×5 program on Stronglifts.com. This is a 12 week program of just fundamental strength moves. You only work out 3 days/week so this would make a CF membership useless because I wouldn’t be able to take their classes.

What I decided to do was join an LA Fitness since they’re like $29/month. Typically I HATE Globo gyms because theres no community and everyone keeps to themselves. CrossFits tend to be anywhere from $130 – $185/month so 29 bucks seemed like a good idea to save some dough. However, I have NO problem paying up to $200/month at a box because all the workouts are programmed, someone’s there to coach the movements, there’s a community aspect and I get to make friends while on my travels. But anyway…

I was in Santa Monica for 4 weeks so I completed my first month of Stronglifts there and then took a week off while I traveled from SM to Portland. Once I got to Portland I found an LA Fitness down the road, went there and bought the $70 package which was a 2 month membership and I can go to any of the 9 gyms in the the area.

This is great because my first week in Portland I was on the SE side of town and the rest of July I have been in the SW. I started out at the gym on 82 and Holgate but now I’m going to the one downtown. August I move back over to SE so I can either go back to the first gym or keep going downtown which is a little nicer.

DISCLAIMER – You have to be careful and stop your membership before you start your next month or they will automatically charge your card which is one of the reasons I do not like LA Fitness. That and the fact they only have 3 racks for free bar squats. 90% of the place is machines which I can’t stand but whatever.

YOGA ($)

Groupon, groupon, groupon. You can find yoga classes for 75% off of the original price. I’ve bought a 10 pack for $45 when typically it costs $175 for 10 classes. That’s pretty amazing.

I travel with a yoga mat which I bought before hitting the road. This saves me $1 at each class I take and I always bring my own towel and water bottle.

If you don’t want to spend money on a yoga class then just youtube a routine and follow it at your hotel room or wherever you’re staying.

LA Fitness also offers this in their monthly membership but it’s in a room where people can stare at you which makes me feel weird.

SPIN CLASS ($$)

My good friend Julie introduced me to SoulCycle in Short Hills, NJ. This is a lot of fun but can cost you some bucks. A typical class is close to $40 for an hour. That shit adds up if you do this 3 days/week. If you like SoulCycle then there’s a ton around the country which I’ve seen.

Again, LA Fitness offers this in their monthly membership but after doing SoulCycle I’m a little spoiled because it’s solid. Plus I always fuck up my tailbone so I don’t do it a lot.

HOTEL GYMS (Hard to gauge pricing since this is included in the fee for a hotel)

When I am on route to a new destination and have to stay at a hotel I usually utilize the treadmill for sprint intervals. This is a great way to get in and out within 20 minutes and sweat your ass off.

Here’s what I do:

  • Walk or light jog at around 3.5 – 4 for 2 minutes to warm up

After I warm up

  • Minute 1 – Walk at 4.2
  • Minute 2 – Sprint 7.2
  • Minute 3 – Walk at 4.2
  • Minute 4 – Sprint 7.2
  • Minute 5 – Walk at 4.2
  • Minute 6 – Sprint 7.6
  • Minute 7 – Walk at 4.2
  • Minute 8 – Sprint 7.6
  • Minute 9 – Walk at 4.2
  • Minute 10 – Sprint 8.2
  • Minute 11 – Walk at 4.2
  • Minute 12 – Sprint 8.6
  • Minute 13 – Walk at 4.2
  • Minute 14 – Sprint 9.2
  • Minute 15 – Walk at 4.2
  • Minute 16 – Sprint 9.6

Cool down with a 2 minute walk at 3.5

You’ll be drenched at the end. Make sure to stretch when you’re done. I do this first thing in the morning.

You can also just do a Tabata (20 seconds of work / 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds) –

 

You can download a Tabata App on your phone to track your time. Make sure that it beeps or has some kind of alert to let you know when to rest and work.

You can used the weights at the gym and do any mixture of workouts. Some key movements could be:

  • Lunges (weighted or non weighted)
  • Squats (weighted or non weighted)
  • Push ups
  • Sit ups (weighted or non weighted)
  • Plank holds
  • Leg lift holds
  • Leg lifts
  • Push press (weighted)
  • Strict Press (weighted)

RUNNING ($0)

There’s a cool website I use when I map out my runs. Here’s the link if you want to use it. Just put in your address and map out where you want to run from an aerial view. That way you can get an idea of the direction to go and how many miles it will be.

You can also just use a running app. I don’t do this because I don’t like holding my phone when I run. Instead I have an iPod Shuffle which clips to my shorts. I’m old school like that.

THERE YOU HAVE IT!

I’m sure there will be some questions so feel free to ask below or share other things you have done to stay healthy on the road. I don’t have all of the answers but this is just my take on it.

The next challenge will be doing this when I finally start backpacking over seas. That will be one hell of an adventure and super informative on how I stay healthy over there without carrying my kitchen everywhere I go.

If this was helpful please share it on your social media and tag some friends who could use this.

Also, if you are currently nommading I would love to connect with you through social media to get some tips or give some of my own:

I look forward to seeing you on my travels.

~Mike