They say that the way to a lover's heart is through the stomach, and the sentiment rings true when falling head over heels for travel. Start your trip with a hockey-puck-gas-station-sandwich and your compatibility with trains and planes might end with a swipe left. Airports, in particular, have a lot to answer for; theyre big, shiny and full of hope. Some of them stand up to the task, but others fail miserably – and that's when youre most likely to find yourself slumped over the bar of a chain restaurant in departures, texting your ex and eating Doritos for dinner.
Even if you do make it to the gate unscathed, there's still plane food, delays and connecting flights to deal with. Snagging an upgrade would take care of the plane menu (Google: United Airlines ice-cream sundae cart), but since it͛s not guaranteed, you shouldn't rely on it. It might not be sexy, but the key to a long, committed relationship with travel is preparation. Say no to easy, convenience food, copious amounts of coffee and comfort snacks that only serve to keep you wide-eyed between time zones, and instead pack meals that aid your body mid-air. We asked three well-travelled experts for their advice on what to eat when you travel.
Zach Berman, co-founder of The Juice Truck
"Travel food usually means compromise. Airports and travel hubs are full of unhealthy fast food and snacks that are overly processed and packed with sugar. Travel can create stress, anxiety, fatigue and inflammation,͟" he explains, "and to balance all of that, you need to nourish your body with foods that will support your immune system."
Trail mix is an easy snack to whip up the night before you leave, and if you make it yourself, you can add all the things you love, and leave out the raisins. Assemble a collection of your favourite nuts and seeds, spread them on a baking tray and drizzle with coconut oil or maple syrup. Bake them low and slow until golden and fragrant, and then mix in dried fruit, carob chips, coconut or cacao nibs when cool. Divide the mix into small Ziploc bags and stuff your pockets with them –it͛s the perfect snack when you͛re moving all day long.
And for plane? According to Berman, "spring rolls are the new sandwich." It may take a little longer to prep at home, but the burrito-like construction gives the feeling of comfort food without compromising on nutrition. Into your rice paper rolls, add your favourite rainbow veggies, sliced or grated, hummus or peanut sauce, and a big handful of fresh herbs like mint and cilantro. ͞"It'll keep you away from any of the usual suspects of fast food traps," Berman promises.
Anna Barnett, food writer and cook
Talking to me from the departures lounge at London Heathrow, Barnett admits that although she’d like to be, she’s not always the most prepared when it comes to packing lunch or snacks to bring with her when travelling.
“I’m always too disorganised or excited to think that far ahead,” she explains. “However, I do make sure I have enough time at the airport to sit down and have a healthy meal and plenty of water, especially if it’s a long-haul flight.” “I always intend to make up a batch of coconut matcha energy balls so that I can avoid eating too much plane food and keep my energy levels up so that I’m raring to go upon arrival.” Although it needs a little forethought, this recipe is fool-proof and fast to whip up. Soak cashews and hazelnuts overnight in cold water, then blitz to a cream in a food processor the next day. Add matcha powder, seeds and dates, blitzing until smooth, and finally, stir in desiccated coconut until you have a tacky but stiff mixture. Roll into balls (think smaller than a golf ball) and then dust them with coconut or cacao powder. Pack them into a box and don't tell your seat neighbour.
When you arrive at your destination, Barnett suggests another recipe for a simple supper. “If you’re Airbnb’ing, shakshuka is a great dish that works for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. It requires minimal utensils, only uses basic ingredients and works in small places. I love to serve it with fresh toasted sourdough, dippy eggs and an assortment of freshly chopped herbs and chilli.”
Andrea Sheffield, model
“On a long-haul flight I pack food and usually eat at least some of the plane food,” Sheffield, tell us. “My tip is that I always order a ‘special meal’ – either lactose free or vegetarian – which is usually much healthier than a regular meal…it comes with fruit salad for dessert rather than a brownie.”
“I always go into a flight assuming that I won’t like the food, so I bring enough to sustain me through the flight,” she explains. “My go-to is a bento box that I will prepare and take with me; I like to have a wholegrain, a protein, and one or two sides of veggies. This keeps me full, healthy, and feeling good.” For snacking, Sheffield will treat herself to some dark chocolate or fruit, if she can talk it through security. “Long flights are boring, and I often reach for snacks – I want to make sure that I am nibbling on things that are fairly healthy.”
“Model’s days are long and unpredictable – you never know how long a casting will take or if a client will provide food at a job,” Sheffield tells us. “Living in Milan taught me to always be prepared. Try explaining to Italians that you are lactose intolerant…it just doesn’t translate!” She advises always carrying a couple of protein bars, fruit and some nuts or crackers to get you through long days. “On the other hand,” she reminisces, “travelling for work is an amazing experience and it’s important not to be too restrictive – try all the foods from all the different places, and always allow yourself some treats.”