What to eat while traveling?

Arlene here, feeling much better than when we last talked. I’m back at work after a week off and a blissful weekend at a retreat for health/fitness bloggers (called Blend Retreat).

Vacation took me to Salt Lake City for a week with my brother and his family, then nearby Park City, Utah, for the retreat. I — somewhat foolishly, perhaps — decided to drive rather than fly.

“It’s only an eight-hour drive,” I told myself. “You can do that standing on your head.”

Well, maybe not. It’d be kind of hard to drive that way.

Thanks to a sinkhole south of Page, Ariz., it was also impossible to take my usual route to SLC, through Page on U.S. 89. On the way north, I took the ADOT-marked detour … which took me way the heck out of the way. With bathroom/snack/gas stops, my easy eight-ish-hour trip became a 10-hour drive.

When I headed back home, I followed the advice of the Google Maps app on my trusty iPhone and took the U.S.89A spur. Well, at least I followed its advice after I stopped at the gas station in Kanab, Utah, to ask a clerk what the road was like. I tend not to like the unknown, and a road I’ve never driven before definitely falls into the unknown category.

She assured me 89A was a major road, shorter mileage-wise but with lower speed limits through the windy parts that made the drive about identical time-wise to my usual Kanab-Page route.

Turns out, it was a good decision. 89A goes through Jacob Lake and the Vermillion Cliffs before hitting Lee’s Ferry and meeting back up with U.S. 89. The scenery was simply stunning!

I even stumbled on a rainbow when I rounded one curve. I had to pull over and snap a photo.

Simply stunning!

Simply stunning!

Even when you don’t mind spending hours on end cooped up in a vehicle, which I don’t, there’s one major problem with a full day of driving: Figuring out what to eat on the road.

Sure, there are fast food stops galore — at least once you hit the interstate. But that doesn’t work if you’re trying to eat a little healthier.

I’m far from perfect, meaning my road eats were a mix of “healthier” and not.

For the drive up, I’d packed some snacks to keep me stocked up at Dan’s house — so I had a cooler full of veggies, hummus and a turkey sandwich I planned to eat for lunch.

Started out my day on the road healthy enough ...

Started out my day on the road healthy enough. (Note the water bottle in the background. No diet soda yet.)

I hit the road at about 8:30 a.m., after a stop at McDonald’s for breakfast. I’d been dying to try one of their new “egg white delight” breakfast sandwiches, and used the start of my road trip as an excuse. It was tasty enough, but at 7 Weight Watchers PointsPlus, it had just one less Point than a regular Egg McMuffin. That was disappointing.

Travel Eats by Arlene Hittle | Chicklets in the Kitchen

Man, was it delicious!

It was not, however, disappointing enough to keep me from stopping at the McDonald’s in Kanab for a vanilla cone. I started thinking about said cone when I stopped for gas — and a super-sized Diet Dr Pepper at the Maverick station in Page. I ate a handful of cherry tomatoes and my turkey/spinach/cheese sandwich, successfully avoiding the urge to partake of the grilled hamburgers/hot dogs they were selling outside the store.

But exercising that willpower was a double-edged sword: It made me feel like I deserved that cone. All the way from Page to Kanab, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Another few hours on the road and I finally hit I-15. From there, it was smooth driving all the way to Salt Lake City. I made two more pit stops, at the Wendy’s in Beaver, Utah, where I got a value-sized fries, and at the Maverick a little farther north, in Fillmore (because I forgot all about gassing up the Focus while I was using the bathroom and picking up my fries). I was going to refill my giant diet soda, but as I was filling up the tank, a busload of people streamed into the store. I decided I didn’t need more drink badly enough to deal with the hassle.

Probably the healthiest thing I ate on the road, except for that turkey sandwich ...

Probably the healthiest thing I ate on the road, except for that turkey sandwich …

On the drive home, my choices included fish tacos and fries from a Del Taco in Lehigh (I love their crinkle-cut fries!), and a Frosty Waffle Cone from the same Wendy’s in Beaver. (They don’t have Frosty Waffle Cones at Arizona Wendy’s — at least not that I’ve noticed.

When I stopped in Kanab, I dug into a tube of new blueberry almonds from Blue Diamond, one of the Blend Retreat sponsors. They were one of the many, many goodies attendees got for free at the retreat.

Come to think of it, my travel eats were less than stellar. Apparently, spending all day cooped up in the car weakens my defenses.

How do you eat on the road? Any tricks to NOT succumbing to fast food’s siren call? I’m all ears.


10 thoughts on “What to eat while traveling?

  1. I tend to drink coffee – lots of coffee. And I eat way too much trail mix (because it’s healthy and once I open the bag. It’s gone. So that’s 900 calories). Then I love fish sandwiches which I never get at home except when I make them, so yeah, calories are a problem.
    But I am going to try the blueberry almonds.

    • The blueberry almonds are good. They also have strawberry, raspberry, and my favorite — toasted coconut. I’d bought the coconut ones a couple times already before the retreat.

  2. When I know I’m going to be traveling, I try to plan my stops to pick up somewhat healthy comfort foods along the way. In between, I try to have goodies my kids will eat, like homemade cookies.

    What I learned is that trick of having homemade stuff works great for the drive to a vacation spot. After a week though, the stores are depleted and we end up doing junk food on the way back. Sigh. I’m forced to admit, I’m not a perfect momma. Shhh…don’t tell the children. 😀

  3. I’m always so bad when I’m traveling. We always – but always – stop at Waffle House on the road. I’ve recently started trying to eat far healthier, so now I only eat half of what I normally would. That helps a bit, but I still eat poorly.

    We pack healthy snacks (fruit, veggies, sandwiches, etc), but I don’t want to eat them. Something about traveling makes eating healthy seem less necessary. 🙂

  4. Hi Arlene: I’m doing WW Points Plus too. I love the plan. And about once a month I make a long drive to see my brother in southern Oregon. It’s about 5 hours each way, so I’ve been facing the same issues you did. Since I try to keep my carbs low and avoid wheat, my go-to foods are heavily weighted in the protein department. Boiled eggs travel well, as do cucumber spears, cherry tomatoes (as you mentioned), small sweet peppers, chunks of turkey or canned chicken breast (check out the Kirkland brand from Costco). I also enjoy sliced apples and oranges. When I stop for lunch (in my car), I do a bathroom break at McDonalds, where I buy one chocolate chip cookie and a small milk. That seems to do the trick, satisfaction-wise, for very few points. Alternatively, Russell Stover sugar free mint patties are very yummy and only 3 points for two. I couldn’t survive without a little chocolate every day. Happy travels!

  5. OMGsh, do I know those dang voices in one’s head begging for an ice cream cone! Road trips for us usually mean lots of teriyaki beef jerky, Twizzlers, trail mix, Cheeze-its, and Gardetto’s (I raid the bag of all the melba toasts 😉 ). Our drive to and from Indiana is 14 hours with stops for gas and to walk the dog. The husband can do it in 12 with one stop. Crazy, I say.

    One fast food restaurant is mandatory both directions: Frisch’s Big Boy. The husband and I have loved Big Boys since we were little tykes and there aren’t any in Florida. 😦 Now we have our sons hooked on them. 🙂

    • Big Boy? Gosh, I haven’t thought of that place in years. We used to eat at the one in Fort Wayne. I’m with you on the Melba toasts — the best part of a bag of Gardettos!

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