You might have noticed that I was missing in action last week. Apologies if you got worried. I was just on a whirlwind tour of Washington DC, NYC, and New Jersey for some fun projects that I’ll happily reveal in a little while.
While I was whirling through the east, though, I realized that it was time for an upgrade of my traveling advice. It’s not that the old tips and tricks don’t work. They’re great. And feel free to brush up on them here.
But I’m writing this travel remix today because every time I leave home, I learn more. I eat better. And I come across new ideas, products, or people that help me keep my diet while I explore the world.
So fasten your seat belts and add these low-sodium tips to your packing list.
1. PACK SMART
First and foremost, make sure that you have low-sodium nibbles with you at all times — I’m talking granola bars, tortillas, nuts, berries, nut butter packets, packets of low-sodium tuna, microwave granola, microwave rice, quinoa, and anything else not perishable that fits well (and lays flat) in a suitcase and requires only you and/or a microwave.
This will enable hanger management throughout your trip and will serve as an essential low-sodium S.O.S. for airplane rides, breakfasts, and lunches when low-sodium food is scarce.
But when I’m talking about packing, also think about things like Mrs. Dash Spices, no-salt added mustard, and even a plastic (non-leak) container filled with cooked quinoa and precooked beans — items that will make the most boring plate of salad or scrambled eggs perk up with protein and flavor.
And if you are willing to pack a separate small bag with an ice pack and perishable, low-sodium goodies (like low-sodium turkey meat) , then the options quickly become limitless. Just be sure to call your hotel and ask for your room to be equipped with a small refrigerator.
Which brings me to my next point…
2. SEND AHEAD
If you are staying somewhere for a while, don’t be bashful; SEND YOUR LOW-SODIUM KITCHEN ahead of you. I’m being serious. During my first few trips away from my stove, I sent my favorite, non-suitcase-friendly foods via the mail to my hotel. And when I arrived, I had cans of beans, chips, salsas, and other low-sodium accoutrements waiting for me in my room.
Sometimes you can even ask the concierge at your hotel to do a little pre-arrival grocery shopping for other staple items that will enable you to make fulfilling meals whenever you want.
3. FORGET THE VIEW, GET A KITCHEN!
When looking for hotels, see if you can find a space with a small kitchen. Many hotels have cottage options or rooms that come with kitchenettes. And these days, my man and I like renting through places like VRBO where we have access to simple tools (like microwaves) or even more complete stoves and ovens. This lets me take more low-sodium food with me and prepare meals when necessary. Or when I’m hungry. Or both.
And since I always travel with some sort of plastic container, if I know we will be out for the day adventuring and salt-free food might be scarce, I use my mini kitchenette to make a snack pack for the day. Just in case.
4. GO RAW
Whether you are a low-sodium eater or not, there are two things you generally miss after a long trip: your own bed and vegetables. But don’t think you can’t get your green when you aren’t near your crisper.
I’ve started taking a tip from the raw eaters out there and packing a small bag of sturdy greens — like collards and kale — as well as a lemon. And whether I mix them up in a bowl or add them to a plate of scrambled eggs, a little bit of acid or vinegar makes these leaves ready for eating. Leaving me feeling extra healthy and energized.
5. USE FRIENDS, REAL AND VIRTUAL
If you can stay with a friend, you’ve struck low-sodium traveling gold. Their kitchen, pantry, and stove is now yours, guaranteeing you safe low-sodium meals when you want.
But even when you travel without a friend to visit, that doesn’t mean a helpful hand is far. Use social media tools, like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp! to search for others with similar dietary needs. Post questions to find the best diet-friendly restaurants or stores within the city or town. Pool together resources and discover places and eats that only locals know about.
Before looking at the weather for the week, do some research about the food and culture of the city and our country you plan to visit.
Visit travel blogs to explore the cuisine, what’s typically on a menu, and how it is traditionally prepared. Because the more you know, the more easily you’ll be able to order. Or ask the concierge at your hotel to call ahead to ask for special preparations. And get Googling. Map out the nearest grocery stores to figure out where you can stock up on treats as soon as you land.
Be sure to also check out other allergy sites (like this ones: http://allergicgirl.
7. POINT PEOPLE TO YOUR RESOURCES
Sharing is caring. And when you give people links to your favorite blogs, recipes, or even that low-sodium diner card, suddenly they have all the tools they need to make amazing salt-free foods for you. So remember, even if you are taking a solo trip, don’t be afraid to let people (your friends, the concierge, the kitchen staff) in on your low-sodium lifestyle. The more information you can give them, the better you will eat.
8. NO ENGLISH, NO PROBLEM
Are you going abroad, beyond the boarder, where the language sounds a lot different than it does in your home town? Don’t fret. Just use all the same tips suggested here. Do the research. Understand the food. Get to know your hotel(s) concierge and staff. Find people abroad (whether friends, tour guides, or trusty companions you meet on tour) that can help you navigate restaurants and foreign menus. Find restaurants and grocery stores before you go that will have the treats you can eat. Or send food ahead of time.
And don’t forget about that laminated dietary card. That can be translated too. So that you don’t have to spend the whole trip trying to perfect a French, Italian, or New Guinean accent.