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Stay Healthy on Summer Vacation

Going for a road trip with the family? Hitting the tropics with a friend? Summer is the perfect time to vacation, but traveling can alter your routine, making it hard to keep up healthy habits and diabetes management. With a little planning, it’s possible to make healthy food choices even if you’re not at home. Check out our simple tips below and start planning for your trip today!

Tips for the Road

Don’t let those blue highway signs trick you into thinking that fast food is your only option while on the road. There are plenty of healthy snacks and even meals that you can pack for a road trip – long or short. For shorter trips, it’s easy to bring along non-perishable snacks like:

  • Unsalted nuts or trail mix (make your own, using a combination of almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds). You could also include some dried fruit like cranberries, blueberries, or raisins. Just remember that 2 tablespoons of dried fruit will add about 15 grams of carbohydrate to your snack.
  • Half a peanut butter sandwich made with a piece of 100% whole wheat bread and 1-2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter or almond butter.
  • Whole fruit such as oranges, tangerines, apples, bananas, grapes, or cherries.
  • Individual cups of mandarin orange sections or fruit cocktail. Don’t forget a fork for this one!
  • Tuna snack packs.

We also have some tasty and nutritious snack recipes that travel well:

*Always pack plenty of water, since traveling often leads to dehydration. This is also very important if you’ll be traveling by air. Be careful of drinking too much coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages, which act as a diuretic and can also contribute to dehydration. As always, it is also best to limit sugary beverages like soda, Hawaiian punch, or lemonade.

If you are going to be in the car for several hours or during meal time, pack a cooler of healthy foods. Check out a few ideas for eating healthy on the road in this month’s video . Plus, here are some additional snack and meal ideas that can be packed in plastic containers or small sealable bags:

  • Hummus and pre-cut vegetables like baby carrots, broccoli florets, celery sticks, sugar snap peas, or cherry tomatoes.
  • Fresh fruit that keeps best in colder temperatures like berries, precut melon, or precut apples.
  • Veggie or turkey sandwiches made with 100% whole wheat bread, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, and mustard.
  • Instead of a sandwich, you could also try a wrap or pita sandwich. Just use some lean deli meat and non-starchy vegetables, along with some cheese and wrap it all up in a whole wheat tortilla or pita pocket.
  • Pack single servings of light yogurt and mix in some berries for a yogurt parfait on the road.
  • Cheese sticks or string cheese with whole wheat crackers.
  • Pack a container with some greens, precut veggies, cheese, and nuts. Throw a bottle of salad dressing in the cooler and you can have a tasty salad on the road!
  • Pack some hard-boiled eggs for a snack or throw them on a premade salad.
  • Make some tuna or chicken salad before hitting the road. Eat it over some greens or have it on crackers or a piece of 100% whole wheat bread. 

We also have some health recipes listed below that you can pack in a cooler and eat on the road:

There is bound to be a time when fast food is your only choice. In that case, choose some of these healthier options for a meal:

At Dunkin Donuts: Opt for a plain coffee and an Egg White Flatbread for 280 calories and 32 grams of carbohydrate, or the Egg White Turkey Sausage Wrap for just 150 calories and 14 grams of carbohydrate. 

At Starbucks: Go for a Tall Nonfat Skinny Latte and a Spinach & Feta Egg Wrap or Chicken Sausage Breakfast Wrap, which will run you about 400 calories and 47 grams of carbohydrate. If you need a jolt but you’re looking for a cold drink in this summer heat, check out this month’s Meal Makeover  to find out the best and worst cold coffee drinks. If you’re looking for lunch at Starbucks, look for the Chicken and Hummus Bistro Box (260 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrate), the Protein Bistro Box (380 calories, 37 grams of carbohydrate), or the Chicken and Greens Salad Bowl (340 calories, 10 grams carbohydrate).

At McDonalds: Pick up a fruit and yogurt parfait for a snack or small meal. It’s made with low-fat yogurt, granola, fruit and has just 160 calories and 31 grams of carbohydrate. You can actually cut the carbs even more if you leave the granola out. The salads with grilled chicken and low-fat balsamic vinaigrette or low-fat Italian dressing are also not a bad option, with about 200-350 calories.

At Panera Bread: Go for a cup of the Vegetarian Black Bean Soup for just 150 calories and 28 grams of carbohydrate. You can also add an apple, a Classic side salad, or a small piece of whole grain baguette if it will fit with your meal plan.

*Remember that large chain restaurants like these should have their nutrition information for you on-hand. It is also available online, which you could access if you have a smart phone. Take advantage of it and use the nutrition facts when making choices at these types of restaurants.

Traveling by air and looking for healthy eating tips? Check out our article: On-The-Go Airport Meals.

While You’re on Vacation

Many people eat out for most meals while on vacation. Remember that you don’t have to go crazy at every meal, especially if you are less active than usual. Try to plan in some exercise time or do something active most days while you are away. Exercise is actually very relaxing and vacation can be a great time do it! For additional tips on eating out at restaurants, check out our pages on Eating Out at diabetes.org.

If you have access to a kitchen while on vacation, start out with a trip to the grocery store to pick up some healthy essentials. Make sure you include some fresh fruit and lots of veggies for snacks and sides. There are lots of tasty summer fruits and vegetables at their peak this time of year!

Looking for general information about taking care of your diabetes while traveling? You can find additional information about preparing for your trip, packing insulin, and more on these pages:

When You Travel
Air Travel and Diabetes

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