Lately, I’ve been doing a little more traveling than normal. A mammoth challenge facing tattooists who work conventions regularly is finding good food that doesn’t cost and arm and a leg. Trying to eat healthy on the road is not only expensive, but difficult to do. The moral of this story is plan ahead. One pre travel trip to the grocery store will save you dollars and keep you eating healthier while you’re out of town. I’ve done the math myself and discovered that spending $30 in snacks has saved me from spending a hundred dollars while on the road. I’ve compiled a list of easy on the go snacks and suggestions for helping us all beat the greasy spoon blues. This won’t be the first time I post about eating on the go. This particular subject can be pretty vast, so I’m going to have to provide this information in installments.
Let’s start with the money grubbing, aerial transportation pimps; the airports. I get it; sometimes you just need a meal, so you pay inflated prices at the airport. Sometimes, you only want a pack of gum, or some water, which is pricey enough to feed several underprivileged children in third world countries for a month. Let’s start with the water. At the airport, you can’t bring liquids over three ounces past security. Honestly, I don’t think the airport authority actually believes someone is going to blow up a plane with ten ounces of liquid. Well, I’m no expert in taking down a plane, but I will mention this little handy tid bit, it would only take a few drops of Sarin gas to kill an entire plane. The bottom line is that the airport makes more money by not allowing you to bring in your own drinks. It’s just another scam buried under the facade of security of which there are many.
If you’re not interested in getting water raped by the airport, there are a couple ways to go about this. When ordering a meal at a fast food place, you can ask for just a cup of water, in which case, they normally give you a small cup with ice and water in it. You can keep the cup and refill the water at a drinking fountain or any sink. Also, more airports are starting to have water refill stations which also save money. You can attach a reusable water bottle to your back pack or carry on, but keep the bottle empty. When you get to the other side of security, you can either ask someone working at a food service place to fill it up for you, fill it from the drinking fountain, sink, or water refill station. My personal favorite is to walk over to a self serve pop machine and fill my bottle from there, because it’s nice and cold. Occasionally, I get a horrified look or two which only makes me giggle at how easily miffed people get. It’s water. We all need it to survive. It should be free for everyone all the time. I never miss an opportunity to get free water. I hate paying for water more than anything. I don’t think I need to lecture anyone on the importance of consuming water, but your best bet to keeping healthy on the road and during travel is to stick to water as much as possible.
There‘s a bunch of good reasons to drink water while in transit and at conventions. For starters, there’s the party factor. Let’s face it, a lot of us like to tie a couple on after the floor closes at the end of the night. Drinking water for most of the day keeps you hydrated, so you’re less likely to get a hangover the next morning. Your water is going to be less fucked with by another human being than most other drinks you choose to drink. Your coffee was prepared by someone whom you trust to clean equipment and filters on the daily. You’re assuming the coffee pots were cleaned properly and that the coffee is fresh. There is an assumption that those delightful little creams you flavor your coffee with aren’t in fact expired or stored improperly; a recipe for making you feel like shit when you’re out of town. When getting a pop from a self serve machine, you’re assuming that the crew the night before cleaned those nasty, corn syrup coated nozzles. We all assume there isn’t mold or dirt build up. We imagine no one is going to drop it on the floor and pick it up again. Purchasing soda can directly affect your health just based on how it was stored. For instance, all you diet pop drinkers out there can actually get poisoned by drinking diet pop that was stored in heated conditions. It’s called Metabolic Acidosis. If you would like more information about this and how damaging diet pop is to your health, here are a couple links: http://www.rense.com/general70/aasp.htm & also read up on this one: http://www.thelibertybeacon.com/2013/05/09/aspartame-poison-the-silent-killer/. I suppose its common sense to stay away from pop plain and simple. Less shit in your body as you add the stress of travel and lack of sleep to your convention agenda is just smart, so stick with water as much as you can. In researching ways to combat Jet lag, keeping hydrated is mentioned in most of the articles. In fact, one of the symptoms of Jet lag is dehydration.
Traveling via plane versus taking a road trip to conventions directly impacts your availability of food and in addition, where you’re traveling dictates your availability for healthier eats also. If you take a plane things get complicated, because you have to watch the size and weight of your luggage and your carry on. Carrying a quart sized bag full of healthy snacks in your carry on and having snacks packed away with your luggage will keep you from falling into the trap of buying over priced hotel or airport food on your journey. If you keep an ample amount of snacks with you whether you’re on the road or taking a plane; you can snack your way through the day and catch one good solid meal once you’ve reached your destination. The great part about this situation is that if you snack throughout the day, you’re going to be less hungry and desperate. Hungry and desperate means you’re going to pay too much for any kind of shit food you can get your hands on. This is one of those situations where a few minutes of preparation will save you a lot of money and keep you healthier since you will be able to avoid that fast food trap that’s too readily available anywhere we travel within the continental U.S.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to drive to your destination, you have much more freedom in the type of items you can bring with you. When I have room, I pack a cooler. Packing a couple of sandwiches for the road trip are going to be cheaper than stopping at some fast food joint and save you time, because you won’t have to get out of your car. Also, Beverages are cheaper to buy from the grocery store in bulk. Like water for example; I can easily pick up a bottle of water at a gas station for a buck. However, I can literally buy 24 bottles of water for less than four dollars which will last me the entire weekend. Four dollars might buy me two waters at most concessions stands or hotels.
Here’s a list of suggestions for food on the go that’s cheaper to buy at a grocery store and healthier than scarfing down a bunch of bullshit. This is stuff I often take with me on the road and live off. I basically snack 90% of my time out on the road. I average one solid meal a day, but sometimes I don’t even need to eat a meal at the end of the night, because I keep myself pretty full most of the day.
HEALTHIER SNACKS THAT TO TRAVEL WITH:
- PROTIEN/ENERGY BARS: My new favorite food bar that I never travel without is the LARABAR: http://www.larabar.com/products. These things are delicious. They’re great for people who don’t like how protein bars taste. All ingredients are whole and all natural and gluten free. My favorite is the Cherry Pie and Key Lime Pie. They have a great assortment of flavors and I often find them on sale at my local grocery store. I generally take about six of these with me when I work a convention. These are a great breakfast on the go. I often have one after I’ve rushed on to the convention floor and had no time to stop for breakfast. Another bar I highly recommend is CLIFF BAR: http://www.clifbar.com/food/products/. Cliff Bar offers a variety of products for people on the go. These bars travel well and still taste good after they’ve been smashed by stuff in your back pack.
- NUTS/TRAIL MIX: There are a great many advantages to eating nuts. So many in fact that I would have to devote an entire blog to them. (It’s difficult for me to talk about nuts with a straight face.) I’ll start with the fact that nuts are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Trail mix also is a lower carbohydrate based snack. Well, lower carb and healthier than a donut, or a bag of chips. Here’s a link for interesting facts about nuts: http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/nuts_nutrition.html. It’s also cheap to grab a couple packs of nuts and throw them in your back pack. I often find honey roasted nuts at two for a dollar at gas stations everywhere. Also, Blue diamond makes these great sleeves of flavored almonds of which I never see for more than $1.50. They have enticing flavors like my favorite, chilies and lime.
- FRUIT: I’ve learned the hard way that some fruit travels better than others. Here are some portable options: oranges, tangerines, pears, apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and bananas. All of these fruits are relatively durable and don’t have high squish factor. Squishy fruit just isn’t good. You sometimes have to be careful with bananas.
- INSTANT OATMEAL AND CUP OF SOUP: When I get busy working in the winter and run out of time to eat, my go to is Cup of Soup. It’s also a great go to on the road. All of the Cup of Sous are low calorie and very easy to eat anywhere. The only ingredient you need for Cup of Soup is hot water. It’s pretty easy to nab up a foam cup and fill it with hot water. If you’re in a hotel with a microwave, Cup of Soup is ideal but it can also be made using a coffee maker. Be sure to rinse the coffee maker out real well before running water through it, or your soup will taste funny. Instant Oatmeal is exactly the same. Put a couple packets of your favorite flavor of oatmeal pour in the hot water and you’re done! These are all packages that travel well. I always throw a couple of instant oatmeal packs in my bag when I travel. I may want it for breakfast, but it’s a great anytime snack, because it sticks with you for a while and it’s healthy. Oatmeal is also known for lowering cholesterol, so warm, cozy oatmeal in the morning trumps some shitty over priced scone from Star Bucks in my opinion. Also, to make oatmeal and Cup of Soup fit better in your bag, take the pouches out of their boxes. The boxes are cumbersome and pointless during travel.
- PACKAGED MEAT/FISH: There are many benefits to consuming fish. It’s loaded with protein and Omega acids which are great for your heart and many other cellular functions. I always carry packets of tuna or salmon with me in little vacuum sealed pouches. There are several companies out there that make tuna with different flavors like, sweet and sour, garlic and herb, hickory smoked and more. The little tuna and chicken lunch kits aren’t uber healthy, or anything, but they sure do beat the hell out of a burger as far as good nutrition goes. Vaccum packed salmon is a delicious treat for me. It’s pricier than the tuna, but worth the extra cost. Just a foot note here; If you’re stuck on an airplane next to someone whose being an asshole, just open up a pack of tuna or salmon. Eat it and smile, because you’re really going to stink up the joint. Just call it sweet healthy revenge. You can also get chicken in the exact manner you can get tuna, if you’re not into eating fish. The chicken is juicy, low fat, but not with the same health benefits tuna and salmon have. Also, in the packaged meat category: Jerky. Doesn’t have to be beef, they also have Turkey Jerky too. Jerky is easy to take with you anywhere and it’s a great food as far as higher protein and lower carbs.
- MEALS YOU CAN DRINK: This is a trickier if you are taking a plane rather than driving, but this is another great way to keeping yourself from starving and still getting some nutrition in you. Packing a few protein shakes in your luggage is a great idea for getting some extra added nutrition while on the road. My favorite to cart around with me is the EAS shakes and Tiger’s Milk. They average six to seven dollars for a four pack. Muscle Milk is incredibly easy to get a hold of anywhere. I frequently grab myself a bottle and drink it down for breakfast while I drive to work. It’s a great way to get some nutrition in you first thing in the morning if you’re the type who skips breakfast. Protein shakes are a great way to snack healthier between meals rather than grabbing an overpriced order of greasy fries from the concession stand. The protein shake will sustain you longer than the fries without the excessive spike in your blood sugar. Sometimes, I’ll even buy up Slim fast and drink a couple of those till I get a break to eat. The concept is that protein shakes are a great way to keep your blood glucose levels up, which keeps your energy levels on an even keel. It also keeps you from starving by the time you get a chance to eat. If you’re extremely hungry, you’re more likely to over eat. I love protein shakes because they’re like a meal in a bottle and I don’t have to chew.
All of the foods listed above are healthier alternative travel foods. It seems like a meager list of six things, but within each category many options exist. Everything listed above can be found at your local grocery store but also at many other locations, like gas stations. Here’s another list of foods that aren’t bad for you that travel well.
FOODS THAT TRAVEL WELL: Baby carrots, organic fruit strips, fruit snacks, raisins, Cranrasins, snack size zip lock bags of granola and various healthy cereals, sandwich bags of whole grain crackers such as Triscuits, dried fruit, granola bars, celery sticks with peanut butter and soy bean snacks.
Traveling the convention circuit doesn’t have to be detrimental to your health. It’s all in how you handle yourself while you are out an about tattooing around the globe. Making good decisions on what to eat while you’re away can have lasting impact on your health and the longevity of your career. Keep an eye out for Eating on the run part 2 for more useful information on eating out on the road.
As always, if you have suggestions for something you would like to see here at Under The Gloves, please email me at: underthe firstname.lastname@example.org