Guest Post By: Paula Snyder
As a travel nurse, you know that maintaining a healthy and affordable diet is not easy. You may know all about the vacuum packed, plastic wrapped food that’s served as breakfast, lunch, or dinner on the plane. On top of poor quality, the portion sizes never seem to touch the edges, leaving you forever opening your wallet for even more overpriced bite-sized morsels. Depending on where in the globe your plane is touching down, you might also have to deal with poor quality food at your destination. However, with a bit of planning, you can make wiser food choices and keep your energy levels high for the adventure that awaits at touchdown.
It’s not uncommon to reach an exotic destination and have the desire to head to the nearest Golden Arches of McDonald’s through fear of foreign foods. I admittedly raise my hand in guilt. But it was this one time I traveled for 32 hours straight, and all I craved was my creature comforts and then to pass out in my hotel bed. However, if you’re a travel nurse or hold another important job that requires intense periods of focus, commitment, and energy, you can’t afford to make the mistake of eating poor quality food.
Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy and affordable diet as a travel nurse.
Research The Local Cuisine Ahead of Time
The beauty of our modern day lives is that there’s just so much information available at your fingertips. Think of all those that traveled to your destination and have already blogged about their experience in detail. Dedicated foodies will shuffle about the globe for the sole purpose of tickling their taste buds by exotic cuisine, and I think they might just be onto something.
Search for recommendations on the best restaurants and special diet options if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. As a travel RN, make the most of these moments in transit by carrying out this important research to avoid a headache later. Think about it. Even if you find just two good restaurants, you’ll be sorted for the often turbulent first few days in a new town or city. I’m sure the owners of those two restaurants will love having you as a repeat customer – breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
Take Your Own Snacks
This is painstakingly obvious but often overlooked in the chaos of packing for your trip. Taking the time to plan and prepare healthy portable snacks at home and throwing into your hand luggage is the perfect way to set foot on your travels. Think of cacao energy balls, homemade muesli bars, or high protein options. Protein is the key to keeping fuller for longer and removing the temptation to buy overpriced airline food. I’ve even noticed some budget airlines charging more than eight times the price of supermarket items!
Take Your Own Supplements
While most of your nutritional needs should come from fresh, whole foods, they’re not always available when you’re on the go. While traveling, I’ve always topped up my daily intake of vitamins and minerals through supplement form. You can get your supplements at a health store or from reputable online distributors, such as Zen Spirit. Some of my staple supplements are:
- Multivitamin – once a day supplement covers all bases
- Vitamin C – to keep immunity in check
- Chlorophyll or spirulina – supports all round glowing health and a healthy digestive system
- Vitamin B Complex – especially vital if you’re a vegetarian or vegan as vitamin Bs are mostly animal derived
- Matcha green tea – A powerful dose of antioxidants. I’ve even gone so far as buying empty gel capsules and filling my own on-the-go matcha supplement! You can do this with any powdered superfood.
When you’re on a travel RN assignment and you reach the end of a tiresome day, you can be confident that you’ve bumped up your mineral intake.
Find Out Where The Locals Shop
This is important, especially if you’ve traveled to a country where tourism is booming. There’s just so many tourist traps when it comes to dining out and often prices are dramatically inflated. Kick back in a local café and people watch for a bit. Try to pick up on the eating habits of the locals versus the tourists, as I guarantee you they will be vastly different.
You can even ask some locals where the fresh food markets are and prepare your own meals. This will save you mega bucks as a travel nurse, and ensure that you’re getting the freshest varieties of all the local delicacies.
You’re allowed to let some habits slide, provided your overall eating habits while traveling veer towards the healthy side. You’ll notice a huge improvement in your overall energy when you dedicate time to selecting the right nutritionally dense foods. This will set you up for a much more enjoyable time away from home on your next travel nurse assignment.