Eliminating carbs, sipping alkaline water, and eating carefully crafted sprout salads are feasible when working or playing within the curated comforts of home. However, the dietary stakes shift considerably when you often travel—frequently leaving you exposed to sugar-filled temptation at every port unless you approach the jet-setter life with a solid plan.
Meal prep, well-portioned meals, and environmental predictability play a significant role in weight-loss success when following a low-carb, high-fat diet. However, achieving a failsafe approach includes additional considerations when often on the go.
You know the soft pretzels and other ubiquitous fast-food outlets will attempt to lure you with their wafting smells of sugary or salty-and-fatty fare at every turn, so approaching travel with intention and loads of keto-friendly snacks stashed is a part of what's needed to stay on track while roaming freely about the country.
Exploring the nation and the world is a beautiful way to broaden perspectives, but we don't want to gain such enrichment at the cost of our well-being.
Fortunately, there's no need to choose between your wanderlust nature and your equally important commitment to eliminating simple carbs and sugars from your life. Non-perishable snacks, heat-and-eat keto meals, and sourcing the fooderies with the best low-carb fare on the menu contribute to successful trips that don't blow your caloric budget or months of hard work leading up to your excursion.
Our team is committed to helping you live the keto lifestyle in a way that's sustainable and enjoyable. So remember these crucial tips as you travel to keep carbs in check while consuming optimal nutrition to maintain energy and enjoying the tastes and sounds of your destination:
1 - Pack plenty of snacks. Whether your trip is lengthy or expectedly brief, it's wise to walk with a variety of sweet and savory snacks. Plus, carrying water or another sugar-free beverage is also smart, so the option you consume is premeditated and aligned with your sugar-free lifestyle.
Whether homemade snacks are your preference, or you'd rather tote some store-bought selections, there are many options to consider. Here are some of our favorite portable snack picks:
- Whisps: These crunchy cheese crisps are perfect for travel and are a wonderful low-carb alternative to chips. If your accommodations come with a refrigerator, pack along some single servings of guacamole for a delicious combo!
- Lily’s Chocolate: Lily’s makes a variety of indulgent sugar-free chocolate treats, such as chocolate bars, chocolate chips, peanut butter cups, and chocolate covered nuts. They offer a wide variety of flavors to choose from, including coconut dark chocolate and salted almond milk chocolate. Add a few tablespoons of their sugar-free chocolate chips to a mix of keto friendly nuts and seeds for an amazing low carb trail mix!
- Nüsh Foods: If chewy and delicious cookies are a favorite treat, you may want to take a look at this line of crafty cookies. Each serving delivers only a couple of net carbs but the flavors, like Banana Nut Cake or Raspberry and Cream Cake, are the perfect sweet pick-me-up while passing the time during a layover.
Schoolyard Snacks: If you've been missing Flaming Hots since you've eliminated simple carbs from your diet, you're in luck. Schoolyard Snacks recently released a keto version of cheese puffs in Fiery Hot, Cheddar Jalapeño, Sour Cream & Onion, Cheddar, and BBQ!
These snacks are reminiscent of classic favorites and are perfect to toss in your carry-on and munch on when a craving hits for something salty and crunchy.
- Chomps: These convenient meat sticks are made with beef, turkey, or even venison and are available in a variety of flavors, including Italian Style Beef or Jalapeno Turkey. They pack a good amount of protein, while keeping the carbs super low to help you stay feeling full.
2 - Book a Room with a Kitchen (at least a microwave): Many hotel rooms come complete with a fully functioning kitchen area or a fridge and microwave combo—either will help you keep it keto when out of town.
Pack a temperature-controlled food bag with portioned meals that you can keep chilled and then heat and eat at will. Or you can use your food tote to carry keto finger foods like Babybel cheese rounds and keto crackers or packs of crisp cucumbers with packets of nut butter. The use of a temp-controlled bag expands your food options in transit—enabling you to eat more fresh and living foods when away.
Plus, you can pop over to the local market in the area to grab a few essentials like eggs, cream, or fresh fruits and veggies to make everything from an overnight chia pudding parfait to a veggie scramble—via microwave if needed—in a flash.
Plus, packing handy cooking items like a slender non-stick camping pan or a standalone electric mini hotpot can also serve you well while traveling but wanting to recreate the nourishing dishes you're used to turning out in your home kitchen—even if a stove or microwave aren’t an option.
Also, having a refrigerator wherever you're staying lets you bring ready-to-drink shakes or powdered mixes, like Keto Shake, with you and add a milk of your choice to make a nutrient-dense meal in moments in a shaker cup or portable handheld blender.
3 - Pack your trainers and use them. Maintaining a healthy diet is imperative while traveling, but it's also essential to remain active and mindful of fitness.
Take some time each day and go for a brisk walk, or tap your favorite YouTube playlists to complete a wide variety of exercise routines via your laptop, tablet or phone.
Plus, resistance bands are easy to slide into your carry-on case. And coupled with calisthenics, using your body weight as resistance to get in an excellent workout, you can surely knock out an impressive sweat session no matter your location.
Also, having a refrigerator and heating tool handy can come in handy if your travels include dining out and you wind up with leftovers you'd like to revisit while refining proposals well into the evening.
Besides, the increased popularity of sites like Airbnb, VRBO, and private home rentals on Booking.com, make finding a place with a kitchen much simpler now than ever.
4 - Set a dietary goal for your trip. Having a plan to focus on is a fantastic way to achieve a target, whether limiting carb intake to a certain number of grams per day or completing a specific number of workouts a week. Likewise, while away from home—you're more likely to remain committed if you set clear dietary goals to complete by the end of your trip and log your intake daily to stay accountable.
Set daily goals for maximum structure, so you can check in with your progress each evening to stay laser-focused on making the most of being in a new environment, rather than letting the unfamiliar pose a roadblock to success.
5 - Stay connected with your support system for accountability. Reach out to a friend via text or call to share your food journals for the day. Knowing that someone else is counting on you to stay on track is an excellent form of motivation to stay laser-focused.
Are you plugged into the Konscious Keto group on Facebook? Is a relative or co-worker on a similar wellness or weight-loss journey, and can you partner to encourage one another? Our connections and checking in helps keep us accountable, especially when traveling, apart from the creature comforts and systems we enjoy at home.
6 - Bring a tangible keepsake of your motivation. It may be a picture of your goal-size dress or an image of a gorgeous locale you plan to venture to as a reward once you hit your wellness goals. Have something that you can touch, pull out and peruse or review online as a reminder of why you've chosen to change your lifestyle to help curb cravings to cheat if they arise during your travels.
Are you lowering your A1C to have more energy to chase your kids around and live healthy well into your latter years to make more precious memories? Want to run your first or next marathon and hit a new personal record? Or do you want to dazzle at an upcoming event, looking and feeling your best?
Whatever motivates you is a powerful personal tool to use to the fullest. Keep images of what you consider success present and visualize yourself once you've met your designated marks. Making yourself proud will likely loom heavily over any temptation to touch simple carbs and sugars once you've garnered a taste of success on keto.
7 - Share your nutritional needs with your travel mates before the trip. Most people are considerate and eager to support your healthy lifestyle changes if they know what they are and why those choices are essential to your well-being.
Navigating social situations can pose many opportunities for awkwardness and feeling outside of the norm. However, holding the bun or going heavy on the grass-fed butter is becoming more common as keto increases in popularity.
Now, we're not telling you to gnaw everyone's ear off about the benefits of keto and guilt them for not being where you are in your journey; that is rarely helpful to anyone. Instead, note your goal to limit carbs and keep the additional commentary to yourself, respectfully.
8 - Study your surroundings and plan accordingly. Does your destination offer lots of access to fresh, low-carb foods to grab throughout your stay? Conversely, will a lack of access to low-carb fare make it necessary to travel with more keto-friendly packaged foods?
It's essential to get a basic handle on the food sources located at your intended destination so you can select to dine at the most keto-friendly restaurants, identify low-carb items on any menu, or pick up some packaged and fresh foods at a market to stay on protocol.
9 - Find a keto option in any setting. Think cheeseburger sans bun or opt for a shell-less taco bowl that offers all the fixings without the added simple carbohydrates.
While a restaurant or food outlet may not offer keto-exclusive dishes, you can use the low-carb approach framework, avoid simple carbs and sugars, and make the best selection possible in any given situation.
10 - Check splurges immediately. It's one thing to have a cheat meal or a single splurge, but turning a moment into an unwise sequence of choices is what can derail your otherwise well-thought-out efforts.
Of course, overdoing it with pre-packaged keto foods isn't ideal as a daily practice. However, riding the line with sugar-free food is better aligned with your dietary commitment to cut the carbs than eating options sure to spike blood sugar when splurging on the road.
11 - Allow for more fat in your macros while out and about. Monitoring macros is wise while traveling, but restricting fat can backfire, leading to increased cravings and potential overeating—or reaching for those potato chips that you'd never give into otherwise.
Add an extra slice of avocado to your meal, or ask for chicken thigh meat and cheese when building your keto burrito bowl at your local venue. Fat satiates and helps you feel full and energized without the sugar crash associated with eating simple sugars and carbs.
12 - Vet restaurant venues thoroughly before venturing out. Again, it's possible to find something keto-friendly on most menus. Still, we suggest increasing your odds of success by checking out menus and nutritional information before arriving so you can easily fit the meal's macros into your daily budget.
Plus, deciding on your meal ahead removes any anxiety around failing to find a worthy option on the spot.
13 - Intentionally increase carb intake slightly. Some keto dieters elevate carbohydrate macronutrients in cycles, also known as a 'carb' up or a part of the cyclical approach to keto. This process helps some adhere to a low-carb lifestyle that supports intense activity, specific hormonal needs, or the demands of those who travel.
Consider raising your net carbs from 25g to 50g while away to loosen the reins a bit and accommodate for some of the unpredictability that comes with eating well away from home.
Also, while it's possible to lose weight while traveling, a more worthy goal may be to focus on eating as nutrient-dense a diet as possible while keeping carbs as low as you can until your return to home base.
14 - Eat mindfully. When venturing out, absorbing the sights and sounds of a new location is a priority, but don't let the excitement blur your hunger signals. Check-in with yourself and consider whether you're really hungry or rather curious to try a new appetizer or dessert.
Again, you may allow slightly more indulgence when traveling, but it's crucial to gauge why you're eating and to remain accountable to your commitment to improve up your diet as not to create a mess to clean up—coupled with feelings of regret—when the festivities end.
15 - Pack an emergency food kit. A few packets of perfectly portioned nuts and seeds or store-bought trail mixes are excellent items to add to your travel food stash.
Plus, walking with plain or flavored water or iced coffee or tea is a beautiful way to avoid the hidden sugars or subpar sweeteners often found in diet soda.
There are lots of non-perishable options to pack in your traveler's kit to ensure you have a solution for any craving:
- Keep chia seeds, flaxseed meal, or unsweetened coconut flakes around to sprinkle on your low-carb berries or sugar-free yogurt.
- Packets of nut butter become incredibly useful when on the move; they're excellent to pair with keto crackers or fresh stalks of celery.
- Keto-friendly protein bars can keep you satisfied and away from the limited and undoubtedly sugar-filled options at some random convenience store.
However, if your trip was to celebrate a significant birthday or other memorable milestone and to max out your caloric intake is virtually unavoidable to some degree, there are several ways to get back on track after a trip peppered with excess.
Here are a few tips to help you return to a more structured keto meal plan once you've touched back down in your home state:
- Start the week with meal prep to regain a firm grip on which foods you're eating and how much.
Step on the scale to assess the damage. Don't dwell on it if the number on the scale has risen after a week of feting. However, it's a good idea to note any changes on the scale to see where you are and track the results of your repentant efforts at the same time the following week.
- Track or weigh your food for a few days if you don't outright pre-portion your meals during meal prep to insert safeguards with minimal consideration at mealtime.
- Take a friend up on their invitation to go for a hike to burn some extra calories once back in town. Increasing physical fitness boosts ketone levels, encourages glucose store depletion, improves energy, and conditions your mind to make healthy choices for the rest of the day when you begin on the right foot.
Comprehensive planning, researching local restaurant menus, and packing low-carb foods and beverages are excellent methods to apply when traveling while following a keto diet. Using multiple tools to tip the dietary scales in your favor, literally and figuratively, are an ideal approach to achieve consistent success and maintain the protocol long-term.
Plus, as tastes evolve and market demands shift we see brands broadening their intersectional offerings to accommodate people with multiple considerations like seeking portable options that curb carbs and limit cholesterol and undesirable sweeteners.
Here are some clean, keto, plant-based snacks that are easy to cart with you wherever your destination as they’re shelf-stable and don’t require refrigeration:
- Better Bears makes a gummy line sweetened with stevia that’s plant-based, dairy-free, and each bag contains a mere 1g of sugar!
- Brami’s line of savory herbed lupini bean snacks are the perfect go-to when traveling; eat them atop a tasty salad in a jar or straight out of the packet in a pinch. Plus, these beans make for an amazing keto-conscious hummus dip to enjoy with crudite or in a low-carb wrap.
GimMe: Grab a packet of these sea vegetable snacks in sea salt, avocado oil, teriyaki, or wasabi for a tasty snack to pair with a dollop of Brami’s lupini-based dips for a fantastic portable snack rich in iodine and other essential minerals.
Plus, this great on-the-go option is gluten-free and certified organic.
- EVOLVED Keto Cups: Enjoy a few hazelnut-butter filled chocolate-covered cups with zero guilt! These sweet treats are infused with energy-boosting MCT oil, are coated in antioxidant rich dark chocolate and contain no alcohol sugars or artificial sweeteners.
Traveling always poses dietary considerations to the calorically conscious, but it’s easy to stay on track with your weight-loss and wellness efforts, even as you criss-cross the country.
Eat a small meal before departing so you’re not starting out on an empty stomach. Carry a variety of portioned snacks to nosh on as you see fit during your trip, and allow yourself some grace if you make a choice that departs from the stricter nature of your daily intake—it’s the things we do consistently that tip the scales in our favor.
Using some of the tips mentioned will help you remain in control while abroad and offer you a wide variety of options to keep you satisfied without any hassle since you’ve put in the thought and preparation ahead.
Having a well-conceived plan is always a primary and universal key to success.
- Eating well while traveling. (n.d.). Handbook of Sports Medicine and Science: Sports Nutrition, 154–160. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470757185.ch14