Snacks are an essential part of travel. They keep hunger — and impulsive, hanger-driven decisions — at bay, sustaining long days on the road (or on your feet). They also offer a tiny piece of home, whether it's the familiarity of a pack of peanut M&Ms when you're in a foreign country or the knowledge that you've got your go-to granola handy for breakfast.
With snacks and travel on our mind this month, we reached out to five road warriors, people who are away from home as often as not. They've got snacking down to a science — and they're sharing their tried-and-true tips.
Freelance writer Jen Murphy is all over the map — literally. A former editor at AFAR and Food & Wine, Jen has already visited over 12 countries this year alone, both to chase assignments and for her own pleasure, and she says she's on the road as often as two to three weeks a month.
How does she do it? Jen's recipe for success is one part talent, one part organization, and a heaping handful of trail mix. ("I'm a freak about trail mix," Jen says.) We spoke with the quick-witted writer to learn her tips for fueling up for the day when you're on the go.
Jen's Snacking Tips
1. Keep it simple.
"It's really hard to mess up simple, fresh food," Jen says. That's why she packs fresh fruit and Kind bars for the car and simple sandwiches and salads for long plane trips. "I don't look at the plane as the place to have the most epic gourmet meal."
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2. If it doesn't belong, don't eat it.
According to Jen, the foods that you generally don't associate with gas stations or convenience stores are probably the ones you should steer clear of eating there. "I'm not going to go to the gas station ... and order some crazy soba noodle bowl, or something that just shouldn't be served there," she says.
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The same goes for airplane food. "Curry at that high of an altitude when you're flying that long sounds like a horrible idea," she says. "If airplanes just served simpler food rather than trying to do gourmet food, I think everyone would be a lot happier."
3. Don't overeat.
"I try not to have a lot of food in my stomach because when you're up that high, it just does not work well for your digestion," Jen says. She adds that keeping her eating to a minimum helps keep her on a time schedule: "When I land in London, I want to be hungry for breakfast."
4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Jen is vigilant about bringing her own seltzer on car trips. In the air, she doubles down on water, too. "I'm not scared to ask the stewardess to give me a whole big bottle of water because I'll warn her she's going to have to keep filling up my cup every five minutes," she says.
5. Resupply upon arrival.
You should be able to pack enough snacks to get you to your destination, but once you arrive, you'll need to replenish your supplies. Jen relies on fitness concierges like WellAware. "The London-based company delivers a healthy snack box from Detox Kitchen to your room," Jen says. "It was awesome. Mine had a green juice, ginger shot, raw cashews, and beet hummus with veggies." It's also always a good idea (and a fun glimpse into the local culture) to visit a grocery store to get some basics, like water, fruit, and nuts.
6. Always travel with trail mix.
As mentioned previously, Jen is serious about her trail mix. It's safe to say she never leaves home without it. "I usually do a mix of almonds, pistachios, dried cherries, white chocolate, dark chocolate chunks, and some shredded coconut," she says. "Another go-to is cashews, almonds, dark chocolate, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries — and I always use unsalted nuts when possible."
Looking for more inspiration? Here are a few of our favorite combinations.
What's in your trail mix? Share in the comments!