Tips On Road Trip Snack Ideas For The Health-Conscious Traveler

Tips On Road Trip Snack Ideas For The Health-Conscious Traveler

Road trip snack ideas can range from easy things you can buy at a gas station to healthy, prepared meals from your favorite grocery store!

Alas, it seems the road trip part of my journey is coming to an end soon. My plan was to be in the States for a few months and head abroad by this January – and that plan may be slightly edited soon (more to come on that later!). That said, I asked around for a few ideas from people on things they’d like to read about my travels so far. A question that came up a few times was, “well, what do you eat?”

As a vegan and an otherwise health-conscious traveler, this was something I struggled with before I left: how was I going to keep being healthy if I didn’t have a kitchen or a place to cook most of the time? Well, I needn’t have worried because most airBNB’s do offer use of their kitchens and cooking equipment, but I’m still not much of a cook! And what about those long hours on the road? Well, I can’t starve, so I had to think of a good plan! Here, I’ll tell you all about how I manage my road-trip eating and give you some tips for snack ideas!

First thing’s first: buy a Polar Pack or other flexible cooler.

Before I left, I bought a pink flower Polar Pack (so SUE ME for wanting to have pretty things!) and packed it full of some essentials (which I’ll tell you about below). You can buy something easy and cheap, like this food tote. The critical thing is this: you won’t always have a kitchen or grocery store or even sometimes gas station available to you, so you should keep a bunch of things you love handy.

Then: find some travel silverware and a few small Tupperware containers.

Luckily, a close friend gave me a travel silverware kit but you can find them anywhere (hello Amazon to the rescue, as usual). I didn’t think I’d use it very much but I seriously use it ALL the time. It’s so much nicer and more eco-friendly than using plastic silverware everywhere I go. When I’m not at a place with a sink, I rinse the silverware with my water bottle and put it in a small mesh bag that goes in my cooler (I’ve already talked about how much I love Uxcell bags).

Also: get a WATER BOTTLE (or two).

You need a water bottle. This cannot be overstated. You might need two. I, in fact, have three. I have a giant Nalgene, a clippable stainless steel one, and a collapsible one. They have all come in handy in multiple ways on this trip. And I’m hydrated! Before I leave any destination, I fill up all three water bottles (and I have giant gallon jugs of water in my trunk for emergencies).

So, what do I pack in my cooler?

I’m going to preface this by saying I’m a bit of a freak, and so I like to eat weird combinations of things. Please don’t judge me (or do, but do it silently). Luckily for me, a lot of the stuff I like to eat can do with just an ice pack and easily goes on my travels. This is what normally goes in my cooler:

1. Cans of chickpeas (and a travel can opener)

Okay, yes, it’s one of my favorite things to eat chickpeas plain. I don’t know what this says about me. But luckily, canned foods are great for traveling. Usually, I rinse off the chickpeas as best as I can with some water and then dump them into a tupperware container and eat them plain. I’m not saying this is for everyone – but it works for me!

2. Bread

A staple. I can either eat this plain (when I need a quick hit of carbs and don’t want to stop anywhere) or I can stop by the side of the road and combine it with my other trusty friend…

3. Peanut butter (and jelly)

Of course! This is also an absolute must. Yes, it’s not the best, but it’s easy, it’s calorically dense, and it’s vegan. I will also sometimes literally stick a spoon in peanut butter and eat it plain on my way out of a hotel in the morning after a cup of coffee. It sounds weird, sure, but when you’re traveling sometimes you just need to ingest calories and fat quickly and be on your way. Jelly I won’t eat plain, cuz, well, ew, but I keep it with me for the sandwiches.

4. Sunflower seeds

VERY salty and very delicious. They also, weirdly, help keep you awake. I don’t know if it’s the salt or continually going back and forth to the bag or what. You can also get them in weird flavors, like dill pickle, which is boss.

5. Luna bars

Some Luna bars are vegan, and those are the ones I buy to keep with me. I don’t eat them very often, because I feel like they pack a lot of caloric punch for such a tiny little bar that doesn’t fill me up in anyway, but I don’t feel comfortable unless I have some with me at all times. You never know when you’ll end up on a long-ass state highway with nothing in sight for miles.

6. Dried fruit

I’m a fan of dried apricots, myself, despite that they are kind of disgusting for you. But this, like some of the other things on my list, is a quick hit of sugar and energy when I need it. I also work out a LOT, even while traveling, so a lot of the things on this list are designed to give me quick and easy calories.

7. Ground coffee

Don’t judge me. I love coffee so much that I bought a travel French press mug (this is the exact one I bought and love). I know in an ideal French press situation the coffee is supposed to be ground at the time of brewing, but I don’t have the time for that, ever. So I buy coarsely ground coffee, put it in the bottom of the mug, find hot water where I can at gas stations or hotels or whatever and brew my coffee in my mug. It’s one of my favorite purchases!

And here’s what I buy when/where I can:

1. Pickles

They generally need to be refrigerated so I don’t keep them with me. My two favorite sandwiches are: pickles and peanut butter & pickles and hummus. I also just like to eat them out of the bottle.

2. Hummus (and carrots, usually)

Of course! Hummus goes on my pickle-and-hummus sandwiches and it’s great for dipping carrots or other veggies in. Also, though, needs to be refrigerated so I buy it where I can and don’t keep it with me.

3. Lemon juice

This goes on the chickpeas. Yes, I love plain chickpeas but chickpeas drizzled with a bit of lemon juice (and sometimes mixed with chopped carrots and pepper) – one of my favorite fucking meals ever.

4. Fresh fruit & veggies

A no brainer! I can’t travel with fresh fruit most of the time (occasionally apples, bananas) so I buy things like pineapple and peaches when I get the chance. I love fruit so whenever I am in a city for longer than a day, I’ll get some. I also do peanut butter and banana sandwiches, so that’s another one of my faves.

5. Salad ingredients and salad dressing

A simple, easy meal to make in an airBNB. I normally buy the prepacked “salad kid=ts” at Trader Joe’s or whatever grocery store I’m in so I don’t have to buy a bunch of different veggies and waste them. A bit of salad dressing (oil-based, not dairy) and I’m good to go.

6. Prepared meals at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s

Oh Trader Joe’s tofu spring rolls, why can’t I quit you? Sure, these things can get a bit expensive, but they are less expensive than eating at restaurants and perfect for when I want a pick-me-up. Things I love include: aforementioned spring rolls, TJ’s hummus rollups, Whole Foods veggie sushi.

7. Cold vegan specialty goods

It’s weird considering I didn’t used to like processed vegan food, but I love Tofurky veggie dogs. Unfortunately, they also need to be kept cold, so I can’t travel with them. I also love Beyond Meat chicken strips and when I can, I’ll buy a little thing of Vegenaise for some sandwich making!

There you have it. This is how I manage a full-time road trip while trying to remain (mostly) healthy. No potato chips or soda or any garbage like that.

Hopefully you haven’t judged me too much by my weird food combinations, but here’s a tip: don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!

Tips To Find Fun Things To Do For Free While Traveling

Tips To Find Fun Things To Do For Free While Traveling

Think you can’t come up with lots of cool, fun things to do for free while you’re traveling? I thought so, too, before I started this trip, but then I realized that the best activities are the free ones. Now, before you roll your eyes, hear me out: often, it costs money to do man-made indoor things. Seeing concerts, attending art shows, paying high admission to man-made attractions: these are all things that can suck up your money. Often, the free or relatively cheap things to do involve having experiences, talking to people, and getting out and doing some research. Below, I’ll walk you through some fun things to do for free that I’ve found exist in almost every city.

1. Stroll through outdoor art venues

Most big cities have art districts, where there are streets lined with galleries on either side. In these art districts, it’s very common to see lots of sculptures up for display outdoors. Sure, if you want to, you can pay a small amount to get into the galleries, but you don’t have to. Just strolling through the artsy areas of the cities will be enough to give you a great experience. Even in smaller cities, if there are not designated art venues, there are often pieces of outdoor art you can find with a bit of research. You’ll get to see something cool, take some pictures, and not spend any money!

2. Visit beaches and parks

A no-brainer in most tropical destinations in the world, beaches are usually totally free and open to the public. Even in non-tropical destinations, however, travelers often forget about the vast array of outdoor activities there are to do! I’m guilty of this myself, but whenever I meet up with locals in the cities I’m in, they are often eager to tell me first about the beautiful outdoor recreational activities. Some parks or beaches have a small parking fee, if you are driving, but other than that, you can go spend an entire day exploring the gorgeous outdoors!

3. Visit historic cathedrals and other famous architecture

One of my favorite things to do – even in my hometowns – is to stroll through the historic part of the downtown area and look at the original buildings. Some, of course, will be set up as tourist attractions and will charge an admission fee – you can skip those! There are plenty of historic buildings – like cathedrals, for example – in cities all across the States and abroad that are totally free of charge. Go in and wander to your heart’s content.

4. Check out the markets

Some cities, like Charleston, have famous markets that go for what seems like miles! Yes, there are a lot of people there looking to spend money on items, but you don’t have to be one of them. When I was in Charleston, I went to the historic Charleston Market twice – just to look around and see all the sights! Often, you can meet local vendors there and have really interesting conversations. You can also check out farmers markets and craft fairs.

5. Pick up a calendar for parades and local events

Okay, so you may have flown to New York City specifically to go see the touristy sites – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t ton to do around the city that’s totally free of charge – and it’s not just NYC! Most cities have community calendars that list things like parades, free shows, free gatherings of common interest and even free meals, sometimes. It takes a bit more research to find out what the locals are into, but it’s super worth it!

One of the most important things I think people can learn is that you don’t have to be rich to travel! Travel is a mind-broadening, enriching experience that I think everyone should participate in – it might take a little extra time to do the research to get out and see the world for free, and to find the most fun things to do for free – but when you do, you’ll be super glad you did!

Safety Tips For Women Traveling Alone

Safety Tips For Women Traveling Alone

I hate that we live in a world where articles about safety tips for women are necessary – but we do. I’ve been lucky enough to have really great experiences while traveling alone, or attending movies or shows alone, and I actually felt really safe in my entire 10 years of living in Manhattan. That said, now that I’m on the road, I’ve realized that there are a few key things to keep in mind as a solo female traveler. Check out my list, below, of some easy safety tips for women traveling alone.

1. Research where you are headed.

It’s not a good idea to drive or fly to a location totally blind about what to expect. If you don’t know what the lay of the land is supposed to look like, you’ll have no idea whether you’re in the right place when you arrive. Do some research so you’ll know exactly what type of place you are headed into – and even better, research the safest ways to travel and the safest places to stay long before you get there.

2. Travel during the day.

Although this isn’t always feasible with late-night flights and long drives, try to travel during the day as much as possible. When you’re driving, it can be really scary to stop for gas at a dark, almost abandoned gas station. When you’re flying, although the flight itself might be okay, arriving very late to a destination and trying to find your way can put you more at risk than you need to be.

3. Stay in touch (including a regular check-in).

Stay in touch with people you know and love – that includes Facebook, Twitter, the phone, Skype – anything and everything that may work for you. I did a post a few months back about how I planned to use the Find Friends app from Apple to let my family and friends keep tabs on me – that’s just one of the ways I’m keeping in touch with loved ones from home. Not only that – it’s a good idea to schedule a regular check-in with at least one or two close friends – this can mean a text every day or twice a day or a call once a day, or even a Facebook post at a set interval. If you don’t check-in at the set time, your family and/or friends know to touch base to make sure you’re okay.

4. Carry some kind of safety device (or several).

Pepper spray and a taser are my favorite safety resources, at least while I’m in the States. I know some women don’t like to carry tools like this, but for me, I feel a lot safer knowing I have a usable method of protection if I need it. The sound of the taser serves an added benefit of scaring away any stray dogs while I’m running (of which, there are plenty). Pick something (or several somethings) that work for you, and never go anywhere without it.

5. Get to know some locals.

It’s not only super fun, but getting to know some locals can be a great way to make sure you stay safe. Although you will be checking in with family and friends back home, it’s nice to have someone in the destination you are staying to rely on. Most travelers stay in one location for at least a few days, which is plenty of time to meet someone local on Couchsurfing or Meetup. You’ll make a new friend and feel a bit safer on your trip!

Remember, traveling alone as a female doesn’t have to be scary – it’s a great, enriching experience. Unfortunately, because we do live in a dangerous world, it’s important to stay alert and make sure you are looking out for your own safety – after all, you only have yourself to rely on!

Have you guys got any great safety tips for women traveling alone I missed? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!

Travel Tips: My Favorite Products (So Far!)

Travel Tips: My Favorite Products (So Far!)

In a previous post, I mentioned that I recently discovered a deep and long-lasting love for packing cubes. While I may sound nuts, I’ve also realized that there are several fabulous products I’ve bought while preparing for full-time traveling, and I wanted to share some of my (so far!) favorites with you.

1. Packing cubes

Clearly, I had to start with the new love of my life. Packing cubes are basically tiny nuggets of awesomeness. Ok, but seriously, they are just fabric cubes with zippers of different sizes that allow you to keep things within your bag organized. They can be used for clothes, or shoes, or miscellaneous items. For any kind of travel – not just long-term! – these are a must-have.

2. Microfiber towel

Microfiber towels are small, super-absorbent, quick-dry towels that many long-term and full-time travelers love. I bought a set with a larger bath towel and a smaller travel towel a few months ago, before I even decided to travel, to take to running events. In packing for my full-time travels, I decided to keep both – the small towel for me and the bigger one for Holly. If you are trying to avoid the weight of a normal towel (and avoid using someone else’s possibly germy towel where you are staying) go with a microfiber towel for your next trip.

3. Exfoliating washcloth

For a long while now, I’ve used Alba Botanica’s Acnedote exfoliating cleanser. I’ve loved it because it works really well, it doesn’t have any animal ingredients, and it isn’t tested on animals. That said, I needed something a little more travel friendly for my exfoliating needs – so I went with an exfoliating towel, and I love it! They are definitely a bit rough at first, but they soften up and then feel great on your skin!

4. Kindle

This one might be a bit of a “duh,” but I am really, really happy my Kindle is going on the road with me. I bought Kindle’s latest, the 7 inch Kindle Fire, and I’m obsessed with it. I can watch movies on it, or play games, or read, and it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg like some of the other tablets (actually, Amazon bought back my old Kindle so this one cost me a total of $28!). I was considering not taking it, but realized I would want to carry around a bunch of books with me if I didn’t! 😛

5. Mesh beauty bags

The mesh bags I bought, Uxcell Mesh Design bags, are meant for beauty products, but I have been using them for everything – I have one bag for make up, one for small chargers, one for hair accessories, and one for my thyroid medication, so far. They are great because they come in several different colors, so I color-coded what I’m keeping in the bags, and they help everything stay neat, without loose pieces flying around, in my backpack.

So far, these are the things I don’t think I could live without, on the road. I’m sure this list will continue to grow and get updated as I travel, so if you have any suggestions for great travel products, let me know in the comments!

5 Tips To Handle Life Change Well

5 Tips To Handle Life Change Well

I’ll start by admitting that I am by no means an expert on handling life change well, yet. I’m trying really, really hard to be, but it turns out that packing up and selling your entire life to travel full-time comes with its fair share of up and down emotions.

It’s not just full-time travel that can cause stress, though. Any big life change – like graduating, or getting married, or getting divorced, or having a baby – can cause everything to be thrown out of whack. Below, I go through a few tips I’ve learned throughout this process, so far. I’m still learning, though!

1. Know that you won’t be stable all the time.

I have already done a super-embarrassing YouTube video about how my emotions have been going up and down. In other times in my life, I’ve started worrying immediately if I didn’t feel “normal” and “stable” all the time. In this process, I’ve realized “normal” and “stable” are bullshit. It’s okay to feel unsteady as you prepare for a huge new life change and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

2. Let friends and loved ones help.

When people offer to come help you pack up, or help you drive things to the donation center, or let you stay with them – they mean it! Sure, it might not be the most fun thing in the world to accompany someone on their mundane preparation errands, but your friends are your friends for a reason, and if they’re asking if they can help you, they really want to help you. Let them. It can be very tempting to take the burden of this new life all upon yourself (“Well, I’m about to living alone full-time anyway…”) but don’t make that mistake. Not only will you appreciate the actual help, it’ll also be a great way for you to connect with friends and loved ones before you go.

3. Maintain your “peace and calm” routine, as much as possible.

My “peace and calm” routine (as I call it) involves getting up at five am, sitting around with a cup of tea and my puppy for a bit, lacing up and heading out the door for a 3-5 mile run, coming back and doing CrossFit and then starting my day. Sure, I take rest days and I don’t maintain this exact same routine every single day, but I try to stick to it as best as possible because I know I’m happiest when I do. I went through a period where I told myself I didn’t have time to keep running or CrossFitting as I was making these big life changes, but I quickly got out of that mindset. When you’re making any kind of big life change, remember to try to maintain as much of your routine as possible so that you continue to fuel your own “peace and calm.”

4. Let the little things make you happy.

It might sound nuts, but I have a bit of an obsession with water bottles and coffee mugs. For some reason, shopping for a water bottle or coffee mug has always made me happy. At some point, I realized this was a little weird, but right now, going through this life change, I’ve chosen to embrace it. As you know, I’m getting rid of my stuff, so buying more coffee mugs didn’t seem prudent, but I knew I did need a really good collapsible water bottle. So I just bought this nifty little water bottlethat folds right up! And it makes me happy, damn it! While you may not get the same sick pleasure of out water bottle and coffee mug shopping as I do, it’s important to remember that during times of big transitions, little things will make you really happy and you should let them!

5. Hydrate, get enough sleep, and practice self-care.

Don’t neglect the things that seem really basic: make sure you are getting enough calories (the good kinds of calories), make sure you are eating your vegetables and hydrating and sleeping enough. While it may sound like common sense advice, in all the excitement and activity of preparing for a new life, you might forget that you need to put yourself first. There’s no point in going through a huge life change just to be exhausted and worn out when you get to the other side! So make sure you continue to prioritize your health and happiness while you are going through your new journey.

I’m definitely trying to practice what I preach and trying to handle this change well as much as possible! Some days, I do really well and other days, I forget to eat or hydrate or I let myself get really stressed out. I’m trying not to sweat it though, because it’s a process, just like life. Let me know if you have any great tips on handling life change well in the comment box, below!

Image By: Richard Croft

Packing Tips For Long-Term Travel

Packing Tips For Long-Term Travel

In all my time of going back and forth to college and law school and traveling various places, I have been the person that ignored all of those “packing tips” lists. The internet is filled with packing tips for various needs: short-term travel, long-term travel, overnights, full-time travel, camping, backpacking. While that’s all well and good, packing sucks and I hate it. And therefore, I always avoided it and did it as inefficiently as possible. (I know, it makes so much sense.)

Even as a kid, whenever I needed to pack up and go somewhere, I would drag my feet until the last possible moment. To me, packing was an endless cycle of picking the things you wanted, trying to get them to fit, realizing they wouldn’t fit, needing to pare down, and starting the process over. I wasn’t exactly what you would call a “light packer.”

Luckily, I’ve learned something from those days, not the least of which is the following: let people who know more than you help you! Some of my favorite bloggers on this topic include The Professional Hobo and the Vagabrothers, and I have been voraciously scouring the internet for further tips from full-time travelers who have done this (a lot) before.

I’ve finally completed my packing list and packed everything in my Deuter Futura Vario 50 + 10 – just to test it out before I hit the road – and along the way, I realized a few of my own tips that I think could be helpful for long-term travelers. I wanted to get away from the annoying, inefficient cycle of packing I was in (without losing my mind), so if I can help you do that too, I’d love to!

1. Make lists.

Notice I didn’t say “make A list,” like one, singular, ride-or-die list. Nope – make a BUNCH of lists. I had a “To Pack” list, as well as a “To Buy,” list, as well as a “Maybe” list, among others. The initial list of things “To Pack” is immensely important just so you don’t forget anything. Barring that, however, you aren’t going to have everything you need (hence the “To Buy”) list and you are likely not even going to know what you really need until you get into actually packing process (hence the “Maybe” list). The key is to not try to keep all of this in your head – because you will be thinking about and dealing with a lot in the days preceding your travels – so the more organized you can be, the better!

2. Choose multi-use clothing options.

I will be training for two marathons in the months right after beginning my journey, so I am in the unique situation of needing to pack a bunch of running gear along with my regular, every day clothes. In order to deal with this and not create a load of extra laundry and wasted space, I decided just to use my “running” shirts as my “every day” shirts and follow a cycle where I throw on a running shirt with jeans, sleep in it (because tech shirts are cool and sweat wicking) and wake up early the next day and run in it, then toss it in the laundry. Repeat for six days until I need to wash my clothes. I ended up with two pairs of jeans, one pair of capris, six pairs of running bottoms (a mix of shorts and tights) and ten tops, eight of which are running tops. Although you may not be training for a marathon during your long-term travels, you do want to choose clothes that will be comfortable in a variety of situations.

3. Embrace the roll.

Not the pastry roll (although that sounds delicious, as well) – the clothing roll. Turns out, rolling your clothing up instead of folding it can maximize space utilization in your travel bag. And if you’re packing for long-term travel, you need all the extra space you can get! Rolling also helps clothes stay wrinkle-free (I know, I hate ironing, too) so it’s a good idea to get your rolling skills down pat.

4. Use products that are designed to help.

Hello, packing cubes, did I mention I love you? Packing cubes are this amazing, miracle of a product that help make your life easier by creating unique spaces for your things within your bag. I am using one large packing cube for my clothes, a slightly smaller packing cube for my shoes, and a slightly smaller one than that for medications for my dog. I am already obsessed with them, because they mean not having to unpack everything when you are looking for something specific. Packing cubes, along with other travel specific products like travel safes and passport wallets, were designed specifically to make your travel life so much easier. Use them!

5. Don’t take everything you think you might need, ever.

While this may sound counter-intuitive, it’s not the best idea to pack with the “well I might need this when…” thought. Instead, make do with what you have, create something out of what you have to fulfill your needs, or go without! If you try to pack to be perfectly prepared for every single situation, you would be carrying hundreds of pounds arounds – so better to go with the basic essentials that you will need on a day-to-day basis and figure out the rest as you go.

Packing for long-term travel can be a headache – or it can be really, really fun. Once I finally decided to start taking the advice of people that are much wiser than I am, and have much more experience, I really enjoyed the packing process!

Image By: Highways Agency