No, not those kind of food fights. I’m talking about the simultaneous struggles to keep your waistline slim and your wallet fat while you travel. A little planning can help you win on both fronts.
Food and drink are major reasons why people travel abroad, but for health-conscious eaters, travel can be a minefield. What to do?
Well, if you do your homework, you may end up saving both coins and calories.
Before you go, find out what the locals eat that you can eat. Several regions have traditional diets healthier than ours, especially in the Mediterranean and Asia.
You might pick up on some tasty dishes and recipes that could lead you to have a better diet when you return home.
Eating in joints that cater to foreigners marks you as a tourist, which derives from the Latin word tourip, meaning “He who must be fleeced.” Go where the locals get their grub on. You’ll get some real “flavor,” and in more ways than one.
If you think the pasta in Rome, Italy tastes no different than it does in Rome, GA, you’d better brace yourself.
Still, you probably shouldn’t take all your meals in restaurants, especially in world capitals. A steady diet of big-city dining can leave your wallet on life support. Look for lodging whose location includes a decent grocery store or supermarket nearby, ideally within walking distance.
Healthy eats and exercise at the same time. Not bad.
When I first visited London, we stayed with friends in a couple of short-stay apartments in South Kensington that came with small but very functional kitchens.
With two supermarkets within a four-block walk — including a 24-hour Sainbury’s practically across the street from us — keeping provisioned was never a problem.
It soon became a routine. Breakfast and dinner “at home,” with lunch — always cheaper than dinner — while we were out walking around London.
Not renting a vacation apartment? These days, a lot of hotels and motels, especially the major chains, will put a small refrigerator and/or microwave oven in your room if you ask.
But it’s not just about your destination(s). Most airport food courts are a Murderers Row of overpriced fast-food joints.
Check the Web. Major airports have Web sites nowadays, and most list the eateries installed there. You can figure out if you can safely snack in the airport while you wait for your plane.
Speaking of planes, consider taking advantage of those special airline meals.
On long international flights, airlines offer a long list of special meals to meet passengers’ dietary or religious requirements. What’s more, the different religious meals may also fall within your diet, all of which gives you a lot more choices than the standard “beef or chicken?”
Not only do the airlines provide these meals at no extra charge, but passengers getting special meals get served first. The catch: You have to give the airline your order ahead of time, usually at least three days in advance.
But really, how hard is that?
With a little foresight, both your bank account and your bathroom scale may be a lot happier when you get home.
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