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Health-conscious tips for the summer traveler

The team at Jeca Energy Bars absolutely loves to travel.

Exploring new cities and cultures? We’re there.

Hiking and camping amidst the wonders of the natural world? Sign us up.

But the truth is that every amazing journey comes with its challenges. That’s particularly true for those who work hard to build health-conscious routines and behaviors – all of which can get disrupted amidst the hustle and bustle of summer travel.

The logistical hurdles alone can be daunting when you’re outside of your own routine, away from your own community and consumed with things like packing/unpacking and getting to the bus/train/airport on time. Then there are the hard questions: do you really want to exercise when you’re supposed to be relaxing? How principled should you be about nutrition when eating is half the fun?

It's a lot! But the good news is you’re not alone in considering these questions, and we’d like to offer some thoughts based on our own experiences.


The airplane conundrum

The problem with flying is that it’s not the fun part, and so when planning, travelers tend to skip it in their preoccupation with the final destination. But we encourage you to slow down just a minute and think about all the steps ahead – getting to the airport, clawing your way through multiple lines, waiting to board and then the flight itself. If that’s not enough, you to contend with the entire process in reverse when you land.

It’s a lengthy, tiring and sometimes arduous experience. And we’re pointing this out because it’s crucial to plan ahead, so that you’re not stuck at the whims of overpriced and terrible food in airport and on planes.

We’d encourage you to think of this experience in terms of energy. Since we know it’s going to demand a lot from you, try and remember to give yourself an appropriate supply. That’s a general nutritional rule, but it’s even more important to keep in mind while in transit. Plan for meals that are easy to eat, can be packed into travel-friendly containers and don’t need to be cooled. Go deeper on airplane meal-planning


The woods part I (hiking) 

We’ve got good news. This section does not involve compromise. You don’t need to ask yourself deep (dark?) questions about appetizers and desserts. You don’t need to consider a bag of overpriced Doritos from the airport convenience store. What we’re saying is that you’re doing one of the most elemental and wonderful things a human can do – you’re walking in nature.

But that doesn’t mean it’s time to forget about the principles of health and nutrition. Hiking can be an exhausting pastime, especially when you’re on a multi-mile, multi-hour trek and especiallywhen that involves hilly or mountainous terrain. We encourage you to bring and drink a lot of water in such experiences, and also to consume small healthy snacks that can continue to support your exertion. Check out this article for more specific recommendations on hiking snacks.

If you’ll allow us to personalize the story for a second, Jeca Energy Bars founder and CEO Ree Dolnick once went on a wilderness hike with her family in California. The group zigged when they should have zagged, took a Ralph when they should have hung a Louie, bobbed when they should have weaved…they got lost. It took them more than five hours to complete what should have been a three-mile hike, and we’re made to understand there were many tenuous moments therein. Related: a few of the travelers had even skipped breakfast. What do you think they survived on? Yes, our bars. We’re not trying to brag. We’re just explaining how we save people’s lives.


The woods part II (camping) 

The tents are pitched and you’ve got a bed of simmering charcoal in the firepit, just waiting for that first set of burgers and dogs. With some chips and dip on the side. Followed up by a smore. And possibly (probably?) beer.

Think enough is enough? You may not be ready for the cascade of pretzels, candy and treats that have yet to come your way. For many normally-health-conscious people, the rules of nutrition fly out of the window during camping. So, if you’re the type to need a break between sugar and cheap carbs, you better take it upon yourself to be prepared.

We like to think of camping as an opportunity in the food space. With the fire pit, you’re going to have a source of heat, and there is a lot of creativity that goes into how to use that. Char-grilling proteins and then eating them while they’re still steaming is an amazing experience, but you can also skewer up a bunch of vegetables as a side. You can wrap corn in foil and grill it right on the coals. You can bring a cast iron skillet and make omelets in the morning.

What we’re saying here is that camping nutrition is about perspective, and when you decide to get proactive, you can churn out meals that are both delicious and balanced. Looking for more food ideas for camping? Try this article


Bringing perspective to the great unknown

So you’re making like Elsa and considering the great unknown – or in this case, foreign communities and cultures where people have different lifestyles. This is a wonderful opportunity to experience new cuisines, but it’s also something that requires preparation. One simple example – some European countries have food cultures centered around late-afternoon or early-evening meals. Multiple courses are served, with people eating slowly and prioritizing socialization. That’s a huge adjustment from the American restaurant paradigm, where people often eat quite late in the day and tear into their food with the delicacy of a starved piranha.

At the very least, we would recommend doing deep web-based research on the food culture in any foreign place you’re visiting. It might even be ideal to travel with someone who has experience in those cultures and can familiarize you with foreign cuisines. Tips for eating safely on an international trip.


Keep the fundamentals in mind

We hate to be cliché, but your food is your mood. That doesn’t change just because you’ve switched up the setting. This our way of reminding you that hydration, gastrointestinal diversity, and fresh, natural ingredients are going to be a part of your overall vacation enjoyment quotient. We’re not telling you to go to Barcelona and only eat broccoli. We are telling you that there’s no denying the interconnection between your nutrition and your well-being, so you might as well build some time into your time off to recharge with healthy habits. And if you’re looking for more insight into Jeca’s nutritional ethos, we dive into that subject in this blog.

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