This past summer, my husband, our two kids and I, enjoyed a family vacation in western Canada, including parts of Alberta and British Columbia. We flew from Toronto to Calgary, where we rented a car, and after spending three days visiting with family and site seeing in Calgary, we started our route, which took us through Drumheller, Cochrane, Sunshine Village, Banff and Lake Louise, Alberta, then on into British Columbia stopping in Golden, Kelowna, Parksville and Vancouver, where we then flew back home to Toronto. It was a 10-day whirlwind of a trip packed with stunning scenery, beautiful hikes and bike rides, fresh air, and lots of family adventures and laughs.
We also enjoyed a lot of eating out, trying local cuisine, and not having to cook. All of that is great on vacation....for a little while. But, eventually, you also want some healthier options, something homemade, or just some simple fruits and vegetables. Don't get me wrong, eating out can definitely be healthy when you make the right choices. However, it may not always be affordable.
So, if you are heading out on vacation anytime soon, here are my top 5 tips for affordable healthy snacking and maintaining healthy snacks habits for you and your little ones (or bigger ones) while on a family vacation:
Prepare and plan ahead. My family may laugh at me, but a section of my suitcase is reserved for healthy snacks that I can bring from home. If you can, pack things like nuts/seeds, dried no-sugar added fruit or fruit bars, healthy minimal ingredient protein/energy bars, or any other homemade nutritious snacks that do not need to be refrigerated and will survive the trip in your suitcase.
Shop at the local grocery store. We did this a couple of times on our trip and it worked out really well - our kids (and us!) were actually excited to pick and choose things that weren't on a menu. Most grocery stores have a good section of prepared snacks or meals that are much healthier than what you would find in a restaurant. Try to choose things like
fruit and veggie cups, hummus, nuts, yogurt and granola, salads (with dressing on the side, if possible), pre-cooked chicken slices, and whole grain bread and/or bagels and sandwich meat. But, try to stay away from items such as prepackaged cookies and crackers high in added sugars, oils and other additives, hot prepared foods that are breaded and/or fried, and chips or other salty snacks.
Stop at local fruit and vegetable stands. Depending on where and when you travel, local fruit and veggie stands may be plentiful along your routes, and are a great way to stock up on healthy snacks for the road. There's nothing like fresh, in season produce when you're hungry and to keep the kids quiet in the back seat!
Take advantage of the complimentary hotel breakfast bar. Now, by this, of course I don't mean stuff your pockets full of all the breakfast items before you head out for the day. After you've enjoyed your breakfast, focus on the healthier items, and grab an extra apple, banana or yogurt cup, something that's portable and will keep well until snack or lunch time.
Enjoy the hospitality of your relatives. If you are lucky enough to be staying with relatives for part or all of your vacation, let them feed you! We stayed with relatives in Calgary and on Vancouver Island in Parksville, and they were all so generous about making sure we were not only well-fed, but also well stocked up with healthy snacks and/or lunch when were were heading out on a day trip. So, if you can, stay with relatives, enjoy their generosity, and return the favours by offering to help cook, clean up after meals, or give them a nice bottle of wine as a thank you.
Stick to all or a few of these tips and you will have a healthy, happy vacation, without the difficulty of getting back into your healthy habits when you return home. Happy, healthy travels!