Finding Balance While Traveling + My Denver Picks
This post was written from the air on my way to Denver, CO to visit my sister for a long weekend. I had the best time exploring a new city, taking in the natural beauty of the state, and checking out the food scene!
I was inspired to write this post as I had about an hour to kill waiting to board my plane at LaGuardia Airport. The security line was surprisingly non-existent, so I spent my time floating around the terminal and checking out the food options. Even though I was in a small, probably older terminal, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of healthy options I found. I found a hot oatmeal bar at Au Bon Pain for breakfast! I added slivered almonds, some chocolate chips, and a packet of Artisana almond butter + a banana I brought from home. If you happened to look at my Instagram stories that morning, I highlighted a few nutritious options that were available. These included Siggi’s yogurts, 88 Acres granola bars, packets of hard boiled eggs, unsweetened matcha tea, and bananas.
After this experience, I wanted to address a problem I think many of us face, which is – “How do I eat healthy while travelling?” Over the years, I’ve come up with some pointers that help keep me on track, and I would love to share them with you!
• Pack healthy snacks. This is likely the simplest way to plan ahead for travel. Making sure you have nutritious snacks on hand is essential for when hunger strikes on the road (or in the air). This also extends beyond just “snacks”, as I like to pack non-perishable options that can make a meal. Here are some of my favorite choices:
• Bars: RX Bar, Square Bars (20% off with code DAISYBEET), 88 Acres, and The Yes Bar are some of my favorites.
• Fresh Fruit: Apples, bananas, pears, and oranges are all easy to pack and don’t need to be refrigerated en route.
• Trail Mix/Mixed Nuts: The perfect salty treat to satisfy the munchies. Look out for added sugars and excessive sodium in your trail mixes (Most dried fruits contain added sugars, and try to limit sodium to <140 mg per serving). I also recommend making your own trail mix! You can get so creative with healthy add-ins. I like unsalted almonds and cashews, unsweetened coconut chips, pepitas, popcorn, and maybe some dark chocolate chips.
• Nut Butter Packets: So many great nut butter companies sell individual serving packets these days. These are great to add to fresh fruit for a protein-packed snack, or to oatmeal to make it more filling.
• Oatmeal Packets: Plain oatmeal packets are so easy to pack, and all you need is some hot water in your hotel room for a quick breakfast! You can add some fresh fruit, nuts, and a nut butter pack for a really satisfying meal. I’ve even been known to pack a cinnamon spice shaker – optional, but definitely recommended.
• Salba Chia Chia Seed Packets: Another easy, portable way to add a boost of nutrition to hotel oatmeal, or oats you make yourself.
• Prepare something portable the night before. If you’re really unsure of the food situation where you’ll be travelling, preparing something easy the night before to take with you can be so helpful. Here are some ideas:
• Bake a sweet potato, add some nut butter, cinnamon and granola and put it in a small Tupperware. If you find your favorite yogurt at the airport, you can have a really delicious sweet potato yogurt bowl!
• Hard boiled eggs are easy to transport – just make sure you consume them within ~2 hours of taking them out of the fridge.
• Make a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread. Healthy fats, protein, and complex carbs make for a delicious and filling meal on the go that does not require refrigeration.
• Research the restaurant and grocery store scene at your destination. I love to spend some time looking up restaurants in my destination! Checking out the local food scene is one of my favorite parts of traveling. Mostly all restaurants have their menus available online, so you can see the available options before you go. It is also helpful to see which grocery stores are in the area. If there is a Whole Foods, you’re bound to get lucky with a classic brown box meal when you want a quick, inexpensive lunch or dinner.
• Make exercise fun. When I travel, I still love to start my day with some movement if I am able. Running is one of my favorite ways to explore a new area. It allows you to see more on foot than you would by walking. If running is not your thing, by all means, walk! I love to walk anywhere, especially in a new city. I also sometimes do a quick cardio/bodyweight workout if my hotel has a gym. Kayla Itsines has some great workouts that do not require much equipment. In addition, it’s so fun to check out local workout studios! I love talking to people in the health and wellness community, and this does not stop because I am traveling.
• Explore the local delicacies. One of the best parts of traveling is that it allows you to stray from your routine. I encourage you to try new things, and don’t be afraid to indulge! Variety and new experiences make life memorable, so don’t pass up on The World’s Best Donut because it strays from your usual eating pattern. One way I like to find this balance in my own life is by filling up on all the nutritious foods I love during breakfast and lunch (think oatmeal, fresh fruit, big salads, lean protein, veggie packed omelets) and not worrying about how “healthy” dinner is. Knowing I’ve already nourished my body with these healthy foods helps eliminate any guilt, and adds to the excitement of trying new things (which may be vegetables, or may be French fries and pizza). And of course, I always leave room for dessert.
My Denver Picks:
Denver and the surrounding area exceeded my expectations. I had an incredible time exploring the city and mountains, getting outdoors, and (of course) eating delicious food! Here are some of the highlights from my trip:
- Garden of The Gods, Colorado Springs: This was a fantastic park about an hours drive from Denver. There are towering red rock formations that you can hike around and take in the beautiful colors of the landscape. This was a great destination for those who don't want a strenuous hike, but still want breathtaking views. We spent about an hour wandering around and taking everything in.
- Red Rocks Amphitheater: Truly a sight to behold! I didn't get to see a show here, but went late one morning for the views and a quick workout. During the day, Red Rocks is a fitness lover's dream. People were running up and down the stadium stairs, doing planks and tricep dips, and walking their dogs. I would love to come back someday for their summer yoga events. It really is incredible!
- Guanella Pass: After our Red Rocks excursion, we drove into the mountains and went up 11,000 feet to Guanella Pass. The temperature dropped about 20 degrees, and there was already snow on the ground! On our drive up, my sister and her boyfriend told us all about the camping scene here, and I learned about tree line. The summit felt like a different world! We were too cold to stay long, but it was so vast, beautiful and unlike anything I'll ever get in NYC.
- Boulder, CO: We spent an afternoon wandering Pearl Street in Boulder. It's about 40 minutes driving from Denver, and the cutest town ever! Pearl Street is the main area, and it is lined with beautiful boutiques, outerwear shops, art stores, restaurants and coffee shops. I definitely need to spend more time here.
- Red Rocks: As I mentioned above, Red Rocks is worth the drive to get in your workout. You'll be surrounded by likeminded people to inspire you, and the views are breathtaking.
- Trail Runs: My sister's boyfriend took me on a trail run in Boulder one morning, and it was incredible. There are countless routes in the area, but the one we did was called Sunshine Lion's Lair Loop on Mount Sanitas. It was such a challenge, and felt SO different from my usual flat road runs in NYC. I could have run forever!
- CorePower Yoga: One of my recent favorite yoga spots has many locations in Colorado! I took a Yoga Sculpt Class one morning, and it was the perfect way to start the day.
- Barre3: I met my friend here after flying in for a class and lunch. It was the best way to stretch and move after sitting on a plane, and the employees were so welcoming.
- Sushi Den: Who knew you could get some of the best sushi in a landlocked state? Sushi Den ships in fresh fish from Japan daily, so the quality is very high. The menu is extensive and super creative, and I would eat there every day if I could! What to get: Japanese eggplant (seriously amazing), toro sashimi, shitake salad, miso soup, and miso black cod.
- Acorn: This seasonal eatery is located in a more industrial part of town, inside the coolest building called The Source. The building houses cute shops and markets, as well as Acorn. The plates are small and meant to be shared. What to get: kale and apple salad, coal roasted beets, yams, and gnocchi. Also - ask for bread at the start of the meal. It was excellent.
- True Food Kitchen: I was so excited to finally try True Food Kitchen! It did not disappoint, and we had a wonderful dinner here. What to get: Seasonal salad with salmon, fish tacos, the burger, the squash pie, and the flourless chocolate cake.
- Shuga's: Shuga's is a casual diner in Colorado Springs with a Mediterranean flair. My sister loves to come here whenever she is in the area. It has a retro vibe, and the service is very friendly. What to get: spicy coconut shrimp soup, the nicoise salad, and the bruschettas.
- Poke City: This was a fast, delicious, and healthy lunch stop! You can build your own poke bowl with a base of grains or salad, and the toppings are basically unlimited.
- Zeal: We ate at Zeal in Boulder before heading off to the airport. They have tons of salads, sandwiches, and bowl options, as well as fresh juices. What to get: Build your own bowl with toppings of choice and coconut curry sauce.
I hope these tips help eliminate any anxiety you face when traveling! I know staying healthy is a huge priority to a lot of you, and I understand that. Eating healthy and exercising gives me so much energy, happiness, and a positive outlook for the day. I love to extend this when I travel, but I also don’t forget to try new things. What are your favorite ways to find balance when you travel?