Eating while traveling

It’s been a busy few weeks for me- involving an election and two weekend trips. As a result it feels like the last 4 weeks have disappeared with the beautiful leaves here in Virginia. I want to talk a little bit about eating while traveling.

As someone who follows a pretty simple, ayurvedic diet (honestly most people would find my day to day diet pretty boring!) traveling can be a bit tough. On one hand, it can be wonderful to release the attachment to what I eat every day. It can be a joy to try new foods and explore a culture through meals. On the other hand, I can be stuck in towns with few fresh, vegetarian options. I can feel frustrated and left with digestive issues. What to do? As with most questions in Ayurveda, balance and flexibility are key. Remember, it’s not just what we eat, but how we eat it that matters.

Two examples form recent travels:

My first weekend away was a car trip to Upstate New York for a Coherent Breathing Teacher Training. I attended a similar weekend last year at the same location last year with my mom. I was left eating lettuce for lunch- not fun. This year I traveled with food. I felt a little crazy as I packed up daily portions of overnight oats and kichari, and even crazier when I put the rice cooker next to my yoga mat in the car. But during the weekend, I felt smart and prepared. More importantly, I was able to participate fully with a nourished self. Packing my food made sense because there were not a lot of options for cooked food during the day and dinners didn’t have vegetarian options.

The second weekend was this past weekend when I traveled to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico for an old friend’s wedding. Having visited the area before, I knew that there would be fresh, vegetarian food available. I also knew that I was meeting a friend and eating out, exploring the area through food would be part of the experience. I traveled with only my lunch for the first plane trip. Eating there was easy, I looked for options that favored cooked over raw, and fresh rather than processed. Was my diet ‘perfect’? No. But when is it ever? I had a wonderful time and because my food choices were guided, I felt pretty great the whole time.

Traveling can be stressful and vata aggravating. It can also be fun and relaxing. As we move away form dogma and absolutes in food and life choices, remember that there is no ‘right’ way to eat when you take a trip. Try to think ahead a little and keep in mind where you are during that time. Happy Travels!