This past week I had the exciting opportunity to travel with my husband on a work trip to the beautiful city of San Diego. As it stands right now, I’m sitting in the Houston airport awaiting our final connection to fly home, and as I reflect upon our trip I have a few tips to share with you all from this AIP travel experience.
I love traveling. I don’t travel nearly as much as I’d like, but when I get the chance, I thoroughly enjoy it and tell myself to make a commitment to do more of this when offered the chance! However, as exciting of a destination as San Diego is, I was nervous about heading so far from home while still on phase I of the Autoimmune Protocol. The only foods I’d reintroduced were green beans, black pepper, and ghee. 😛
Here’s what I did to combat my fears and make the trip what I’d call a success:
Cook and freeze several meals that may travel well, and store in an eBags Crew Cooler II (right now it’s only $39, $10 off the usual $49!). I got this cooler tip from a comment on Phoenix Helix’s travel tip page and as it’s designed well for airline travel, I decided I should have it for my trip too! It can be a personal item or carry-on, and with my food and ice packs frozen solid, I had no problems getting through TSA.
I cooked the following meals, then froze them, to take with me:
- Against All Grain’s Meals Made Simple Ginger Chicken & Broccoli
- Autoimmune Paleo’s Sear-roasted Porkchops
- The Primitive Homemaker’s Herb & Coconut Crusted Chicken
- My own rendition of pork sausage (browned ground sausage, made into patties, and heavily seasoned with garlic powder and sea salt)
I was going to be gone 4 nights and about 5 days, and I actually believe I packed more food than I needed. Even at the last second, I took out a jar of frozen soup from my cooler, and I’m glad I did, because carrying the cooler through two airports can be taxing. However, I didn’t know what to expect and would have much rather had too much food than not enough! I’m actually coming home with some of my frozen food!
Stay at a hotel or place with a mini-kitchen or kitchenette. We stayed at a Residence Inn, which is designed for travelers on extended stays, so the kitchen had everything except an oven. I was able to reheat my food either on the stove or (gasp!) sometimes in the microwave.
Invest in tools that will make your trip easier. Just like getting the eBags Crew Cooler II, I also got a super simple and inexpensive mini-blender off Amazon for less than $15! As I’m working with a functional medicine doctor, there are still many supplements I take each day and several of them are powdered, which I add to coconut milk smoothies every morning. They are also very filling, and so it was a good idea to keep up this practice while I was on the road.
Research your destination for AIP-friendly eateries and grocery stores. Going to San Diego alleviated some of the concerns I had as I know Southern California is pretty hip to the real food scene. After we landed, our Uber driver (highly recommend! Use my code MeganC1149 if you’ve never tried uber before!) drove us to the closest Trader Joe’s, where I grabbed bananas, applesauce, coconut cream, canned salmon, and some dark chocolate (and trail mix for my husband). We basically participated in a supermarket sweep: see how fast you can run through Trader Joe’s buying the essentials while your driver waits in the car! I think our exact time was 8:02. 😉
I wasn’t able to find totally compliant AIP restaurants in my research, but I did find this great resource for people looking for paleo restaurants in San Diego: http://paleolocal.com/san-diego/. From that list I came across Tender Greens, which was the perfect place to stop after two days of sightseeing! I was able to get chicken, roasted veggies, salad with olive oil & vinegar and a mint lemonade lightly sweetened with raw cane sugar. After cooking so much for myself, this was a major delight!
Other foods I brought with me:
- Plantain chips (should’ve brought more; I ate all of them in two days!)
- Juice jello (also should’ve brought more, ate my three squares the first night)
- Stretch Island Fruit Co. all-natural fruit strips
- Applegate Sunday morning bacon (frozen in my carry-on)
- A few pieces of fruit
- Empowered Sustenance’s banana bread macaroons
- Plum Vida fruit & veggie purees
- Real salt mini shaker
- Mini bottle of olive oil
- My supplements
So, how did I do??
Overall, I think I ate really well on this trip. In the mornings I followed my usual breakfast routines with my smoothies and some protein. I took my time getting ready in the morning and ate a few extra bites before I headed out for the day to sightsee. I also packed snacks in my purse like bananas, bacon, fruit strips and crackers for when I was out. The only “lunch” I ate was at Tender Greens on Tuesday, other than that, I ate when I got back to the hotel mid to late afternoon and then went out with my husband for dinner.
We got sushi at Nobu Monday night. I did have a bite of salmon avocado sushi (I know!! Rice and sesame seeds!) and felt no issue with it afterwards.
We went to a French Spanish restaurant Tuesday night called Chez Loma on Coronado Island. I ordered duck breast with cauliflower. It was delish, but I’m not positive the sauce the chef prepared did not contain some kind of nightshade. I tried not to fret about it. This was “vacation” for me so relaxation was key!
Our third night we ate at a Mexican restaurant in Ocean Beach. I’ll confess: I was not planning on completely deviating from AIP at all while on this trip or to this extent, but I ordered a meal at the Mexican restaurant with no sauce that likely unchecked several of my “free” boxes. It was tasty, and filling, and I also didn’t feel ill physical effect, but I basically felt like I had committed a major transgression! If there was an AIP task force, I’m pretty sure they would’ve taken me to town, but thankfully this is a pretty friendly (and forgiving!) healing community.
The toughest part was the dining out at night in such a fun and delicious food city. And by tough I mean, only slightly tempting, and I definitely could have exhibited more self-control. But I set my limits and knew what to look out for and what NOT to cross.
The best part of the trip, from an AIP perspective, that I’m taking away with me, is stress reduction, relaxation and sleep. If there’s one thing I’ve been missing on my AIP journey so far it’s those things. As a mom it’s somehow too easy to skimp on sleep and not find time for yourself, but this trip I walked a ton, was outside everyday (vitamin D), went to bed early thanks to time zone confusion, slept in, and even got a massage! I know from my reading that sometimes these positive conditions can help offset both intentional and accidental exposures to foods your body may not be ready for or used to yet, and that’s some peace of mind I rested in while traveling.
So, traveling on AIP? Don’t be scurred, don’t be confused, it’s totally worth it!
Plan it out, make lists and do your research and then enjoy your time while the fruits of your labor will pay off! It’s kind of a nice change of pace that will definitely add some (nightshade free) spice back to your life!
The insides of my fridge at the hotel plus the goodies I quickly picked up at Trader Joe’s or had stashed in my luggage!
An AIP-compliant meal I was shocked to find at a Pei Wei in the Las Vegas airport. If you ask for the chicken “stock velvet,” then it’s just steamed in water. Ask for no sauce and extra veggies instead of rice!
We stumbled across a market in Ocean Beach Wednesday night with tons of grain-free vendors. I found one from SDSU who sold nut-free, soy-free, grain-free treats. This lemon bar was made with coconut and tapioca flours. Score!