How to eat healthy while travelling

I remember how, when I was young, we used to pack up all our meals and sufficient water when we travelled, be it by rail or road. Those days are mostly gone. These days look around in the train bogey and you see most people buying food and beverages on the train, or bringing packed take away foods.

Some things have changed for the better. Bottled water being made available anywhere now reduces the burden of having to carry one’s own boiled water from home.

But dependency on hotels and restaurants, and fast food while travelling can make your dieting schedule go on a roller coaster ride and create some unhealthy events.

So what should one eat while travelling?

Keeping in mind the ease of both carrying and eating, and hygiene, these are the tips I have come up with. Take a look.

Quantity: Firstly plan ahead for how many meals you need to pack your food. For journeys longer than a day it may not be possible to carry all your food so some dependency on what is available at station food booths is required.

Quality: Choose simple foods easily carried and eaten. Eat light as you don’t have physical activity while travelling. It also helps not to over eat spicy or greasy foods especially if you are prone to travelling sickness or gas due to prolonged sitting or tummy upsets.

Beverages: Use bottled water or packet juices and milk. These are easily available at all bus or train stations. When the train or bus makes a stop, stock drinks for the next leg of the journey. What to avoid are ice, ice pops, Ice creams, fresh juices, any beverage that is not packed or bottled

Fruits: Since the hygiene of your hands are questionable while travelling in trains or long distance buses, it is best to take fruits like banana or loose jacket oranges that are peeled and eaten. Unless you are carrying your own grapes, or apples, it is best to avoid these from stations. Always bananas are the best and most available throughout India.

Snacks: Carry nuts, packets of biscuits, toffee or energy bars as snacks.

Main meals: Rather than eat a full meal like thaali or a heavy meal like biriryani it is best to choose breakfast items like idis or sandwiches. Having said that, my personal favourite for an overnight journey is curds rice carried from home. I find it light on my tummy and I eat it with a disposable spoon. Pack it thickly made so that it does not ooze out.

For longer journeys, the traditional flatbread khakhra is a nutritious food to carry. For children a loaf of regular bread made into jam, cheese or chutney sandwiches is great. But eat them in the order of spoilage. This means chutneys first, then cheese and then jam. Sandwiches are good as both breakfast and dinner foods. Again jam, butter and bread are easily available. Please check the date of expiry on the loaf though.

Non vegetarians: If you are a staunch non vegetarian, then I suggest hard boiled eggs, deep fried anchovies or dried fish. I am not sure if your co travellers would object to the smell of fish in the compartment, but surprisingly, anchovies that are fried crisp to the bone, do not emit much smell and they last a couple of days. They may be eaten with any kind of bread.

Surprise tip: Interesting fact about aval or poha – For those with mild urinary incontinence, a handful of poha or aval eaten dry will help you a great deal when travelling overnight by road where toilet facilities may not be easily reached.

Parvathy R Krishnan

The author is a trained Nutrition & Dietetics expert with over 20 years’ of experience in hospitals like Vijaya Hospital in Chennai and the Armed Forces Hospital and New Mowasat Hospitals in Kuwait. She is presently a member of the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India. Parvathy blogs at

More by this author:

How to reduce cholesterol in the Indian diet

Dieting tips for those at work

Image: Flickr mccun934