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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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July 14 2011

What to Eat When Traveling, On the Road, Camping, or in the Middle of the Ocean

By Mark Sisson
125 Comments

The dedication of my readers to maintain the Primal lifestyle through thick and thin never ceases to impress me. They fly halfway across the world just to go barefoot, eat turkey skin, crawl around on a jungle gym, and hunt for sandcrab carcasses in Oxnard, CA. They research, shop for, and eventually purchase entire chest freezers and then fill the interiors with cow, lamb, and pig pieces. And, if a slew of recent emails is indeed representative of the community at large, they’re deeply committed to eating Primally when traveling, on the road, camping, or in the middle of the ocean. (In the last week I’ve received emails from a band member, a truck driver, a backpacker, and a naval officer.) That’s great, and I’m happy to hear about the dedication, but they weren’t writing in for virtual pats on the back. They wanted cold, hard advice for staying dietarily true in unfamiliar, potentially unfriendly locales, and I thought I’d help out.

So, what is one to do without access to the local grass-fed beef guy, cast iron skillets, bug-eating chicken eggs, and the diner that cooks everything in bacon grease?

Invest in a Cooler and Fill it with Perishable Food

If you don’t want to be relegated to canned items and dry goods on your road trip, this is a no-brainer. Get a medium- or large-sized cooler and two gallon-sized ziploc bags full of ice, plus two more spare bags. When the ice melts, stop at a gas station or fast food joint, dump (or drink) the water, and refill the bags with fresh ice. If a bag breaks, pull out a new one. You’ll have a portable fridge and a constant, inexpensive way to keep it, and your food, cold.

The day before your departure:

Hard boil at least a dozen eggs per person. My method for large eggs: put eggs in pot, cover with two inches of cold faucet water, bring to a roiling boil, turn off heat, put the cover on, and let sit for seven minutes. After seven minutes, dunk your eggs in an ice bath to stop the cooking. This leaves the yolk slightly soft and still creamy. Add 30 seconds to the cooking time if you want a drier yolk. Place eggs in gallon ziploc bags. Keep the shell on and a steady supply of ice in the cooler and they’ll last up to a week. Take some salt and pepper, too.

Cook two or three pounds of meat per person. Be it a roast or a bevy of steaks, get your hands on the best meat you can and grill it, roast it, or sear it. Stick to ruminants (beef, lamb, bison), since they keep better than chicken, pork, or fish (less delicate polyunsaturated fats). Stick to singular hunks of meat you can conceivably eat cold with your hands, rather than stews, chilis, or soups that require utensils and heating. Keep the sauciness to a minimum and stick to simple flavors, like salt, pepper, and a few herbs.

Roast, grill, or bake a bunch of veggies. Cook some sliced carrots, onions, peppers, cauliflower, zucchini, and asparagus – or any physically large vegetables that taste good cold – and pack them away. The easiest way is to throw them in a roasting pan with some salt, pepper, and fat (olive oil, coconut oil, macadamia oil, or palm oil all work great). The tastiest way is to grill them over open flame, seasoned similarly. Include a few baked sweet potatoes, too, which taste incredible cold.

Consider quality cheese, cured meats, smoked fish, and full-fat yogurt. These are worthwhile foods that also do best when refrigerated. You can technically get by keeping them at room temperature, but I’m not a fan of sweaty meat and cheese or warm, runny yogurt. If you like your gouda to perspire, go for it.

Take some fruits and vegetables that are commonly eaten raw. Carrots, berries, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, apples, plums, peaches, and jicama can all hold up for a couple days outside the cooler, and for quite longer within it.

If your trip is long and your supply of food begins to dwindle, you can easily restock at grocery stores with hot bars along the way. Rotisserie chickens will last at least two days in the cooler; disassemble for efficient storage. Keep your eyes out for barbecue joints, as ribs, pulled pork, and brisket will all keep if kept cold. Just be sure to keep those ziploc bags full of fresh ice.

Stock Up on Non-Perishables

There’s nothing wrong with a can of sardines or a handful of macadamias, and not every car, boat, or bindle can accommodate a cooler. In these situations, knowing which foods are both non-perishable (or at least have a decent lifespan out of the fridge) and Primal can help you decide what to buy and bring on the trip.

Get a wide variety of canned seafood. This is arguably your most nutritious, dependable option, with plenty of omega-3s, protein, minerals like selenium, magnesium, zinc, and iodine, and if you choose wisely, bones, skin, and connective tissue. Sardines, herring, mackerel, trout, oysters, clams, tuna, and salmon are all relatively common items. Restocking can be a cinch, since you can find canned sardines and tuna in most places. Keep a jar of Dijon and buy cherry tomatoes when they’re available. Mix the Dijon with a couple cans of the fish of your choice and toss in a handful of tomatoes for a quick and dirty salad. I’d avoid canned meats, however. Maybe I’m not being fair, but something about canned shredded beef creeps me out. And for those of you worried about BPA, I’ll take trace amounts of probable endocrine disruptors over week old soybean oil and deep-fried chicken extrusion encased in wheat flour. Speaking of which, make sure your seafood comes canned in olive oil, its own oil, or water.

Buy, or make, jerky of all types. I recommend taking the extra time to procure a large slab of lean meat so you can choose your marinade and save incredible amounts of money and make your own jerky.

Buy, or make, pemmican. Man cannot live on lean meat alone. No, he needs fat, especially animal fat. Pemmican provides both protein and saturated animal fat, but it takes some getting used to. I still haven’t full embraced it myself… but there’s no denying its ability to nourish and sate. And if you’ve already made jerky, making pemmican is the next natural progression.

Bring some nuts. Nuts get kind of a bad rap for their caloric density and tendency to stall weight loss in some folks, but caloric density in a small package may be what you’re after. If so, take your favorite nut. I like macadamias, for the buttery smoothness and low omega-6 levels, but even walnuts are better short-term feeding options than your average fast food menu item.

Make some kale chips. Not much more needs to be said. Watch the vid and follow along.

Make a Primal energy bar. Honestly, you could probably get by on this bar.

Want more? Browse the Primal snack list (and be sure to read the comments, where readers included their favorites).

Forage

No cooler, no canned goods (cause maybe you just don’t feel like all that prep work), surrounded by chain restaurants and fast food joints pumping the area with potent smells, hunger scratches at your belly. You would go without, except it’s been hours and you have several days left on the trip. You’ve gotta eat. There are “choices,” like fast food spots, but not any you feel like acknowledging. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where boys become men and girls become women. It’s a test, of effective foraging in a suboptimal environment, akin to looking for fruit during a nasty drought or berries in the dead of winter. Can you do it?

You may want to bone up on your modern foraging techniques, beyond the basics (“hold the bun,” “cook that in butter,” “no beans or rice, please,” or “can I substitute extra vegetables instead?”):

Scan the menu and identify the biggest immediate threats – grains (especially wheat), seed oils, and sugar – and eliminate them from contention. No buns, no stir fries, no deep fried items, etc.

Run reconnaissance. Does this Mexican place cook in real lard? Does this burger joint grill over open flame (good; slim chance of added oils) or fry on the range (maybe not good; watch for liberal oil usage)? Does the restaurant make their own dressings fresh? Don’t take “reconnaissance” literally and go sneaking around in the kitchen. Instead, ask the head cook or manager those basic, pointed questions to get real, honest answers.

Keep a tiny bottle of extra-vigin olive oil holstered at your side at all times. Salads are the classic go-to Primal compromise, but the dressing can be a deal breaker. Bust out your olive oil and ask for some balsamic vinegar (which is never, to my knowledge, adulterated like restaurant “olive oils” are). Keep the bottle tiny and you may avoid being pegged as the weird guy or being thrown out for “outside condiments.”

Forget celiac; you’re allergic to whatever ingredient they derive their oil from. Is soybean oil used, like at Chipotle? You are allergic to soy. Canola oil? You’re allergic to canola. A Worker Bee even convinced an Indian restaurant he frequented that he was “allergic to vegetable oils of all kinds” and that his doctor “forbade him from eating anything made with vegetable oil.” And it worked. He got everything made with real ghee and butter.

Fast

If foraging conditions prove way too harsh, I’ll just not eat and chalk it up to an impromptu, truly random intermittent fast. This is pretty standard for me. I can handle not eating for a day and maintain energy without going too crazy. But that’s me – I’ve been doing this for years and I’ve built up a strong tolerance to going without. You may not, and that’s cool. Just know that it’s a viable option, and often a better one than eating junk.

I’ve found that things change when I’m traveling with family or friends. If it’s just me on business, alone, I’ll often skip meals, but if I have my wife or kids along, or I’m traveling with friends for pleasure, I generally will not skip meals. I’m there to be with them, to enjoy their company, and if they’re eating, so am I. If I have to meet someone for a business lunch, I’m not going to sit stone-faced and staring as the other person wolfs down a plate. That’s just bizarre. For all you parents, I’d strongly recommend not forcing your family into an IF against their will.

I’ve been pretty successful following these general guidelines over the years, but I’m interested to hear what works for you folks. How do you cope with unfamiliar, unfriendly food environments? Do you abstain from food altogether, do you dip into the 80/20, or do you somehow maneuver your way around the dietary landmines to get a full stomach?

Let me, and everyone else, know in the comment section!

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125 thoughts on “What to Eat When Traveling, On the Road, Camping, or in the Middle of the Ocean”

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  1. When I travel with my motorbike (alone) I personally literally hunt and gather… Or at least the modern version : go to the supermarket, buy some raw product and eat them as they are. Nothing like a piece of raw meat in some lemon with a piece of onion !

    1. How long have you been eating raw meat for? Do you eat only beef raw or other animals too? Do you not clean the meat? Are you not worried about bacteria from supermarket meat?

      Yea… I have a lot of questions about raw meat – I am curious for now…

      1. I’ve eaten raw meat for around two years and a half now I think.

        I’ve done chicken, beef, horse, pork…but only beef and horse on a regular basis. And I’m not really worried about bacterias no…isn’t bacteria good for your stomach anyway?

        I’ve also done some hardcore shit : beef heart, pork liver, chicken heart… I don’t advise it, not that I got sick or anything, it’s just not very tasty 🙂

        What do you mean by ‘clean the meat’?

        Oh and raw fish is just heaven, except for the cost of wild caught salmon…

        1. i ate raw beef heart (marinaded in miso + some spices + fermented cabbage juice)
          actually tastes good. i can eat fish raw.

          i have not built up the courage to eat raw liver; it has to be seared outside. inside raw/pink is ok.

          but the problem is most markets don’t carry “exotic meats” & i don’t care for lean muscle meat (too lean).

          cheers,

        2. You shouldn’t eat raw or even rare pork, because some pig parasites can survive and also cross the species divide well enough to harm you even if they die in the attempt; it’s very Russian Roulette to try. That’s also why you shouldn’t make pemmican or jerky out of pork (or bear, which the Indians could get) – and pork fat makes pemmican too runny anyway.

      2. I have been eating raw beef for over 50 years, since I was a kid who didn’t get enough meat and sometimes snatched some hamburger from the fridge. Raw was the only way I could eat it. It tasted delicious and I quickly became convinced that there were nutrients in raw beef that were destroyed by cooking. I have eaten some of my beef raw ever since.

        Yes, I get diarrhea sometimes, but I crave those uncooked nutrients. It is worth some negative bacteria. However, there are far fewer problems with fresh grassfed, so that is the way to go if at all possible.

        1. I knew a guy who ate raw ground beef, and bought some that was ground on a grinder used to grind pork. The pork transferred trichinosis to the beef and it killed him. Never ever eat raw pork or chicken.

  2. I bring:
    –hard-boiled eggs
    –apples
    –water bottle with filter (CamelBak!)
    –nut butter packets (optional, but good with apples)

    And then wherever I go I usually stick to eating salads with some type of protein and fat.

    I’m not very good with fasting, but I would definitely rather skip breakfast than eat some kind of sugar-bombed muffin 😉

  3. This is something my husband I have struggled with so thank you for sharing these ideas!

    I also now keep jars of coconut butter, in the office or for road trips. The butter includes coconut oil and some pureed flesh, and does not to be refrigerated.

    When I get hungry, I just eat two spoonfuls and I’m set for a while!

  4. I’m getting on the road for a weekend trip tonight, how timely! I’m in the midst of a Whole30, so I’m going to try to be super-prepared…

  5. Very timely article as I’m off on a 3-day canoe trip tomorrow.

    I really like the idea of canned fish. can’t really do too much with those perishable items, but I’ll definitely take those other suggestions.

  6. Thank you so much!! This is perfect. We almost always have a hard time when we travel, but not during the travel part.

    This past 4th of July we drove from our home in MN to my folks place in MI. The drive was pretty good, cooler filled with raw veggies, yogurts, and previously cooked hamburgers and brats (sans buns). We also had a nice portion of almonds too.

    Our problems occur with my step mom brings out the huge tray of oreo brownies with a huge smile on her face, or gets pissed cause last time we were there we comment on home we didn’t eat turkey bacon anymore. Our when Mom the best cook in the world make “your favorite” meal…Great Grandma’s Spaghetti (now note here, the sauce and sausage are great, I make it at home all the time, but serve it over spaghetti squash instead) and Mom’s dinner comes with tons of fresh boiled PASTA!!!!

    When do you cross the line between doing what will keep ya from being is GAS pain all night long in a house with no air conditioning, and being down right RUDE to the Mom’s in our lives????

    So the traveling part doesn’t hurt us its the time spent at our families home!!!

    Like the one time my darling husband the true baby of the family, last grandchild and all, sat at his Grandmother’s table and said NO to her famous Pumpkin Pie!!! Now the look on that women’s face would have made anyone gladly gobble down the whole pie and ask for more!!

    1. Atkins had a plan for dealing with this kind of thing, specifically for dealing with birthday cakes and the like. He said to eat all of the crap you feel like in the span of one hour, and then no more. That should be enough to make it seem like you’re being festive.

      In my case, I had a stroke, so when I say “Sorry, I can’t, it’s not good for me” they tend not to push the issue, though they can’t understand how giving up cereal and bread caused my cholesterol levels to normalize rapidly.

    2. If the food will make you feel physically ill that’s one thing, but if it’s just preference, then I think people have to find a line of compromise in such social situations.

      An anecdotal story that I often think of in such situations is the following: I have a friend who used to be strict vegan. During college, he studied abroad in India and Nepal. He traveled around a lot and did many homestays. At those homes, since he was a guest, the families would make their most “lavish” meals for him, which more often than not included meat. It was “lavish” simply because meat was an expensive or rare commodity for them, so it was like their equivalent of pulling out the good wine for the guest. My friend decided early on that it was more important for him to not offend these families who were going out of their way to welcome him into their homes than to stick to his dietary plan (which was for moral reasons more than health ones), and so he ate pretty much anything he was offered.

    3. I understand the issue of food at family gatherings. My family gets together frequently and sometimes there is almost nothing I will eat.

      I was once told by my uncle (at a packed dinner table) that if I did not eat one of the brownies my aunt made that I would offend her. I ate one, regretted it, and decided I would never do that again. I was offended that I was being pressured to do something I didn’t want to do.

      People like to control other people and break their will, no matter how subtle. If you are open and explain yourself and people are still offended at your food choices then that is their problem, not yours.

      After a year or two of calmly and confidentially standing my ground my family’s expectations have changed. I now get nicely asked, “You don’t want birthday cake do you?”

      I also find it helpful to load my plate with the good foods at parties and other social events. If you are eating a lot of food, people seem to forget about what you’re not eating.

      I also partially agree with what cTo wrote. But my skin breaks out when I eat certain foods and that is not something I am willing to deal with to make someone else happy. Plus I am kind of a stubborn jerk. 🙂

      1. I agree, if you’ve explained your dietary choices your family should respect them! Of course they don’t always but then you really need to stand your ground, most of the time they will come around after a while.

    4. I cook on my car engine while on long road trips, like from L.A. to Denver & back, I’ve made scrambled eggs in a foil wrapped ziplock bag, sausages, potatoes, polish sausages & kielbasa, shrimp & fish come out REALLY good, canned pork & beans & more. Google Amazon, Manifold Destiny for a great little car engine cookbook.

      Stopped at a scenic spot on the side of Jackson Lake in the Tetons on a Wyoming trip. A local saw the car hood up & asked if I needed help, I said “No, just checking the Bratwurst.”

    5. You want to be respected by the people you love. They will respect you provided you have principles and stand by them. That’s not saying they won’t have the knee-jerk reaction of trying to test your boundaries, that’s how they determine where you stand. They kind of have to. Of course it isn’t fun for you, but if you make it through the first few rounds they will eventually come to treat you with respect.

      If they are very very concerned with who made what and how special it is… find a primal recipe and take it with you to contribute. Let them see you participating and not assume you’re rejecting them by overlooking their dish. (people have such strange defense mechanisms)

  7. You did a great work to put it all together! I personally opt-in for grilled meat/fish in cafes, it’s hard to do it wrong…

  8. This is a question near and dear to my heart since I travel for work 50 or more nights in the average year and probably spend another 20 nights in hotels on vacation or seeing family and friends on the weekends.

    Here are some things I’ve found help a lot:
    Find the nearest good sushi bar and the nearest good oyster bar. Sashimi and raw shell-fish are impossible to adulterate.

    The organic/local movement has created a lot of options around the country. Look around for one of these restaurants and you’ll often find that they have grass-fed beef on the menu and are more than happy to provide sides cooked in and dressed with local (often pastured) butter.

    Grain-fed beef isn’t as good as grass-fed, but on the road a good steak and glass of cabernet is a reliable mostly-primal dinner. I’ve found that most steak-houses will saute up spinach and asparagus in butter if you ask (or they may do it already).

    Barbecue (real barbecue) places are also a good option in the right parts of the country. I just order a big plate of ribs or brisket as is appropriate to the region and tell them to leave the sauce and sides off.

    I get my veggie fix by hitting a local market and just buying some organic bagged/boxed salad greens, some broccoli and other bits, and some EVOO. I can usually grab a plastic fork in their deli/prepared food area, mix up the salad and eat it while people watching.

    In the absolute extreme, an undressed cobb salad can get me through. I usually have them go light on the blue cheese (it’s too good to leave off entirely) and look for places where the chicken will be grilled and the bacon will be identifiably pig-derived.

    I usually skip breakfast on the road, but if I wake up hungry many business hotel lounges will have hard-boiled eggs which make for a quick hit of protein and fat. I’ve also found that if the breakfast buffet has an omelet station, you can bring them a pat of butter and ask them to fry up a couple of eggs in it and they will.

  9. Great article! I’m also in a band and went into the recording studio this week AND prepared a HUGE cooler full of HB eggs, coconut oil, chicken, fruit and almonds. The only things I had to buy were ready to eat veggies. I didn’t fall off track even once 😀

  10. Oh, wow! This is the post I needed that tackles the nitty-gritty details I didn’t even know I didn’t know!

    We’ve got a vacation coming up, traveling with family members who are not exactly sympathetic paleo companions, which can cause major troubles when it’s time to decide where to stop for lunch. I’ll be packing a giant cooler, baby. (Never thought of hardboiled eggs for the road. Now it seems so obvious!)

    My go-to paleo travel staples are almonds, jerky and sunflower seed butter.

  11. I am strictly gluten=BAD, so at least I don’t have to deal with that with family. Although they really bend over backwards, and I usually end up having to eat rice pasta, and five kinds of GF chips! At least they care…. When I travel with my husband, we eat anywhere I can get a protein with a veggie/salad. Although I do bend on dessert – hello chocolate mousse!!!!
    I didn’t realize how far I’ve migrated from the SAD until I chaperoned a five-day field trip for my middle-school club. Meals had no flexibility whatsoever. They knew I was GF and tried to accomodate, but I ate a lot of almonds and apples, a lot of mediocre salads, and never breakfast.
    It was shocking to me, really; when I go out with my husband I rarely have trouble finding food, and if an ordinary person came to my house they wouldn’t even notice anything odd, but to have no control over food choices really brought home to me that I’m a bit “out there.”
    And proud of it!!!!

    1. I get this with my friends too. I’ve tried to explain how I eat, but the only point that ever sticks is “gluten-free”, so I’m served lots of rice pasta and gluten-free cookies/cakes/etc. that they’ve baked especially for me. I love them for caring and trying to do the best they can, but it’s hard sometimes.

  12. If you look hard enough you can find something acceptable to consume anywhere. I am sure there are exceptions but for the most part I have found that changes can be made to menu items and all I have to do is ask.

  13. Printing this….
    I don’t travel much, but this could be valuable info on how to pack in a lunch for work, something that I am struggling with.

    1. Hi Chipin,
      Adjusting my lunches was one of my struggles initially with paleo. Two suggestions – big ass salad in one Tupperware (make a ton on Sunday) meat in another, either canned fish, or sliced steak or pork chops etc, and some homemade dressing. Second suggestion is a bento box. Forces you to add some variety like beef kebabs in one box, bone broth with greens in another, tomato and avocado salad in the third, and grilled zukes, peppers and onions in the last. Either way it requires some work on the weekend to prep, but you can do the whole week at once. Depends on how creative you want to get.

      When I camp, I bring a huge pre made salad, a bunch of protein options, dressing, lots of homemade bacon and eggs, plain Greek yogurt mixed with frozen berries, bratwurst to cook over the fire and some really good dark chocolate to enjoy while others are making smores!

  14. I laughed at the part about being “allergic” to the oils, that’s great advice.

    I pretty much do a mix and match of these techniques depending on the situation. My biggest problem is my wife – she rolls her eyes and apologizes for me to friends when I make modifications or skip foods. She has told me before that it’s “embarrassing” and “weird” when I decide to IF rather than eat a poor choice or do something different than the group.

    Something I have noticed, too, is that a lot of places don’t really honor the cooking requests. Sure, they’ll give you extra veggies because that’s obvious. But many a time is it that I’ve ordered something cooked in butter and when I get it I can tell that it was cooked the regular way. And wait staff don’t always know how the dishes are prepared. I will ask how a dressing or soup is made, or if something contains any flour or grain, and the answer doesn’t match what I’m served. I generally just chalk it up to the 20% and move on, but as I like to tell me wife when she gets mad at me – what if I really were allergic?

    1. It is REALLY hard to make sure you don’t get served something you are allergic to. Even if my lactose intolerant wife finds something without dairy in the description on the menu, asks the waiter to make sure they don’t put dairy in it, and tells the wait staff that she is allergic to dairy, she ends up sending her plate back 50% of the time.

  15. You did a MUCH more thorough job at coming up with a food list for travel than I have! Thanks for sharing your tips – we have a lot of road trips this summer and it will help. 🙂

  16. I’ll be watching these replies like a hawk.

    I have a trip in September – Dragon*Con – that involves flying to the USA (which means I can’t bring my own food) and then staying in a hotel for 5 days. We usually just buy a bunch of cereal and granola bars while we are there and keep them in the hotel room, ’cause we can’t afford to eat at restaurants (or room service) more than once or twice.
    There’s also never a guarantee that we’ll have a mini fridge or not, so I’ve been going nuts trying to figure out what on earth I can eat while I’m there! o_0

    1. You could keep a cooler in your room, either one of those disposable styrofoam types, or the insulated bags that stores frequently have. Hotels usually have ice machines, so that shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve known some people who just use a fresh garbage bag in a sink or bucket with ice. 🙂

      In an absolute pinch, decent hamburger places will make you a burger with lettuce, tomato, etc. and no bun, with a side salad. Some fast food places like Wendy’s will do it.

    2. There are a couple of paleo eating establishments in Atlanta that are very good. Urban Pl8 is one that has an extensive paleo menu. Yeah! Burger serves grass-fed beef sans bun upon request, and Caramba Cafe has paleo options.

      1. Great timing! We are going to Atlanta (from Michigan) next weekend for a Saturday wedding and needed a place to eat Friday night….their menu looks awesome!

  17. I just came back from a week-long trip to Maryland, USA (I’m from Manitoba, Canada) and I was lucky enough that my mom, whom I was travelling with, encouraged me to keep to my primal eating. For the most part, we bought veggies and water and kept them in a cooler. When we ate out, I ate plain burgers without the bun (which got some stares), pulled pork, extra veggies, etc. I tried my best, but the last 2 days were terrible, food-wise. We met friends in Fargo, ND and their restaurant choices were the Olive Garden and Perkins. Ack! I dealt by eating small portions of the best thing I could find on the menu.

    When we were in line at the booksigning (reason we were on this trip) we conversed with the woman ahead of us who was bragging that she lost 80 pounds by counting calories and chronic cardio. She was so happy that she had managed to keep it off for one whole month before the weight krept back up. I held my tongue for the most part, but mentioned that I had lost 35 pounds (and still losing!) by cutting out grains and processed sugar.
    Her only comment was that she couldn’t understand all the fuss about that ‘carbohydrate nonsense’. Ack!

    1. LOL, that story made me laugh.
      Aren’t people silly?
      Year and a half ago I was on that same path, trying to help others, trying to convince them, trying to talk sense into them…nothing works.
      I get weird stares and then a look (with behavior) that tells me they want to end the conversation.
      It’s usually right after I say ” Grains are bad.”

  18. This is a great post and not just for traveling but for filling kids lunchboxes. My summer challenge is planning to primalize my kids school lunches next year and this is extremely helpful and perfectly written for me to take the relevant points from. Thank you!

    1. If you do find some ideas for school lunches would you share? I’m depressed about the carbo loaded, nutritionally void snack options for my kids to bring to school and would love some ideas!

      Thanks
      Mary Beth

      1. Mary Beth:

        I’ve been working for while on this converting chips and crackers to nuts, fruit and veg (for lunch my kids will eat carrots, tomatoes, raw green beans – go figure, celery and cucumber) and now I’m going to attack the sandwich option. Seems like meatballs made with ground beef and spinach will work hot or cold and today I’m going to make the egg/ground meat/red pepper muffins in the PB cookbook. I’m hoping to find 4 or 5 alternatives to replace the bread portion of their lunch and then we’re golden.

  19. Try freeze-dried foods. And bring along your copy of the Book of Mormon and tin foil hat.

  20. Love almost all the advice, and it is similar to what we already do, as a family with a food-allergic child. I don’t like or agree with the advice to claim an allergy when none exists. It muddies the waters for those of us who do have IgE (potentially anaphylactic) food allergies.

    1. I whole heartedly agree. DO NOT claim an allergy if you don’t have one. It really, truly hurts someone who has that problem.

    2. Agreed! Please don’t claim an allergy if you don’t have one. It causes restaurant staff to eye every “I’m allergic to ___” request with some suspicion because it’s a big hassle to do it properly (different cooking utensils, thoroughly cleaning a shared grill, etc) many of them end up being not true. The restaurant communities are full of stories about the patrons that throw a hissy fit about “being allergic” to the X in the salad and then specifically order a dessert with X in it and say it’s different. o_0

    3. This makes sense, but in my experience simply asking the restaurant not to include something or to prepare something a certain way due to preference is an iffy proposition. Some high-end restaurants refuse modifications altogether. What else can we do?

  21. @ Eric… Sometimes people are so stupid that I am embarrassed to be of the same species… “carbohydrate nonsense” indeed!!! I have an acquaintance who keeps going on and off of that silly HCG diet and is getting heavier and heavier… she doesn’t get it either…

    Anyway, when I am on the road and can’t pack much food, I go for a grilled steak and steamed veg or a side salad with vinegar. I also use beef jerky and pork rinds. High in sodium, but it keeps me pretty paleo…

  22. This is an excellent and useful guide. Thanks, Mark!

    My emergency primal food supply has five components: Sardines; whey protein powder; coconut oil; multivitamins; and reverse-osmosis-filtered water. I figure that, in the event of catastrophe, this will give me complete nutrition long enough to become a proficient hunter of urban fauna.

    Also, I want to put in a good word for fasting. Going without food is a physiological skill just as important as aerobic or anaerobic conditioning. Fasting for 36 hours or more may be uncomfortable at times, but as long as you’ve trained your body to burn fat efficiently, it will do you a world of good. Humans are clearly adapted to periods of food shortage (ketosis etc.) so, by all means, exercise those adaptations. Fasting is not just the second-best option to eating primally; it is sometimes even preferable.

  23. Pretty interesting post. It requires a bit of forethought and planning, generally, but I think you should always have at least a little bit of food on your person at all times. My family does hard boiled eggs. Tim Ferriss demonstrates a pretty clever way to ‘peel’ hard boiled eggs without having to deal with the actual peeling of it. You can find it on youTube, or just plug the following link into your browser. Pretty cool! youtu.be/PN2gYHJNT3Y

  24. Thanks Mark! I’m planning what we’ll take moose hunting next month and will only be able to keep things cold the first few days. You’ve given me some good ideas of what to take for the rest of the time such as make my own jerky and energy bars. Ideally a moose will appear within the first few days and we’ll be home before we’ve gone through all the food I pack and have to resort to ‘Mountain House’.

    1. Ah, moose hunting. The primal way would be with spears, but also to fast while you’re doing it. Might make your shots more accurate. 🙂

      1. Good idea! Since this will be might first time shooting a moose I might have just as good of luck with a spear! Fasting couldn’t hurt either. (that is if a moose gives me the opportunity).

  25. These are good ideas because it is so hard to stay on plan when on vacation, and it is best to stay in a hotel suite with a kitchenette that helps too.

  26. A word of caution.. I am a great fan of “Please cook this in butter” and happily my request was always accepted. Only recently, I found to my horror, that a lot of what is sold as butter is butter+margarine or some hydrogenated canola oil butter substitute. Be sure to “see” your butter and read the fine print on it before using it.

  27. I understand some of the people with the well meaning family and friends who make special foods to “help” you out. I have the same things happen. Most of my friends and family simply don’t “get” that I CHOOSE to eat this way.
    Most often, people assume that I eat this way because I am diabetic or celiac or somehow sick. It blows their minds when they find out that am 100% healthy, and hey are usually unable to wrap their heads around the idea that I eat this way to attempt to AVOID becoming sick!

  28. I have to drive across Florida and back every week on route 60, there is always plentiful roadkill, I got some fairly fresh gator tail three weeks in a row once (must have been mating season), usually it’s just racoons and armadillos though.

  29. DO NOT claim an allergy if you don’t have one. It really, truly hurts someone who has that problem.

    I have a family full of real food allergies (soy, dairy, legumes, shrimp), and the crap that we have to undo from people claiming “I have an allergy” to whatever they aren’t in the mood to eat (primal or pickiness, doesn’t matter) makes us just not eat out. If it doesn’t immediately threaten your health/life, you are never as consistent as someone who absolutely MUST avoid eating the substance (including cross-contamination). And believe me, everyone else notices (oh, she said she was allergic to [fill in], but she can’t really be, because it’s in the [fill in] too).

    I’d like to add that I’m REALLY disappointed in seeing that sort of tactic proposed by you, Mark. You usually do a much better job. What’s next up, say that you’re a diabetic to avoid sugar? Hopefully you think twice before suggesting people lie again in the future regarding medical conditions.

    1. Pretty dramatic, if you ask me. Sorry your family has food allergies, but there’s really no need to take it to heart. Obviously, if you follow anything that Primal/Paleo lifestyle talks about, eating gluten/wheat/seed oils/etc ARE toxic and SHOULD be avoided AT ALL COSTS. Thus, you should equate yourself to having an evolutionary/genetic allergy to these foods altogether.

      Honestly, I think that it really doesn’t make a difference whether you lie about a food allergy. So what? The restaurant simply must comply, or they have a lawsuit on their backs. If anything, if they often have to cater to allergies, it will make them more prepared to work with people with deathly allergies, and it doesn’t become some intense ordeal.

      On top of that, if you have food allergies THAT bad, where you have to whine about people’s sensitivities to such a horrible living condition, just don’t go to a restaurant. If you need to say you’re diabetic to avoid eating a dangerous toxin, so be it. Survival will be from those who are most fit, and in today’s society, being clever is essentially the fittest you can be. Clever manipulation of society > unnecessary emotional baggage.

      1. Nice set of ethics there. If it’s TOXIC, then be honest and tell people that. How will they ever learn if you lie to them? Nice set of ethics there.

        And no, with a Celiac daughter who also cannot have dairy, we don’t eat out much. But I’m guessing YOU will not be on the toilet for 3 days if someone cuts your food with a knife that previously cut something glutenous, and from that, you will contribute to the lack of understanding that we face when trying to dine anywhere other than home. And yes, I have written letters to restaurants that have nailed her. They don’t give a shit(and yes I have exercised by right to never set foot in said restaurants again, but the one here in town is still in business).

        I stand by my previous statements.

      2. I agree…’truth for the sake of truth’, for me, is pointless and rather annoying since it doesn’t make anyone except the sorely self-righteous happy. It’s about your health and wellbeing. You’re paying the restaurant, and they must comply. A lot of places and people have a very lax attitude to this, and will toss flour and sugar everywhere with abandon unless they have a serious reason not to, e.g. allergy. If they’re so bad at acommodating peoples’ dietary requests, they deserve to be lied to, in my opinion. As you said, Clever manipulation of society > unnecessary emotional baggage. And that little white lie isn’t harming anyone. This isn’t betrayal or breaking promises. Some people need to relax. 🙂

  30. Glad to see this. In two weeks, I’m going to a martial arts tournament and I’m already planning how to dine while we’re in Dallas. The drive down won’t be a problem, but the dinners with friends are going to be interesting.

    Happily, I found a big all-day breakfast place near the hotel, that has plenty of omelets-with-veggies to choose from.

  31. “Roast, grill, or bake a bunch of veggies.”
    But they’re always so stringy, those vegetarians!
    (Sorry. Just had to)

  32. PLEASE, PLEASE don’t claim an allergy if you don’t have one! It makes life so much harder for people with real allergies; if the staff sees you eating something that contains the “allergen” and not getting sick, there’s real danger of them believing that all food allergies are made up and letting someone with a real allergy get dosed. I’ve seen a lot of incredibly cynical statements from professional chefs stating that food allergies are really just picky diners, and at least a few outright stating that they ignore it when people tell them to hold the [whatever] because they’re allergic, then sneering when said person doesn’t immediately drop dead.

    Worst. Advice. Ever. Don’t do it, please.

  33. When going camping I always pack a cooler full of :
    Raw liver pieces individually packed in small ziplock bags (energy), apples (snack), raw grass-fed/finished red meat, lettuce (already cut up at home), grassfed/finished hot dogs, 1/2 gallon of raw goats milk (I don’t do alcohol, nuts, chocolate or juice), boiled eggs, already cooked trout filets, tomatoes and salt (snack), and some kind of green vegetable bok choy, kale, mustard greens. I bring lard along when traveling and cooking at rest areas.

    And I always bring my AdjustAGrill Portable Campfire Grilling so I’m able to make a fire wherever I am, and it’s legal everywhere.

    1. After seeing how they make hot dogs, I figured the high quality ones were technically primal. Grok would eat a chicken and pick all its bones clean, which is exactly what the machine is doing in a more efficient manner.

  34. Be careful with primal energy bars. Apparently you can overdose on Lauric Acid, a MCFA in coconut oils. I got really sick this weekend when at the pool and living on my coconut heavy energy bars.

  35. Chipotle has enough none soy oil options if you are so inclined. Get a carnitas salad with any of the salsas and guac and you’ve got a reasonable meal without soy oil. Sad though, because I like their barbacoa and steak better than their carnitas.

  36. I did this whilst cycling in the Pyrenees a few weeks back – knowing what French breakfast fayre would be I packed a dozen cans of mackerel in tomato sauce, 8 bars of 85% chocolate and several bags of nuts (pecan and brazil), took my own teabags too. All was well … except for the Haribo moment halfway up the Tourmalet, but in my defence it was high 20s, more than 100 ks into the ride and I’d already ticked off Marie-Blanc, Aubisque and Solour LOL! And, I paid dearly the day after with appetite all over the place as my blood sugar levels recovered!

  37. Most restaurants aren’t going to be able to accommodate all allergic people. Many of their foods are pre-prepared or semi-prepared so they can’t do anything about those. Chipotle isn’t going to grind their assembly line to a halt to cook your order individually. If you are going to go out to eat, you should eat something that’s on the menu as is, or that can reasonably be altered easily by the staff. But like someone said, if you ask for butter, you may get margarine. If you are truly allergic or concerned, you probably know which places can accommodate you. Otherwise, don’t eat out and expect to be kowtowed to at every place you visit.

  38. These articles about traveling food always bring a smile…..anyone who keeps Kosher, and was raised that way knows ALWAYS bring your own food! People who whine about airline food, or only “fast food” options on the road, should try not having ANY options!
    Yes, bringing my own food is a way of life, and being Primal just means I bring Primal food.

  39. Bringing a portable grill on the road has worked perfectly for me when I travel for work. I pack tuna, mackerel, spices, olive oil, can opener, and grill in my checked luggage. I bring a cooler as one of my carry-ons and pack an empty water bottle, pre-cooked meat, frozen sweet potatoes, and frozen bags of veggies that serve as ice packs during the flight. Then we I land I head to a grocery store and pick up whatever I need to round out my meals for the trip. The grill comes in very handy!

    I used to be one of the people who claimed food allergies, but my brother developed a peanut allergy and has had reactions to food that the wait staff claimed did not contain nuts or nut oils. Now I just ask for everything grilled or steamed with a side of olive oil or butter. Simple enough.

  40. We travel a lot, and my husband is still eating the usual diet. I love those little foil packets of salmon. Little lemon juice and pepper, YUM. Hard boiled eggs, and I like plain yogurt with some berries. I made the primal protein bars, oh yeah, I could survive on those.

  41. I do historical re-enactment camping from March to October, up to 25 weekends a year. You get a lot of practice figuring out what to pack. First we use 2L soda bottles filled with water and frozen for ice. It doesn’t make a lake inside the cooler. It also lasts longer than blue ice packs. On longer trips we have two ice chests, one for mealtime things(the cold chest) and one for munchies and drinks(things that require less chilling). For munchies, sliced meat and cheeses, cream cheese, less fragile fruits like oranges, grapes, apples, dried fruits and fruit leather and even yogurt leather(I have a dehydrator). Also carrot sticks and other raw veggies munchies and salad makings work well with the salad dressing or dunkings of your choice. I’ve also done boiled eggs, dried smoked fish and jerky as well. Our 5 gallon water jug has a wide top that we put a block of ice in then fill with water for ice cold water all weekend on a hot summer day. On dinner type things we either precook and freeze in ziplocks or pack it rock hard frozen and cook it on the campstove. I’ve also done a dehydrated stew of home dehydrated meat(jerky) and veggies and the seasonings. I usually limit canned items to things that will be eaten in one meal. As for foraging, summer definitely is better for berries and such, but even in the winter you can usually find greens and if you are lucky, nuts. If you have a fishing license then fish and shellfish open up for foraging and in our area seaweed(Washington coast).
    As someone with a severe allergy(sunflower seeds) I have had to send food back at a restaurant. I hate doing it, but I am so severely allergic that is not something I can cheat on. I am also diabetic, so it actually helps when trying to eat out and keep primal. Allergies and special needs diets are diets you can’t cheat on, unless you want to suffer the consequences. I try to pick a restaurant on the basis that they may have more choices I can actually eat. Many places have a lite menu, and as always, salads. My son has an allergy to all forms of corn and corn based additives. Eating out for him is usually unbreaded meat, no sauces, fresh fruit, plain vegies and milk. I try to ask in advance and ask for substitutes when I can, but I find I seldom eat out anymore.

  42. I recommend eating pemmican at room temperature. Makes it much better. Of course for storage you have to keep it cold, but let it sit for about fifteen minutes or so and then eat it. Much easier to eat

    1. My husband makes pemmican with the fat a mixture of half beef tallow and half pork lard. That greatly improves the flavor!

  43. In September I’m going to be on a small sailboat in the
    Caribbean (barring hurricanes) with several people who do not eat the way I do, nor do they understand why I’ve given up my beloved baked goods. Luckily, we have a fully functioning galley, but our meal choices will be predicated by what we can get in the stores on the small islands we’ll be sailing around. Hopefully, the fishermen in the group will be able to supply enough fresh fish that no one will question my food choices. I’m not sensitive to it and I’m happy to fill anyone in on why I eat the way I do. However, that being said, one of the places we’ll be visiting is Culebra off the coast of Puerto Rico and you can bet I’ll be having Mofongo. Although now that I think about it, Mofongo isn’t that bad of a choice. It’s made from plantains, lard and seafood. I have dreams about Mofongo often. If all else fails, there are always coconuts. Lots and lots of coconuts.

  44. I’m taking a road trip at the end of the month, got some great snack ideas from this post.

  45. A salad is my go to meal at any restaurant!

    I ask for my dressing on the side so they don’t pour on 500 calories of dressing 🙂

  46. We are going to Peru in September and will be staying in a lodge in the Amazon for 10 days. The lodge provides all of the meals as we will be exploring the jungle ect. I don’t want to be a pain in their ass but I don’t want to consume mass quantaties of carbs either. Any suggestions on what types of foods would be better than others. I saw an example of a meal and it did look like there was some type of protein and fruit but there was also rice, beans and potatoes. Would if be best just to go for the potatoes and skip the beans and rice or skip the potatoes too? I’m sure we won’t starve and they do ask if there are any dietary restrictions but I’m not really sure how to proceed without being a snob. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. I’ve lived in Peru for a couple of months so I can tell you on that one : just forget about it 😉 Basically what they give you as meals are very little deep fried meat/fish/chicken, with little vegetables/beans/potatoes, and then an enormous quantity of rice to fill the stomach…

      If you’re lucky they make awesome soups also so try to feed mostly on that ^^

      As for myself : I gave up and just went with the rice thing. It’s good to sometimes be reminded how it feels to eat like other people, and all the bad stuff that go with it (heavy stomach, sleepiness, low energy…)

  47. COME ON MARK….you can handle that cold fat if its good cold fat..PEMMICAN is super food>>>
    I make the best grass fed fat and deer /steer/bison pemmican around ..all done at low temps to keep all the nutrients intact..total yellow fat and some good quality dried meat cant be beat…I always carry jerky too..and hunting in small country grocery stores is a great way to find some local BA-CON!! I NEVER TRAVEL without a stash of Davechow and or a COOLER full of good stuff to eat…..HAVE COOLER_WILL TRAVEL>>GROK ON>>>

  48. As Ingvildr notes, it’s best to fill a plastic container with water and freeze it, which is much easier than dealing with Ziplocs full of ice. Milk cartons, 2L soda bottles, empty protein powder vats…all make good ice containers.

  49. I usually carry a small bottle of olive oil and salt/pepper to use as salad dressing. Everyone has salads, but the dressings are usually questionable.

  50. For storing stuff in the cooler. The ice packs will last longer if you pour some alcohol in there with it. I’d recommend vodka or rubbing alcohol. It will keep the temperature of the cooler lower for longer and ultimately save you from having to refill those ice bags.

  51. As a long time restaurant veteran, (hubby, too) and as someone who carries an Epi pen (fish allergy), as well as my Dad, my brother, and my cousin (nuts)..I am well versed in how to avoid disaster.
    On the other hand, these days I wait on people who claim to have an allergy to wheat,dairy, eggs, soy, nuts and God knows whatever else,(don’t go to an Italian restaurant if you are truly allergic to garlic and onions) but will then order something else with those ingredients in it. After letting them know that “xyz” does in fact contain eggs, it’s always “ok”. REALLY? Because I just caused a disaster in the kitchen on a Saturday night because I understand a true food allergy, so I made sure the kitchen took every precaution. Then you order something and say its ok. Every chef hates me. Don’t be a dick.

  52. What a great article! Full of fantastic tips! When I am traveling – be it for a day trip with the family on a weekend, or camping for a few days, or on any other trip, I always pack my own food. Lots of dry goods. However, inevitably we (not all in my family are Primal) end up at restaurants, though 99% of the time there is no “fast food” (I do draw the line somewhere). I have gotten very good at picking mostly Primal items off restaurant menus. No grains. No deep fried. But… then I pull the 80/20 and I don’t make a big deal of ‘is that real butter’ or ‘omg i have to have my own olive oil.’ I don’t eat out at restaurants very often, so I simply choose to do the best I can — avoid most of the poisons and know that my body will deal with the others. (After all, I have seen the movie “Waiting,” and I have worked in the restaurant biz in earlier years, and I know that all kinds of special requests are treated in an…um…very ‘special’ manner. I’ll take my steak without the spit thank you).

  53. I do have a friend who is true Celiac and also very allergic to soy, and even the slightest bit of cross-contamination will screw with her for a long time and make her horrendously sick, and she is really not a fan of people claiming allergies they do not actually have, as it makes her life a lot tougher, since her issue is immediately life threatening.

    But I dunno.

    That’s a tough one.

  54. All I can say is if I had an allergy to a food be it nuts, gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, grains, or whatever, there is no way in hell I’d eat out or in a restaurant where I didn’t know for sure that my needs were being met. I worked in a restaurant as a short order cook and I know for a fact that what you think you’re eating verses what they tell you you are eating are 2 completely different things.

    Get over it people – the bottom line is the dollar sign. Almost all the foods in most restaurants are already prepared or purchased that way from a restaurant food supply company. You might luck out with a Mom and Pop operation that is willing to cook to order, but otherwise don’t even begin to count on it. The chef isn’t going to change out the frying oil from crap to something that will accommodate you for your one special order.

    If you’ve got a problem, then stay home and do everyone else a favor. If you insist on having the restaurant change it’s menu just to suit you, then you’re allergy or whatever problem you have isn’t as big a deal as you make it out to be — because if it was a big deal or was even remotely life-threatening, you wouldn’t put yourself in the position of maybe the food not being exactly what you specified.

    Cross contamination is a whole other problem – what are they going to do? De-contaminate all the pots, pans, utensels because of one lone request? I hardly think so.

    I;m sorry if you have an allergy, I have my issues as well, but I don’t expect the food industry to accommodate my particular problem – mainly because it just can’t. I’m responsible for my problems, not the restaurant.

    When I was a cook and a special request like that came in, we’d just have to tell them that we couldn’t accommodate their request and please feel free to try another place to eat.

    1. I’d like to point out that those restaurants that DO cater to certain allergy needs, gain a fervent, cult-like following. Especially now that there are online reviews for the allergic. Word gets around quickly, and brings in lots of business.

      Our local Thai place will never close due to lack of business, due to great food, but also a commitment to gluten- and dairy-free. They’ve even done well with my mom who’s anaphylactic to legumes (aka beans and peanuts), which really limited what she could order. The trick is finding places that care about something other than just $$.

  55. What a timely topic. I live in Japan and I’m about to go to an uninhabited island with some non-Primal friends. I can already hear, “Hey Jay (me), get some of these vegetable oil fried noodles (yakisoba)! They rock!” Okay, I did used to think they taste good… I’ll have to do the boiled egg thing when we aren’t BBQ-ing and bring some locally-grown yams for desert.

  56. What a coincidence! I just stated a blog Monday on the same subject. I am always on the road for work and have hard time finding suitable food and time/place for physical activity. Just started!I want to blog on this to help me and other who face simular challanges.

  57. For school lunches, check out Sarah Fragaso’s Everyday Paleo cookbook. (Hope I didn’t butcher her name!) She’s got three kids and has a whole section on school lunches that’s great, and even addresses the nut-free school issue. I think it’s worth paying for a good quality insulated lunch box so you know stuff is staying cold. Meatballs, cold, lunchmeat or lettuce wraps with quality cold cuts, and salads are great. She’s got a recipe for sun-dried tomato chicken that’s great as a salad topper since the sauce is like a dressing. That will be in my cooler next week for our vacation!

    1. Two thumbs up for Fragoso’s Everyday Paleo book and website, especially for people with kids since that is a focus of hers.

  58. Understandable while traveling domestically to be picky as the States is a wasteland regarding food but part of REAL international travel is the food and not to partake in local culture fully is well, rather American. But then, other than Cancun for spring break and a quick honeymoon trip to Europe Americans don’t really travel. I was lucky to spend 15 years abroad and there aren’t many Americans out there.

  59. I love this post! I’m always looking for great snack/travel foods. My kids and I bike for transportation, and the longer trips require a lot of food planning.

    My go-to travel foods:
    homemade beef jerky
    boiled eggs
    cheese cubes
    bottled water and whey protein powder
    tuna in an easy-open packet

    I don’t do well with fruit sugar or nuts, so I always have one of the previous items on me.

    For “foraging”, I will get cheese and Applegate Farms lunch meat, sushi, or smoked salmon. If I can bring my own food to be cooked, I’ll bring uncured, un-yucky hot dogs or any grillable meat in the summer. In winter, I have to stick with my travel foods. Sometimes, I’ll be able to eat the spaghetti sauce, turkey, or one of the sides at a party.

    I’m getting better at IF-ing it when there is no other option. I drink a lot of water and take small portions, move them around on the plate, and talk a lot so people don’t notice I’m not eating.

    My own parents have noticed how successful I’m becoming with this way of living, and they’re actually PROUD of me when I refuse and IF in their presence. My FATHER is PROUD of me. If only I’d known that the only thing I needed to do was lose weight….

    I love the idea of eating coconut oil for fuel on the road. I’m adding that to my arsenal. I haven’t tried sardines yet, but I’ve got a tin in my emergency kit.

    1. Anna: There are some really good canned sardines out there and some really awful ones. You should try a few different brands and see what kind you prefer and then you’ll have a good, shelf-stable snack that can go anywhere. I like the Portuguese sardines from Vital Choice and the tiny Norwegian sardines (like the King Oscar brand). I can’t stand the large Atlantic sardines. Of course they are the least expensive.

  60. I have been backpacking for a couple of months now and have found it hard to stay primal while on a budget. bad timing i say, as i just started being primal 2 weeks before i left (and i was doing really well). a cooler is not really a practical thing to carry around (especially if you are by yourself and already carrying 30kg of gear around) so you are basically left to forage at the supermarket or eat out all the time. and you can not eat out all the time on a strict budget or for language barriers. some hostels don’t have proper kitchen facilities (for instance, i just stayed at one where they said fully equipped kitchen, when all it had was a microwave, a fridge and an electric kettle. i really really looking forward to some fried eggs). and the breakfasts most hostels provide (assuming they provide them) are just cereals and toast, and sometimes yoghurt and even rarer hard boiled eggs. So i find fruits are easy and portable, eggs when you can cook them, delis and cheese for something quick and cooking-free, even roast chickens (many supermarkets sell them cooked) with some raw vege. and a lot of IFing

  61. I am surprised no one has mentioned an eco pot – one of those where you start the meal off on your cooker and then pop it into the sealed container where it cooks while you travel. We travel all over Western Australia by caravan and usually set up a stew, chilli or soup (made to primal specifications)in the eco pot and have a hot meal ready when we arrive at our next destination.

    1. These don’t seem to be available in the US. Is it possible to get them outside of Australia?

  62. Mark, I can’t thank you enough for this post. In three weeks, I’m moving to Oakland, CA from Orlando, FL for graduate school – a drive that will take five days to accomplish. My husband and I were really concerned about what we were going to eat on the road, but your post has inspired us. We’re stopping in Memphis on the way, so we’ll use the opportunity to stock up on barbecue.

  63. I can vouch for the great taste of sweet potatoes cold from the fridge. I usually bake a half dozen in our electric roaster, then store them in the fridge until needed. Had one today,for a quick snack: just wrap it in a paper towel to keep your hands from becoming sticky and “chow down”…even thought about adding the liquid produced from baking to my protein shake but haven’t tried it yet.

  64. When my husband and I travel we usually pack an assortment of non-perishable snacks such as nuts, fruit, veggies and lara bars. I know these are not ideal choices, but I think they are the best you can do in some circumstances short of lugging a cooler around with you. I am also a big believer in taking in the local cuisine and living by the 80/20 rule while on vacation. In this regard, I watch my portions, try to make the best choice possible given the menu selection and fill up on salads and lean protein. I do not on any level advocate fasting and no offense, but I believe this to be poor advice that will only backfire. You’ll fast then be starving an hour later which will likely lead you to eat the most readily available glucose source – bread. I think we all need to get some perspective, as well, and realize this is a lifestyle choice NOT a diet, so things will get right back on track once the trip is over.

    As for family functions and holidays, well that’s easy enough, go to the grocery store and make something or a few things you can eat and offer to bring them to the dinner. The host will love you for helping out and you get to stay on track. Problem solved!

    Carolina Hurant, MS, RYT, CPT

  65. Tanka bars from http://www.tankabar.com are a travel staple for me. Buffalo and cranberries a wee bit of sweet something and spices. NO gluten, MSG, hormones, nitrates or nitrites. And NO refrigeration needed.

    1. I tried a Tanka Bar, Tanka Bites, and the a “Hot” Tanka Bar for a recent trip. The Hot is not that Hot to me. On a long trip I would take both flavors, but I think I like the original better.

      Now, I just need to figure out how to buy them in bulk at the best price. I was happy to find them at my local REI, but I wouldn’t want to stock up at that price.

  66. I rarely have dressing on my salads. My mother taught me long ago that cottage cheese is an excellent salad dressing. I have since learned that shredded or chopped meats, cheeses and boiled egg are excellent dressings, especially in combination. Sunflower seeds on top of cottage cheese on top of the salad is fabulous.

    Salads are really great without dressing, provided they have enough fat ingredients.

  67. All I can say is thank god for my Tanka bars! Buffalo and cranberries based on traditional Lakota food practices make a better-than-jerky fast food option.

    I tried, I really tried, fish in a can but NO.

  68. My wife and I are planning a canoe trip to the Sylvania Wilderness, so this post comes at a perfect time! I had thought of a few of these ideas myself (eg., hardboiling your eggs the night before you depart) and used them successfully on a recent stay in the SD Badlands, but much here is new to me. Thanks, Mark! PS., We love your cookbook too!

  69. This is absolutely true. I have tried some of your tips while me and my family went on vacation recently. I have learned my lesson before when we traveled and haven’t prepared any food or water along with us hoping to reach our destination early but along our way our car got some problem. Hmm… I don’t want to experience it again. Better to be prepared than be sorry.

  70. Easier than a bag of ice is 2-liter bottles full of water and frozen. When they melt, your cooler doesn’t end up with inches of water at the bottom with your food getting all soggy.

    They only last 2-3 days though; for slightly longer periods, you can go with full gallons. Full gallons last close to a week.

    We always have them. Freezers are more efficient when full, so we fill them up with water as the meat is used up. Last time we lost electricity, for 5 days, all the meat chunks stayed totally frozen with all that ice in there, only stuff that thawed was small packages of cheese and pepperoni in the baskets.

    Also, take foods for 2-3 days into the future frozen also. The more frozen stuff, the colder the cooler stays.

    For truck drivers, if you’re on the road 2-3 weeks at a time, you need strategies beyond this though as your fresh foods are not going to last into a second week, let alone a third.

    The standard truck fridge doesn’t work too well in summer, so add a frozen gallon to help just as for a non-electric cooler. Load up halfway with fresh food and half with frozen meals which will get you through the first week.

    Include torn greens and sliced tomatoes, cukes, etc in a large tupperware. You can build salads or add to sandwiches as you wish if the stuff’s precut. Also, containers of fresh berries and cherries. Apples work well as they don’t bruise when bouncing and last a while.

    Nuts and nut butters are a must, there are days they may be your only protein. Not ideal, but better than hitting Taco Bell.

    Most important one IMO is learning to pressure can foods at home. You can make a lot of yummy foods at home in big batches and can for the second or third week – stuff like chili, corned beef and cabbage, beef and lamb stews, etc. Because they cook more when processing, you can undercook them and then process. We found home-canned foods indispensable when we were driving OTR… you are going to get stuck eating canned food sometimes, so might as well be yummy homemade stuff instead of Hormel.

    If you make a big recipe and can it each time you’re home, you eventually wind up with a nice variety of home-canned foods.

    Home-canned foods are in Mason jars, which bounce around in the truck. We made “belts” for them, just strips of cardboard duct-taped around the middle, so the glass didn’t bang together in the truck. Never lost a jar and we usually left home with 10-20 quarts.

    The sad thing when we drove… the BEST thing was Walmart. I wrote down every Walmart I ever saw in my truck stop directory to keep track of them and always tried to hit one the second and third weeks.

    You can get in and out easily in a truck, if you park far enough from the store to not get blocked in by cars.

    And though it’s not good organic stuff, you can buy fresh fruits and veggies – replenish your salad ingredients, berries and such.

    Also, dairy products if you do them – I did a lot of yogurt, cottage cheese and block cheese on the road. I kept flavored syrups in the truck for yogurt so I could buy plain organic yogurt.

    Also, pick up stuff at Walmart like a whole rotisserrie chicken – mostly just plain meat and herbs, one of the best food options out there. The package takes up a lot of space in the fridge, so plan to eat nothing but chicken until it’s gone, about 2 days.

    Why I say it’s sad is… at home, Walmart is the worst food choice, I never buy food there.

    But it was the best food available on the road as it WAS actual food, a darned good option compared to truck stops which mostly just have chips and candy with fast food joints attached.

    Many of the fast-food joints have salads of the chicken or beef on top of fresh veggies variety – when you have no choice but a truck stop.

    In a pinch when that’s not available, you can always buy a half gallon of milk and drink your dinner – it’s crappy milk, but at least it’s food as opposed to chips and candy bars.

    We rarely did the actual restaurants at truck stops, as the food was always of the overcooked and soggy variety, especially buffets. A truck stop buffet is where I discovered that someone thinks sugar is a needed ingredient in potato salad – that stuff was just inedible.

    However, breakfasts can be decent as they have steak and bacon and such and eggs. Most of the truck stop restaurants serve breakfast 24-hours, so we usually got that.

    Also, you need protein powder in the truck. I used an unflavored and unsweetened casein-based powder. With a jug of water, and flavored syrups or berries or a banana, you have some protein when needed.

  71. Many rest areas and city parks have grills free for the using. A bag of charcoal, and you are good to go. Should be able to cook anything you can do at home.

    If you flew in, you can buy cheap pans (check the camping section if you want to avoid Teflon) and throw them away when you leave.

    1. If you are going to use charcoal, consider Cowboy Charcoal. Cowboy Charcoal is to briquettes as a juicy T-bone is to bologna.

      Cooking with real charcoal takes a bit of getting used to because it burns hotter, but it seems to provide a lot more energy for a given weight. (I have even taken it canoeing so that we could grill Bison steaks on an island with limited good firewood.)

  72. Three years in a row I’ve gone to the same 4-day conference. The 1st year I thought the food was great. (I didn’t eat primal yet.) The 2nd year I planned to “make good choices” and ended up starving the whole time. The 3rd year I packed my own food, was satisfied, and learned more than any previous year. I made whey protein, coconut oil, blueberry, and raw egg (from my own chickens) smoothies in my Bullet blender for breakfast. Then packed a lunch size cooler for the rest of the day with roasted meat, cheese, raw veggies, whole fat yogurt, jerky and some nuts. Sometimes I made a salad from the salad bar and used my own oil and vinegar dressing, (double ziplocked in the cooler.) It was stuffed full in the morning and empty every night. I felt so good about being prepared, but I felt even better physically!

  73. I fly a lot and I just pack a lunchbox. I usually pack a fresh salad, and butter-roasted chicken (skin on! Nom nom nom…). Anything works for flights, a few hours won’t make cooked chicken go off. I even took my home-made nut bread with caviar (they had butter on the plane). If, for some reason, I can’t get my own packed lunch, I can forage (it’s pretty easy to find relatively primal stuff like chicken salad around; it’s good if there’s a Fridays’ at an airport (steaks!))…or I just IF. I can go without food for a day or two – works especially if I’m tired and have to sleep on the plane.

  74. Ziploc bags for EVERYTHING when traveling
    Kerrygold butter in a ziploc, add it to steamed veggies
    Light My Fire Spork, is a durable spoon/fork/knife

  75. This is a great article and so very helpful. I actually stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last week where I noticed they had a grill outside. So, in the middle of February in Michigan I asked if I could use their grill. It worked perfectly, well minus the fact that they had to go get more propane for me. 😉

  76. When you said forage I thought you ment forage. I’ve traveled with a fishing pole, eaten wild berries, apples, and greens, and even considerd bugs (though I haven’t been brave enough yet, I think someone will have to offer me money or eat one first). Just make sure you’re away from roads, factories, and other sources of pollution.