By: Nick Halasz and Katy Meassick, University of Maryland College Park Dietetic Interns Date: 12/20/10
The holiday season is in full swing, which means many of us will be heading over the hills and through the woods to be with family and friends. Whether you are driving, flying, or taking the train or bus, odds are that you will be packing or buying foods and beverages to keep you satiated and hydrated along the way. During this hectic time, we often forget about the importance of food safety and nutrition on a long road trip or on our way to catch a flight out of town. Remember to wash your hands, keep foods at their proper temperatures, sneak in some exercise, and eat balanced meals. Follow these tips for a fun, safe and healthy holiday!
Food safety holiday travel tips:
1. Plan ahead. If you’re loading up the car and want to bring both food and drinks, plan to keep beverages in a separate cooler so the food stays at the consistent, proper temperature. If you’re traveling with meat, plan to have enough ice or ice packs to keep your meat below 40 degrees F. Perishable food should not be left out of the cooler for more than 2 hours.
2. Wash your hands as much as possible. Traveling takes you to many new places and those places can expose you to bacteria. Plan to carry anti-bacterial hand sanitizer in the event that a restroom isn’t available. This will also help keep the cold and flu bugs away during the holidays.
3. Prepared food safety is no exception. Apply the same food safety practices towards food purchased at restaurants. Be sure to wash your hands before and after restroom stops and before eating. Food purchased through the drive-through or at a restaurant should not be consumed if it sits out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
4. Treat leftovers with care. If you choose to bring back leftover food from your travels, take similar food safety precautions. Pack leftovers in coolers with ice packs. If traveling by car, place them in the trunk so that they won’t be exposed to as much heat in the car. Always reheat leftovers to 165° F before enjoying a second time.
Practical nutrition tips for holiday travelers:
1. Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids, even when you're not thirsty, can help battle the dryness caused by weather changes and re-circulated airplane air.
2. Pack your snacks. Airport security lines do not allow beverages and perishable food items often don’t travel well. When flying, choose shelf-stable, transportable snacks such as popcorn, trail mix, carrots, or even sandwiches. A peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread will give you the protein and fiber to satisfy your hunger throughout a long flight.
3. Be mindful of portion sizes. Rather than skip your favorite dessert or main dish, enjoy a smaller portion of each so you’re not depriving yourself of your favorite foods. Or, consider eating a green salad or a bowl of broth-based soup before your main meal so you don’t overindulge.
4. Pack in some physical activity. If you’re on a long flight, walk up and down the aisle when the pilot turns off the fasten seatbelt sign. Skip the movable walk ways and get in as many steps as you can.
Are you traveling this holiday season? What are your favorite on-the-go nutrition and food safety tips?