Traveling (By Plane or Car) & How To Stay “On Diet”

Traveling (By Plane or Car) & How To Stay “On Diet”

One of the most difficult struggles with travel can be sticking with your healing diet – but don’t let that hold you back from enjoying your travels. The good news: both travel for work and personal vacations (within the US and even international) can be done in a way that doesn’t wreck your success.

As you might imagine, I have traveled quite a bit in my journey to become a structural chiropractor and functional medicine doctor (as well as my own personal vacations). Through trial and error, I have discovered what needs to be done before, during and even after traveling.

Pre-Trip Planning
This is by far the MOST IMPORTANT part of healthy travel dining – are you staying in a place with a kitchen? If yes, then you will want to search for the local health food stores (Whole Foods, Sprouts, Fresh Market, Trader Joe’s etc.) so that you can stop by to stock your “travel kitchen” similar to how you would at home.

Staying in a hotel? Before I pick my hotel, I do restaurant locating (see below) to determine where the good ones are, then I look for a hotel in that area. Also, when choosing a hotel, you want to know if they have a mini-refrigerator because that allows you to bring your own food.

Thanks to sites like VRBO and AirBNB you do not have to be restricted by hotels and their limited amenities. 90% of my personal travels involve staying in other people’s homes/ apartments – again because they include kitchens which allows me to be the chef and stay 100% on diet when traveling.


When I stay at a hotel, here are the two largest things I consider:

  1. Does the room have a mini-fridge? If yes, you can bring a small amount of your own food!
  2. What year was the hotel built in? The majority of hotels in the US, especially those in the south, have mold in them. It’s a sad reality of how hotels are constructed, as fast and as cheap as possible. Leaks are common, which can result in mold growing quickly. I’m sure you know what I am talking about, and even 5-star hotels can have mold!

To be safe, regardless of which hotel you are traveling to, ALWAYS PACK A DIFFUSER and some OnGuard (Doterra) or Thieves (Youngliving). You can also make your own “mold oil” by mixing oregano, cinnamon, clove, orange and tea tree oil. Diffuse the room for 30min to 1-hr just as you arrive. If you are mold sensitive, a must is a HEPA/UV/Ozone air purifier (some models are as small as 6”x6”) and trust me, it can be a life saver for cleaning the air in a hotel room!

Just because breakfast is free or available with your hotel stay doesn’t mean you have to break your intermittent fast? Most hotels offer coffee (and you should have butter and coconut oil in your mini-fridge) so there’s no stopping your morning fatted coffee! (one travel tip is to bring your own hand-held whisker and liquid stevia so you can mix the coffee on the go). Or you can try “Fat Fuel Coffee” instant keto-coffee packets ( simply add hot water and your fatted coffee can be made anywhere!

Final hotel tip: Make sure to read review sites like Yelp or Trip Advisor to search the city you’re visiting, along with keywords like “paleo”, “farm to table”, or “grass-fed” (depending on your chosen lifestyle, of course.) For example, on Trip Advisor, you can search city + (chosen keyword) in the main search bar, which will supply reviews people have made of restaurants and hotels in that city using that specific keyword. This is how I found a hotel that serves gluten-free options in their on-site restaurants to visit on a recent trip to Atlanta.

Food for Travel
Both perishable and non-perishable foods travel well (although the latter requires a cooler/ice). The majority of vegetables (car- rots, broccoli, celery and cucumber travel well. Pre-peeled hard-boiled eggs, pre-made fat bombs, raw cheese, olives, organic lunch meats and avocados are also easy to pack. Single servings of packaged guacamole and hummus make great added fats and proteins. You can even pre-make sales (yes, salad dressings on the salad can pass through security at airports) can prevent you from having to eat “airport food”

Other good options from personal experience: Essential Bars (the ones we sell here), grass-fed beef jerky (self-made or Epic bars), chocolate energy bites (whole foods), raw chocolate bars, roasted/spiced garbanzo beans (by Saffron Road), Nuts/Seeds (pre-made trail mix), individual packets of almond butter, coconut butter, ghee, coconut oil.

PS. Don’t forget to bring a small jar of Himalayan sea salt, liquid sweet leaf stevia, and olive oil!

Locating the Best Restaurants 

The best way to find acceptable restaurants is by searching directly in Google, Yelp, even Trip Advisor using the following key words “Farm to Table”, “Grass-Fed”, “Organic”, even “Gluten Free” along with the city you are visiting. Example: “Farm to Table Restaurant, Orlando FL” yields a website titled “Best Farm To Table Restaurants in Orlando, FL” from (a great website btw with hundreds of additional healthy traveling tips).

Once you have located a restaurant using the above suggestions, find their websites and begin to read the menu. Most of those listed using the search options above should have options like wild caught salmon, or other fish, antibiotic free, pasture raised poultry and/or grass-fed steaks/burgers. Another trick is to look at the various dishes offered in the entrees and see what the kitchen must be stocking (you can always mix and match accompanying sides from one dish to another when ordering.) It might be worth calling in advance telling them you are dairy free, grainless, gluten sensitive with a peanut allergy and asking if they can accommodate your dietary needs (the answer will tell you if it’s a place worth dining at).

But Dr. Ernst, the city I am going to is a “1 stop sign” city – and google came back with zero results, what now? Don’t give up that easily. Search “restaurants + city” and pick up the phone. Again, ask the person who answers if they offer options for those with gluten, dairy or whatever you are trying to order – a small white lie about being allergic to canola oil can go a long way! If it’s a small city and you are limited to the “corner cafe” it will be your decision to eat there or not. When ordering at “any restaurant” it’s best to stick with salads and simply ask them to substitute their included dressing with a side of olive oil/vinegar. Ask them not to put any croutons or cheese on the salad along with processed meats (ham, turkey etc.). See if their menu allows for added proteins (grilled chicken, steak, fish) etc. You can also order any entree dish that includes proteins and ask for a vegetable side instead of the included starchy or fried sides. It’s also best to tell the waiter you wish for your foods to be cooked with butter instead of vegetable oils (the majority of restaurants use Canola because they think it’s healthy (and it’s the least expensive oil).

Detoxing / Supplements while Travel
The beauty of supplements is they travel and pack well. Your travel should not prevent you from continuing your current detox program or wellness vitamins. The tear packets of your program make it easy to slip into your pocket/purse. You can also pre your days allotments with small snack zip lock baggies for ease of travel (this way you don’t have to bring bottles!). If anything, make sure you also bring digestive enzymes, a good one is Z-Glut (which we have here) it helps to break down gluten proteins in case you are exposed to gluten (a lot of restaurants hide it in dishes you wouldn’t expect to have wheat/gluten).

Last Min Recommendations: Regardless of where you go, HAVE FUN! (Its travel after-all) You can always repair when you return by doing a 3-4 day fast with salt water/broth which can act as a “master reset” and undo any food damage from your trip!