Air Travel and Paleo


Packing up to go somewhere cool?  I just did. The airport for Paleo people (or anyone who’s concerned for their health) is not exactly ideal.  It’s not like it’s impossible to get a Paleo meal in an airport, but you’ll probably end up making some compromises if you do.  You could get a burger with no bun, but is it going to be factory-farmed meat that you’re eating? And will you really pass up the super sized fries? You could get a salad with some chicken on top, but again, what exactly did that chicken eat through its life? Probably corn and antibiotics. And chicken salad from an airport is usually comprised of about a cup and a half of romaine (if you’re lucky) and 2-3 ounces of meat — in other words, an appetizer.  So, having just gone through the security line at the Denver International Airport, on my way to go rock climbing and house hunting near Slade, Kentucky, I’m going to share with you what delicious foods I just got away with bringing onto my undersized and over-full plane.

Between the two of us, we had one 50-pound suitcase full of canned fish, raw meat and hard-boiled eggs on ice, vegetables, chocolate, trail mix, condiments, coconut milk, and tapioca crepes. We’re going to be in a place where Whole Foods or anything like it is about 2 hours away, so we packed enough food for at least 2 days until we can go to a proper grocery store on our first rest day. In our carry-ons, we have some of the same, with the addition of half an avocado in a glass Pyrex container. To our surprise, the airport security employees didn’t even bat an eye at our strange carry-on items. Maybe everyone does this?

It just seems strange to me that you can’t bring a normal sized tube of toothpaste through security, but I can bring half of my kitchen. Fine with me. I will say, though, that one time I tried to bring a jar of almond butter in my carry on and they told me I needed to either eat it, throw it away, or go up to the post office and mail it home. So don’t try that. It’s the liquid-y things they don’t like, and I guess my $12 jar of almond butter was too viscous for their tastes. I ended up throwing it away, passing on the 2500-calorie snack.

At our destination, we’ve rented a cabin near the Red River Gorge, a world-renowned climbing destination, where we will have access to a refrigerator in a kitchen of sorts, but no stove. We brought our double burner camp stove in our 50 pound suitcase and we’ll set it up in the kitchen of sorts, whether the owner likes it or not (hopefully she won’t notice the propane fumes). I need to cook, and this will do just fine for a week. After all, I’ve lived a Paleo lifestyle for months out of a tent with only a cooler and my trusty stove. At least I have a roof over my head this time.

Most people don’t think of a cabin in the middle of the woods in rural Kentucky as a “vacation,” but even if you’re going to a hotel in Disney World, this plan could allow you to remain on your clean eating Paleo diet. You just need a refrigerator or cooler at your destination and maybe a small cooler pack for the plane ride (if you need to have food on the plane or immediately upon your arrival). You’ll need access to a stove, a pan, and a fork, and a good grocery store once you’re there.

For shorter trips, when I know I’m going somewhere where I can immediately go to a grocery store and stock up on food that I’ll cook in my host’s kitchen, I make it much simpler.  Sometimes I’ll just double the size of an egg & veggie scramble for breakfast, put the half that I don’t eat into a Tupperware and stick it in my carry on. You can do that with any leftovers (unless they’re liquid, that is).  The liquid rules are kind of arbitrary, though, since I’ve brought half of a smashed up baked sweet potato smothered in coconut milk and nobody said a thing to me.

Or I’ll prepare some sort of meat in bulk (for instance, I’ll make a whole pound of lamb burgers at once) and wrap some of it in tin foil and stick that in my carry on bag with a banana for later.  It’s things like these that save me when I’m starving (and I’m assuming everyone else on the plane is, too) and my options are a one-ounce bag of peanuts or a coke.

You may think that the peanuts are your only option. I’m here to let you know that you are definitely allowed to bring your own food through the security line, onto the plane, and into your mouth while flying. It just takes a little bit of forethought and being okay with getting some weird (or sometimes envious) looks from your neighbors in flight. Happy traveling!