From Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig, co-founders of the Whole30 program and New York Times bestselling authors of It Starts With Food
The Whole30 Book Tour
Whole30 Business Travel 101
Point number one: when it comes to business travel, you must have a plan. (If your company plans your travel, you may not have a say in all of these factors. Just do the best you can to communicate your preferences to your travel coordinator, and take over the planning wherever you can; see below for suggestions.)
Point number two: you might think our plan is all about finding Good Food, but it’s not. A good business travel plan is about minimizing stress. If you’re relaxed and at ease, getting to a restaurant and dealing with a boring burger (no bun) and garden salad with oil and vinegar for lunch is no big deal. But if you arrive stressed and anxious, that burger is going to look a whole lot better with melted cheese, a side of fries, and a craft beer. Stress ruins everything, including your healthy eating plans, so our goal is to keep our trips as stress-free as possible.
Flight and Hotel
We usually use the night we arrive as food-prep time, stocking up on healthy on-the-go snacks and water for the following day(s). So when booking your flight, try not to land between 3 and 5 PM, which (after collecting bags and a rental car) puts you on the road smack in the middle of rush hour. Trust us, being stuck on the highway for an hour the moment you arrive is not a fun way to kick off your trip.
Tip: If you arrive before 3 PM, go straight to the grocery store, then check in at the hotel, unloading everything all at once before leaving for dinner. If you arrived late, plan to head straight to a quick dinner, then to the grocery store (most are open late), then end your night back at the hotel.
After you book your flight, it’s time to look for a hotel. If you have the option, look for one close to either the event venue or in a shopping district, where you’ll have a grocery store, coffee shop, and restaurants nearby. Ideally, your hotel has a fridge and a microwave (we choose chain hotels where these items come standard with your room—anything with “Suites” in the name is a good bet), but all hotels keep a few refrigerators on-hand for guests who request one. As soon as your room is booked, call the hotel and see if they can place one in your room before you arrive—the availability of a fridge will dictate your “stocking up on food” strategy.
Food (and Coffee) Resources
Tip: The less you have to search for stuff on the tiny screen of your smartphone on the fly, the better. Some cities have terrible connectivity for certain carriers (we’re looking at you, Denver), and approaching an exit at 70 miles per hour with the driver frantically yelling, “Do I get off or not?!” doesn’t fit our stress-reducing travel model. Plan, plan, plan.
Yelp, Open Table, and Google are all great options for finding healthy food on the fly. Before I left the comfort of my office computer, I’d search for a breakfast place near the hotel, make sure they were open early enough to accommodate our needs, and call to make sure they were still in business and verify their hours. (Trust me on this one, it’s worth the extra step.) If breakfast is offered in your hotel, even better—just make sure it’s a real breakfast with eggs (bare minimum), and not a pastry-laden “Continental” buffet.
Yes, you can find a healthy meal at Cheesecake Factory. Or Olive Garden. Or Applebees. Check our Dining Guide to help you make healthy Whole30 choices in literally any restaurant.
Tip: If your dinners will include colleagues, volunteer to be the Dinner Finder Guy every time you travel. Your co-workers will be grateful to do away with the “Where do you want to go? I don’t know, where do you want to go?” plus you’ll get to choose places that fit your healthy-eating preferences. Win/win.
Finally, I’d plan lunch—usually the least important meal to plan in detail, because we were either eating on-site as part of our events or our day was pretty free, meaning we could find a lunch spot on the fly. Still, having a few ideas is helpful here, even if it’s the noting the Whole Foods down the road has a prepared food bar.
Next, I’d map out the locations we’d need for the trip, all in one document that I’d email to myself and my travel companion(s) right before we left. I’d include:
Depending on the length of trip, I’d always pack enough on-the-go travel food to get us through the flight, any potential delays, and the return flight, just in case. (We discuss this in the Travel section of The Whole30, but you can also download our Travel Guide and check our Whole30 Approved page for travel food ideas. We also love the Barefoot Provisions Whole30 Emergency Kit.)
And here’s the genius of having a plan—you can always go off-plan if the opportunity arises, no harm done. If your co-workers would rather try the sushi place next door to the hotel for dinner instead of the place you reserved, no problem! But if the sushi place turns out to be closed (or too busy), you’ve still got your back-up reservation, and you’ve totally saved the day. Again.
With this strategy, you’ll find your business trips are 79% less stressful. (Yes, we’ve done the math.) Another unexpected bonus—you’ll also enjoy your trip more. Part of the fun of traveling includes exploring new restaurants, local foods, and cultures. By researching from the comfort of your own office, you’re able to seek out exciting, interesting, or award-winning dining experiences, interjecting some tasty deliciousness into what can be an otherwise boring or predictable grind.