Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) Travel Survival Guide by Wyatt Nash

June 2, 2018 / Molly Patrick /

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Hi love!

Wyatt Nash, our resident Dirty Dude, is back with a very special WFPB travel survival guide for you. If you travel often you are going to want to MAKE out with this guide. Wyatt travels a fuckofalot for work and he compiled all of his plant based MacGyver moves for you in one guide. He has you covered from the beginning of your trip to the end, and everything in between.

Wyatt, thank you for sharing this and inspiring other Dirties to be as badass as you!


Whole Food Plant Based Travel Survival Guide by Wyatt Nash

I’ve traveled a lot for work and pleasure over the years, averaging about one week per month away from home. It was always an excuse to eat and drink whatever I wanted. Predictably, I gained a lot of weight and lost a lot of self-confidence during the process.

Staying in a hotel with a kitchenette is ideal when traveling. It isn’t the same as cooking at home, but it does allow for basic cooking. Staying in a hotel with no microwave or refrigerator is the other end of the spectrum where you’re limited to eating fruit and cooling a bottle of Kombucha in an ice bucket. Driving to your destination allows you to bring a cooler and a variety of cooking utensils that would be impractical on a plane. This guide assumes domestic air travel and a room with a microwave and a small refrigerator.

TIP: If you’re going to Hawaii to visit Molly and Luanne (ha!), check with the USDA concerning restrictions for transporting fruits and vegetables into and out of Hawaii.

Molly’s Travel Tips

I wouldn’t be writing this if I hadn’t discovered Molly and signed up for the meal plans. Instead I’d be dreaming about eating at In-N-Out Burger during my next trip to San Diego. She’s done some great blogs about how she eats while traveling that you should definitely check out. Here’s the link to her plant based travel posts.

Before You Leave for Your Trip

Figuring out ahead of time what you’re going to eat on the plane and at your destination is important. Without a solid plan, it’s too easy to default to whatever is convenient, and convenient is not synonymous with healthy. While larger airports may have healthy options, the smaller ones like Norfolk, VA, are very limited. Having a plan and taking action is key.

Let’s start with my typical carry-on and checked bag foods.

Carry-On Food

TIP: I don’t recommend taking bananas or avocados because they get pretty banged up and make a serious mess if they split open.

Checked Bag Food

TIP: When packing something that could possibly leak, put it in a Ziploc bag. It may save your clothes, and the bag will come in handy at your destination.

TIP: If your hotel offers a free breakfast, ask if they have plain oatmeal so you don’t have to pack your own.

TIP: Don’t pack soup and oatmeal if you know you can find them at your destination because they take up a lot of space.

Checked Bag Utensils and Cooking Equipment

Pampered Chef Rice Cooker
I’ve never used any other rice cooker. If you have one that will work in a microwave and is small enough to pack, just use that one! There are probably some electric models out there that will also work.

I chose this rice cooker as my primary means of cooking food in a microwave for a couple of reasons. It’s big enough to cook enough food for dinner and have leftovers for lunch the next day, but small enough to fit in a suitcase. It’s also nearly indestructible. The lid locks into place, it has liquid measuring marks on the inside, it’s vented in such a way that it won’t boil over, and it can be used as a strainer if you remove the plastic insert on the inside of the lid.

  • Small cutting board
  • Paring knife
  • John Wayne can opener
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Camping utensils set
  • Small plastic plate and bowl
  • Gallon and quart size Ziploc bags
  • Microwave safe Ziploc storage containers
  • Bullet blender

TIP: Pack a bottle brush to clean your bullet blender and smoothie jar.

Other Heat Sources
Although I said this guide assumes a room with a microwave, the following ideas are too good not to mention.

NOTE: A coffee maker or Keurig isn’t going to boil water, so “cooking” ramen or soba noodles is going to take a long time, but I’ve done it in the past in a pinch.

At the Airport

Getting through security doesn’t have to be a stressful event. I see more and more people in the airport and on the plane eating food they brought with them. The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has very clear guidelines about what foods you can bring with you on the plane.

TIP: Make your carry on food look like food, not ingredients. For example, you have a much better chance of getting an eggless egg salad sandwich through security than a container of eggless egg salad.

I typically don’t bring liquids through security. If you decide to bring salad dressing or hummus in your carry on (it counts as a paste), make sure you adhere to the 3-1-1 rule.

TIP: Take an empty water bottle with you and fill it when you get through security. If you want lemon water, put a cut lemon in the bottle and juice it later.

In spite of your best planning, you may find yourself out of the food you brought because of flight delays. Most major airports have healthy options, some of which are listed below.

Airport Restaurants

Airport Snacks

TIP: Gather fruit and healthy snacks. I’m always on the lookout for fruit and healthy snacks at the airport, and I buy them if I have room in my bag. You never know when you’re going to be wandering the terminal in the middle of the night when all the restaurants and shops are closed.

On the Plane

There are so many benefits to eating your own food on the plane. It’s healthy, it’s much less expensive, and you may get to share your health story with someone sitting near you as they’re eyeing your food because it looks so much better than what they have!

TIP: Ignore the drink and food carts unless you need water. Especially ignore the Biscoff cookies on Delta flights.

At Your Destination

I check into my room, unpack, and take a shower before I head to the store. This gives me a few minutes to unwind before I shop for my healthy food. If I arrive late and need to shop for groceries before the store closes, then I go directly to the store.

Grocery List Essentials

  • Salad mix
  • Spinach
  • Vegetables (for hummus)
  • Fruit
  • Sprouted bread (e.g. Dave’s Killer Bread or Ezekiel)
  • Canned chickpeas (for salad)
  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • Recipe ingredients

One of my grocery hauls:

I Feel Amazing!

Taking and making food while traveling is obviously more work than going out to eat, but it’s totally worth it. I love arriving home after a trip and NOT feeling like a hot mess because I spent a week eating food that I knew wasn’t good for me.

I also like the challenge of making creative meals in hotel rooms, using unconventional cooking techniques. I may have watched too much MacGyver as a kid. This guide was inspired by a trip to Sprouts in San Diego.

I really wanted to make Chana Masala, but I had no way to open the two cans of chickpeas I was carrying around, and I didn’t want to buy eight spices that I already had at home. That’s when I realized that a John Wayne can opener and a pre-made spice packet would solve the problem. And so it began!

Recipes

After you’ve reached your destination and you’re done shopping, it’s time to make some food!

You’re going to be buying a lot of canned ingredients and won’t have access to measuring cups and spoons, so measuring requires some creativity. When one of my recipes below calls for a small can of something it means approximately 15 ounces and a large can means approximately 30 ounces.

Below are some of my go-to recipes that I’ve come up with over my travels. Trust me, if I can do this, anyone can!

NOTE: Unless otherwise noted, all recipes using a rice cooker assume the rice cooker lid (with plastic insert) is snapped in place during cooking.

  1. Penne
  2. Potatoes
  3. Chili
  4. Chana Masala
  5. Soba Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce
  6. Red Potatoes and Sauerkraut
  7. Mushroom Stroganoff
  8. Thai Green Curry

Penne

Penne

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 8 ounces 100% whole wheat penne pasta

Instructions

  • Add water and pasta to rice cooker and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Stir once and then continue to stir occasionally, cooking for a total of 15 minutes.
  • Remove plastic insert from lid. Snap lid closed and drain pasta through vent holes.
  • Add some warmed up vegan marinara sauce and mix together.  

Potatoes

Potatoes

Ingredients

  • Water
  • 2 large or 3 to 4 small russet potatoes (leave whole)

Instructions

  • Add enough water to the rice cooker to barely cover the bottom of the cooker.
  • Add the potatoes and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Serve potatoes with salsa, chopped up veggies, chili, or whatever other topping you come up with.

Chili

Chili

Ingredients

Pre-made Spice Packet (bring this with you in your checked bag in a Ziploc bag)

  • 1 tablespoon regular paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (leave out if you don't like spicy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Other Ingredients (from grocery store when you get to your destination)

  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 small can petite diced tomatoes (don't drain)
  • 1 small can water
  • 1 small can red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 small can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes

Instructions

  • Add the pre-made spice mix, white onion, red pepper, diced tomatoes, and water to the rice cooker and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the red kidney beans, black beans, and crushed tomatoes to the rice cooker and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Notes

Use the empty diced tomato can to measure the water.

Chana Masala

Chana Masala

Ingredients

Pre-made Spice Packet (bring this with you in your checked bag in a Ziploc bag)

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (toasted)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (leave out if you don’t like spicy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Other Ingredients (from grocery store when you get to your destination)

  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 small can petite diced tomatoes (don't drain)
  • 2 small cans chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

Instructions

  • Add pre-made spice mix, red onion, and diced tomatoes to rice cooker and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add chickpeas and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Soba Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Soba Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

Pre-made Peanut Sauce (bring this with you in your checked bag)

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (no salt or sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons 100% maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons water

Other Ingredients (when you get to your destination)

  • 2 cups water
  • 3 ounces (1 individual package) buckwheat soba noodles (broken in half so they fit in the bottom of the rice cooker)
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced

Instructions

Pre-made Peanut Sauce

  • Before you leave for your trip, combine peanut butter, rice vinegar, Sriracha, maple syrup, soy sauce, and water in a small mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth and transfer to a leak-proof jar or bottle. This Sauce will make enough for 4 or 5 portions of Noodles. 

Full Meal

  • Add water and noodles to rice cooker and cook for 7 minutes.
  • Remove plastic insert from lid. Snap lid closed and drain noodles through vent holes.
  • Mix noodles with enough Peanut Sauce to fully coat.
  • Garnish with green onion.

Notes

TIP: Eat with chopsticks because it’s more fun that way.

Red Potatoes and Sauerkraut

Red Potatoes and Sauerkraut

Ingredients

  • 8 small red potatoes
  • 1 small can sauerkraut (don't drain)

Instructions

  • Cut potatoes in half and place in bottom of rice cooker.
  • Layer sauerkraut on top of potatoes.
  • Cook for 15 minutes. If potatoes aren’t soft, cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a plate or bowl and mash together with a fork, or leave just like this and dive in!  

Mushroom Stroganoff

Mushroom Stroganoff

Ingredients

Pre-made Ingredient Packet (bring this with you in your checked bag)

  • 1/3 cup cashew butter
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Other Ingredients (when you get to your destination)

  • 1 small yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 12 ounces 100% whole wheat rotini
  • 4 cups water or low sodium, oil free vegetable stock
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Instructions

Pre-made Ingredient Packet

  • Before you leave for your trip, combine cashew butter, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl. Stir until smooth and transfer to a leak-proof jar or bottle.

Full Meal

  • Add onion to rice cooker and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add mushrooms, pasta, and water (or stock) to rice cooker and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Stir once and continue to stir occasionally, cooking for a total of 20 minutes.
  • Add pre-made Ingredient Packet and lemon juice and stir well. Sauce will thicken while stirring.

Notes

TIP: Try to keep the pasta under the liquid while cooking so it doesn’t dry out. Add more water if needed.

Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry

Ingredients

Pre-made Ingredient Packet (bring this with you in your checked bag)

  • 2 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut sugar

Other Ingredients (when you get to your destination)

  • 1 small can coconut milk
  • 1 small can water
  • 1/2 small can mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 small can broccoli florets
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced (remove seeds if you don’t like spicy)
  • 4 ounces vermicelli rice noodles (broken up so they fit in the rice cooker)
  • juice from half of a lime
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Basil leaves, chopped

Instructions

Pre-made Ingredient Packet

  • Before you leave for your trip, combine green curry paste, soy sauce and coconut sugar in a small mixing bowl. Stir until smooth and transfer to a leak-proof jar or bottle.

Full Meal

  • Add pre-made Ingredient Packet, coconut milk, and water to rice cooker and stir.
  • Add mushrooms, broccoli, jalapeno, and rice noodles and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Stir and repeat one more time for a total of 10 minutes.
  • Add lime juice and green onions and stir. Garnish with basil leaves.

Notes

NOTE: Use the empty coconut milk can to measure the water, mushrooms, and broccoli.

Wyatt, thank you so much for sharing your plant based MacGyver hacks with us! I look forward to updates from Dirties gourmet-ing it out in hotels everywhere!

Special shout out to Dirties, Lynn Carangelo, Dorothy Hawkes Cavers, Cyndi Haas, and Debbie Lichtenfels who contributed, and to all the Dirties who reviewed and helped Wyatt with this guide.

Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with eating plants wherever your travels take you.

Xo
Molly

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17 Comments

  1. Jon Griffin on June 2, 2018 at 10:24 am

    5 stars
    This is a fantastic guide. I was just travelling and wish I had this then. I suffered a little, but learned a lot. I’m going to keep this handy.

  2. Pamela Patrick on June 2, 2018 at 10:39 am

    5 stars
    This is a 5 star guide to eating well while traveling! The recipes are amazing and the photos seal the deal. Wishing everyone a summer of awesome adventures fueled by WFPB delights.

  3. Memere 2012 on June 2, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    5 stars
    Wow! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU ! (Gomez Pyle imitation). This guide is amazing and I appreciate it so much. Will come in very handy💜

  4. Deb Rider on June 2, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Wow, this is so well thought out and useful, Wyatt! The way you are using that rice cooker is brilliant! Thank you of sharing with us!

  5. Deb Rider on June 2, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    Please fix the typos and grammar in my message above lol

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on June 2, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      LOL Deb. I only saw one edit and fixed it for you just now but I think you can edit it too. ~Karen

  6. Patricia Pettiford on June 2, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    5 stars
    This is such a useful tool. I’m printing it and putting it with my travel file. I already do some of these things but nothing this comprehensive! A friend’s mom died recently. I was at her home visiting with her relatives after the funeral and discovered that two are vegetarians. They were struggling because they had not planned ahead for their meals. In addition to running to my house and whipping up some of Molly’s great recipes for them I mentioned CFDG as a good resource to help them plan in the future. Hopefully they visit so they can use this awesome planner. Thanks Wyatt!

  7. Brenda on June 2, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Excellent; thanks!

  8. Glenette Banks on June 3, 2018 at 1:35 am

    What a fantastic article. I don’t travel a lot anymore, but your recipes with methods & tips is inspiring. I’ll be keeping my eye out for a rice cooker – if one available in Aus. Thank you. And yes, I’m going to print out too!

  9. Diana Fredrick on June 3, 2018 at 6:07 am

    5 stars
    This is a wonderful guide! I just got back from traveling to NY to lay my mom to rest and wish I would’ve had this! I am printing it out for my future travels. Thank you!!!!

  10. Cathy on June 3, 2018 at 6:42 am

    WTF?! This was like “holy shit” kind of awesome!! 😍❤️I’m in awe right now!!!! Thx so much for sharing!!

  11. Michele on June 3, 2018 at 6:53 am

    Wow. This is brilliant! Just wanted to add it’s worth asking a hotel if they have additional items that aren’t standard in the room. Things like: microwave, toaster, fridge, etc. And never count on a keurig type coffee maker to make oatmeal. It ends up tasting pretty awful. Just hit Starbucks if you have to.

  12. Sandra on June 3, 2018 at 9:54 am

    5 stars
    This is amazing!! 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to write this!!! I def plan on using this as a point of reference when I travel next!

  13. Ruthie on June 3, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing! Eating well while traveling can be such a challenge.

  14. Regina on June 3, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I have followed the blog for almost a year now, doing my own thing for the meals. This week is my first time traveling by plane since eating WFPB so this list & Molly’s tips will keep me from bingeing on junk or otherwise traveling hangry! Love this group!

  15. Val on June 8, 2018 at 11:47 am

    Excellent tips and tricks! As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think this is also a great guide for dorm-bound college kids or single, just starting out young adults. Thanks for sharing your dirti-ness with us, Wyatt!

  16. Carole Gentry on May 12, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    Molly,
    I knew you had this blog when I had to take an emergency trip to Provo a few weeks ago on Easter Sunday. My son ended up in the ER and this momma hopped on the next flight out of Tallahassee to be with him.

    Luckily, I found a very affordable AirBnb in Payson, UT and they space I rented (only $48/night) had 4 rooms, 2 full baths, and a FULL kitchen! Why is it that phones stop working when you travel? I had to get a new phone the first day I was there and all my passwords did not transfer over. So, I was sans my CFDG recipes, but I got creative from being on 12 weeks with this way of eating! I stocked the kitchen with clean staples and never felt deprived.

    I like the spice packets and recipes you included and I will definitely be using these if I go back in August to visit my youngest son. I found one restaurant in Provo, near the Provo City Center Temple called “Thyme” that had delicious vegan options. My son even enjoyed their beet and strawberry salad.

    Thank you for all your informative and helpful blogs and recipes. Y’all stay safe.
    Carole

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