Whenever I fly to races, I’m always curious to see whether or not my bag full of food gets pulled off the screening belt for inspection. Half of the time the TSA agent gives it a curious glance and then passes it along. The other half of the time I have to wait while an agent pulls out and swabs my Enduro Bites, Beta Red powder, frozen smoothie, dates (which they invariably call prunes!), pre-made stir-fry, and other assorted goodies.
A very large chunk of my travel preparation includes chopping, bagging, and freezing food! I like to know that I have nutritious food handy when I travel, and that my race day meals are familiar and good quality. When you are not driving to a race venue directly from home, planning ahead to make sure you have all your meals covered can be time consuming, but here are a few tricks I’ve used over the years:
Freeze your Pre-Race Beta Red Smoothie! If you are flying and will be staying in a hotel without your trusty blender, pre-make your smoothie and freeze it. You can bring it through security as long as it is frozen solid. Just be sure to take it out and put it directly into a bin, and do expect to be questioned about it, but they’ll let you take it through!
Bring dry oatmeal in a ziplock bag. I pre-mix it with pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, dried fruit, coconut, cinnamon and a dash of salt. Then when you go to the airport coffee shop for your morning espresso, ask for a cup of hot water on the side, and mix your dry oatmeal into the cup and let it soak until ready. Bananas and individual nut butter packets are also good things to have on hand.
Vegetables and clean protein are often the toughest things to acquire when traveling, so I usually chop a bunch of veggies and sauté them, along with chicken or turkey or salmon, and bring them in rubbermaid containers.
Warning -- food prep in progress!
Simple and repetitive is ok when you travel. Variety in what you eat is definitely ideal in your daily life - getting a range of colors of vegetables, and mixing up lots of different whole foods based on seasonal availability keep your diet interesting and makes sure you’re getting the spectrum of nutrients. However, there’s a lot to think about when you travel and race, so having a usual race day fare means hat you can whip through the grocery store en route from the airport to your Airbnb so you can get some sleep! My grocery list:
Use Google Maps to locate quality supermarkets in advance of your visit. See which ones are on your way from the airport to the hotel, or from the hotel to venue, and which are open late if you have an evening flight. Since I often return to the same races year to year, I already know where the local co-ops or Whole Foods are in pretty much every cycling event city!