What Kind of Travel Companion Are You?

I was fortunate on this latest trip to be traveling with and visiting people of a similar nutritional mindset. That is, mostly healthy real food with an appreciation for the occasional side trip to decadence. (Yaay, popcorn balls!) As I mentioned previously, hostess KT had lots of healthy foods on hand and our choices in dining out were ‘real food’ type places. And while on the road, KO and SH (a vegetarian and flexitarian, respectively) were always on the lookout for the ‘better choices’ available and were easily adaptable as the situation required. It makes traveling so much more enjoyable when everyone has a similar intent, without being rigid.

At some point during the week, I was reminded of an entirely different situation that occurred a few years ago, while I was on a “girls’ weekend” with a dozen or so friends. For our last meal together someone suggested a Mexican restaurant and everyone agreed that sounded great…except for one person, who likes Mexican food, but didn’t want to eat there because “there wouldn’t be anything healthy on the menu.” Never mind that she hadn’t even seen the menu. And never mind that the two vegetarian and one cholesterol-vigilant group members had all eagerly agreed to the choice and assured us that they would certainly be able to find something on the menu to their liking. Our renegade friend dug in and said no. Emphatically. Wanting to avoid negativity on the final night of the gathering, the rest of us agreed to go to a restaurant we’d already decided against.

The meal was fine and we had fun, but the experience and memory of it has me thinking about how my nutritional goals might cause difficulties for people I travel with. On this recent trip, all was fine due to our similar desires for real foods, but I’m wondering about other times. When I was in Maryland, the restaurant of choice (and necessity, since it was the only restaurant in the vicinity and our people outnumbered cars by a lot) was Outback, a high calorie, high fat destination. I made it through one dinner (salad and baked potato), but I bowed out the next night by saving an errand to run during that hour. I didn’t make a big deal out of it. As far as I know, I never even mentioned my reluctance to eat at Outback two nights in a row. I just quietly did something else.

When I compare my behavior in Maryland to that of my friend at the weekend getaway, I’m really glad I didn’t make a big deal about it. The group was so large that I doubt I was missed. (Well, besides my witty dinnertime conversation.) Had anyone noticed and seemed offended by my intentions, I could have attended the dinner and found something on the menu that agreed with my goals, or close to it. OR I could have had a burger splurge and moved on to the next day.

The bottom line is that I realized last week that I don’t ever want to be known as ‘the difficult one’ of the group, constantly throwing up obstacles and objections in my zeal to find a healthier middle ground. I think I’m doing fairly well at it, but I suppose the best source for that info is my travel companions.

I also realized last week that nutritionally-compatible travel companions are a true joy to be with, something I think I underestimated and certainly under-appreciated in times past. I’m feeling really grateful for having had such a great experience in that regard last week.

All this leads me to ask where you think you fall on the travel companion compatibility scale. Do you adapt to the environment and make the best choices possible in a given situation? Or do you dig in and insist on restaurants/meals of your choice?

12 thoughts on “What Kind of Travel Companion Are You?

  1. I mostly travel with my husband and kids. But last spring we had a trip with two other couples, one guy being a strict vegetarian. I am a big planner and like to find great restaurants for our trips. I searched out options in advance and sent menu links to the vegetarian’s wife for her approval. (The husbands were kept in the dark about the surprise vacation.) She chose the restaurants but said that he could find something to eat anywhere. And when we made a last minute change to a place with no entree options for him, he had the kitchen make him a cheese sandwich. I thought his approach was very considerate. And I think if we really want to eat healthy, most restaurants have at least something that we can work with. Even Mexican.

  2. I love the post and the question. I will also be gut level honest and say I’m not sure where I fall. I’m not yet at maintenance nor am I strong enough to always make good choices at restaurants, so often have the tendency to just give in. But I do know that I’d never be obnoxious in insisting on my own preferences at the expense of the majority, so unfortunately, the only person I hurt is myself. What I most want is to get to the place where I can always find something appropriate at any restaurant and then be strong enough to choose that item even if it isn’t exactly what I want.

  3. I have a lot of confidence that I can find some way to adjust in most restaurants. The only time I am likely to protest a choice is with my husband who has a tendency to choose difficult places, like nothing but fried options (he loves fish & chips). And even in those situations, I can keep him company and have a drink while he eats and then eat my healthier option later.

    I would never try to sway the whole group due to my preferences. I am much more interested in the company than the food and will adjust accordingy.

  4. GREAT post! I love this topic because it’s close to my heart…mostly I cringe at other people’s restaurant choices, but I wouldn’t let my ideas sway the decision, even considering I can’t eat any gluten, which severely limits the restaurants that even have something for me to eat, let alone something healthy to eat! I always carry healthy choices in my purse so even if I can’t eat at a certain restaurant, I can always order some coffee or tea, not always a salad (a lot are premade), a lot of restaurants have baked potatoes (a lifesaver for me) – and I can haul a few snacks out. Some restaurants are trustworthy (will prepare something GF for me and will pay attention to my instructions – and I’m not one of those instruction-heavy people either, who return food at a whim) … but others I just can’t trust. To me, eating out with friends/family is about the time together, not the food.

  5. I like your style.

    Vacations are a time to kick back and enjoy something NEW. That’s a big part of travelling for me: the newness and the excitement of it. Which is why I WOULD have put up a fuss about going to Outback – it’s a chain restaurant; where’s the fun in that? Give me a local restaurant any time!

    But really, if everyone was decided on a particular restaurant, I wouldn’t make a big fuss – with a bit of creativity, any restaurant can have a slightly healthier option. And there’s always the route you took of quietly taking off. There’s no need to make a huge deal of something, most of the time – our culture is so obsessed with drama that we tend to make big deals out of the tiniest things. We all gotta learn how to relax a little more.

  6. What an interesting topic! We dine out once a week with friends after church, There are 4 couples with various diets! On gal is gluten free, dairy free, wheat free, no corn products, I try to eat lower fat, lower sugar, the rest eat pretty much everything.
    There is only one restaurant that I say no to because it is a little mom and pop Mexican place that uses lard, tons of cheese and there isn’t anything there that I have ordered no matter how I change it up, that I feel good about eating. Other than that I can get something that I can eat at most places, so I don’t make a fuss. Those weekly outings aren’t about the food, they are about being with friends. I carry a snack bar in my purse on Sundays and depending on where we go to eat, I might go ahead and eat my bar in the car on the way there if I know I will be eating light do to what is available. It works for me.

  7. I’ve been all over the board on this one. From refusing to go out to eat at all, to joining my friends, but only having a drink, to going to the worst possible type of restaurant, and getting the worst choice foods possible, to now, most times, being able to go and make a reasonable choice, eat a reasonable amount, or as you say, make it a burger splurge and move on the next day. I have also done what you did. Either I bring my own lunch, and eat in the car, or I have found a reason not to go out (even when I’m by myself, how weird is that?

  8. This is a very good subject Cammy as it effect so many of us health minded individuals.

    Me, I am so particular about how I eat that I always just go along with what the majority wants to do. I then either bring my own stuff or find something there and/or request it made to my liking. If we went where I wanted to all the time, nobody would eat but me! 😉

  9. I can usually find a healthy meal in any restaurant. That said, Mexican is the toughest type to find one in, in my experience.

    PS I could be Jody’s twin, lol!!

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