Starve at a Conference? Nah!
By Laura Larsson, HAS Newsletter Editor, and Colleagues+
Traveling Food: Foods to Take on Your Trip To the Conference
Travel. If you dislike airline food, bring your own food to eat on the airplane - quality bread, cheese, fruit, hard-boiled eggs make a portable, but delicious meal.
Avoid salty snacks when on the road. Pass up on the salty snacks in airplanes as you may get awfully thirsty and instead bring home-made trail mix.Commercial trail mixes tend to contain either oils or salt.
Buy in bulk. It is cheaper to buy the ingredients in bulk, make the mixtures you like at home and put them in ziploc bags for storage and travel. Plus, food in Ziploc bags can be tucked into small corners in your suitcase or purse.
Do Your Food Research
Research good food sources at your hotel or convention center. Take the time to go find decent food! Talk to the hotel concierge early on to locate eateries.
In many conference centers, the "quick" food is muffins, breakfast pastries, cookies, and pretzels (and coffee).
"Food courts" often have at least one great salad bar - if you are willing to take the 10-15 minutes to walk over and get it. Food courts often have fruits and vegetables that you can purchase individually.
Research restaurants ahead of time on the Internet. Always research the great places to eat in conference towns and make sure that you get to as many as possible! Take along a new friend to make it even more fun. Be sure to read over the article by Giorgio Piccagli and Monica Chan titled, “Come for the Annual Meeting, Stay for the Food.”
Breakfasts. Eat your breakfast in your hotel room so you can save the time, money and calories (!) you would spend going out for breakfast.
Many conference attendees suggested that for breakfast participants should bring dry cereal (take out of the box and repack into Ziploc baggies) and a plastic bowl and spoon. If the room has a refrigerator, buy a quart of milk; if not buy a glass or pint at a time.
Breakfast buffet. Choose a hotel that has one of those free breakfast buffets and pick up an extra piece of fruit or cup of yogurt to take with you for lunch.
Lunch. When you attend a meeting such as APHA, take a bag of baby carrots, an assortment of nuts and a bottle of water and keep them handy for times when it is hard to get to a real lunch or if you have lunch hour meetings scheduled.
Combining foods to make a meal. Combine tuna in a can with crackers or pita. If you can find some fresh fruit somewhere, this ends up being enough for lunch.
Dinner. Unless you are on a really strict budget, plan on eating out. There is a limit to what you can pack and sitting in the room and eating dinner after a grueling day of sitting in meetings is deadly boring.
Finding inexpensive restaurants close to the convention center is not a problem. To further save money and to try out new dishes, consider substituting an appetizer (or two) for a full course dinner.
Scheduling Meals. Even if you bring food, try to eat on a regular schedule. Sometimes people get caught up in the "experience" and forget that constant input of calories that are necessary to keep you going.
Room Service. If you have enough money, be luxurious, treat yourself and do room service OFTEN: breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Dehydration: Water, Coffee, Tea and Other Beverages
Preventing dehydration. Travel and sitting in convention centers can seriously dehydrate you. Be sure to plan ahead and drink plenty of liquids. A hydrated body keeps you from getting so tired.
Bottled water. Many participants ALWAYS bring bottled water and may or may not refill the bottle from available water sources.
Buy a larger bottle of water somewhere to have in your room.
Juice. Juice or a soy beverage in a box can substitute for a quick breakfast.
Gourmet coffee. If you are a gourmet coffee drinker, take your preferred coffee and single cup plunger so that you can make your morning coffee. This will satisfy you if the standard of coffee in your hotel is "only fair".
Hot chocolate. Bring some sugar free hot chocolate for your coffee. The chocolate can make even bad coffee taste better.
Missing meals. If you miss a meal and there is no evening room service, you can eat a power bar and drink water and hot chocolate. Hardly gourmet, but balanced and can get you through until morning.
On the go. Anything you can stash in a purse or eat on the go is really what you need. Some of you have discovered that you could likely survive on pretzels and power bars for quite a while!
Food Packing Tips
Take dry breakfast cereal and repack it into Ziploc baggies. Be sure to bring knife, fork & spoon and a plastic bowl - though now with security they will have to be in checked luggage.
One member mentioned that her usual "transport foods" are raw almonds, dried and fresh fruit, rice cakes, natural jerky, nut butters, herbal teabags, little boxed soymilk, individual applesauce, and instant oatmeal packets.
Utensils and Quick Food Storage
Something to eat with. Be sure to bring a knife, fork and spoon – and a plastic bowl - though now with security they will have to be packed in checked luggage. Bring two sets if you plan on eating with a friend. One person suggested that you bring a cup and an immersion heater for fast water heating and quick hot meals.
Quick food storage. Bring along a couple of extra quart and gallon-sized Ziploc baggies for saving left-over food. They’re also helpful for packing socks and other clothing.