I finally made it back home after my vacation a few weeks ago! I had a wonderful, relaxing, and warm vacation on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Are you jealous yet? :)
Actually, it was a vacation long in the making, as I had to cancel two trips last year--once because my mother had major surgery and once because I just wasn't confident about my ability to maintain Paleo and avoid a set-back while traveling.
The latter is why I wanted to continue the series on how to stay Paleo while traveling. Seeing the world and experiencing new things by travel is very important in my life and I want to share with others how to make travel around the world a possibility. For those who don't suffer from autoimmune disease or otherwise become ill when they stray away from Paleo, it may not be as pressing of a concern. But remaining free from symptoms that make you feel horrible can be rather motivating if you do have an autoimmune condition!
As I mentioned in Part 1, I was a little concerned about the quality of meat that I would be able to obtain while in Brazil. Brazil is a developing nation and unfortunately, factory farming has found its way into the country. There are no "organic, grass-fed" labels on the meat available in grocery stores, so I wanted to play it safe. I packed a small cooler full of meat into one of my suitcases. I brought some bacon, pork sausage, chicken thighs, chicken wings, and ground beef with me. They were frozen when I packed them and had defrosted by the time I made it to the hotel in Rio. I also brought some canned wild tuna, coconut milk, coconut oil, and tea.
A word of caution about packing food in your suitcase for an overseas trip--some countries are very strict about bringing fresh animal products, fruits, and vegetables into the country. The United States and other "first-world" countries are probably the strictest about enforcing this. On a trip a few years ago, while coming back into the U.S. from another country, I accidentally left an apple in my backpack. I got an extremely stern lecture from the U.S. Customs agents and a warning that I would receive a fine the next time it happened. Ever since then, my luggage is scrutinized by Customs every single time I travel internationally . Brazil technically does not allow the entry of animal products, fruits, or vegetables, but I am familiar enough with traveling in the country to know that they don't currently enforce it. For me, it's worth the risk to have my own food with me. In most countries, I think the worst that would happen would be that the agents would confiscate your food and give you a warning. If you ever had a concern, you would have the opportunity to throw out your food before you went through customs. Nonetheless, it is something to consider, depending on where you are traveling.
Even if I had not brought my own food, I would have been able to find meat in the grocery stores. It may not have been the quality that I eat at home, but it would have been okay for the time that I was there. This is an example of one of the large grocery store chains in Rio de Janeiro:
The grocery stores in Rio do not have the selection of the superstores in the Midwest, but they are not all that different from a small grocery store chain. All of the grocery stores have a beautiful selection of fruits and vegetables, many which are considered exotic in the U.S. Since I already had my own meat with me, I picked up some fruits and veggies. All of my meals while in Brazil were quite simple-- right back to the basics of meat, veggies, some fruit, and nuts for snacking.
The hotel room that I stayed in had a George Foreman grill, a fridge, a portable electric burner, and kitchen utensils and supplies. I brought my own blender for coconut milk smoothies. If I didn't have the hotel amenities available to me, I would have packed a small electric burner and a George Foreman to bring with me as well. I do enough traveling for work that I already have these in my arsenal of traveling supplies.
One of the things that I love about Brazil is that there is a fresh juice bar on every corner. I splurged on a few fresh juices every day. These have nothing added except the fruit! My absolute favorite is pineapple!
I will be honest and say that staying Paleo while traveling on this trip was not as easy as being able to go out to eat in a restaurant for every meal. But it wasn't that difficult either. I did eat out in a restaurant on two occasions. Both times, I stuck to ordering a salad with vinegar and olive oil on the side. Not that creative of a meal, but I did not want to risk contamination in the kitchen. Overall, it was wonderful to be able to travel without fear of becoming ill!
How about you? What travel experiences do you have to share? I would love to hear them!