People sometimes ask me what it’s like to work as a flight attendant, and the truth is it’s an interesting and intense job that sends me out on the road (or rather, in the air) for days and sometimes weeks at a time before coming home. That may be obvious, but what surprises some people is the creativity it requires to eat well and stay healthy.

That’s true of most perpetual travelers, but my time in the air has given me a lot of experience gathering meals from all over the country. Here’s what I do, as illustrated by a recent trip:

My two main options are to either A) eat out, or B) pack and bring food. I do a combination of both. I also collect food during my layovers that I later eat for snacks while on the plane. By the time I get home, I usually have an assortment of food from all over the US.

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I most recently ended a nine-day stretch with layovers in MCO, SLC, JFK, LAX, JFK, TPA, PBI, and BOS. I started off with food I brought from home including salad and hard-boiled eggs. Then I  restocked on fruits and veggies in Salt Lake City at my favorite grocery store, Harmons.

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Then luckily, my hotels in West Palm Beach, Tampa and Boston had all-you-can-eat breakfast buffets, where I stocked up on yogurt, bread, and fruit.

The great thing about collecting food along the way is A) it’s cheaper than eating out, and B) it takes up less space and is less heavy than lugging it around with me the entire nine days. Plus it stays fresh.

And of course the other big advantage is that not eating out all the time tends to be healthier.

I ate most of the food I collected within a couple of days, and my stash constantly changed. But I actually ended up with more food at the end of it than I anticipated because I was able to come home two days earlier than originally scheduled.

Either way it was interesting to unpack what was left when I got home: a collection of apples, cheese, mandarin oranges, yogurt, carrots, and goldfish — all from different places across the country.

— Laura Rowley

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Written by Laura Rowley

I am an artist, flight attendant, and travel blogger.

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