athletes guide to sports nutrition for travel

As student athletes gear up for weekend games and competitions, maintaining optimal sports nutrition becomes paramount for peak performance. Traveling can present challenges when it comes to fueling the body effectively. In this guide, we’ll explore essential tips and nutrition-packed foods that will empower student athletes to stay at the top of their game while on the move.

This blog is geared towards student athletes but a lot of the info transfers over to all athletes who travel. As always working with a licensed sports nutritionist can help you. Click here to schedule a discovery call with us to see how we can help you with your sports nutrition.  

Plan Ahead:

The key to success on the road lies in meticulous planning. Encourage student athletes to plan their meals and snacks ahead of time, ensuring they have access to balanced nutrition throughout the journey. This preparation can help avoid relying on unhealthy options available at gas stations or fast-food restaurants. 

Call the hotel to find out if they have a fridge and microwave available in your room or if you can arrange for them to have one when you arrive. Don’t forget to find out if there is a freezer in the fridge for ice packs. 

Choose hotels that have a kitchenette or an Airbnb over a hotel when possible. Having access to a kitchen will enable you to have much more control over your food. 

Look on a map for local grocery store , Whole Foods or Prepared Meal store. Knowing what you can get upon arrival helps eliminate bringing too much with you. Next, check what restaurants are close by so you can plan out your pre and post game meals for the trip. Check out our guide here . 

What to pack :

bags and tools of the trade

Arctic cooler 

Larger  cooler- Hydroflask or larger arctic cooler 

Portable Blender  – these are great for weight gain to stay on top of calories on the go! 

Shaker Bottles

plastic baggies & plasticware

Items you can take with you on a plane or on a car ride include :

  • Oatmeal packets
  • Protein bars
  • Nut butter packets 
  • Jerky bars
  • Condiment packets 
  • Supplements & electrolytes – do not forget to pack these they are hard to get on the road 
  • Dried fruit 
  • Gummies for intra-wokout – also hard to get on the road 
  • Tuna packets 
  • Rice and bean packets 
  • Trail mix 
  • PB Crackers
  • Granola

Items to pick up when you get to your destination:

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Fresh fruit & precut fruit cups
  • Frozen breakfast sandwiches
  • Deli sandwiches
  • Bread, PB & J
  • Yogurt
  • String cheese
  • Ready to Drink Shakes (Core Power, Nestle Protein Shakes)
  • Pre Made Meals (look at Whole Foods, Grocery Stores near the deli section, some cities have store front Meal Prep Stores)

Hydration is Non-Negotiable:

Proper hydration is crucial for athletic performance. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, impaired focus, and decreased endurance. Advise athletes to carry a reusable water bottle and consistently sip water throughout the journey. Decide what electrolyes you will use and take them with you. They can be hard to find on the road. Packets are better than ready to drink bottles when traveling. 

Once at the Location Pack Smart Snacks for Practices and Game Days :

Snacking is an excellent way to keep energy levels stable during travel. Opt for nutrient-dense snacks that are easy to carry and won’t perish quickly. Examples include:

  • Trail mix: A blend of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits provides a mix of healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates.
  • Fresh fruit: Portable and packed with vitamins, minerals, and natural sugars for a quick energy boost.
  • Greek yogurt: Rich in protein and easily portable, yogurt can be paired with granola or fresh fruit for a satisfying snack. (yogurt can’t go on an airplane)
  • PB &J – These don’t need to be kept cold and can pack in a lot of calories quickly, add a banana for extra carbs
  • Deli Sandwiches or wraps: easy to get on the go , cut wraps up into pinwheels for quick bites

Balanced Meals:  

When planning meals on the road, aim for a balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats). Consider options like:

  • Whole-grain sandwiches: Packed with lean protein, veggies, and complex carbohydrates for sustained energy.
  • Grilled chicken or tofu wraps: A convenient and protein-rich option that can include a variety of colorful vegetables.
  • Quinoa or brown rice bowls: Prepare these in advance with a mix of vegetables and lean protein for a well-rounded meal.

Click here for blog post on  heathy meals to get on the road.

Mindful Eating:

Encourage athletes to practice mindful eating, paying attention to hunger and fullness cues. Eating slowly and savoring each bite can prevent overeating and promote better digestion.

Timing is Everything:

Help athletes understand the importance of meal timing around their competition schedule. Consuming a balanced meal 2-3 hours before the event can provide sustained energy, while easily digestible snacks 30-60 minutes prior can offer a quick energy boost. If you are playing a good portion of the game you must refuel with fast digesting carbs at half time. If you are playing a tournament style event you must consider when you will have a sandwich or small meal. 

Remember, it’s essential for student athletes to focus on a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats in their pre-game meals. Hydration is also key, so they should drink plenty of water leading up to the game. It’s advisable to experiment with different meals during practice sessions to see what works best for individual performance. 


Traveling for weekend games and competitions doesn’t mean compromising on nutrition. By planning ahead, staying hydrated, and choosing nutrient-dense options, student athletes can ensure they are fueled for success on the field. A sports nutritionist plays a crucial role in guiding these young athletes, empowering them to make informed choices that contribute to their overall performance and well-being. With the right approach to nutrition, the road to victory becomes a well-fueled journey.

Working with a sports nutritionist will help you plan out your exact meals and meal timing for game and tournament days. Click here to schedule a discovery call with us