A few years back, I was attending a Universal Medicine course and was sharing accommodation with some fellow students.
One of the students was eating what looked like very tasty soup and I asked her where she bought it.
She told me she brought it with her from home. I looked at her quizzically and asked, “You travelled with soup?” “Yes,” she replied. She told me she always has some in her freezer and travels with it so that when she’s at her destination, she can eat something that is home-cooked and nourishing.
Well, you could you have knocked me down with a feather. I thought that was pretty strange. But when I thought about it a bit more, I could see the benefits of doing that as I have found myself at the mercy of what food is available nearby, and sometimes that’s only been a basic takeaway store or a 24/7 convenience store, where the food may not suit my dietary needs – or be a nourishing meal! And if truth be known, I have often used that excuse to eat food that I know is not good for me.
So I took that idea and when I next made soup, I prepared extra portions and had them in the freezer ready to take with me next time I travelled. When the time came to travel again I was prepared and I travelled with my frozen soup.
I thought I was pretty nifty. And my body thought I was pretty nifty too, as it liked my soup – it always felt good after eating it, like it had been taken care of. It did a little dance after eating it – almost imperceptible to the untrained eye, but it was there.
Little did I know that travelling with frozen soup would just be the beginning of my home-away-from-home food adventures.
A friend was attending a conference in Cairns and came to stay for two nights. When he arrived I saw that he had brought all of his meals to eat at home and at the conference. They were ready-made frozen meals with combinations of fish or lamb and vegies. I was again surprised at what someone was travelling with and whilst impressed, I was not sure that I was quite ready to make that kind of commitment. I still liked to eat out as well.
Another friend travels away for work, and was sharing with me that she had recently taken her stick-blender with her so she could have her smoothies for breakfast. It was another one of those moments where I was like – you travelled with what?
So when it came time for me to travel for a conference, I was not quite ready to travel with whole pre-prepared meals, but was up for travelling with my stick blender – my new companion. It felt good to pack it, like I was travelling with a good friend who knows how to look after me. Away we went and when we checked into the apartment, I unpacked my old companion – frozen soup – and my new one, the stick blender. I had checked that a supermarket was nearby before I left (loving the pre-travel care I was undertaking!), and went off to the supermarket to buy smoothie ingredients.
In the morning I made my smoothie. My body did another little dance – it liked these smoothies. My mind was a bit miffed as it wanted to eat the pork and eggs downstairs at the café but my body was going … oh yeah, I like those smoothies. I felt light, looked after, and ready for the day!
At the conference for lunch there was a mix-up with my pre-arranged dietary requirements, and I did not get what I ordered. I picked the bits I could eat, and left the rest. I felt no nourishment from what I ate and it left me feeling a bit tired.
That night I called into the supermarket and bought some lunch ingredients and made up a yummy lunch for the following day, plus enough for the plane trip on the way home – so I would not be limited by the food choices available at the airport food halls.
I really enjoyed eating my lunch, both at the conference and on the plane ride home, as not only was my lunch tasty and nourishing, it gave me an opportunity to take greater care of myself and to appreciate this moment of self-care.
I find travelling away from home can be a bit stressful, and so can attending conferences. I’ve often found the food at these events involves lots of carbs like sandwiches, muffins and sugary cakes, often leaving people really heavy and tired after eating them. Plus the venue often does not have natural light and can pack the delegates in, which can make me feel quite drained and exhausted.
I saw so clearly that bringing soup, making smoothies and preparing my food supported me in those environments to stay steady and clear so I could take in what was being presented, and also be present when engaging with my colleagues (and not slip into a food coma after eating – you know the one when you have eaten too much and cannot move or think!).
In all my previous travels, I have never taken this kind of care nor this level of responsibility before. I had always used the excuse that it’s too hard, or complicated, or I’m too busy (before or during the conference) to look after myself in this manner and so allowing myself to be at the mercy of what is being served around me. But the truth of the matter is that it is not that hard after all.
All it took was me being open to the inspiration that was around me, and taking a few steps to make it happen – like making sure I had prepped extra portions, that there was a small fridge and microwave/stove in the accommodation, letting the conference people know I will cater for myself, checking out where the local supermarket was, and most importantly packing my stick blender!
There have been a few trips since then, and I continue to look at how I can deepen my care for myself when I am away. It makes the world of difference to me – I feel much steadier, supported and ready for what is needed.
By Sarah Flenley, Woman and keen observer of life, Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia