Healthy & Budget Friendly Oahu Travel
Do you come back from a vacation and feel like you need another one? Or did you spend so much money that you won’t be able to vacation for a couple years, as you dig out?
Well, I recently had the opportunity to travel to Oahu, Hawaii with a dear friend. She planned a combined work/birthday trip and needed a plus one to help her celebrate. She’s been a single mom for over a decade and truly hasn’t celebrated her birthday for that long, so I gladly jumped at this opportunity!
I am also a mom of two energetic boys, so making sure I remained healthy and on budget was a top priority. I’ll share some of my tips on how to make travel foundationally healthy and not inflammatory and do it without dropping a load of cash. If you follow my advice, you won’t come home feeling like you need to detox or lose extra weight!
The first piece of budget friendly advice, use SkyMiles to book your ticket and find a friend that is a Hilton Rewards member! That membership got us each a $15 per day credit to use in the on-site restaurant which really adds up! So, keep those things in mind. What are some little perks that you could use just from your daily life?
My top tips for feeling your best on vacation:
Plan ahead to stay gluten free while traveling.
It’s no secret that gluten is one of the most inflammatory foods and if you’ve been following us long enough, you’ve seen us recommend avoiding gluten. Find local gluten-free Facebook groups for the area that you’re visiting. For Hawaii, you’re looking for: Gluten-Free & Celiac – Hawaii. You’ll find extensive recommendations for restaurants and dishes that give you a taste of the culture while keeping your health top priority. Keep reading and you’ll find my recommendations for planning ahead and packing food, so you’re never left stranded.
Here’s a side note about eating healthy: we are not proponents of feeling restrictive and deprived. I ate without a care for calories and enjoyed lots of island treats and never ever felt like I was missing out. I’ve been on the flip side of being overweight, growing a mustache and beard, suffering from infertility, and autoimmune disease. I will gladly stay gluten free while enjoying life, so I don’t have to suffer anymore.
Keep your blood sugar balanced during your meals, as much as you can.
Pair your sweet treats with protein and fats as often as possible. How? Enjoy dessert immediately following a high protein meal. Keep these Epic Bison Bars, these Chomp meat sticks or Applegate pepperoni with you and eat them with your high sugar Boba Tea, for example. Or keep packets of coconut butter and eat them with your acai bowl. Keep a bag of macadamia nuts on hand when you’re out and about too! There’s plenty of ways to do this. Simply focus on fats and proteins with your carbs and sugar and you’ll feel so much better. This will eliminate the afternoon crashes, the hangry & grumpy attitudes, help stave away nausea and in the big scheme of health: keep your inflammation down.
Water flushes toxins and keeps our muscles and joints lubricated and ready for adventure. For my entire 11-day trip, I never once drank out of a plastic water bottle! Why I recommend not drinking out of plastic. Make sure you pack an empty reusable water bottle in your carry on and once you’re through security, fill it up at a filling station. Airports are working hard to be more environmentally friendly, so they have water bottle filling stations near almost all the bathrooms. Our hotel also had a stand-alone refilling station that was even superior to the ones in airports. I did a quick google search and learned that most hotels do this too. Refilling stations are considered an eyesore so aren’t right up front. They are usually hidden around corners or hallways. Your water intake goal needs to be half your body weight in ounces every day. For example, I’m roughly 150 pounds so I drink a minimum of 75 ounces per day. On flight days, I added in one unflavored LMNT packet to my water for extra electrolytes to support my body. I relaxed and worked for half the trip and the other half we were super active! On the active days, I also added LMNT to help me stay hydrated and give my cells a boost.
There are 2 options here. One is to use it as an opportunity to do a short fast. If you have an early flight, skip breakfast since your body isn’t used to eating at 4 AM anyway. I never plan on buying airport food. It’s overpriced for what they’re offering, and I have trust issues with how long the food has been sitting there. When I do need to eat at an airport, I opt for large salad with protein. Something like a burger salad. I order a burger and skip the bun and ask for it to be lettuce wrapped or (depending on where you’re able to order from) you can literally build a salad. Load it up with as many veggies as you can. Skip the dressing but add salsa and/or guacamole. Unless stated otherwise, dressings are going to have inflammatory oils that simply aren’t worth it.
The other option is to prepare your food for the day of travel the night before.
Here are some ideas:
For breakfast, have some hard-boiled eggs ready to go and some sausages that are quick to warm up. Prepare some overnight oats and top with some berries and nuts for a blood sugar balanced first meal of the day.
For lunch, pack a lettuce or gluten-free tortilla wrap (our favorite brand is Siete) with humanely raised meats or a tuna/sardine salad inside with an apple or orange and some pumpkin seeds. My other favorite foods to bring are Epic bars, Paleo Valley Meat sticks, Simple Mills Crackers, pistachios, and veggies. Make sure to load up on fibrous foods on travel days to help your body eliminate any toxins you absorb. Flying puts you at risk for inhaling some nasty things. (Case in point) Anything that is not a liquid can be carried through TSA. I have traveled with multiple containers of food so that when I land, I don’t have to rush to a grocery store. I have never had a problem doing this. Mayonnaise or mustard on a wrap or some nut butter with an apple are not an issue. I have traveled with containers of cooked sweet potatoes and burgers or chicken and rice with vegetables. My favorite way to do this is with a backpack as my carryon. I take my wallet out of my purse, pack my purse, and stick my wallet in my backpack. Then I put the containers either in my backpack on the bottom of a compartment or I bring a small, insulated cooler if I’m bringing more than usual. Here's an example. Your food won’t spoil being out for a few hours. You could also pack containers in your checked luggage because it’s quite cold in the cargo space on a plane.
Our recommendation would be to choose one or the other. Either fast or make sure you eat! Skimping out on calories won’t give you the benefits of fasting and not eating enough is never a good choice. Eating too little puts your body into starvation mode and impairs cognitive function.
Most hotel rooms have mini fridges in them but make sure that where you’re staying has one. My friend says that if the hotel you’re staying at doesn’t have mini fridges in the rooms, that you can request one. I’ve done this before without any problem. But she also wants you to know that if they give you a hard time, you can say you need one for a medical condition and they legally can’t ask you for proof and must provide one for you. What I want you to understand is that you deserve to make requests and asks for yourself. I talk to numerous people about this whether they are clients, friends or family and they say they HAD to eat gluten because it was the only thing available. Or they know they are lactose intolerant and they HAD to eat the pizza, or they know that drinking alcohol makes them feel like crap the next day but everyone else was drinking so they HAD to. A little tough love about this is that your body absolutely will not let you starve. You have extra stores that your body can pull from. We’re also not talking about being perfect. We and numerous other practitioners and clients have stayed gluten-free for years if not decades. And it’s 2023, resources are abundant. You may have to wait a couple hours until you can get back home or to the nearest grocery store for a better option. Just take this as a lesson to start planning and making sure you know what’s being offered so you can bring your own or start to have a snack bag in your vehicle. The difference here is mindset and perspective. Placing the blame on someone or something else instead of taking responsibility for your choices, actions, and health just doesn’t add up. Also, it’s not lost on me that even though it’s 2023, there are still food deserts in the United States. But we believe that once more people stop participating in the fast and cheap food model, healthy food will be more abundant for all. That’s a whole other blog, so I’m not tackling that here….
At Your Destination.
On your first day there, make sure to hit up a grocery store and stock up on snack and packable lunch items. I didn’t eat out for lunch almost the whole trip but never deprived myself because I ate groceries. If you’re a Costco member, stop by there too. I regret not doing this sooner in our trip! For my fellow military families, you have got to go to the NEX and the commissary. You’ll find that groceries are more expensive in Hawaii given the location but if you can shop here, absolutely do so! Don’t buy any souvenirs until you’ve gone there. You’ll find the same exact stuff for cheaper. I was able to not buy anything made in China. No shame if you do but to me, what’s the point of buying a souvenir with no local connection.
Back to groceries. For lunches, I had pineapple (obviously while in Hawaii!), olives, gluten free crackers, goat cheese, coconut milk yogurt, Applegate meats, cucumbers, carrots, babaganoush, coconut water, chocolate, macadamia nuts, you get the idea! I packed an entire box of Epic Bars; the bison flavor is my long-standing favorite, while my kids love the maple bacon the best. If you’re flying Delta, opt to get the granola bar that they offer in flight. It’s gluten free and ingredients are great. I always grabbed one even if I wasn’t hungry and I ate them when needed.
Here's some of my favorite restaurants…
We stayed right on Waikiki, so we had a plethora of restaurants to choose from. I was easily able to eat gluten-free and dairy-free the entire time and never once felt deprived. I absolutely love traveling but it’s still never worth it for me to purposely eat inflammatory foods. I want to enjoy myself and be up for any adventure. I can’t do that if I’m in bathroom, swollen or suffering from brain fog.
You must get the pork from Kono’s! It comes with rice and either a side salad or cabbage slaw with papaya seed dressing. We did this a few times! We also loved Surf and Turf Tacos. Skip the flour tortilla and opt for corn. I chose shrimp each time we went but that’s what I do, so pick your favorite protein and get the corn, rice, or salad base. Their Da House sauce was a mix of spicy sushi sauce flavor with a taco kick, and I was obsessed! The pineapple whip is dairy free so enjoy away.
Most of the Boba teas were already made with coconut milk and mochi cake is automatically gluten free, so it was so easy to get a treat with no distress.
Make sure you stop at Island Vintage Coffee for an acai bowl. Sure, it’s a sugar hit, but pack a meat bar to balance your blood sugar with the protein and you’re golden. We got the Wailua Moana Bowl and the house made coconut peanut butter was to die for. Best nut butter I’ve ever had.
Curry is also a great gluten-free choice so add that to your list.
The options are endless for poke bowls in Hawaii! Make sure they have tamari or gluten-free soy sauce or skip the soy sauce and have a small tamari on hand from a grocery store.
You must get garlic shrimp on North Shore. I’ve heard Giovanni’s is the best, but they were closed when we were there.
And the shaved ice from Matsumoto was wonderful. I usually skip those kinds of things because fake food isn’t worth it for me, but no food dyes or fake flavors are used, and it was such a treat sitting in the sun eating a shaved ice like little kids.
Plan multiple visits to Pu'uwai Aloha Bakery. Go early in the day and grab some treats and lunch for while you’re out. It’s a 100% dedicated gluten free bakery. The guy behind the counter admitted that he had no idea that everything was gluten-free for the first 2 weeks that he worked there! So, you know it’s good!
Dealing with time change.
The time change was 5 hours backwards for me, so I traveled with this homeopathic jet lagged kit and it worked some major magic. I will definitely use it from now on. I packed my melatonin to ensure I could sleep through the night and stay rested despite the time change. Melatonin isn’t for everyone so make sure to consult your functional practitioner ahead of time. I packed all my supplements in small bags because I know exactly what my body needs thanks to a personalized genetic test and blood panel. So, I never want to miss a day! Here’s the bags we recommend using to pack your supplements.
Other must have items.
Since I learned about my genetic variations from our genetic test, I know that I don’t detox efficiently and need to be continuously supporting the detox pathways in my body. So, to help keep the sniffles away, I traveled with my Germ Defender & Mold Guard. All I had to do was plug it into an outlet on the wall and it did the work. Filtered germs and mycotoxin spores out of the air and refreshed the air in the room continuously. Our bodies are affected not only by what we consume but also by what we breathe in. The Germ Defender and Mold Guard is small and compact and easily fit in my checked luggage. Use code GUTGALS for a discount! Want to learn more about your individual genes? That’s easy; email us and we’ll hook you up. Everyone is different so it’s really nice to know exactly what your body needs to be supported.
If you’re interested, here’s what we did for our excursions. We’re not lay-on-the-beach-all-day people and want to truly see each location when we travel. Shout out to my girl Michelle James of Wander and Sea. She helped me put together my trip and our itinerary. I quite literally could not have done it without her. I now know exactly what to do when I bring my kids to the islands.
Whale Watching - Wild Side Hawaii
This is a women owned company and the captain is a woman which I loved. We opted for this one because there was only 6 people on the boat compared to 40-50 like other tours and we got the small crowd experience. I would absolutely sail with them again. Unfortunately, I did get seasick. I left my sea bands in the hotel room like the genius I am but will be more prepared next time.
This one topped it for me. Best excursion/activity I have ever done, and this was my third time in Hawaii! We kayaked to a small unhabitable island over the clearest water I’ve ever seen. The blue color of the water brought me so much joy just looking at it. We had the wind in our hair on the open ocean and worked as a team to get out there together. We saw endangered monk seals on the island, a turtle while kayaking and ate akuli akuli which is nature’s electrolyte plant. We had a young female tour guide that thoroughly impressed me, Alicia. She gave us an extensive history of the island and taught us all about the wildlife. We swam in the “Queen’s Bath” that use to be solely reserved for the queen of Hawaii and climbed over lava rocks. They also provided lunch for us. All it took from us was a simple request from us for a gluten free lunch. Instead of a sandwich, we had a large, beautiful turkey salad. Making requests for yourself is not a problem! I still daydream about our day out there. It was so amazing.
I had never even heard of such a thing as an underwater scooter until Michelle, my travel agent, told me about them. This brought me so much joy. Hanging out with the fish and coming eye to eye with a sea turtle was bucket list worthy. I am so grateful for this experience! You can see the joy on my face in the picture. Little known fact, I wanted to be a marine mammologist and work with sea otters, manatees, whales, dolphins, etc. That wasn’t the path my life took… possibly because of the nausea I unexpectedly experienced! All that to say, this trip really filled my heart.
Other activities were hiking Diamond Head, Monoa Falls and Waimea Falls all with snacks and planned ahead water and coconut water. I rented a bike from Biki stalls on the street and rode alongside Diamond Head and enjoyed a calm lunch sitting on a beach overlook. I caught as many sunrises and sunsets as I could. My recommendation for those is to walk to the Hale Koa resort. Even though, only military can stay there, anyone can enjoy the beach. It’s not as crowded back there and it’s not as touristry, so it was the perfect place to relax. It’s also the best place to watch the Friday night fireworks! Seriously, reach out to Michelle James at Wander and Sea and she will plan every little detail for you. She was so incredibly helpful to me that I left Hawaii feeling like I got the full experience of Oahu.
It's possible to travel and not come back home ready for a diet or a detox! Let us know what you learned. We would love to hear from you!