I love food. I mean, I really love food. And as embarrassing as it is to admit, I spend a lot of time thinking about when I am going to eat, what I am going to eat and where I am going to eat. Some people need sleep. I don't. But boy, do I need to be fed. And as anyone who knows me will tell you, if I am hungry, stay away - far, far away.

When my husband and I were offered an incredible, once in a lifetime opportunity to spend a week's vacation on a remote beach island, I was thrilled. Mind you, this was a week without kids, in a beautiful home with exquisite scenery. But there was one problem. And for me, it wasn't small. Without a kosher restaurant or possibility of kosher food anywhere nearby, what were we going to eat?

Most people would grab a few cans of tuna and call it a dayI know, most people would grab a few cans of tuna and call it a day. But that just doesn't work for me. If I am going to vacation, and truly enjoy myself, I want to be able to eat. And well. So I figured I would need to find a way to be in this paradise and be satiated.

Fortunately, I did. And I would like to share my tips and learned lessons for great kosher traveling with you!

Now, my tips are based on our situation which included access to a fridge, freezer and a small grill. I realize that without such things it becomes more complicated, but if you do not have a freezer in your room, most often the hotel will allow you to use theirs. And many hotels will allow you to grill on a balcony, and small grills are inexpensive and easy to find.

Now while we did have the luxury of a grill, we also had a fourteen hour flight from start to finish and had to check in the food with our luggage under the plane. We had a five hour layover, and we traveled in June when it was hot (i.e.: with a layover, luggage is on the tarmac, not under the plane. Under the plane it is always very cold so there is no issue of potentially spoiled food). But as we happily discovered, with the right way of packing, our food made it intact.

So here are the tips:

  • Non-perishables. Always travel with some food that you can easily make on the plane or any stop along the way. This is in addition to whatever you plan on eating during your travels to your destination. You also want to make sure that you have enough food on you so that if your checked luggage gets lost or things spoil, you are not going to starve. We brought instant soups that only required hot water as well as boxes of flavored couscous which also cook with hot water. You can get hot water anywhere, and the best part is that if you ask for it in a large coffee cup, then simply make the soup or couscous in there and it is easy to move with. Both are filling (get instant soups with noodles) and guarantee a hot meal at any time or in any place.
  • Wraps are great for just about any sandwich
  • Another great and filling food to bring is flour tortilla wraps. They don't take up a lot of room, don't go bad, and are quite filling. Wraps are great for just about any sandwich.
  • Perishables. We were going for an entire week, ending with Shabbat. Meaning, we needed enough food for at least eight dinners for two people. So, we brought with us one soft picnic bag that was insulated and lined. I put freezer packs (make sure to put in plastic bags so they won't leak as they melt) and put them on the bottom and all sides of the bag. I then filled it with frozen meat including rib eye steaks, flank steaks, chicken breasts, cold cuts and hotdogs. Since everything was frozen, and then packed tightly together with another freezer pack on top, when we unpacked fifteen hours from the time we left, everything was still completely frozen.
  • While rib eye steaks are great, they take up a lot of room and are generally one per person. So they were reserved for Shabbat. The flank steaks are sliced thin and go a long way. One flank steak is more than enough for two people for dinner, with enough left over to have steak sandwiches the next day for lunch. The same is true for hotdogs. They pack small but are quite a few meals, don't need to remain frozen, won't spoil (I know, I know, filled with nitrates, but hey, our options were limited!) and can be cooked in boiling water if there is no other choice.
  • Condiments. We brought a small mayonnaise, ketchup, soy sauce, honey and olive oil. We made sure to get everything in small, plastic bottles. This was everything we would need for marinades and sandwiches.
  • Make sure to travel with lots and lots of plastic bags. If you have access to a microwave, anything double wrapped in plastic bags can be cooked.
  • Anywhere you travel, fresh fruits and vegetables are available. Fruits are all you need for breakfast. For lunch, you can eat salads and couscous which can be eaten hot or cold. Since you have plenty of plastic bags, use them to store couscous and mix salads within the bags. With cold cuts you can also have great sandwiches on wraps… and if you do bring that tuna, classic tuna sandwiches also work!
  • Dinner. Here is where the meat comes in. Grill the meat as well as fresh veggies that you buy. With things such as flank steak and chicken breast, they can be eaten hot or cold and used for sandwiches as well.
  • You will also need to bring wine or grape juice with youIf you will be away for Shabbat, make sure to travel with tea lights for Shabbat lighting (and find out the lighting time from the Chabad.org calendar before you leave). You will also need to bring wine or grape juice with you. This will have to go through your checked luggage. Do not travel with glass. Rather, pour the wine or juice into plastic water bottles, close tightly, then double wrap in plastic and put in the suitcase. You will also need challah. Buy small rolls that are easier to travel with and make sure to keep them refrigerated so that they don't mold. You will need a minimum of three.
  • Also make sure to pack in your luggage a sharp knife for cutting, a peeler and two sets of flatware. Chances are that you can buy disposables, but they may not be strong enough to cut well. Again, these will have to go in checked luggage.
  • While we chose not to do it, another option is also to travel with precooked food in aluminum pans. If these are double-wrapped in foil they can be reheated in any oven. Most hotels will allow you to reheat your food in their ovens.
  • Additionally, there are numerous kosher travel foods that are available, some with self-heating elements (if you use these on a plane, make sure that the crew is aware as smoke rises from these!) or double-wrapped meals that can be reheated in any microwave. While they are a great backup, we found that it was definitely more enjoyable to eat fresh food.

So, I hope the above is helpful. Feel free to add your own tips in the comment section below. Have a great trip and Bon Appetit!