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Preparing to Eat on My Alaskan Tour

Note: I won’t be writing next week, since I’ll be in Denali National Park, but I’ll be back the following week with stories from Alaska.

Thinking about food on vacations always brings up interesting questions for me.

How much do I treat myself while I’m away? Should I go ahead and have some of the foods I have mild allergies to? How much do I want to eat out vs. prepare my own food?

But my trip to Alaska needs even a little more consideration. I’ll be joining a tour for most of it. That means I’ll only have limited control over when and what I eat.

I don’t know much about our food options on the trip. I know we’ll have a hot breakfast buffet, and that dinners will be four-course, family-style meals.

Buffets can be a challenge – they seem like an invitation to eat as much as you can. And four courses sound like a lot.

Of course, it depends on what those courses are, and what the buffet options are. And if I do a lot of walking and hiking – which I hope to do – I may well want a lot of food.

But what if I get hungry at odd times? What if I’m up well before breakfast – a distinct possibility, since I’m going to be four hours behind my usual schedule?

Normally in this situation, I would bring quite a few snacks and breakfast foods. That’s what I do for work trips.

But since we’ll be moving around a lot on this tour, the organizers asked us to limit the amount of luggage we bring.

I also can’t help remembering my trip to the Galapagos Islands in 2008, when I had similar thoughts. Except back then I didn’t know we should bring a small suitcase. Instead I brought a huge one, filled with all kinds of snacks.

I felt quite embarrassed about it when I saw that only one other person had a bag that large – the exact same kind as me, in fact. He was also one of the only other Americans, and he used his suitcase to smuggle booze on board. Everyone else traveled light, with an oversized hiker’s pack, or maybe a regular backpack and small extra bag.

And here’s the supreme irony. I never ended up eating any of the food I brought. All that lugging around the embarrassingly large bag – my albatross – for nothing.

This time around, my brain still wouldn’t let me go completely snackless. So I’ve compromised.

I’ve brought some non-perishable items: nuts, Luna bars, dried fruit, and chocolate. But I didn’t bring any more than I could fit in my carry-on bag and backpack, along with all my other gear.

As for some of the questions rattling around my head, here are my current answers.

The snacks are my security blanket, but I’m going to try not to eat them and stick with the provided tour food if I can.

I may have some of the foods I normally avoid due to allergies, with the following caveats. It should be something I really want, I don’t need to finish it if I don’t like it, and I will focus on having just enough to satisfy me.

In general, I will try to be especially mindful of my eating and food choices, with the intention of feeling good after I finish eating so I can enjoy Alaska!

I do not, after all, want to spend my vacation time suffering from a food hangover, allergic reactions, or even being uncomfortably full.

I want to spend it soaking up the beauty of the wilderness and enjoying my time being unplugged.

With that in mind, I’m off to hike around Anchorage today and start my tour tomorrow. I look forward to sharing some of my adventures when I return.

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