Weekly International Travel


catlam

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Hi, I've seen a few posts about other consultants who travel Mon-Thurs/Fri every week like myself. Although, a lot of the travel recommendations assume a completely unrealistic level of flexibility for weekly, international business travelers. 

I fly from the US to Canada (usually Toronto) every week. People suggest taking food/snacks with them, but of course I'm only allowed to transport pre-packaged food through customs. Raw fruits, vegetables and meats are definitely not allowed. On Thurs/Fri, I leave the office at 3pm for a 6pm flight and I usually land at 11pm (assuming no delays), so I really have to eat at the airport or wait until I get home. The terminal has a burger place (Nobel Burger Bar), a fro-yo place, pre-packaged food stand and a Starbucks (worst airport terminal ever!!) Unfortunately, Nobel is always very busy and they are not at all accommodating to answering questions about ingredients or customized orders (I've tried).

Other than a banana and black coffee/tea, is anything that I could eat at Starbucks? (Not that a banana with coffee is the worst dinner - I could make that work) Any creative suggestions that I'm missing would be greatly appreciated!!

Whole Foods and Trader Joe's don't exist, but there is a place called Longo's which is a small market. I can buy food for the week here on Monday night. I'm in the financial district and I'm sure there are places that I could find a whole30 meal, but most are not at a price that I can afford (i.e. within my per diem limit). Steaks are $35+. I can spend about $15 per meal. I don't have control over which hotel I stay at, so places with a kitchen are not an option. They do not have a microwave that I can use (I asked). I might be able to get a refrigerator on occasion, but we get major corporate discounts on the hotel rates, so preference is given to full paying guests, unless I pay $50 per night. (My company won't cover it and I definitely can't afford that)...

...BUT (silver lining) there are fruits/vegetables which don't have to be cold or cooked. I'm thinking that I can just eat avocado, zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes and apples plain. I'm not a huge fan, but I can also eat plain shashimi on occasion so that I get some protein.  Again, any creative suggestions would be greatly appreciated!! (especially regarding protein - typically I'm a big protein person, but all my regular go-to's break the rules on one way or another)

Is this realistic or am I just kidding myself? My family, friends and work colleagues keep telling me that this program isn't for me and that I just don't have the flexibility to be successful. They're worried that my determination to adhere to the program will lead me to skipping meals and putting my health in jeopardy.

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What do you eat when you aren't travelling? It's not unreasonable to expect to have an earlier dinner (430-5ish) before you fly out and then not eat until you land. There are also emergency items you could use (RX/Epic bars etc) in case your plane is delayed. At night the need for food should be ramping down so going from 5-11 isn't unreasonable?

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1 hour ago, ladyshanny said:

What do you eat when you aren't travelling? It's not unreasonable to expect to have an earlier dinner (430-5ish) before you fly out and then not eat until you land. There are also emergency items you could use (RX/Epic bars etc) in case your plane is delayed. At night the need for food should be ramping down so going from 5-11 isn't unreasonable?

When I'm home on the weekends and I can cook, I'm actually pretty healthy - A lot of fish, grilled chicken, poached eggs with avocado, steamed or grilled vegetables. I don't typically like fruit unless it's frozen (habit of growing up in Australia), so I eat it for an occasional dessert. (Note - I buy unfrozen fruit and then freeze it myself). But I can eat unfrozen fruit if I need to.

On a travel days, I try to get a snack at the airport around 5:30 before I board the plane, but it's usually something pre-made/processed due to the limited options. And then another snack when I get home. Given the airport limitations, I think I can do the banana/coffee option, but it's not really dinner. I'm pretty sure I'll be be hungry when I get home, so I'll need to have some snacks prepared. 

I'm a weird person that doesn't really like mixed foods, so I don't eat salad much, or raw vegetables. But I think could if I put my mind to it. 

Currently when I travel, I eat at the club lounge which usually has fruit, nuts, cheese, raw vegetables, dips, bruschetta, crackers, sushi rolls, and 1-2 hot dishes (e.g. chicken wings, spanakopita, spring rolls, etc.) Basically finger food, turned into a meal.

I was re-reading through the border control/customs declaration requirements. My dilemma, is that both RX and Epic bars both contain animal by-products which I'm not allowed to take through customs without declaration. Declaring food, plants, etc. sends you through a separate (very long) line. It's business travel and I'm on the clock, so I would get in a lot of trouble if they found out that I was spending extra time to declare food. 

Although, it sounds like Larabars might be an option since they don't have any animal by products and are Whole30 compliant.

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@catlam I get the trouble you're having eating at the airport. My question was, what do you eat during the week before you fly home? My thought was that in order to avoid all this "have to eat at the airport", you just.....don't eat at the airport? I'm assuming somehow you manage 3 meals a day during the week.............just eat your dinner meal early on travel day and then don't eat until you get home. I've taken RX bars back and forth over the Can/US border with no problem and I've had it shipped to my house. You should check again because there are no restrictions on bringing dairy products back and forth and RX is whey protein.

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34 minutes ago, ladyshanny said:

@catlam I get the trouble you're having eating at the airport. My question was, what do you eat during the week before you fly home? My thought was that in order to avoid all this "have to eat at the airport", you just.....don't eat at the airport? I'm assuming somehow you manage 3 meals a day during the week.............just eat your dinner meal early on travel day and then don't eat until you get home. I've taken RX bars back and forth over the Can/US border with no problem and I've had it shipped to my house. You should check again because there are no restrictions on bringing dairy products back and forth and RX is whey protein.

RX is egg protein, not whey... ;)

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I found this on the CBP site:

Food products from Canada, including pet food and fresh (frozen or chilled), cooked, canned or otherwise processed products containing beef, veal, bison, and cervid (e.g. deer, elk, moose, caribou etc.) are now permitted from Canada in passenger baggage. 

I think what I dont' understand here is why you can't eat something you bring to the airport yourself on the Canadian side... why do you need to bring anything you have to declare through customs... RX bars should not be a problem because they're American... if you bring them with you when you come to Toronto, then you can bring them back... altho like @ladyshanny says, if you eat before your flight ( bring whatever leftover food from the hotel, or plan to buy something from a store and eat it at the airport), then there's not really a reason why you can't go 5 hours until you get home...

I think that there are reasonable options for you to not be eating a banana and coffee for dinner... it might require some pre-planning but I don't think it's all that far outside the reality of most people who do business commuting...  

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2 hours ago, SugarcubeOD said:

I found this on the CBP site:

Food products from Canada, including pet food and fresh (frozen or chilled), cooked, canned or otherwise processed products containing beef, veal, bison, and cervid (e.g. deer, elk, moose, caribou etc.) are now permitted from Canada in passenger baggage. 

I think what I dont' understand here is why you can't eat something you bring to the airport yourself on the Canadian side... why do you need to bring anything you have to declare through customs... RX bars should not be a problem because they're American... if you bring them with you when you come to Toronto, then you can bring them back... altho like @ladyshanny says, if you eat before your flight ( bring whatever leftover food from the hotel, or plan to buy something from a store and eat it at the airport), then there's not really a reason why you can't go 5 hours until you get home...

I think that there are reasonable options for you to not be eating a banana and coffee for dinner... it might require some pre-planning but I don't think it's all that far outside the reality of most people who do business commuting...  

Yes, I think I read the same article on the CBP site. It's a very long and slightly complex article regarding the admissibility of different foods. I'm sure RX bars are admissible, but the site is clear that: You must declare all food products.  Failure to declare food products can result in up to $10,000 in fines and penalties. 

To clarify the way customs works in Toronto:

From the Pearson website: "For the majority of U.S. flights, passengers leaving Toronto will go through U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Toronto. This means you arrive in the United States as a domestic passenger."

I clear customs in Canada going both ways. When I fly to Canada and arrive there, I need to clear customs in order to exit the airport. When I am leaving Canada, I go through security and immediately clear customs in Toronto in order to get to the gates. The terminal that I fly out of is essentially United States territory, so that we land back in the US as a domestic flight. 

Bringing food to the gate area in Toronto is the same as bringing food into the US, its usually has to be declared prior to. I'm all for pre-planning and bringing food with me, and I would certainly prefer it (just not willing to risk my job on it). I will talk to the CBP agents tomorrow to get clarity as to how stringent the rules are and what foods can be brought through customs/into the terminal without declaration. I'll report back, in case anyone else has a similar questions/concerns.

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5 hours ago, ladyshanny said:

@catlam I get the trouble you're having eating at the airport. My question was, what do you eat during the week before you fly home? My thought was that in order to avoid all this "have to eat at the airport", you just.....don't eat at the airport? I'm assuming somehow you manage 3 meals a day during the week.............just eat your dinner meal early on travel day and then don't eat until you get home. I've taken RX bars back and forth over the Can/US border with no problem and I've had it shipped to my house. You should check again because there are no restrictions on bringing dairy products back and forth and RX is whey protein.

Sorry, I completely misread. I eat a bigger breakfast on Thursdays. It's not ideal, but I don't take a lunch break on Thursdays (unavoidable back-to-back meetings). Typically an assistant brings me a smoothie to sip on during meetings around 1pm (I'll find a Whole30 replacement). Then I have a small snack (previously popcorn or hummus with pretzels) at the airport and them some yogurt when I get home. Not really full meals, but light snacking.

Yes, I could definitely skip eating at the airport and try to eat a bigger lunch. I usually go through customs around 3:30-3:40 pm (to be back online working by 4pm). 

If I eat right before I go through customs, it would be about 8 hours, assuming I land by 11pm and am home by 12am, which I think is still do-able. But, it would be preferable to bring something in to eat later at the gate or even on the flight, just to space out the food a little more. 

Did you declare the RX bars when you traveled cross-border with them? I may just be reading into the CBP rules regarding food declaration too stringently.

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