10 Tips for Eating Oatmeal when Traveling!

For some of you, this post may seem ridiculous. You might say, “Go to IHOP!” or “Eat continental breakfast!” or “Get a bagel from Dunkin’!”

Grande Soy Mocha, no whip. To go, please.

But I know there are a few of you like me. A few of you who insist on eating oatmeal almost every morning. A few of you who hate the thought of starting your day without some comforting porridge, even on the road. A few of you who don’t want to spend a vacation day with a stomach ache because you didn’t get your daily dose of soluble fiber.

Or maybe some of you just want to save some money while traveling. Every dollar adds up, especially when you’re eating out for every single meal.

This post is for all of you. You can have your morning oatmeal. In fact, many of the tips below have been personally used by me within the last month (and I provided photos for evidence!). Here’s how I make it happen:

1. If you’re staying in a hotel, they might have continental breakfast, and they might serve oatmeal. If you don’t want to leave it to chance, call them ahead of time and ask. Some places might just offer packets of instant oatmeal. However, I have stayed in hotels that provide a massive heated container of unflavored oatmeal! They usually have a few “traditional” mix-ins to the side, like cinnamon, brown sugar, and raisins, but to that, I say “bullocks.” Look around:  there’s probably some fruit, peanut butter, fruit juices, yogurts, and jams around somewhere. Look at the condiments for the bagels and toast. Look at the toppings at the waffle bar. Look at the coffees and teas! I’m usually less picky about the quality of ingredients at this point because it’s a special circumstance; I mean, I’m already turning down the nummy-smelling waffles, so I want to make sure my oatmeal doesn’t taste like water! How about stirring in a splash of grape juice, cutting up an apple, and topping it all with some peanut butter? Get creative. Make all the other guests jealous.

(I added banana, pb, cinnamon, and raisins.)

2. If you’re staying in a hotel, and they have continental breakfast, but they don’t have oatmeal (and you’ve called to confirm that), don’t fret! Bring your own! Yeah, I said it. Pack some unflavored instant oatmeal packets (Country Choice Organic makes instant oatmeal packets with FLAX!) and bring one down to breakfast with you. It’s standard for hotels to have hot water available so guests can make tea. Take a cereal bowl, dump the oatmeal packet, and pour in some hot water. Give it a stir. Now, scour the place for mix-ins and toppings (see above)! Oh, and you can also save a little money and portion out 1/2 cup of instant oats into baggies instead of buying the packets.

(I added diced apple, pb, and a splash of apple juice.)

3. If you’re staying in a hotel, and they don’t have continental breakfast (bummer!), pack some unflavored instant oatmeal packets, and, if possible, additional shelf-stable ingredients to mix in. I recommend bananas and peanut butter and a small container of cocoa powder. Or nuts and apples. Or single-serving packs of applesauce. Every hotel room has a microwave these days, right? …Right?

4. As long as you have access to hot water or a microwave, prepare your own instant oatmeal packets. In a sealable bag or container, combine 1/2 cup instant oats, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tbsp PB2 (the powdered peanut butter), 1 tsp flax seed, a pinch of salt, and a handful of nuts and/or dried fruit of choice (dried apples would be amazing!). If you think you’ll need it, add some brown sugar, too. In the morning, pour in a bowl, add hot water (or microwave with water for 1-2 minutes), and stir. Boom! You’re a rockstar.

5. If you’re staying at a friend’s house, and you know the plan is to eat cereal in the morning, kindly inform them that you wish to prepare your own oatmeal. The way I go about this is to be super lighthearted about it. Make sure the implication is that you are an oat-obsessed addict, and not that you’re “above” their food; the last thing you want to do is offend your hosts. Laugh at yourself and let them know that you just “GOTTA have your daily oats, hee hee!” πŸ˜‰ Either bring your own mix-ins or politely request to use some ingredients from his/her kitchen. I often have my friends’ parents tell me that I’m “welcome to anything in the kitchen” before I even ask. Still, they’re being super nice for you, so return the favor: be stingy with ingredients (don’t use up all their peanut butter), be as neat as possible, and clean up after yourself. Say thank you.

6. Another option for the above situation is to offer to make oatmeal for you and your friend(s)! This happened to me once. On Thanksgiving morning, I made oatmeal for Allison and her mom. It was the least I could do since they were A) welcoming me into their family for Thanksgiving, and B) allowing me to use ALL of their ingredients (I didn’t even bring my own oatmeal). They were thrilled, but they also like oatmeal, so…you have to take that into account. πŸ™‚ [The oatmeal below is the pb+banana porridge I made at Allison’s house! The stuff on top? Cranberry Sauce.]

7. If you’re camping in an RV, you probably have a kitchen. Plan ahead, pack the ingredients you’ll need, and make your oatmeal as usual. I do this all the time. My mom makes pancakes and whatnot for the rest of the family, and I eat oatmeal. Nobody’s offended because they know I’m an oatmeal-loving psycho. Not a big deal. When it comes to packing ingredients, I just bring some oats, bananas, and peanut butter. My mom already keeps cinnamon and vanilla extract in the camper to make french toast. I either bring rolled oats and prepare it on the stove, or pack quick oats and make it in the microwave. Either works. [See the picture below? That’s Apple-Cherry Oatmeal, and it was made and photographed at a campground! Those are our camping bowls and utensils!]

8. If you’re tent camping or using an RV that doesn’t have a kitchen, use the campfire or a portable hot plate to heat up some water. If using this method, make sure you use quick or instant oats. Use the same flavoring ideas offered in #3, 4, and 7. Chances are high (if you don’t have kitchen access) that your group will be lighting up the grill or campfire for breakfast anyway, so this shouldn’t be a major burden. If it is, see idea #9!

9. Forego cooking oatmeal in the morning and pack granola or oatmeal muffins instead. See my recipes for healthy oatmeal muffins, or check out my Pinterest board for granola recipes! I really recommend the muffins. They are basically baked oatmeal, and my digestive system can vouch for the quality. Muffins normally make me sick, but these muffins soothe me just like stove-top oatmeal does. This is an excellent option if you are road-tripping or any other situation when you know you won’t have easy access to a kitchen.

10. If your crew is going out to eat for breakfast, do not fret. Chances are (at least in my experience), the place you go to will offer oatmeal. I mean, c’mon, even Perkins has oatmeal. In fact, find places that you know offer oatmeal, and suggest those to your group (don’t be pushy; remember, it’s not the end of the world). If you get your oatmeal from a standard diner (or a chain like Perkins or IHOP), they’ll probably just offer you milk/cream and raisins/brown sugar. I ask for raisins and nothing else. Then, I stir in the jam and peanut butter that’s just sitting on the tables. Some diners also have awesome syrups, like blueberry, and I make use of that as well. [The picture below is the steel-cut oatmeal with stewed apples at Flour in Cambridge, Mass. YUM.]

10.5 Just go to Starbucks. (or Caribou. Or Au Bon Pain. Or Jamba Juice. Or whatever.) Do what you need to do. I’ve done it. I’ve been there. I won’t judge. πŸ™‚

If you’ve read all those ideas and still don’t see an answer, you should probably give up and just eat whatever is provided to you. πŸ™‚ I can tell you from experience that all of the above options work in a pinch and satisfy me, even if it’s not as decadent as my typical morning creations. If not, lighten up and do the best you can. Enjoy that bagel or stack of pancakes. Your oatmeal will be waiting for you when you return. πŸ™‚

    **You can also find hundreds of other oatmeal recipes (as well as tons of other meatless recipes) on my Pinterest account!  You can also like The Oatmeal Artist on Facebook. Thanks!

    About Lauren Smith

    Lauren is a herbivore, Slytherin, and connoisseur of oats. She is a former teacher who is currently studying to earn a master's degree in curriculum development. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

    14 Responses to 10 Tips for Eating Oatmeal when Traveling!

    1. Love this! Also the new blog looks great πŸ™‚

    2. I am with you, can’t live without my oatmeal! I take my oatmeal when I travel to hotel rooms (use the coffee maker for hot water, run a ‘coffee-less’ pot first to clean it out) and when we visit family. I typically bring shelf-stable mix-ins, buy additions when I get there, or borrow something from the people we’re staying with. If we’re traveling by car, I will totally bring my creamer and almond milk in little containers for each day, too.

      I love oatmeal so much that I’ll sometimes eat it for lunch, too. I’m glad I buy my oats in bulk since I go through it so fast.

    3. Sonja says:

      Just a heads up for the dairy-free folk, Caribou’s oatmeals all contain milk and they cannot be made without it – at least at the ones I’ve asked!

    4. Joshua Carr says:

      Just don’t get McDonald’s Oatmeal!

      By the way, thank you for that link to the baked steel-cut oatmeal. I have experimented, and for a single serving, 1/4 cup oats to around 2/3 cup liquid is ideal. I’ve made basic banana, apple-cherry pie, and peach cobbler baked steel-cut oats.

      Thanks again, you’re awesome!

    5. Anonymous says:

      I’m surprised you didn’t mention your overnight oatmeal ideas! I used that recently on one of our camping trips – I mixed the overnight oatmeal in a triple batch ahead of time, and then ate it for breakfast for the next 3 days! I always bring fruit when camping, so I added some chopped up fruit each morning to keep it fresh tasting. It was great!

    6. Hahaha this post is the best! I felt like it was written just for me. #5 is a trick I use all the time when I visit friends, but #10 is definitely my fallback. Starbucks is just too gosh darn reliable. Also, after seeing the lovely pictures in #2, I am definitely tempted to try the Country Choice packets with flax. Oh, and lastly, Flour Bakery is the bomb! πŸ™‚

    7. Anonymous says:

      Hi my name is Colleen. I stumbled across your blog through another oatmeal blog and this is actually the first post of yours that I have every read. But I HAD to comment because I’ve literally done almost ALL of the things you listed, as well as packed multiple servings of overnight oats and baked oatmeal for trips! hahaha Needless to say, I think I’ll enjoy your blog and will be stopping by more often πŸ™‚

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