The Art of Train Travel: Tips and a Recipe for Eating on the Go

Part two of our food series on the Innate Gear blog, complete with a recipe for travel-friendly quinoa salad. 

Traveling by train is different than travelling by any other method. It’s fast enough to get you from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time, but slow enough that you have time to think and process. In an airplane, we miss everything in between our destinations; we start in one and simply end up in another. On a train, we’re cognizant of the transition between where we’re coming from and where we’re going. We see the landscape change; we have the time to ponder. That’s the essence of travel.

During the hours spent on a train, real life almost stops. You’re in between two worlds, that beautiful travel vortex where all that you have to do is wait. You can read, you can write, you can even open your computer and work, but for a few hours, you’re almost completely removed from the expectations of the everyday. This is why the train meal is of the utmost importance. The first mistake of train travel: assuming you won’t get hungry. The second mistake of train travel: assuming that if you get hungry, you can tide yourself over with the bistro car.
This is false on both counts.

Although drinking a cup of coffee in the bistro car certainly has its place, you’ll have to be satisfied solely with the ambience. A good train traveler knows that prepping food in advance is the only way to train it in style.

Just like eating food outdoors makes dining just a little bit sweeter, a basic meal consumed on the train turns your trip from a good one into an excellent one.

Here’s a few of the basics for enjoying good food by train: 

Keep it simple
No three course meals here please. Think basic ingredients that can easily be paired. Some sliced apples with a good hard cheese. One freshly baked baguette with avocado to spread onto it. A hearty salad in a reusable container you can slide into your carry-on. 

Don’t forget the coffee… and the baked goods
Even a short train ride deserves a thermos of coffee, and an accompanying baked good. After all, life is short. Celebrate often.

Pack to avoid waste
Most trains are well equipped with garbage cans, but the more you do in advance to prepare your food, the easier your meal clean-up will be. Reusable containers make for great food storage and are perfect for holding your orange peelings as well.

Bring utensils
Don’t get stuck in a situation where you’re forced to go to the bistro car and get a disposable plastic fork. Just don’t. Keep a set of utensils as your travel set and you’ll always be ready to eat on the road.

RECIPE: Travel Friendly Quinoa Salad

Quinoa salads are my favorite for train rides. They’re the perfect lunch: hearty yet easy to eat on the go. This recipe is a staple basic, but you can always get creative with it by throwing in a few extra herbs or vegetables depending on what you have growing at home.


½ cup white quinoa

½ cup red quinoa

½ cup dates, chopped

½ cup figs, chopped

½ cup currants

½ cup walnuts or hazelnuts

mixed salad greens 

Optional additions:


Goat cheese

Crumbled gorgonzola

Mustard Citrus Vinaigrette


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

juice of 1/2 an orange or lemon

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


Prepare the quinoa. Place in saucepan with 2 cups of water and a pinch of sea salt and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer until water has cooked off, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large salad bowl combine chopped figs, dates, currants and nuts.

To make the dressing, combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar and citrus juice in a small jar or bowl. Add in mustard and whisk until well blended.

Mix in quinoa with rest of salad ingredients, as well as salad greens, and top with dressing. Toss together.

Pack in a reusable container and go!

This post is brought to you buy Innate Gear, maker of reusable products that are meant for travelers. They are part of the essential Foodie Underground travel kit – an always have been – and we are excited to be partnering with them to bring you an exclusive series about sharing food on the trail and during your travels.

Leave a comment