tips for a healthy road trip
Starting bright-and-early tomorrow morning (well, depending on how late tonight’s IU game goes) Babyface and I will be off on the open road on our way to the beach. When I’ve mentioned that we a road-tripping it to Florida to people, they’ve all had the same reaction—total disgust. Seems like most folks aren’t fans of being in a car for two days, but Babyface and I love it! We really enjoy the extended time together to talk about life, listen to music and see the country. Plus, saving a few hundred bucks on airfare isn’t so bad either.
Thanks to having half of our family in Canada and international airfare being astronomical, we’ve gotten really good at roadtripping. I’ve come a long way from the time I woke up at 5am and decided to make the 17-hour drive in one day by myself to visit Babyface when we were dating. We’ve created an awesome system complete with loose itineraries, planned stops and most importantly, good food. Gas station hot dogs need not apply. I figured before we headed south, I’d share a few of my favorite tips for staying healthy on a road trip. Happy driving!
1. Plan it out.
Before each of our road trips, I like to plan out approximate stops and times. Not only does it ensure we can switch drivers, get gas, stretch our legs, and hit the restroom at frequent intervals in locations that we know are going to have the amenities we need, but it also gives us easy, digestible chunks of driving time. We normally do 3-4 hours of driving between stops. And knowing exactly when and where you are stopping helps you to plan out meals. Even though we are hundreds of miles away, I already know which rest stop we’ll be eating lunch at tomorrow.
2. Bring your own food.
I’m not above grabbing a bag of Twizzlers from a gas station, but the majority of your road trip food should be brought from home if you want to stay healthy. Pack a cooler with your favorite healthy snacks and keep it close to the front seat. Make sure to pack good boredom snacking choices, too. You know when you are 6+ hours into a road trip and the novelty has worn off, you’ve gone through ever song on your iPod and you are sick of staring at billboards? Lots of folks turn to snacking on Cheetos or cookies, but for boredom eating, pack low-calorie options like celery sticks, baby carrots and sliced bell peppers. I can munch on those all day and barely even make a blip on my calorie radar.
I also like to pack some fun treats that I usually don’t eat. We have a pack of Newman’s Oreos that I’m excited to dive into! There is something romantic about the idea of junk food on a road trip. Embrace it! Just do it with awareness and responsibility.
Lots of people remember to bring snacks, but often people skip the main meals and head to fast food. On-the-road meals are as easy as tossing a loaf of whole grain bread and your favorite meats or cheese in the cooler. Sandwiches are easy to assemble on a picnic table or even in the trunk of a car. Bonus: if the place you are going has a fridge, the sandwich fixings will definitely get used during your stay.
3. Keep drinking.
It might seem like a good idea to avoid water so you can avoid frequent pit stops, but that line of thinking can land you feeling terrible just a few hours into the trip. To keep away early dehydration symptoms (thirst, headaches, and fatigue), sip water constantly through your trip. I like to ration out a single water bottle and sip on it during each segment of our trip. Taking small sips seems to help keep the bathroom trips limited.
If you are one of those people who must drink soft drinks or coffee on the road, sipping water is doubly important! Caffeine works as a diuretic and actually causes you to hit up the restroom even more frequently than if you would have stuck to water.
4. Get out and move.
So often, when people have to stop on a road trip, the just do what needs to be done and immediately hop back into the car. It can be tempting to get back on the road again, but I find that taking 5 or 10 minutes to stretch, walk around or just stand up really helps energize my body and mind.