We’re heading out this afternoon on a 1,000 mile road trip up North to visit my husband’s family. I know a lot of folks moan and groan at the idea of road trips, but we actually enjoy them! Especially when we do it the way we’re doing this one—slow and easy. We could do the trip all in one day (I actually did it once, by myself when Craig and I were dating—not recommended), but we decided to take it slow and break the 16+ hours of driving up over two days. From personal experience, trust me, the last thing you want is to be dead tired while driving in the dark through the desolate forests of Northern Minnesota along the Lake Superior coast in November. Moose crossings and snowy roads and no cell service, oh my!
Anyway, part of what makes road trips so great for us is that we try to keep them as healthy as possible (that, and we get hours of uninterrupted time together to listen to podcasts and sing silly songs). It can be so tempting to just stop at the nearest fast food restaurant along the interstate or pick up a sticky bun from the gas station, but I’ve found a little bit of food planning can go along way to make sure you feel healthy and happy when you hit your destination. Part of the fun of road tripping is road trip snacks, so we try to still keep the eats fun, but without totally wrecking our systems. I thought I might share with you guys some of our favorite car snacks before we hop on I-65 North. See you soon, Canada!
Bags O’ Veggies
One of my biggest eating challenges during road trips is boredom eating. I just snack and snack and snack to pass time. For years I tried to just use sheer willpower to stop myself from mindless snacking, but a while back, I learned to just embrace my love of boredom eating and use it to my advantage. Now, whenever I feel boredom snacking coming on, I reach for giant bags of veggies! I pack carrot sticks, celery sticks and (my favorite) cauliflower florets in giant zip-top bags and give myself free rein to eat as much as I want. Not only does it give me something to do, but it also gets me lots of good nutrients in.
Same deal with fresh fruit. Slowly nomming on an apple for 30 or so miles is a great to way to pass some time (and fill your body with all kinds of great nutrients). When we’re traveling to Canada, we do keep both our fruit and veggies to only what we an eat on the U.S. side of the border. You can take fresh fruits and veggies across the border (depending on where it’s from and some other factors—including the mood of the border guard you get), but it’s been a bit of a hassle before for us at the border, so we usually just dump what we have left (which is usually not much) before we hit the border guards.
While Cheddar Bunnies might not be the healthiest of foods, they are definitely one of our traveling staples. Like I said above, part of the fun of road tripping is eating a little bit of junk, and Cheddar Bunnies are one of my favorite (cleaner) junk foods. Do they provide lots of nutrition? No. Are they really delicious and fun? Yes. We make sure to get the single-serving packets to keep portion control in check.
One of the issues with a lot of road trip foods—lack of protein. Chips, cookies, sodas—the gas station is packed full of carbs, so I try to make sure we have a good amount of protein-packed snack foods on hand. I don’t usually buy single-serve foods like Babybels for everyday stuff, but for road trips? Perfect-o. Plus, playing with the wax gives you at least a good 15 minutes worth of road trip entertainment.
When we’re road-tripping, we always pack a cooler in the back, and inside the cooler is almost always hard-boiled eggs. Just like with the Babybels, hard-boiled eggs are a super easy and portable source of protein. Just make sure you either (a) use older eggs so they’re easier to peel or (b) peel the eggs before you hit the road. Peeling a stubborn egg can be messy!
More specifically, Trader Joe’s Turkey Jerky. Jerky is a pretty common road-trip staple, but the options in most gas stations are chock full of chemicals and not-so-good-for-you things. We almost always pick up a few bags of turkey jerky from Trader Joe’s before we leave because it is an amazing source of protein, doesn’t have any nasty ingredients, and tastes incredible. It is a little pricey ($5 for a small bag), but we only really get it during road trips, so the splurge is worth it.
Another winner from Trader Joe’s, we usually pick up a couple different kinds of trail mix before we head out—one healthy (like the Go Raw Trek Mix, which is just nuts and raisins with no added sugar) and one not so healthy (like the one with the mini PB cups—YUM). I actually get sick of trail mix pretty quickly, so just a small handful or two does the trick for me. And trail mix has the added bonus of being a great snack food once you hit your destination. I almost always have a bag of trail mix in my purse. A few handfuls is a quick way to squash hunger (or at least hold you off ’til you can get some real food).
Okay, so Shot Bloks aren’t really real food, or really even a snack, but they work amazingly on a road trip if you feel yourself getting tired while driving. Sure, you can slam a giant cup of coffee, but Shot Bloks give you the benefits of the caffeine and sugar boost without making you need to stop at every rest area along the way or making you jittery. We always pick up a few packs of Shot Bloks before we head on a long road trip. We’ve found that just eating 2-3 of them does a ton to bring you back into the land of the living.
What are your favorite healthy road trip snacks?
Happy Friday, my friends! Today, I’m flying out to Minneapolis to spend the weekend at the Healthy Living Summit. This is my first ever blog conference, and it’s a little bit embarrassing how excited I am (although, I am recovering from a nasty bout of food poisoning, so my excitement is slightly dampened). I cannot wait to meet so many new friends and get super inspired about all things blog-related. I’m also excited to explore Minneapolis. I’ve been to Minneapolis about a thousand times (connecting flights to Canada), but I’ve never made it out of the airport. And as nice as the MSP airport is, I’m sure the city itself has a heck of a lot more to offer.
The main reason I’m attending HLS (well, other than hanging with some seriously cool bloggers and getting crazy inspired) is to participate in a panel session on Saturday morning. I’ll be speaking with my I-can’t-believe-we’ve-never-met-in-person-before blog friends, Gretchen of Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen and Lauren of Me and the Mountains. We’ll be chatting about how blogging helped us land our dream jobs. Just because you aren’t a full-time blogger, doesn’t mean you can’t use your blog as career leverage. The three of us are living proof! I am downright giddy to share the stage with two ladies that I adore and admire so much.
If you can’t make it to HLS this weekend, you can check out the #HLS13 hashtag on Twitter for lots and lots of chatter all weekend long. If you want to keep tabs specifically on my session, we’ll be using the hashtag #HLS13BlogToJob to keep track of all the goings-on during our session . Feel free to ask us any questions at that hashtag and we’ll try to get them answered during the session or on Twitter later.
If you are at HLS this weekend, come find me and say hello! I’m the obnoxiously tall girl with brightly-colored hair (which, actually, describes Gretchen, too, which is okay, because, chances are, we’ll be in the same vicinity since we’re rooming together). I also may or may not have something fun to hand out if you come and find me. Everyone loves swag, right?
P.S. A huge, giant, ginormous thank you to my good friends at Anytime Fitness for sponsoring my travel to #HLS13. I am so proud to be part of the AF team!
See you on the flip side. Have an awesome weekend, everyone!
Have you ever been to a blog conference before? Are you headed to HLS this weekend? Anyone have any recommendations for must-sees and must-eats in Minneapolis?
As I was packing for our trip to Canada last week, I starting thinking about the different kind of air travelers. There are the people who roll out of bed the morning of a flight, grab a muffin and a magazine on their way to security, and get to their gate right as the plane is boarding. Then, there are the people who pack everything they could possibly need, print off their boarding passes as early as possible and feel the most comfortable sitting at the gate at least an hour before boarding. I supposed there are probably people that fall somewhere in the middle, too.
I’ll give you one guess which one I am.
I’m actually getting much better about my over-preparedness when it comes to traveling. Before vacations, I used to literally memorize the names of hospitals in our insurance network that were close to our vacation destination, so if something happened and I had to tell an ambulance driver where to go, I could. I’m not kidding. Thankfully, I’ve traded in over-preparedness for just plain ole preparedness. Phew. Much less crazypants.
Anywho, I thought it might be fun to show you guys what I lug around with me when we’re flying. It’s actually a pretty small bag (a Timbuk2 extra small messenger) but I manage to pack a lot in there.
- Water Bottle :: When traveling, my CamelBak Groove is pretty much always right by my side. Not only is flying crazy dehydrating, but what is it about airports and yucky water? I’ve never had good water from an airport water fountain. So the filter in the Groove helps make my water tasty!
- Toiletry Bag :: I have a little bag of toiletry things that I carry along with me. This guy actually stays in my purse, so it’s an easy transition into my carry-on bag when I’m flying. More about what’s in here below.
- Kindle :: The Kindle is seriously the best thing to ever happen to airport entertainment. I used to pack a few magazines and at least one heavy book, not any more. It all fits in my tiny, tiny Kindle. Woo!
- Planner and Markers :: Chances are, I won’t need them, but I really don’t go anywhere without them.
- Gum :: I never chew gum, but it’s a must for me when I’m flying. I’ve had a lot of ear problems in the past, and chewing gum helps make it less ouchy.
- Tea :: I’m not a big fan of paying $5 for a cup of hot water and a tea bag, so I bring my own tea. Most airport restaurants will give you a cup of hot water for free and you can always get one during beverage service on the plane.
- Keys :: I recently simplified my keychain (removing old keys, removing store cards) and it is so much nicer! And it fits perfectly onto the key clip in my bag now.
- Passports :: I’m the keeper of the passports. Mostly because there is a perfect little passport pocket on the front of my bag.
- Phone, Charger and Earbuds
- Cash :: I like to bring along a little bit of cash and change just in case I need to tip a driver or buy something at the airport stores.
- Snacks :: I’m gonna go ahead and guess you aren’t surprised that the vast majority of my bag space is reserved for food. I despise buying food at the airport. It’s hard to find healthier options (although getting easier) and always insanely expensive. Beyond these snacks, I also packed a separate lunch in a collapsible cooler for eating during one of our flights. Our travel day was about 14 hours, so I made sure to pack a lot of food. More on the specific snacks below.
- Antibacterial Things :: I’m not a big germaphobe. But airports and airplanes are germy, nasty, yucky places. And when you combine that with the fact that it’s one of the worst flu seasons on record? I Purelled pretty much everything.
- Dramamine :: I’m really, really susceptible to motion sickness. I’ve never had a problem on planes, but I definitely don’t want to be at 30,000 feet and that suddenly change. Dramamine is my friend.
- Pepto Tabs :: These things rock. You’d never think a little chewable tab of Pepto would help your tummy much, but they definitely do. Flying with an upset tummy is never fun. They are also good for settling a rumbling stomach after a night of heavy drinking. Not that I know from experience or anything.
- Excedrin :: Both Craig and I are pretty headache-prone, and Excedrin is the Vitamix of headache medicines.
- Contacts :: I always bring an extra set of contacts with me everywhere I go. My glasses once broke while I was on vacation. I didn’t have any backups or contacts with me. I’d prefer to not relive that blurry day.
- Lotion :: This is particularly important when flying to a colder, drier climate.
- Lip Gloss
- Nail File :: I pretty much always break a nail while hulking around luggage.
- Trail Mix :: I could have probably gone a lot healthier with all the trail mix options in the Whole Foods bulk section. But naturally colored M&Ms are really hard to pass up.
- Papaya Chunks :: I’m not a huge dried fruit fan, but these are where it’s at.
- Coconut Date Logs :: Yummy!
- Clementines :: When I’m traveling domestically, I like to pack a lot more fruits and veggies, but flying internationally means we can’t bring produce across the border. So we made sure we noshed on these two guys before we crossed.
- Turkey Jerky :: Low calories, tons of protein, travels well and is way tasty!
- Yogurt Covered Almonds :: For no other reason than these are insanely delicious.
What kind of traveler are you? What are you favorite snacks to pack while you fly?
Vacation was awesome. And I mean awesome. A big, huge thank you to all of the lovely and talented guest posters that were able to step in while I was doing this…
And some of this…
And a whole lot of this…
A week on the beach was exactly what we needed. While we’ve taken trips in the past few years, this was the first vacation where Babyface and I both totally shut off from our responsibilities in our entire marriage. It felt so good to not be tethered to my phone or laptop. I was able to take naps on the beach. Drink mimosas for breakfast. And read. I read four books, kids. FOUR! There were even a couple of days where I read an entire book start to finish on the beach. It felt so decadent and amazing.
For the most part, while we were on the beach we did exactly that—stay on the beach. But we did put on real pants a few times and venture out into the not-so-sandy-world. We got out to watch a Blue Jays Spring Training game in Sarasota, which was fun, but neither of us are huge baseball fans. We did really enjoy the hot dogs and beer, though.
One adventure that took us all around the area was our quest to find local seafood. You’d be amazed at how hard it is to find local seafood in the Sarasota area. We were finally able to track down a few places to buy freshly caught fish and shrimp, but the choices were really limited. Even the restaurants in the area flew in the vast majority of their seafood. But what were able to find was incredible!
And of course, we did our fair share of shopping. Babyface and I both get a kick out of kitschy, cheesy souvenir shops, so we spent quite a bit of time going through those. Beyond those shops, there were also some amazing artist co-op stores in the area. We were able to snag some fantastic original pieces from local artists as souvenirs. We did not, however, buy this hat. Dreads work on me, no?
I wish I had more to share with you, but I can honestly say, 90% of our time on vacation was spent on the water. We walked along the beach. We searched for seashells. We got our fill of Vitamin D (and went through SIX bottles of sunscreen). We splashed in the waves.
We Babyface boogie boarded.
I think the mark of a great vacation is how you feel at the end. So often, I feel like I need a week’s vacation to recover from my vacation, but this time I feel relaxed and ready to get back into the swing of things. I loved being on the Gulf Coast, but I’m also happy to be home (and SO happy to see Puppyface).
I just wish we could bring the beach with us.
When you go on vacation, do you go off-the-grid? Or do you like to stay connected?
I’ll be more or less absentee for the next week while we’re enjoying the sand and sun. During that time, I’ve got some great posts scheduled for you and, thanks to the help of some friends, some awesome guest posts to share, too. I hope you have an excellent, fantastic, wonderful week. I’ll bring you back some shells.
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.