Published on June 19, 2018

family road trip

#TryItTuesday: 5 Tips to a Healthier Road Trip

One of the best activities of summer are the road trips. In a few weeks, we’ll be traveling to our daughter’s home in Montana. In the past, these long road trips would often be a detour when it came to making healthy living choices.

However, I’ve learned with a little preparation, it is possible to stay focused on my healthy living goals without feeling deprived.

Tip No. 1: Make Time for Physical Activity

  • At rest areas take five minutes to stretch and/or do some basic calisthenics, such as jumping jacks, high knees, arm twists, squats, lunges, etc.
  • Pack an exercise band in your bag. Exercise bands provide quick, effective workouts and help with stretching.
  • Water bottles or pop cans can be used for hand weights. Each time you get a new water bottle, stop and do five to 10 arm lifts.
  • Use your electronics, whether it be your phone, iPad or laptop. Find some apps or videos with short exercise routines. A few of my favorites: 7-Minute Workout, Sworkit, and Dashing Dish.
  • Plan active activities when you arrive at your destination, or when you stop for meals/hotels. Exploring a new-to-you community is a wonderful way to have fun and get in some extra steps.

Tip No. 2: Healthy Snacking

Planning and packing simple, yummy snacks that you love will save you money and often, calories. A few of our favorites:

  • Nuts
  • Fresh fruit such as apples, oranges, grapes. (Quick tip: Freeze the grapes and they serve a double purpose – yummy snack and helps to keep your cooler cold.)
  • Crackers
  • Deli meat and cheese slices
  • Popcorn
  • Beef jerky
  • Dry cereal such as shredded wheat
  • Water – when we have space in our vehicle, we’ll pack a case of water at the start of our trip. We’ll freeze a few of the bottles; again they make great ice packs. We take them out of the cooler and let them thaw a bit, which gives us a refreshing, ice-cold drink.

Tip No. 3: Healthy Meals and Eating

Eating out is my weakest area when it comes to healthy choices. French fries are one of my absolute favorite treats, and without a plan, I’d probably order them at every meal.

If possible, plan where you will stop for your meals and review your restaurant options before you get there. Once you’ve narrowed it down to where you will eat, review the menu and pick a few of the healthiest choices that look good to you. And when it comes to French fries, I’ve learned to set myself up for success by setting an allowed amount of how many times I’ll treat myself on my trip. Here are some good ideas:

Hotel breakfasts. Many hotels are now offering continental breakfast or grab and go breakfasts. These can be considerable time and money savers; however, without a plan, they can quickly destroy all your good eating intentions.

Quick tip:

  • Choose a protein – eggs, cottage cheese, breakfast meats
  • Choose a fruit or vegetable
  • Choose a carbohydrate like potatoes, bread (toast, English muffin, pancakes, oatmeal, cereal)

My biggest weakness at hotel breakfasts is when there are sausage biscuits and gravy – yummy! For a former coworker, it was the sweet rolls, muffins and donuts. If your hotel is serving a less-than-healthy breakfast favorite, here are a few tips:

  • Ask yourself, does this fit in my healthy eating plan and my scheduled “vacation treats”? If breakfast is your favorite meal and they are serving your favorite treat, then enjoy. When you have lunch or dinner later that day, try to make healthier choices.
  • Try eating a protein, fruit and healthier carb first and if you are still craving a particular food, try taking a half serving.
  • Take your food out of the central dining area and have an outside picnic, or take back to your room and have a breakfast picnic. 

Tip No. 4: Schedule Breaks and Rest

One of the most important things you can do to stay healthy on road trips is to make sure you are getting enough rest and sleep. Schedule rest breaks when driving. When you arrive at your destination, add an extra hour or two to your set sleep time.

Tip No. 5: Protect Against Germs

Use hand sanitizer and wet naps to help protect against bacteria. These come in handy when water and soap aren’t available, which can happen quite frequently when traveling. 

Bonus Tips

Here are a few extra tips for mental wellness on a road trip.

  • Refresh your mind by listening to an audiobook or podcasts.
  • Create a photo journal of your road trip by taking a picture of each place you stop.
  • If traveling with others—find some conversation starter questions.
  • Plan and indulge in fun and meaningful activities that you don’t get in your day-to-day routine. 

When we take a few minutes to plan a “healthy” road trip, we return home much more refreshed, plus we don’t have to “start over” on our exercise/eating healthy program.

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.