5 WAYS TO A HEALTHY ROAD TRIP

Hitting the road this weekend?  Here’s the action plan to make it a fun AND healthy one!


BY: KATHERINE RATLIFF, MS, RDN

Road trips are a great way to explore the country, in which long days on the road call for good music, good conversation, and good food! However, it can be a challenge to stay healthy on a road trip.

For one thing, we are often sitting on our bum all day, spare a few stretch breaks. For another, our healthy food options may be limited without shelling out a pretty penny. This is where a wee bit of planning and a good sense of adventure can come in handy!

Here are 5 tips and tricks for staying healthy and sane while road tripping:

1. TAKE ADVENTURE BREAKS

Make the most out of your rest stops by finding short hikes and parks to explore. Rather than quickly pulling over at the nearest rest stop, take a look at your route and see if there are any interesting places to visit for a quick adventure. Check out a local waterfall or hike along the river for 20 minutes. These breaks will keep your energy levels up and can help contribute to your daily movement goal.

2. GIVE YOURSELF (AND YOUR FAMILY) A DAILY MOVEMENT GOAL

Road trips can be infamous for long hours in the car with little exercise. Not only does this play against your daily energy levels and mood, it can also contribute to the dreaded post-vacation slump. Rather than coming home feeling tired, try adding a daily movement goal to keep your energy up and your digestion happy.

So, what exactly is a daily movement goal (DMG)? This is the number of minutes each day spent being active. You can fulfill your DMG in whatever way you please. Wake up and go on a run first thing in the morning. Take mini adventure breaks throughout the day. Engage the family in a morning yoga sesh and an evening walk. Whatever floats your boat. Try to aim for 60 to 90 minutes of movement daily.

3. KEEP YOUR COOLER STOCKED WITH HEALTHY SNACKS

Snacks snacks snacks. This, my friend, can be the easiest or most challenging part of any road trip. It is so easy to pick up a bag of chips and a few candy bars at the nearest rest stop. Especially when the novelty of the road trip is wearing off, a salty or sweet treat may sound incredibly appetizing. While there’s nothing wrong with these snacks, they may not provide you with the nourishment you need to sustain energy on the road. This is where planning ahead gives you the advantage.

Keep a small cooler in your car with your favorite on-the-go snacks for a quick and tasty pick-me-up. Here are a few great options as go-to travel snacks:

  • Fresh fruit with plain Greek yogurt
  • Chopped veggies with hummus
  • Hard boiled eggs with chilled roasted sweet potato
  • Smoked salmon and cucumber slices

Other snack foods to have on hand that don’t require refrigeration include:

  • Homemade trail mix: popcorn, nuts, seeds, dried fruit
  • Almond butter packs
  • Brown rice crackers
  • Dried oatmeal cups (just add hot water)
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Rx Bars

4. STAY HYDRATED

Yes, this may seem obvious…. but adequate hydration is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Why? Among many other benefits, staying hydrated helps with your energy, mood, and even sugar cravings. Next time you find yourself craving a sweet treat, pause for a moment and mindfully gauge your thirst level. You may find your craving has dissipated with a little hydration.

How much water should I drink each day? Here’s a simple trick: take your weight (in lbs) and divide this in half. This is roughly equivalent to the number of ounces of water you should be drinking daily. For instance, a person who weighs 150 lbs would need 75 ounces of water (or approximately 9.5 cups of water).

Pack a few water bottles and keep these full while you’re on the road. Make sure to refill every time you take a break! Don’t like the taste of water? Try spa water! Add a few lemon slices, fresh mint, or even strawberries to spruce it up.

5. MAKE SMART CHOICES AT THE CONVENIENCE STORE

So, you have your cooler full of healthy snacks…and you run out! Or maybe you’re the spontaneous type and you weren’t able to plan ahead. What do you do? If you find yourself needing to pick up food on the road, here are a few ideas:

  • Rather than stopping at a convenience store, try to find a grocery store or food co-op. Look for foods similar to the ones listed above. You will most likely be able to find carrot sticks, whole grain crackers, nut butter packs, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt cups, etc.
  • If your only option is a convenience store: I’ve been able to find fresh fruit, Kind bars, and even carrot sticks and yogurt at many convenience stores! PS: don’t forget to fill up your water bottle while you’re at it! No water tab on the soda machine? Add ice and hot water.

BONUS TIP: ENJOY YOURSELF!

Traveling can be stressful enough without worrying about what and where to eat. Even with the healthiest of snacks, if you’re overly stressed this too can impact our digestive and immune health. Be kind to yourself, relax, and enjoy your time on the road!

Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: AVERIE WOODARD

Katherine Ratliff, MS, RDN is a Minneapolis-based Registered Dietitian with a passion for transforming food into simple, delicious, and nourishing meals.  She believes the path to health and happiness comes from focusing on foods that help nourish, heal, and grow. By focusing on the six pillars of health, Katherine helps others create vibrant, meaningful lives. To read more, visit her at At Katherine’s Table.

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