Ah, road trips. A classic American experience that some love and others hate. I, personally, love embarking on a good multi-day, cross-country road trip, but one of the hardest parts to plan for is how to stay healthy while you’re on the road. When you’re trapped in the car all day, it’s easy to reach for candy, chips, and soda, and even exercise is virtually out of the question. But trust me, there are ways to enjoy the journey while still treating your body well, and I’m here to pass along some of my favorite tips for doing just that!
It may seem obvious, but planning out your meals and snacks ahead of time will give you the best opportunity to nourish your body without resorting to grabbing handfuls of gas station snacks because you ran out of food or are simply just bored. For my recent road trip from Colorado to Washington, I stopped by my local grocery store the night before leaving town and selected a few snacks and meal options I was excited to eat, that were still at least partially nutritious. Road trips should be fun, so don’t force yourself to eat a head of broccoli as a snack if you’re not actually craving it. On the other hand, be wary of over-indulging, or you’ll set yourself up for a long and painful drive.
Avoid fast food when possible
My personal strategy while road-tripping is to eat breakfast and lunch in my hotel room or the car, and then enjoy dinner out on the town. Fast food is undeniably tempting, and sometimes a greasy, salty, McDonald’s breakfast really hits the spot, but for the most part, I’d rather make the most of my time and money by enjoying a nicer, sit-down dinner in the evening than rushing through a drive-thru at the very beginning or in the middle of my day. Alternatively, if I’m passing through a town where I know there are food options I’m interested in, I will stop for lunch or a snack and then enjoy dinner in my hotel room at the end of the day. Eating locally is one of my favorite ways to experience an area’s culture, and I always like to try new food when the opportunity arises.
Stretch your legs
One of the most uncomfortable parts of a road trip is obviously the extended hours sitting in a cramped car. I will try to stop every 2-3 hours to give myself a break from sitting and take even just a short walk outside of my car (this is especially necessary when traveling with a pet, like I recently did). I also brought along some 5 pound dumbbells so I could do a very short workout in my hotel room in the evening. This isn’t something I always manage to stick to, but for me personally, it feels good to get my body moving for at least 10-15 minutes after a long day of driving. Whether it’s a workout with weights or even just a body-weight workout in the room, a quick walk through town, or a swim in the pool, getting in some kind of movement will make your body and mind happier.
Balance is key
At the end of the day, I’m a firm believer that everything has its place in moderation. If you want to indulge in some fast food or a snack you would normally deem “unhealthy,” then enjoy! If you don’t want to do any kind of workout and would rather just pass out at the end of the day, you deserve it! Road trips are truly one of the best reminders that the journey is often more important than the end destination. Allow yourself the freedom to enjoy your time on the road however you like, and it will make the experience so much more enjoyable. Listen to your body’s cues about what it’s craving in regards to food and movement, and you will feel emotionally, physically, and mentally satiated.