How to Plan for a Healthy Road Trip
Summer is upon us, which means it’s the season of road trips. Whether you’re driving to visit a family member a few states away or making a cross-country trip to visit as many National Parks as possible, you can easily fall into some unhealthy habits on the road. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy when you’re spending a bunch of time behind the wheel.
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Pack healthy snacks
When you’re hitting the road for your next great adventure, it’s tempting to stop at the gas station and load up on unhealthy snacks like chips and candy. But overconsumption of these types of food can leave you feeling sluggish, which is the last thing you want when you’re focused on driving.
Before you leave, stock up on healthy foods such as fruit, trail mix, granola bars, jerky, veggies and dips (like hummus), and whole-wheat crackers. You can also pack sandwiches, such as PB&J or turkey and cheese on whole wheat, to avoid overeating sodium-filled food from a restaurant while you’re on the road.
If you do need to stop at a gas station or convenience store for sustenance, avoid the chip aisle and look for single-serving nut butter, Greek yogurt, peanuts, or protein bars. Most gas stations also sell basic fruits like bananas and apples.
Take movement breaks
When you’re sitting for long periods of time, it’s important to get up at regular intervals to move and stretch. That might mean stopping at a rest stop every hour or two to stretch your legs, or it might mean flexing your ankles when in the car (as a passenger, obviously) to keep your blood circulating.
If you have time in your schedule, try to take regular walk breaks outside the car. If your route takes you past unique parks or hiking trails, make sure you incorporate them into your journey so you can stay active and see some cool sights.
Stay hydrated and take regular bathroom breaks
It’s important to keep drinking water even when you’re in the car all day. Dehydration can cause you to feel lethargic and can affect your concentration, which isn’t great if you’re driving for several hours at a time.
Of course, staying hydrated means you’ll need to use the bathroom fairly frequently. It might be tempting to hold it and try to make it a few more miles before you stop, but holding your urine can lead to urinary tract infections, so it’s a good idea to stop at the next available bathroom when you feel the urge.
When you’re planning to be behind the wheel for most of the day, it can be tempting to drink a bunch of coffee or energy drinks in an attempt to stay alert. But too much caffeine can dehydrate you, which could cause you to feel more tired.
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You might also have an adverse reaction to drinking more caffeine than you’re used to; Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters/QOTSA/Them Crooked Vultures fame (and now, Ram Truck brand ambassador) once admitted to being hospitalized after he overdosed on caffeine and started having chest pains. While we should all be more like Dave Grohl in a lot of ways, ODing on coffee should not be one of them.
Follow these tips next time you’re headed out on a road trip adventure to feel good and ensure you have the trip of a lifetime.
Catherine Hiles (she/her) is a native Brit living and working in Dayton, Ohio. Cat has written about a variety of subjects, including finance, cars, and parenting. She is a frequent contributor to Dayton Mom Collective and The Penny Hoarder.
Cat lives with her husband, their two kids, and their energetic pitbull mix. She counts running, lifting weights, walking, and reading among her hobbies. See more articles by Cat.